Christmas celebrations and winter adventures with the National Trust

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The nights are drawing in, it’s getting colder and Christmas isn’t far away. It’s time to get into the festive spirit – and there’s no better way than visiting National Trust places all decked out for the season.

Things will be a little different to normal this year, but there’ll still be plenty of ways to celebrate old traditions and make new memories.

Stroll through frosty winter gardens, follow a winter wildlife trail, discover festive crafts to try at home, and tuck into delicious seasonal treats such as hot mulled (non-alcoholic) cider or a Gingerbread Latte coffee.

If you’re looking for a quiet break from all the preparations, then the conservation charity also has plenty of walking trails across Northern Ireland so you can take a peaceful stroll through a magical winter wonderland, or head out for a bracing hike to blow away the cobwebs.

For little ones there will also be a special Peter Rabbit™ themed winter trail running at four National Trust properties around the country, so they can enjoy the great outdoors inspired by some of Beatrix Potter’s most beloved characters.

After all that, warm yourself with the knowledge that each magical day out supports the National Trust’s work as a charity looking after special places for future generations to enjoy.

See below for the National Trust’s pick of the best places and events to help you celebrate the season.

N.B. Visitors are urged to check local and national government guidelines before travelling. Some National Trust properties may require or advise that admission is booked in advance to guarantee entry – check the relevant property web pages for the latest information.

Peter Rabbit’s Winter Adventure

Florence Court, The Argory, Rowallane Garden and Castle Ward

This winter, treat your little ones to the magic of a Peter Rabbit™ winter adventure activity trail around some of the National Trust’s beautiful gardens and parklands in Northern Ireland – in partnership with Penguin Random House UK. On this trail, young nature adventurers can lend a hand to some of Beatrix Potter’s well-loved characters such as Squirrel Nutkin, Mr. Jeremy Fisher and Jemima Puddle-Duck, solving clues along the way to earn their special trail badge and certificate.

The trails run from 11 December at Florence Court, The Argory, Rowallane Garden and Castle Ward. Opening days vary. Book your visit in advance to avoid disappointment on the website.

Price: £2 per trail, plus normal admission fee.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/peter-rabbit-trails

Santa trail at Mount Stewart, County Down

Pick up a trail sheet at reception and see what creatures you can find as you explore around the lake. You might even encounter Santa on your journey but be careful not to wake the sleeping Elves. Before you go, post your letter to Santa in the special North Pole post box.

Price/booking info: Standard admission prices apply. Members free. Book your visit in advance to avoid disappointment.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mount-stewart

Christmas at Castle Ward

Twinkling lights and Christmas trees set the festive scene at Castle Ward. The seasonal cheer spreads into the tea-room, stables and shop window which have been decorated for Christmas with the help of the Strangford Residents Association. Discover Christmas gone by in the Groom’s Parlour where you’ll see how families celebrated Christmas in the Victorian era. In the stables you’ll find a small flock of well-behaved reindeer perfectly posed for your family picture opportunity.

Price/booking info: Standard admission prices apply. Members free. Book your visit in advance to avoid disappointment.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-ward

Christmas at the Giant’s Causeway

Book tickets for the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Experience and enjoy a breath-taking coastal walk to Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a guided tour and learn about the history of this iconic site and the geology and myth behind the formation of the basalt stone columns. When you’re ready to warm up, head to the state-of-the-art visitor centre where you’ll be greeted by a 15ft Christmas Tree complete with presents and reindeer. Browse the gift shop for last minute, locally sourced, Christmas gifts, from jewellery and ceramics to textiles and artisan food, and then enjoy a festive treat in the café.

Price/booking info: Standard admission prices apply. Members free. Access to the stones via the public right of way is free and does not require booking.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway

Winter wanders at Rowallane Garden

Enjoy a mindful moment as you walk around the grounds and woodland. Look for the lotus flower symbol for mindful inspiration as you dander. Slow down, feel the earth under your feet. Listen to the sounds and silences and breathe.

Young explorers may like to create some wild art, where the only limit is your imagination. Make the garden your canvas. Using fallen leaves, sticks and twigs, rocks and whatever else you may find on the ground to put together a winter themed nature collage. What will you make?

Price/booking info: Standard admission prices apply. Members free. Book your visit in advance to avoid disappointment.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rowallane-garden

Winter lake walk at Castle Coole

What could be more scenic than a winter walk around a frozen lake? On a crisp winter’s day, the mile-long lakeside trail at Castle Coole offers the perfect winter wander. Passing the site of the original Queen Anne house, the path offers impressive glimpses of the magnificent mansion house and a chance to spot the resident swans.

Price/booking info: Grounds open daily 10-4pm. Booking not required.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-coole

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