Exploring Glenarm Castle: A Visitor’s Guide to Heritage and Gardens

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Imagine a place where history, nature, and luxury come together to create a uniquely memorable experience. That’s exactly what awaits you at Glenarm Castle, a hidden gem nestled along Northern Ireland’s coastline. From enchanting gardens to a prestigious national UK award-winning Walled Garden, delightful tea rooms to luxurious glamping pods, and breathtaking nearby attractions, Glenarm Castle offers a diverse and unforgettable experience for all its visitors.

Key Takeaways

Glenarm Castle Essentials

Glenarm Castle, a privately owned country estate, hosts a variety of experiences waiting for your exploration. From the captivating Glenarm Castle Walled Garden to the charming Tea Room in the Old Mushroom House, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The estate is also host to several exciting events, such as the vibrant Annual Tulip Festival in May and the magical Christmas Experience in December. Becoming a member of Glenarm Castle grants you unlimited visits during the season, discounts in the Tea Room, and early access to Christmas Experience tickets. With such a rich offering, it’s no wonder Glenarm Castle Walled Garden has won a prestigious national UK award.

Easily accessible from nearby towns and cities, Glenarm Castle is located in the coastal town of Glenarm in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Admission fees for the various attractions ensure a smooth visit, while opening hours cater to visitors with varying schedules. So, what are you waiting for? Here are the essentials you need to know before setting out on your Glenarm Castle adventure.

Location and Accessibility

Situated just 30 miles north of Belfast, Glenarm Castle is easily reachable by car or public transportation. With driving times of approximately 30 minutes from Ballymena, 20 minutes from Larne, and 35 minutes from Carrickfergus, you’ll find yourself immersed in the charm of Glenarm Castle in no time. Public transportation is also an option, using the Moovit app for step-by-step directions or taking a train or bus to Larne and hopping in a taxi for the remainder of the journey.

Once you arrive, there’s no need to worry about parking, as Glenarm Castle offers ample space for your vehicle. Its convenient location and accessibility provides you with more time to experience the grounds and attractions, optimizing your visit.

Admission Fees and Opening Hours

To fully experience the beauty and history of Glenarm Castle and its gardens, a variety of admission fees are available to suit your preferences:

  • Adults pay £15 for a guided tour of the castle and gardens.

  • Seniors and children (ages 4-17) are discounted to £10 and £7.50 respectively.

  • Children under 4 are free of charge.

  • If you’re keen to explore the Walled Garden, admission is £6 per adult and £2.50 for children aged 4-17.

The castle and gardens are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, providing you with enough time to savor the sights and create enduring memories. Be sure to make a pit stop at the Castle Shop to pick up some unique gifts and memorabilia to remember your visit.

The Enchanting Walled Garden

Colorful tulip blossoms in the enchanting Walled Garden at Glenarm Castle

The Walled Garden, a genuine attraction of the Glenarm Castle estate, carries a rich history dating back to its opening to the public in 2005. With its stunning array of vibrant colors and unique features, it’s no wonder this garden has captured the hearts of many. From traditional double herbaceous borders to a 56-meter sloping Victorian glasshouse, the Walled Garden offers a horticultural haven for visitors to explore.

Among the garden’s captivating features are:

  • Soothing water elements

  • A rose border

  • A mound

  • Decorative herbaceous borders with distinctive colors and specimens

Painstakingly restored and replanted with the help of garden designer Catherine, the Walled Garden at Glenarm Castle is a must-visit attraction for all who appreciate nature’s beauty.

Herbaceous Borders and Blossoms

Historic Old Mushroom House in the Walled Garden at Glenarm Castle

Meandering through the herbaceous borders at Glenarm Castle’s Walled Garden is a visual feast for the senses. The garden boasts exquisite plantings of pastel-colored foxgloves, angels’ fishing rods, and airy flowers, forming a vibrant backdrop for beautiful photos and serene strolls. The garden’s beauty extends throughout the seasons, offering ever-changing blossoms for visitors to enjoy.

An annual highlight of the Walled Garden is the Tulip Festival held in May, showcasing a dazzling array of tulips in full bloom. The festival offers fun activities for the whole family, making it the perfect time to visit and immerse yourself in the garden’s splendor. Whether admiring peonies and roses in the spring or attending the Tulip Festival, the Walled Garden promises a delightful experience for all.

The Old Mushroom House

The Old Mushroom House, a 19th-century building within the Walled Garden, offers a unique glimpse into the estate’s past. Originally believed to be a children’s playhouse or an ornamental dairy, the Old Mushroom House has since been transformed into a charming tea room. Nestled amongst the beautiful gardens, this scenic spot provides a one-of-a-kind dining experience that allows you to enjoy the charm of historic houses.

Renovated and boasting views of the kitchen gardens, the Old Mushroom House is the perfect place to relax and indulge in delightful refreshments. Whether sipping on a cup of tea or savoring a delicious treat, the cozy atmosphere and picturesque surroundings make for a truly memorable experience.

Activities and Attractions at Glenarm Castle Estate

With a diverse range of activities and attractions to explore at Glenarm Castle Estate, there’s never a dull moment. From the tranquil woodland walk to the informative castle tours, and the delightful tea room, there’s something to suit every visitor’s interests. Getting to know more about the estate’s offerings, you’ll be captivated by the diverse experiences that await you.

Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature or learn about the rich history of the castle, Glenarm Castle Estate has you covered. We’ll examine the various activities and attractions in more detail to help you make the most of your visit.

Woodland Walk and Wildlife

Scenic woodland walk at Glenarm Castle Estate

The Woodland Walk at Glenarm Castle Estate provides a chance to escape the daily grind and connect with nature. As you explore the gorgeous natural surroundings, take in the tranquil atmosphere and keep an eye out for local wildlife, such as:

  • red squirrels

  • robins

  • rabbits

  • various birds

The Woodland Walk is a must-visit attraction for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat.

If you’re hoping to spot some wildlife during your visit, spring is the ideal time to explore the Woodland Walk. The vibrant blooms of specimen camellias and rhododendrons, along with carpets of white wild garlic flowers, create a stunning backdrop for wildlife spotting. With the option of guided tours available, the Woodland Walk offers an unforgettable experience for all ages.

Castle Tours and History

For history enthusiasts, a guided tour of Glenarm Castle provides an intriguing insight into the lives of the McDonnell family and the castle’s architectural evolution. Boasting a unique blend of Georgian, Gothic, Baroque, and Palladian styles, the castle’s design is a testament to its rich history. Discover the captivating stories of Glenarm Castle and its inhabitants as you immerse yourself in the past.

A guided tour of Glenarm Castle:

  • Showcases the castle’s stunning interiors and architectural features

  • Provides a deeper understanding of the McDonnell family’s contributions to Glenarm Castle’s history

  • Is sure to leave you intrigued and inspired

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the castle’s past, a guided tour is a great way to explore and learn more.

Tea Room and Dining Options

Charming Tea Room at Glenarm Castle with a view of the gardens

Glenarm Castle provides a range of dining options to cater to all tastes and preferences. The charming Tea Room, located in the Old Mushroom House, serves up delicious homemade breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea. With its cozy atmosphere and unique setting, it’s the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a bite to eat after exploring the estate.

For those seeking something different, the Milk Parlour offers gourmet ice cream made with milk from a local pedigree. Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshing treat or a hearty meal, Glenarm Castle’s dining options are sure to satisfy your cravings and enhance your visit.

Glamping Experience at Glenarm Castle

Luxurious glamping pods with sea views at Glenarm Castle

The glamping experience at Glenarm Castle elevates luxury and comfort to a new level. Offering stunning sea views and easy access to the castle estate, the glamping pods provide a unique and memorable stay for all visitors. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the surrounding landscape as you unwind in your luxurious ocean view pod, creating lasting memories of your time at Glenarm Castle.

Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway or a family adventure, the luxurious glamping experience at Glenarm Castle caters to all. Offering comfortable accommodation and picturesque surroundings, the glamping pods provide the perfect base for exploring the estate and nearby attractions.

Accommodation and Amenities

The glamping pods at Glenarm Castle, designed for your comfort, feature a range of amenities for an enjoyable stay. Each pod can accommodate up to four people, with a double bed and bunk beds available. The en-suite shower rooms offer a touch of luxury, with a glazed entrance, shower, and cozy spot to relax.

