Signs of spring in Northern Ireland

Spring heralds the return of longer, brighter days and the promise of warmer weather. This is the time to explore the outdoors and make new exciting new discoveries.

Our gardens, coast and countryside are full of opportunities to enjoy the colour and energy spring. Listen out for birds chirping and bees buzzing. See hares ‘boxing’ in fields and woodlands coming alive with nature. Enjoy the smells and scents of spring blooms as wild garlic and daffodils make their first appearance.

Walk amongst the daffodils

These bright bulbs burst into life in gardens and woods heralding the arrival of spring from February through to May. Enjoy dazzling displays at The Argory, Florence Court and Castle Coole.

Daffodils in full bloom at The Argory
Daffodils at The Argory

Listen to birdsong

Look out for spring birdlife as migrating birds return from milder climates to spend the summer in many of our woodlands such as Minnowburn, Crom, Castle Coole and The Argory. Spot chiffchaffs from mid-March, with swallows and house martins usually arriving in mid-April and swifts following in late April or early May. Thousands of breeding seabirds, including internationally important numbers of terns also return to Strangford Lough and Cockle Island.

Swallow in flight
Swallow in flight

Hear the bees buzzing

The varieties of flowers on offer in spring are irresistible for bees as they rely heavily on the flowers’ nectar. When you see them buzzing amongst meadows and wildflowers it’s a sign that the season has changed. See if you can spot bumble bees, honey bees and wild ‘solitary’ bees in our gardens and countryside. 

" Spring is my favourite time of year, offering new thrills each day. It is a wonderful season to go exploring, with lighter evenings, birds singing, trees blossoming and nature waking up."
- Phil Davidson, Wildlife and Countryside Adviser

See mad March hares

One of the great signs of the arrival of spring is the so-called ‘mad March hare’ – as these usually shy and reclusive creatures can be spotted ‘boxing’ in open fields throughout the mating season. The open space on Divis and the Black Mountain is perfect for spotting Irish hares.

Keep an eye out for hares hiding in grass
Hare lying in grass

Stroll through the bluebells

Delightful carpets of blue cover our woodlands between mid-April and mid-May. Follow the winding paths through Castle Ward, Mount Stewart, Minnowburn, Crom and Downhill Demesne to discover the riotous blue haze.

Bluebells line the pathway at Minnowburn
Bluebells at Minnowburn

Revive your taste buds

Expect to enjoy a riot of spring flavours in our tea-rooms with colourful mixes of seasonal veg making their way from plot to plate. Enjoy homemade scones, soups and salads from local produce.

Discover the joy of spring at a place near you.