Official tourism website for Northern Ireland

Hillsborough Forest

22 Large Park, Royal Hillsborough, County Down, BT26 6AL
An image of Peep the Hare part of the digital sculpture trail, the hare is teal and is located in the forest park.

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Hillsborough Forest is set in the picturesque Georgian village of Royal Hillsborough and sits just a few minutes walk from Hillsborough Castle, adjacent to Hillsborough Fort. A popular choice among bird-watchers, dog walkers, photographers and nature-lovers, the forest covers an area of almost 200 acres and has way-marked routes providing a variety of different walks to suit everyone.

With the redevelopment of Hillsborough Forest underway and the first phase complete, visitors can now enjoy upgraded pathways throughout, stunning lakeside viewpoints with seating, additional picnic benches, extra car-parking facilities, and a state-of-the-art woodland-themed outdoor children's play area.  

The whole of the lake area is a forest wildlife sanctuary and is home to a wide variety of birds and animals. Look out for the many species of resident and over-wintering waterfowl, especially swans and several varieties of duck. Two red graded forest trails allow the casual walker access around the lake and to the back of the forest past the Fox Fort rath. 

After your walk, enjoy some well-earned refreshment in one of Royal Hillsborough's excellent restaurants, cafes or pubs. The Vintage Tea Rooms are ideal for a coffee and a natter, The Hillside is perfect for a pint by the fire, and Hara is sure to impress with a delicious lunch or dinner of locally sourced produce. 

Digital Sculpture Trail

This exciting new project is almost complete and will be the first Digital Sculpture Trail in Ireland! There are 9 new sculptures with the 10th being the Harry Ferguson Sculpture which has been taken from the A1 and placed in the forest close to the lake where the aircraft first landed. An exciting augmented reality App (due to launch October 23) will take you on a journey through the forest leading you from one sculpture to the next. Witness the journey of the sculptures from inception for completion. Scan the QR code from each sculpture to discover another world. Complete the Digital Sculpture Trail and be rewarded with various discounts in the village, be it a treat at one of the award winning restaurants, a discounted coffee and bun, or maybe a little therapy in Royal Hillsborough. 

The forest will then have three trails:

Lakeshore Trail | Fox Fort Rath Trail | Digital Sculpture Trail

Please bear with us as we put the finishing touches to the App which should be up and running soon. This project is part funded by DAERA.

Sculpture Information

CHILDS-PLAY - I Spy. Peep the super-fast Hare is on the look-out for Rusty the Fox!

CHILDS-PLAY - Ssssh - Rusty the Fox is tired after chasing Peep th Hare. Walk through the body of the sculpture for a peep through the eyes!

REFLECTION - The reflection sculpture is part of the Big Foot Family, now renowned worldwide. The Special Chameleon paint changes colour with the light.

MOTION - "Power Up" an overhead lampshadw with lights powered by pedals at the base. A fun sculpture.

SCIENCE - "Unit of Life". A sculpture with windows into the nature of science. Made of various geometrical shapes that the science of nature creates - hexagons in beehives, basaaltic stones, snowflakes and spirals from snail shells.

FANTASY - "Magic Garden". Inspired by art, fantasy, folklore, magic and active imagination. Part physical and part AR sculptures designed to represent the exciting ways in which technology is changing humanity.

HERITAGE - "Cybernest" inspired by imposing architecture in formal buildingsof the village - Castle, Fort and in particular St. Malachy's Church spire.

HOPE & ASPIRATION - "Beacon of Light". A distincitve sculpture that rises and reaches into the sky with reflective metalic colours that change in the different sunlight.

NATURE - "Reborn". In the shape of a sphere this nature inspired sculptures represents the material cycle, the life cycle, the finishing and the renewing.

HARRY FERGUSON SCULPTURE - "Flight" Harry Ferguson, in 1909, was the first Irish person to build and fly his own plane. The 130 yard flight landed in Large Park now known as Hillsborough Forest.

For more information on the future development of Hillsborough Forest, visit the Royal Hillsborough Tourism Masterplan page. 

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  • Picnic Area

Children & Infants

  • Children's outdoor play area

Establishment Features

  • Toilets - Located by the Children's Play Park
  • Visitor information - During the summer months available from the Tourism Trailer located by the entrance car park.

Parking & Transport

  • Car parking
  • Parking Areas for Disabled Visitors

Provider Preferences

  • Dogs Welcome Inside

Tripadvisor Traveller Rating

Tripadvisor Traveller Rating - 8 reviews8 reviews

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Opening Times

* Children's Play Park Opening Times (Apr-Sept)
Mondays 10.30am - 9pm
Tuesday - Sunday: 9am - 9pm

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