Additional amenities include charging plugs and complimentary Wi-Fi, providing convenience and connectivity during your stay. With a focus on comfort and luxury, the glamping pods at Glenarm Castle ensure a memorable and relaxing experience.

Exploring the Surrounding Area

The area surrounding Glenarm Castle offers numerous attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy during their glamping stay. From exploring Glenarm Forest and taking a leisurely stroll along the Glenarm Coastal Walk to discovering the charm of Glenarm Marina, there’s no shortage of adventures to be had.

The nearby Causeway Coastal Route and Glenariff Forest Park provide additional opportunities for exploration, with breathtaking scenery and picturesque trails for the whole family to enjoy. With a variety of attractions and activities within easy reach, your glamping stay at Glenarm Castle promises an unforgettable experience.

Discovering Nearby Attractions

Glenarm Castle serves as a prime base for exploring some of Northern Ireland’s most breathtaking attractions. The breathtaking Causeway Coastal Route and the picturesque Glenariff Forest Park offer diverse experiences for visitors of all ages. With so much to see and do nearby, your visit to Glenarm Castle is sure to be an adventure you’ll never forget.

Whether you’re seeking a scenic drive along the coast or a leisurely stroll through lush woodland, the nearby attractions provide a wealth of experiences to enhance your visit to Glenarm Castle. We’ll examine these attractions more deeply and reveal the hidden gems that await you.

Causeway Coastal Route

The Causeway Coastal Route, a 130-mile long marked route along the north coast of Ireland, offers a breathtaking journey filled with stunning views and must-see spots. With Glenarm Castle located along the route, it provides the perfect opportunity to experience one of Europe’s most scenic road trips. From the awe-inspiring Giant’s Causeway to the dramatic Dunluce Castle, the Causeway Coastal Route is an unforgettable adventure.

To fully appreciate the beauty of the route, we suggest allowing 3-5 days for exploration. However, if you’re short on time, a day trip along the route will still provide plenty of memorable moments. With so many captivating sights to discover, the Causeway Coastal Route is a must-see attraction for all visitors to Glenarm Castle.

Glenariff Forest Park

A short drive from Glenarm Castle takes you to Glenariff Forest Park, a refuge of scenic woodland, lakes, and walking trails for the whole family to enjoy. With over eighty years of history, the park covers 1,000 hectares of woodlands, lakes, and conservation areas, offering a diverse range of experiences for visitors. From the stunning Glenariff waterfalls to the Torr Head Scenic Route and the Dark Hedges, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Open 24 hours a day for those visiting on foot, and with car park gates opening at 8 am and closing at dusk, Glenariff Forest Park offers ample time for exploration. With an admission fee of £5 for cars and £2 for pedestrians, the park provides an affordable and enjoyable day out for all ages.


From the enchanting Walled Garden to the luxurious glamping pods, and the breathtaking nearby attractions, Glenarm Castle offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. With a diverse range of activities, attractions, and dining options, your visit to Glenarm Castle is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a desire to return. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this hidden gem and immerse yourself in the captivating charm of Glenarm Castle and its surroundings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Glenarm Catholic or protestant?

Glenarm is mainly Protestant, with 53.35% of the population from a Protestant background and 43.13% from a Catholic background.

What is Glenarm famous for?

Glenarm is renowned for its stunning nature reserve, with an amazing wooded river valley and parkland – making it one of the top places to visit in Western Europe.

Can you go into Glenarm Castle?

Unfortunately, Glenarm Castle is the private family home of the Earl and Countess of Antrim and visitors are only welcome for guided tours on selected dates throughout the year.

Who owns Glenarm Castle?

Glenarm Castle is owned by the 10th Earl of Antrim, Randal McDonnell, and his wife, Aurora. The county of Antrim, in Northern Ireland, is named after the town of Antrim, from Irish: Aontroim, meaning ‘lone ridge’.

What events are held at Glenarm Castle throughout the year?

Glenarm Castle provides a unique setting for special events like the Tulip Festival in May, a family music and food festival in July, and the Christmas Experience in December.

About the author

Originally from Scotland, Colin now resides near the beautiful seaside town of Portstewart on the Causeway Coastal Route. By day he works in IT and by day off he spends much of his time travelling around the Island with his young family, writing about his experiences for many sites both locally and nationally.