Deck the Halls at Hillsborough Castle

Hillsborough Castle in Co. Down is transforming into a Winter Wonderland this December with a range events that will put everyone in the festive spirit.

Running all month until December 23, be transported back to 1895 with costume performers playing the role of Lord and Lady Arthur Hill as they prepare for their festive bazaar. The state rooms will be decorated and lit by candlelight as kitchen staff serve up historical Christmas treats to the sound of seasonal music from local musicians Downshire Brass and Sestina.

For more of the Hill family, visit the castle between December 27-31 as the clan gears up for a dazzling Christmas ball. Listen to stories, play traditional festive games and sample the food, drink and music. Both the above are included in castle admission.

On December 2 one can put their decorative skills to the test at a Paper Cutting Masterclass with local artist Emma Davison, whose artworks feature in the castle. Tickets cost £35. Davison will also lead a Christmas card making class the same day. This event is included in castle admission although drop-in spaces are limited.

Hillsborough Castle’s team of experts will lead attendees on a special evening tour of the house on December 7 titled The Invention of Christmas. Moving from one elegant room to the next, discover the origins of seasonal traditions popularised by the Victorians and sample some of the authentic food, drink, games and music of the era.  Tickets cost £15 with a festive beverage included on arrival.

Meanwhile, have a handmade holiday at Hillsborough on December 16 by making one’s own stylish Victorian Cornucopia and silhouette decoration. This drop-in family session is hosted by artist Kim Montgomery and is included in castle admission, although drop-in spaces are limited.

For the Victorians, spooky Christmas tales stories became an essential custom of the season. Thus, the festival features a ghost story telling session by internationally acclaimed actor Ian McElhinney (Derry Girls, Rogue One) on December 28. Attendees can scare themselves silly in Hillsborough’s atmospheric, candle-lit throne room. Entry costs £20.  

Tickets for tours and events are available online here. Meanwhile, for Travel Ireland Magazine’s review of Hillsborough’s Christmas festivities, follow this link.

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