Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

This stunning Northern Ireland property is dripping in history, and was an absolute joy to explore, we only wish we had more time! Being the official residence in Northern Ireland of the Royal Family when they visit, you will discover stories of celebration, entertainment, diplomacy, and negotiation as you explore Hillsborough Castle's fascinating history and stunning State Rooms. This extraordinary suite of rooms is perfect for a variety of events, including banquets, drinks receptions, award ceremonies, conferences and more! We highly recommend a site inspection as a must visit venue for anyone with an interest in political history. This venue seriously gives the wow factor to any event!

We loved the opportunity to explore Hillsborough Castle's fascinating history and stunning State Rooms with it's rightful place as one of the most beautiful, and interesting historic properties in Northern Ireland. In terms of location its located at the heart of the pretty Georgian town of Hillsborough, which is located 12 miles/18km south of Belfast city centre. It is approximately one and a half hours drive north of Dublin.

On entering Hillsborough Castle, the history & atmosphere oozes out of the place. Seriously, you can’t fail to be impressed with the rich colours, grandeur, and charm of this residence. There is a real flow throughout the castle as you walk around each unique state room with each one amazing you with it's own individual splendour, it leads you into the next and seamlessly, out into the glorious gardens.

But Hillsborough isn't stuffy or anything, far from it. Right from the very warm welcome, to the fond farewell, the friendly staff here would be sure to deliver a standard of service at your event, to live up to it’s reputation. We loved it!

We caught up with Alan Greer, Business Development and Sales Executive for Hillsborough to find out more:

Address: The Square, Hillsborough, County Down, BT26 6AG

Website: Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
Conference Sales Contact:
Alan Greer
Tel: 028 9268 1342

Distance and time from nearest airport:
George Best Belfast City Airport: 16 miles/25km – approx. 25 mins
Belfast International Airport: 22 miles/35km – approx. 30-35 mins

Distance and time from nearest railway station:

Lisburn train station is 5 miles/8km away – 10 minutes by taxi

Car parking:
Is free at Hillsborough. On site car parking can accommodate up to several hundred cars, including dedicated coach parking, taxi drop-off and collection.

Where do coaches drop off / pick up:
Coaches can drop-off and pick-up within the parking area to the fore of the Castle gates, between the gates and the Court House. A site map can be provided.

In terms of history - there is so much here.

A stately Georgian home, Hillsborough Castle was built in the 1750s by Wills Hill, 1st Marquis of Downshire, who served in government during the reign of King George III. The Castle remained a home of the Hill family until the early twentieth century. Political shifts on the island of Ireland resulted in the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921 and shortly thereafter the Castle found a new purpose as the official residence and home of the Governors of Northern Ireland. Known as ‘Government House’ between 1925-1972 it was during this period that it became the official residence of the Royal Family in Northern Ireland.

The role of Governor was replaced by the Cabinet post of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, so this dual-role of political and royal residence has now endured for almost a century. Many of the talks of the peace process have taken place at the Castle, notably much of the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement.

During the 20th century regular royal visits by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her family, have deepened the relationship between the Royal Family and Northern Ireland and Hillsborough, culminating in the granting of Royal status to the town in 2021. Historic Royal Palaces became custodians of the Castle and its gardens in 2014, embarking on an extensive programme of re-presentation over a period of almost five years.

Thus in 2022, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens is now once again ready to welcome back visitors and celebrate the remarkable achievement of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. In this spirit, the venue present the stunning State rooms of this home, where history has literally been made, as an opportunity to host memorable events, truly reflecting the positive and exciting place Northern Ireland has become. And your clients can have this opportunity too. What an amazing wow factor!

Outdoor spaces
One amazing plus point for Hillsborough is its ornamental grounds, peaceful woodland, meandering waterways and immaculate lawns. With enough space for two marquee sites, the South Lawn and West Terrace, both of which are licensed for civil wedding and partnership ceremonies and can host up to 350 people

It really is a perfect place to entertain your guests here. You can install marquees, gazebos and other temporary structures to shade and shelter your guests from the elements. Perfect and such an idyllic setting

Accommodation: Although Hillsborough doesn't offer any accommodation itself, there's a selection of hotels nearby

Number of floors: The building has two floors, however the State Rooms, which are available for event hire, are all on the ground floor.

Wi-fi: free wi-fi is available and is really good throughout the venue

One thing we absolutely love is that you can hire the whole venue exclusively for your events - how amazing?

But if you're looking for something on a smaller scale, in terms of meeting / hospitality spaces at Hillsborough, there are:

  • 4 x State Rooms: The Throne Room, The Red Room, The State Drawing Room & The State Dining Room
  • 1 x smaller room: The Privy Council Chamber
  • And various opportunities outdoor: Marquee sites throughout the grounds, as well as the South Lawn and West Terrace

Registration is really flexible here depending on event, but they generally recommend the lobby space as you enter the castle.

Meeting Space Highlights

The Throne Room
A magnificent event space, The Throne Room is every bit as impressive as its name suggests. The ceremonial heart of the castle is sure to vow your guests.

Location: ground floor (adjacent to the State Drawing Room)

Best use for room: Dinner, reception, meeting space

Décor/Design features – decorated opulently with deep green silk damask wall coverings and an extensive collection of paintings reflecting the themes or royalty, mythology, religious and pastoral scenes. Many paintings are from the Royal Collection, with some from private collections (such as the Schorr collection). The décor style is late 18th – mid 19th century.

Nice touches: It features two Chairs of State (Thrones) representing the authority of the monarch

Natural light: 5 large windows provide natural light (although conservation blinds are in place to protect the collections)
Size: Sq.M: 142
Reception: 120 pax
Theatre: 120 pax
Cabaret: 80-100 pax
Dinner: 80 pax

AV Equipment included: none – but an approved contractor can supply this


The State Dining Room
Full of grandeur and charm, perfect to impress your clients, where many famous and historic figures have dined before them.

ground floor, adjacent to the Red Room

Best use for room: Dinner or intimate meeting space with dining service

Décor/Design features:
Late 18th / mid-19th century in style, with a collection of fine paintings (mainly from the Royal Collections) and a fine collection of Georgian silverware. Also features a splendid Waterford crystal chandelier.

Nice touches:
The State Dining Room has always been the dining room of the Castle and as such has hosted dinners for international figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Presidents Eisenhower, Clinton, Bush (George. W), First Ladies Roosevelt and Clinton, the Dalai Lama, as well as members of the Royal Family including HM The Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, King George VI and the later Queen Mother, Diana Princess of Wales and many Prime Ministers.

Natural light: Three floor to ceiling windows/doors give light to this room (although conservation blinds are in place to protect the collections
Size: Sq.M: 95
Reception: 50
Theatre: 50
Cabaret: 40
Dinner: 24 using the State Dining table ; up to 40 using an alternative format

AV Equipment included:
none – but an approved contractor can supply this


The State Drawing Room
An intimate glance into the life of the Royal Family.

Location: ground floor (adjacent to the Throne Room)

Best use for room: reception

Décor/Design features: an elegant drawing room which reflects the contemporary Royal Family, presenting with mid 20th century décor. The room is less formal than the other rooms of the Castle and features modern (late 19th – early 21st century) Irish art.

Nice touches: the room features many family photographs of the Royal Family, lending the room a more obviously ‘lived in’, personal and less ceremonial air.

Natural light: Several large windows including French doors which lead onto the South Terrace give this room a light, airy feel (again, despite the conservation blinds, which can be adjusted more readily than in other rooms)

Size: Sq.M: 145
Reception: 120
Theatre: n/a
Cabaret: n/a
Dinner: n/a

AV Equipment included:
none – but an approved contractor can supply this


The Red Room
A beautiful reception room with luxurious rich red silk damask covered walls and an extensive collection of art work. The Red Room is both luxurious and intimate, making it perfect for smaller get-togethers.

Décor/Design features: The combination of hundreds of priceless oil paintings from the Royal Collection, a beautiful oak floor and crimson silk damask walls make a lasting impression and fascinating topics of conversation.

Nice touches: The exquisite mahogany dining table is wonderful - we also liked the direct access to the stone terrace and west lawns. Perfect for pre or post-dinner drinks on a summer evening.

Location: ground floor, adjacent to the Throne Room and State Dining Room

Best use for room: pre-dinner drinks, small dinners

Size: Sq.M: 59
Reception: 30
Theatre: 30
Cabaret: 8
Dinner: 20

AV Equipment included: none – but an approved contractor can supply this

For meeting room capacities, layouts and further information please click HERE