Did you know that Hillsborough Castle do event days for the family? No? Neither did I. This Easter, families are welcome to come and share fun and experiences together at this special venue, and the very talented Young At Art were there today, helping the little ones build cardboard castles, design sailing boats and generally keeping the Easter Sunday fun vibe going.
So this morning, after a typical Easter breakfast of, yes you guessed it – chocolate…we got ourselves together and headed off to Hillsborough. It’s such a gorgeous village, the sort of place I’d love to live (if I had the money!) and it always feels full of history and memories, so it was already a treat to bring the kids along for the first time.
First up was the castle building workshop. An absolutely great idea and a real chance for the kids to be creative. Amelia set to work designing her ‘Cookie Castle’ (a girl after my own heart) and we drew on bricks, windows, cut out a door and added ‘turrets’ to the top – with the occasional involvement from the wee man; he preferred to rip things apart and hide inside other children’s castles. He loved the mischief and freedom of it.
After this, we headed to the cafe and chill out area where Amelia designed her sailboat and crafted it out of sticks, elastics and corks (simple but effective, and definitely easy for all ages and abilities) and we had a quick snack and the G Man enjoyed an ENORMOUS scone as I glowered in envy and wondered how many calories were in it. The staff were very friendly and helpful, and they made a lovely cup of tea – much needed as the weather was on the nippy side!
Then we headed off for a bit of exploration. The grounds are absolutetly beautiful and have been developed since the 1780s. I’ve been to many parks, historic houses and grand gardens and the 98 acres at Hillsborough are some of the most special I’ve seen. They have a unique charm, an almost magical feel – lots of nooks and crannys and various out-of-the-way places where (if the weather was good) you’d happily spread out a picnic blanket and while away the hours. We are most definitely going back with that in mind over the summer.
There were also some creative little touches to make the walk fun for the kids including lawn games like croquet, and a giant snakes and ladders game also. What I really liked (maybe its the drama queen in me) was the charming picture frame set up at the fountain with a selection of hats, props, crowns and so forth for people to wear and pose for a picture; it really gave the experience an other-worldly Alice in Wonderland type atmosphere.
After our walk we headed back to collect Amelia’s boat to join some other families for the epic finale – the boat race. Oxford and Cambridge wouldn’t be in it. The kids just loved dropping thier creations into the water and shouted with delight as they made thier way along the little stream…and guess whose boat came second? She was so chuffed.
All in all, we had a fantastic day and we will most definitely be going back soon. The event is running into Easter Monday and Tuesday and you can get tickets here – there is going to be a larger selection of activites then too – storytelling and sing-a-longs etc – really worth going to if you need something to keep the little ones occupied this Easter holiday.
Thanks for a great day, Hillsborough Castle – we will most definitely be back soon!
**Our complimentary tickets were provided by Young At Art – all opinions are my own**