Northern Ireland royal residence to host agri-food festival

Northern Ireland’s royal residence is set to welcome the region’s top agri-food producers as one of its first major public events since its £24 million transformation.

Hosted in partnership with BBC Good Food, and supported by Tourism Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens’ first ever food festival will take place from Friday to Sunday, July 5 to 7.

Set in 100ac of stunning castle grounds, visitors can tour the castle as well as trying something new from the selection of street food, pop-up bars and market stalls.

The weekend will also include a ‘Tasting Theatre’ hosted by leading Northern Ireland chef Paula McIntyre.

The day will also feature cookery demonstrations Danni Barry of Balloo House; James Devine from Yellow Door; and Paul Cunningham from Brunel’s.

International chefs including Nadiya Hussain, Dr. Rupy Aujla and Chris Bavin will also be in attendance.

Restoration project

The transformation of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens took five years to complete. Independent charity Historic Royal Palaces was responsible for the work, with the £24 million it took to carry out supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other donors.

Work included the creation of a learning centre, converting the stable yard into a visitor centre and cafe and restoring several rooms to how they would have looked before a fire tore through the castle in 1934.

The old stables have been converted into a cafe and visitor centre

Laura McCorry, head of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, said: “We are delighted to be hosting these predominantly local food and drink producers at the Hillsborough Castle and Gardens Food Festival for the first time this year.

“The newly transformed castle and gardens provide the perfect weekend setting for a foodie extravaganza for all the family to enjoy.

Along with street food and artisan producers to whet the appetite, visitors will also be able to sample the fresh local produce of the castle gardens in the newly opened cafe.

“Visitors can also make a day of it by exploring the castle’s history, brought to life on guided tours led by the Castle’s team of expert explainers. With so much on offer throughout the weekend, there is truly something for everyone.”

Adult festival tickets including access to the gardens and a 45-minute guided tour of the Hillsborough Castle staterooms start at £17.50, while adult festival tickets with gardens only access start at £13.90.

Those interested in attending are advised to book early as tickets are selling fast.