Hillsborough Castle and Gardens was buzzing with visitors as it welcomed over 5,000 foodies, foragers and bee fanatics over two days, for the first ever Hillsborough Honey Fair in association with Food NI.
Music was streaming through the gardens alongside the mild buzz of the regal bees who have taken up residence in the new hives on Coronation Meadow, as intrepid beekeepers shared their knowledge of our garden friends, while also sampling the honey made locally from Killinchy to Londonderry.
Little visitors got the chance to look through the magnifying glass to learn more about the bees in residence, before enjoying interactive storytelling and, of course, waggle dancing with Leonie Pony, which had them buzzing around the South Lawn.
More than 30 local food producers and vendors were also on site across the weekend, giving visitors the chance to learn more about the artisanal products that can be found on our doorsteps, including DAERA Minister Edwin Poots, who visited the stalls on the Saturday morning.
Papas Minerals, Wild Atlantic Distillery, North Down Beef Co, Ormo, Erin Grove Preserves, Hellbent and Burren Balsamics were some of the producers on show, alongside Chowder Up, The Hatch, Morellis and Holestone serving up seafood, burgers, ice cream and pizza to hungry foodies throughout the two days.
Laura McCorry, Head of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, said it was fantastic to see the grounds buzzing once again: “It has been such long time since we have been able to hold an event of this scale at the castle, so it was just wonderful to be able to do so in a safe environment with something a bit different like our first ever Honey Fair.
“Food NI helped us curate such a feast of producers and vendors for our visitors to enjoy, and alongside the dancing, storytelling, foraging, gardening walks and music, there was something for everyone. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.”