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Visit Ards and North Down - Reopening from Friday 23 April

Collage of images, boy holding rock with Ards and North Down Rocks written on it, family eating outside, view at Castle Espie and Pickie Funpark swans

Date: Thursday 22 April 2021

We look forward to welcoming you back to Ards and North Down 

Following the latest NI Executive announcement below are the key dates for reopening:
From 23 April - outdoor visitor attractions and activity centres may reopen.
From 30 April - overnight stays are permitted in self-contained tourism accommodation (such as self-catering houses, caravans and motor homes). This is accommodation with no shared facilities, which can be exclusively used by a single household/ bubble. Outdoor areas at hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, including in members’ clubs) can reopen. A maximum of six people from two households can be seated together. Children aged 12 and under are not counted in the total and more than six will also be permitted if they all belong to a single household.
24 May -  reopening of indoor hospitality, accommodation, visitor and cultural attractions, such as museums, galleries.

If you are planning a day out, please check individual provider websites (via the clickable links below) before you leave the house to confirm if they are open or closed and avoid any disappointment. Many providers have pre-booking systems and new regulations in place to keep you safe, when you are out and about please follow public health guidance found on the Public Health Agency website and the latest NI Executive guidance found on the NI Direct website.

Here is a quick guide to some of the attractions and activity centres we know are open or are reopening.

Visitor Attractions 

Mount Stewart, National Trust

A neo-classical family home with some of the most unique gardens in the world

Voted as one of the top ten gardens in the world, Mount Stewart reflects a rich tapestry of design and planting artistry bearing the hallmark of its creator. Edith, Lady Londonderry’s passion for bold planting schemes coupled with the mild climate of Strangford Lough allows rare and tender plants from across the globe to thrive in this celebrated garden.

Booking required | Mount Stewart website

Bangor Castle Walled Garden

Award-winning Walled Garden, in the tranquil grounds of Castle Park. The garden is divided into four different sections, each with its own horticultural personality. It also boasts two unique pieces of sculpture inspired by the Borough's maritime history. 

The Ward family designed Bangor Castle Walled Garden in the 1840s. It was previously closed to the public and was considered by many as a secret garden! North Down Borough Council restored this beautiful Garden and it was officially opened as a visitor attraction in April 2009.

Find out more on the Bangor Castle Walled Garden page

From Friday 23 April 

The Ark Open Farm, Newtownards 

The Ark Open farm set in forty acres of unspoiled countryside is home to over 200 animals. The ‘Ark’ Open Farm is owned and run by the Donaldson family who opened the gates to the farm in August 1990 with a view to educating visitors on the need for conservation and preservation of some of the rarest domestic animals from a bygone era.

Booking required | Ark Open Farm website 

Pickie Fun Park, Bangor 

Pickie Funpark is one of the top visitor attractions located in Bangor. The park provides a fun day out for all and features an eighteen hole mini golf course, giant pedal swans, Pickie Puffer train, children’s electric car track and splash pads.

Booking required | Pickie Funpark website 

WWT Castle Espie, Comber 

Castle Espie, Wildfowl and Wetland Centre is set on the shores of the stunning Strangford Lough where almost the entire world’s population of Brent Geese resides during the winter months. Three times award winning WWT Castle Espie Wetland and Wildlife Centre is a tranquil and friendly centre for all the family. 

Booking required | Castle Espie website 

Saturday 24 April  
Crazy Farm Golf, Ballywalter

Crazy Farm Golf is an 18 hole themed golf course designed in the shape of Northern Ireland with 3 holes in each county and rich in information of Northern Ireland’s culture and history. Situated on a working farm there are pieces of authentic farm machinery integrated with the theme. It really has something for all ages.

Booking required | Crazy Farm Golf will take bookings via Facebook private message. Crazy Farm Golf Facebook page.

Outdoor Activity Centres 

SUP Hub NI, Bangor

A mobile SUP School aiming to provide a hub for our community, and visitors alike, to access the world’s fastest growing watersport in Stand Up Paddleboarding, whilst using the wonderful coastal waters that surround us.

Booking required | SUP Hub NI website 

Strangford Lough Activity Centre, Killinchy

Activity provider offering quirky experiences that can help you explore places off the beaten track Strangford Lough Activity Centre is located on the shores of Strangford Lough. A mobile activity provider that can help you explore places off the beaten track.

Booking required | Strangford Lough Activity Centre 

From 24 May

Exploris Aquarium

Enjoy a diver’s view of marine life from Strangford Lough to the many coral reefs of the Tropical Oceans and enter the dark depths of the Amazon Rainforest where you will see some of it’s inhabitants. Check out our rehabilitation work with common and grey seals in our nursery pens and outdoor pools and enjoy the playful antics of our resident otters.

Booking required | Exploris Aquarium website

From 25 May 

North Down Museum

Rediscover all that North Down Museum has to offer! Explore our local history as you browse the museum’s galleries. Learn about the Vikings in Bangor, the Early Christian Heritage of the area and lots more! The museum also has two new exhibitions on display; ‘NI100, Our Borough, Our People’ which looks at local achievers from the past 100 years and ‘NI Centenary, Local Leadership, National Impact’ which examines the history of how Northern Ireland was established and puts it into the local context of the time. Coffee Cure, the museum’s coffee shop will also be open for breakfast, lunch, beverages and snacks with seating both inside and outdoors in the newly refurbished courtyard.

Museum Opening Hours:  Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 4pm Sundays: 12noon – 4pm
Admission: FREE | AND Culture website

Ards Arts Centre
Visitors to Ards Arts Centre can enjoy ‘Fragments of Memory’ an exhibition by Millie Moore in The Sunburst Gallery. This collection of paintings and charcoal drawings were made in response to reflections and memories of the artist’s daily walks. Last year, Millie visited and walked some ancient bogs in central Ireland and was reminded of Seamus Heaney's observations and descriptive words on found bog bodies. In particular, she is interested in investigating what is hidden or sometimes revealed within the depths of a bogland.

Opening Hours: Tue-Fri: 10am-4pm | Late night Wed & Thu:  6.30-9.30pm (from 9 June) | Sat:  10am-1pm

Admission: FREE | AND Culture website

 

Ulster Transport Museum

Transport back in time and explore one of the most comprehensive transport collections in Europe. You’ll find majestic locomotives, horse-drawn carriages, vintage motorbikes, and cars at the Ulster Transport Museum, along with exhibits of historical materials including photographs of the Titanic. It is Ireland’s most comprehensive heritage museum, including world-class Irish Railway Collection, Road Transport Galleries and interactive Flight Experience.

Booking required | Ulster Transport Museum website

From 12 June

Ulster Folk Museum

Step back in time and experience what life was like in Ulster over 100 years ago. Wander through the beautiful parkland of the Ulster Folk Museum, where you will encounter costumed locals demonstrating traditional crafts in cottages, farm dwellings, schools, and shops.

Booking required | Ulster Folk Museum website

Golf

Ards and North Down is a haven for golfers with a rich heritage dating back 125 years – we have 11 diverse courses all within a 1-hour drive from Belfast, including parkland and links as well as being home to Ireland’s oldest club, The Royal Belfast. Courses designed by H.S. Colt, James Braid and Peter Alliss sum up the quality on offer with The Royal Belfast, Bangor, Clandeboye, Kirkistown Castle and Rory’s own club, Holywood, awarded the ‘Quality Assurance’ accreditation by Tourism Northern Ireland.

Our variety of courses and easy access to Belfast makes Ards and North Down the idyllic location for the perfect golfing break. Our courses boast stunning scenery with views of Belfast or Strangford Loughs.

Booking required *some clubs may only allow membership booking currently | Find out more in our Golf section 

If you are a hospitality or tourism business in Ards and North Down and would like to contact us with information of your offering and reopening details to be included here, please email, marketing@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk