Hillsborough Castle will become major international tourism destination in Northern Ireland following a £20 million refurbishment.
Hillsborough Castle will reopen next Easter as year-round attraction. It is hoped that the number of visitors will increase from about 5,000 to 200,000.
Historic Royal Palaces has taken over the long-term management of Hillsborough Courthouse and Fort. The charity runs the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace.
Historic Royal Palaces has undertaken a programme of repair and conservation to the castle that will prevent deterioration.
The entrance to the Courthouse has become a new Visitor Reception. Extensive work is ongoing to create permanent access, welcome, and visitor facilities at the bottom of the site.
The castle will target international and domestic markets.
As reported in the Belfast Telegraph, Michael Ellis, UK Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: “The transformation of Hillsborough Castle into a major international tourism destination will bring a huge boost to the region.
“This project not only preserves the history of this 300-year-old castle, but is creating local jobs, supporting local businesses and contributing to the Northern Ireland economy.”
Patricia Corbett, Head of Hillsborough Castle, Historic Royal Palaces, said: “We look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world and to share with them the fascinating stories of Hillsborough Castle and its remarkable history.
“There is huge potential for the tourism sector in Northern Ireland and we recognise the wealth of opportunity not only in the local domestic market but also markets from further afield such as America and emerging markets in the rest of the world like China and South America.”
The Castle will continue to stage daily tours while the works are ongoing.
Inbound tourism in Northern Ireland was worth nearly £215m last year. Northern Ireland is home to a number of popular attractions including Giant’s Causeway, Titanic Belfast and also the Ulster Museum.
Image courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces