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Visiting Rowallane Garden with family

Visitors walk along Yew Tree avenue in the snow at Rowallane Garden
Enjoy family days out at Rowallane Garden | © Paul Moane

Find out everything you need to know about visiting Rowallane Garden with kids, from playing in the play areas, borrowing balance bikes and essential information on where you'll find baby changing facilities and more.

Find activities across the garden
Find some nature themed activities across the garden | © National Trust/Annapurna Mellor

You won’t want to miss…

Meet the Gardener – 13 November

As we move into the Winter months and prepare for the festive season, you can pop along and Meet the Gardener.

Are you just starting out with gardening? Do you have a specific question about planting, propagation, or anything else garden related?

Come along and our garden team will be on hand to help you pave your way to garden success.

Cones and Conifers Garden Tour – 22 November 11.30am – 12.30pm

Join Head Gardener, Claire McNally for a special tour of the Cones and Conifers in the garden collection.

Wrap up warm and embark on a walk through the pleasure ground where we will take a look at some of the rare and unusual specimens from all over the world that call Rowallane Garden home.

Wreath Making Demo – 28 November – 11am – 1pm 5 & December 1pm -3pm

A Homemade Christmas would not be complete without making your own wreath. Join us in the Stableyard and learn how to arrange and decorate this traditional Christmas staple.

Take your newly learned skills home and have a go yourself. Just in time for the festive season.

Santa Letter Trail – 4 December – 24 December – Daily 10am – 4pm

Have you written a letter to Santa? Come and post it with us to make sure your Christmas wishes make their way to the North Pole in time for the big day. Follow the arrows across the garden and solve clues along the way to work out Santa’s postcode.

This festive fun filled walk will lead you to our Christmas Postbox hidden somewhere in the garden. Wrap up warm and make some magic memories with us.

Yuletide Market – 9 – 10 December – 10am – 4pm

Yuletide Market is back!

After a long wait, we’re decking the halls, prepping the stalls and bringing back this much-loved family favourite. Back by popular demand, local traders return to the Stableyard for a weekend of festive fun.

Get in the Christmas spirit with us as you browse the stalls in search of those special gifts, take in the smells of the season and hear the sounds of choirs floating through the garden.

While you’re here, look out for Santa! He may just be out for a walk around the garden and we’re sure he’ll be happy to meet you!

Deck out your Gingerbread Man – 12 & 17 December 11am - 12pm & 1pm - 2pm

Your little elves can use their awesome decorating skills to design and decorate their scrumptious gingerbread man.

Things to look out for

Cones and Conifers walk – Daily 10am – 4pm

In Rowallane House you will find a display of different Cones and Conifers found across the garden. From here you will be able to pick up a walk sheet and go off into the garden and find the trees where they grow.

Using your keen navigation skills, find the compass points in the garden to lead you to each fascinating tree along the walk.

Fun in the Barn – Daily 10am – 4pm

Especially for the kids our barn is loaded with fun activity to enjoy. Perfect for a rainy day the kids can dress up as explorers, play in dens, check out our sensory activity wall for the little ones and check their aim with a festive bean bag toss.

Children must be supervised at all times.

Things to Book

Candle Making Workshop (ticketed) 18 Nov

Get cosy and submerge yourself in the wonderful scents of the season, as you learn all about the candle making process. Our friends at Memory Makers will guide you every step of the way to hand pour your very own candle, with your chosen scent. By the end of the workshop, your candle will be ready to take home to continue to cure - just in time to light this Christmas or to gift to someone special.

For more information and to book, visit:

Pause-De-Cember – Rest and Re-energise at Rowallane – 2 December

Relax and re-energise during National Tree Week. Ann from Xhale will support you to slow down and tap into your mindfulness toolkit, to connect to the present moment and the special wisdom of the Celtic trees in the garden.

Winter is a perfect opportunity to pause, allowing space for reflection, connection and creativity for the new year ahead. We will celebrate our Pause-De-Cember with a taste of nature – warm blackcurrant cordial and a pear muffin.

Please wear warm, comfortable clothing and a few extra layers, walking boots/shoes and bring waterproofs, (hopefully you won’t need them). We will provide you with a small waterproof yoga mat and other materials to support your experience.

Talk a winter walk at Rowallane Garden
Explore the garden on one of our winter walks | © National Trust/Annapurna Mellor

Winter highlights in Rowallane garden

Scented shrubs and flowering plants

Winter is a great time to visit Rowallane Garden. As other plants start to hibernate, a range of scented winter shrubs come to life. Take a stroll among the flowering viburnums, mahonia, fragrant yellow flowers of witch hazel and the aptly name Winter Box plant that blooms along the front of Rowallane House.

Colour all year round

Did you know that some of the 1500 rhododendrons at Rowallane Garden have been here since the Rev. John Moore planted them over 100 years ago? Rhododendrons can be seen flowering at Rowallane throughout the year, even during the colder winter months. Their purple and pink blooms stand out against the yellow walls of the house as early (or late) as December.

Snowdrops in full bloom

As winter draws to a close, look out for the delicate white bells of snowdrops. Not only are these little flowers brave enough to cope with whatever the weather throws at them, but the colder the weather, the longer they will last – with some even flowering into March.

Take a woodland walk

You can also wander through woodland and take in the fresh scent of the pine trees, take a tranquil walk through the famous Rock Garden and discover the electric-blue bandstand in the Pleasure Ground.

A place for family fun

Discover Rowallane Garden’s play areas designed especially for children and families to enjoy. Throughout the year we host family-focused events and weekends and visitors can borrow balance bikes for little ones learning to cycle.

Planning your family visit

  • Children must be supervised at all times as there are water features and uneven surfaces on site.
  • Balance bikes can be borrowed free of charge, just ask at the Welcome Hut when you arrive.
  • Baby changing facilities located in disability access toilets in visitor centre and Stable Yard.

Play areas

Explore and Play

The natural play area, Explore and Play, is located at the top of the Pleasure Ground. It's been made using completely natural materials. Fallen trees have been reimagined as climbing frames, activity dens are made from branches from the garden and stepping stones are inventively fashioned from cut stumps and logs. Intricate chainsaw sculptures depicting exotic animals.

Our aim was to create an interactive environment that feels like part of the landscape providing a pathway to a deeper connection with nature. We hope it encourages kids big and small to engage with their senses, appreciate being outdoors and indulge their imaginations.

Balance bikes

Balance Bikes are the perfect way to help your future cyclists learn how to ride in the safety of the great outdoors. That's why we are delighted to offer free-to-hire balance bikes to our visitors, with helmets, from visitor reception. You don’t need to book anything, and the balance bikes are free to use – just turn up and get going.

PLEASE NOTE - Balance bikes and bikes with stabilisers are welcome - our trails are not designed for larger cycles.

Rowallane Garden Bike Policy

In the interest of protecting our plant collection and preventing injury to cyclists and others as our paths are not suitable for high speed or large bikes, the following bike policy has been agreed. Children on bikes with a wheel size up to 14 inches are welcome to cycle in the garden. • Please remain on paths (this includes mown paths on lawns). • Bikes are not permitted in the Walled Garden & Rock Garden. • Castleward have more extensive bike trails suitable for larger bikes. Please ask a member of staff for more details. • People arriving on bicycles that do not meet the above criteria can access the property via the main avenue and are welcome to leave their bike at the bicycle rack located by the admissions area. • Please demonstrate consideration to visitors at all times when cycling on the property.

Perfect for picnics

During the warmer, dryer Rowallane Garden is the perfect spot for a picnic. There are picnic tables across the garden, and some off the beaten track spots where you can enjoy the peace and quiet. You can bring a picnic blanket or borrow one of ours, pack your own picnic basket or stock up in the café which serves range of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and sweet treats for you to grab.

Look out for signs of the changing seasons

Rowallane Garden is a garden for every season. Enjoy the seasonal changes as you explore the woodlands and gardens. Look out for the wildlife that calls Rowallane Garden home. Why not have a go at checking off the '50 things to do before you're 11¾' check list on your next visit. Take a look at our full list of '50 things'

Family walking in Rowallane Garden, County Down in November

Discover more at Rowallane Garden

Find out when Rowallane Garden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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Visiting Rowallane Garden with your dog 

Rowallane Garden is a three pawprint rated place. Discover Rowallane Garden with your dog. Explore the pleasure ground, stroll through the walled garden & wander through woodland.

Visitors walk along Yew Tree avenue in the snow at Rowallane Garden

Things to do at Rowallane Garden 

Discover one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful gardens and explore the Victorian pleasure grounds, walled garden and woodland. There's something to see all year round.

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‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’ 

Fancy running free in the fresh air, learning new skills and trying new things? Grab your gear and start your adventure.

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Family-friendly places to visit 

There are lots of things to do when you visit one of our family-friendly places. Find inspiration for days out and discover a range of activities for everyone.

A family is walking through the fallen leaves in the woodland at Rowallane Garden, County Down. One of the children is reaching up towards a branch of a tree.

Family-friendly places in Northern Ireland 

Whether you're crunching through leaves or getting creative and crafty, escape into autumn with the National Trust in Northern Ireland. With walks and trails, leaf spotting and nature activities, there so many ways to get out and play at the places in our care. Check property websites for specific opening times and events.