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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Magical Lights for Winter Nights | Hillsborough Castle & Gardens light up for Christmas

Getting in the Christmas spirit walking through the stunning Tree Baubles.

Christmas at Hillsborough has officially opened this week (Thursday 01 December), with over a million lights sparkling throughout the gardens of the historical venue.


This year, organisers have created an all new and immersive experience for this year’s specially extended trail, which for the first time, features Hillsborough Castle lit up in spectacular seasonal colours.


New and exclusive to the Christmas at Hillsborough trail this year is Butterfly Effect, by Masamichi Shimada, courtesy of Light Art Collection, while the playful Neon Strings installation in the heart of the forest, which makes its debut at Hillsborough this year, has been renamed Royal Aurora by Beechlawn Special School this year, a nod to the schools home village of Royal Hillsborough, and the winter Northern Lights known as the Aurora Borealis.

New and exclusive to the Christmas at Hillsborough trail this year, Butterfly Effect, by Masamichi Shimada, courtesy of Light Art Collection.


Zoe Cottrell, Managing Director at Culture Creative says it has been an honour bringing the festive trail back to Hillsborough Castle, with all new features and an exclusive experience for visitors to enjoy this year:

“What a fabulously festive return for Christmas at Hillsborough, with the most stunning and historical backdrop of this royal residence.


“We have worked so closely with the team at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens to create an all-new trail for Christmas 2022, that not only brings all the magic of Christmas, but even more of the stunning gardens to life for our visitors who will experience brand new installations for the first time.”


Visitors will meander through the new route along acres of royal gardens, passing through the Laser Garden and Royal Aurora, before walking hand in hand through the Heart Tunnel and taking in the twinkling trees. Then, prepare to be lit up by a newly designed Fire Garden, before taking in the South Terrace of Hillsborough Castle, which for the first time, is lit up in all its splendour.


The famous Yew Tree Walk brings a treat for all the senses like never before, with visitors enjoying the full experience of the exclusive Butterfly Effect on the pond with its mesmerising blue hue, before stepping into the breath-taking meadow of light.

The striking Fire Garden, made up of 140 candles, in front of the illuminated Hillsborough Castle.


Zoe continued:

A walk through our winter wonderland where you can be immersed in all the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas will be guaranteed to get you into the seasonal spirit and make Christmas memories for years to come.”


Local food and drinks vendors will be dotted throughout the grounds, serving an array of hot food, spiced winter warmers, toasted marshmallows and hot chocolates* to keep visitors fueled throughout the trail.


Hailed as a must-visit when the trail first arrived in Northern Ireland last year, this magical winter adventure which has been reimagined for 2022, is sure to fill all the visitors full of the festive spirit right up until 01 January 2023.


Free parking is available on site at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens new Visitor Centre, with the trail opening from dusk at 4:30pm, and last entry at 8pm**. Tickets range from £22 (non-member) and £20.50 (member) for adults, with family tickets available.


To book and for more information visit and, and follow @mychristmastrails on Facebook and Instagram.


Christmas at Hillsborough in numbers


  1. 30m of Christmas Cathedral

  2. 6 magical floating Butterflies in front of Lady Alice’s Temple.

  3. Thousands of blades of light making up our sparkling Meadow.

  4. A promenade of 20 snowflake gobos in the Walled Garden – over 30 gobos across the site.

  5. 5 Woodland creatures hiding in The Lost Garden

  6. An otherworldly Neon Strings named Royal Aurora by the children of Beechlawn School.

  7. 140 candles burning in our Fire Garden each evening – over 4000 over the run.

  8. 20 individual lights bathing the south façade of Hillsborough Castle a beautiful new light

  9. Over 500m of festive festoon

  10. 5 giant hearts making up the Heart Tunnel

  11. 120 speakers across the site

  12. Almost all lighting LED for the first time ever, reducing energy consumption hugely.


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