Hillsborough Castle and Gardens has announced a summer programme packed full of family fun, with well-known characters popping up between the carrot patches and bringing the gardens to life with The Peter Rabbit Adventure from 29 June – 1 September.

Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which manages Hillsborough Castle & Gardens, will open the site up to even more visitors this summer with an exciting Kids Go Free* offer so that even more families can enjoy the season’s experiences which range from The Peter Rabbit Adventure to Music in the Garden and the Summer Fair.

The Peter Rabbit™ Adventure

Officially licensed by Frederick Warne & Co. (Beatrix Potter’s original publisher and owner of The World of Peter Rabbit), the Peter Rabbit Adventure will bring Beatrix Potter’s beloved characters to life at the castle for the first time.  Children can follow an interactive trail through Hillsborough’s meandering waterways and forests as well as the famous Walled Garden, seamlessly combining the author and illustrator’s love for nature and wildlife with the mischievous tales of her fictional characters.  The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published in 1902 by Beatrix Potter’s publisher Frederick Warne & Co. (now a part of Penguin Random House) and has since sold over 46 million copies.

Children and adults alike will meet their favourite Beatrix Potter characters as they join Peter Rabbit on new adventures – from creating twig boats with Squirrel Nutkin to helping Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle with her washing line. There’s also a puzzle version of the iconic coat from The Tailor of Gloucester that is stitched together at night by the mice in the story!

Visitors can also expect to bump into Peter Rabbit himself, as the larger-than-life character will be on site for photographs and to meet and greet families each Saturday** throughout the summer holidays.

The adventures of Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Tom Kitten will be celebrated at Hillsborough Castle’s Stable Yard Café, where visitors can enjoy a menu inspired by Beatrix Potter’s much loved stories, with speciality afternoon teas for both adults and children, available to book from Wednesday – Sunday. Alternatively, picnic hampers can be purchased from the café every day and enjoyed on the grounds.

Maria Magill, Learning Producer at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens has created the special trail for families to enjoy, ensuring they learn and experience as much of the nature and wildlife on the grounds as possible.

Maria commented: “We have so many nooks and magical spaces throughout our 100 acres of gardens here at Hillsborough Castle, it is the perfect canvas for us to create this trail, inspired by Beatrix Potter’s love of the natural world and the characters she created, for our curious young visitors. It’s important to us to find ways to help children connect with the wildlife and natural world around them, while also exploring their imagination and feelings.”

Thomas Merrington, Creative Director, Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House Children’s) said: “We are delighted to be working with Historic Royal Palaces to bring Peter Rabbit to Northern Ireland. The team at Hillsborough have created a really inventive and engaging trail that celebrates some of Beatrix Potter’s best loved Tales and the catering team have developed an incredible afternoon tea offering that will delight all ages and tastes. We can’t wait to see it all come to life.”

Music in the Garden

Complementing Hillsborough Castle and Gardens’ summer programme of family events, Music in the Garden will see a host of Northern Ireland’s finest musicians add an atmospheric and melodic experience throughout the acres of grounds. Each weekend throughout July and August, visitors can hear music from the likes of ARCO String Quartet, pop and folk group Mini Moonshines, harpist Grainne Meyer Scott Flanigan Jazz.

Summer Fair

The gardens of Hillsborough Castle will come alive from 24 – 26 August with the sights, sounds and tastes of the annual Summer Fair. Expect local crafters and creators, food trucks and chef demos, with music throughout the gardens to enjoy.

Stuart Campbell, Public Engagement Manager at Hillsborough Castle added: “We are delighted that even more families can enjoy a day out in our famous gardens, thanks to our kids go free offer this summer. We have created a really engaging programme for families to enjoy, while Music in the Garden every weekend will create even more atmosphere, with some celebrated musicians including ARCO String Quartet, Mini Moonshines, harpist Gráinne Meyer and Scott Flanigan Jazz. And of course, our Summer Fair which showcases the fantastic crafters, food producers and musicians we have locally.”

For more on summer at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, and to book tickets for The Peter Rabbit Adventure and Afternoon Tea at the Stable Yard, visit hrp.org.ouk/Hillsborough-castle.