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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

The best Christmas days out with the National Trust in Northern Ireland

Santa clause beside a Christmas tree


The nights are drawing in, it’s getting colder, and Christmas isn’t far away. Which means it’s time to get into the festive spirit – and there’s no better way than visiting the National Trust.   


See historic houses decorated in the style of Christmases gone by, wrap up warm and enjoy the crunch of frost underfoot on family trails or shop for stocking fillers under twinkling lights at Christmas markets. Plus, if you’re lucky you might spot Father Christmas on one of his annual visits.   


Ciara McClements, Experiences and Partnerships Curator at the National Trust said:  

“Whether it’s the mist rising on a morning walk, the sparkle of baubles and the glow fairy lights or the warming chuckle of Father Christmas, there are hundreds of special moments just waiting to be enjoyed this Christmas with the National Trust across Northern Ireland. 


“Enjoy a taste of Christmas past with historic houses dressed in all the trimmings, like Castle Ward’s Georgian Christmas. Be wowed by Winter Illuminations at the Argory and welcome the return of the Yuletide Market at Rowallane Garden.


“Or join family favourites, including a winter trail at Mount Stewart, visit Father Christmas at Castle Coole or cosy up for Christmas movies on the big screen at the Giant’s Causeway.”


Here’s a roundup of some of the National Trust’s best Christmas events across Northern Ireland.   


Events correct at time of issue, please check individual webpages for full details and availability. 

7 December - 10 December, 4pm- 8pm

2-3 December, 11am-4pm

25 November – 19 December, 12pm-4pm

See the Argory illuminated in light this Christmas as the County Armagh estate adds some sparkle to the festive season. Discover the new light trail which follows a flat, family-friendly trail of twinkling trees and glimmering gardens.

The one-mile loop starts from the historic courtyard weaving ticket-holders through jumping jets of light. There will be music, food and hot drinks to keep warm as you walk under the stars.

Find gifts at the much-loved annual Christmas Fair while listening to the enchanting sounds of the silver band playing all the festive favourites. Families will also have the opportunity to meet Father Christmas and his elves in his grotto.

Visit the house which will be dressed for a traditional Christmas. Trees, trinkets and garlands will decorate the rooms and the dining table will be set for a celebratory feast. Experience a historical Christmas and create family traditions.

Winter Illuminations is a ticketed event, check availability and book here.


Castle Coole, County Fermanagh

24-26 November, 1-3 December, 8-10 December

Add a little magic to the festive season and meet Father Christmas at Castle Coole as part of the Cancer Connect Winter Wonderland experience in Enniskillen. Joined by Mrs Claus and their team of elves, board the train which will take to the winding forest trails of the historic estate to reach the 18th century mansion at Castle Coole. Excited families will reach Father Christmas’s secret castle residence where special elves will bring you on a magical experience to meet the man himself.

Winter Wonderland is a ticketed event, check availability and book here.

Christmas at Mount Stewart


Castle Ward, County Down

• Christmas Market

1 December, 1pm-8pm

2 – 3 December, 11am-5pm

• Georgian Christmastide in the Mansion House

1 December, 12pm-6pm

2-3 December, 12pm-4pm

8-10 & 15-17 December, 12pm-4pm

• Castle Ward Christmas Village

9-10 & 16-17 December, 11am-4pm

This festive season, step inside Castle Ward and experience the mansion dressed in tableau for an evocative 18th-century Christmas. Atmospheric lighting will accentuate the period plasterwork and panelling, and the moving shadows will add to the intrigue of the old rooms.

Delve into the servants' quarters for behind-the-scenes Christmas preparations, and don't miss the local crafters/makers and food vendors at our Christmas Artisan Market, the perfect place to pick up some handcrafted Christmas gifts. Be sure to check out The Castle Ward Christmas village at our decorated farmyard, offering an array of crafts, storytelling, and a visit to Mrs. Claus' cottage, with the chance to meet Father Christmas.


Giants Causeway, County Antrim

• Causeway Christmas

2 December & 9 December

See the award-winning Visitor Centre beautifully transformed into a Christmas wonderland, with magnificently decorated trees and sparkling lights – perfect for a family photo opportunity.

Pop into our retail area and choose from a wide range of local and exclusive artisanal Christmas decorations and unique gifts, including Belleek and Irish glass ornaments, National Trust Christmas card packs and exclusive Giant’s Causeway souvenirs.

Make yourself feel at home and grab a festive treat from our café and get comfortable in front of the big screen with the family to enjoy traditional, heart-warming Christmas cartoons and animations. Create your very own decoration to add a personal feel to your home this Christmas, before making your way down to the geological wonder that is the Causeway Stones to indulge in a wealth of history, legend and imagination.

Online booking is strongly recommended.


Christmas at Castle Ward

Mount Stewart, County Down

• Festive Children’s Trail

25 November – 31 December

• Christmas Story Time

9, 10, 16 & 17 December

• 1950s Estate Party

9, 10, 16 & 17 December

• Festive Indoor Wreath Making

18 November

This Christmas season, embrace the crisp, winter days and join us for a festive children's trail around the lake, seeking out a medley of festive items along the way. Settle in for cosy Christmas story time in the second-hand book shop or go back in time and experience the lead up to Christmas in the 'Big House' with the 1950's Estate Party.

Travel back in time to December 1950 and find out how the grandchildren of the late 7th Marquis are helping their grandmother prepare for the annual Christmas Party for the staff and tenants. Get crafty with wreathmaking classes and gift making workshops and feel festive with twinkly lights and Christmassy musical performances.


Rowallane Garden, County Down

• Yuletide Market

9-10 December, 10am-4pm

• Santa Letter Trail

1-24 December

After a long wait, we’re decking the halls, prepping the stalls and bringing back this much-loved family favourite. Get in the Christmas spirit and soak up the festive atmosphere as you browse the stalls in search of those stocking fillers, take in the smells of the season and hear the sounds of choirs floating through the garden.

Make sure to listen out for sleighbells, as Santa will make a stop off to check who’s been naughty and nice! Take your little elves on our festive self-led Santa Letter trail across the garden, whilst solving clues along the way to work out Santa’s postcode.

The trail will lead you to our Christmas Post box hidden somewhere in the garden, so don’t forget to post your letter with us to make sure your Christmas wishes make their way to the North Pole in time for the big day.


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