With summer in full swing, there’s nothing better than enjoying a freshly prepared picnic in a scenic spot.
In Northern Ireland, we’re lucky to have so many beautiful spaces to choose from. From parks to peaks, beaches to botanical gardens – we really do have it all. Yet, with too much choice, comes the hard decision of picking where to go.
But never worry – we at Indie Fude have got you sorted. In this blog, we’ve collated our top five picnic spots in Northern Ireland for you to enjoy, no matter where you are based. Plus, we’ve even included some top tips on how to prepare the perfect picnic for you and your guests.
The Best Scenic Picnic Spots in NI
Whether it be with family or friends, a picnic is one of the greatest ways to relax and embrace the warmer weather. With the pandemic still a lingering issue, a picnic is also the best way to enjoy company safely outdoors. With this in mind, here’s our top 5 scenic spots that we guarantee will make your next picnic extra special:
Ward Park, Bangor
Enveloped in greenery, Ward Park is famous for its wide range of wildlife and attractions.
The park is open all year round, covering an area of 37 acres. Among its entertainment facilities are a children’s playground, hockey pitches, cricket pitch, bowling greens, putting green and tennis courts. It even offers a bandstand, making it the perfect spot for a sheltered picnic from the hot sun.
If you want to make the most of your trip to Ward Park, you can peruse its dry pens containing a variety of exotic birds. You can also admire the tranquil duck ponds and impressive flower beds that are laced throughout the park’s grounds.
Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, Belfast
Home to the City of Belfast International Rose Garden, Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is an ideal setting for a picnic.
Covering over 128 acres, the park’s extensive beauty is one to be admired. With rolling meadows, woodland and gardens – there are so many plants and wildlife just waiting to be discovered. If you want to make the most of your visit, another place worth exploring is Lagan Valley Regional Park, which is adjacent to the park. It offers an international camellia collection, a walled garden and a Japanese-style garden with water features, making it perfect for quiet contemplation.
Complete with designated picnic tables, barbeque area and a children’s playground, its amenities make it easy for friends or families to have a fun-filled afternoon.
Castle Ward, Strangford
Castle Ward makes for a picturesque picnic spot with an eccentric 18th-century mansion resting on a rolling hillside and overlooking the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough.
The grounds offer much more than just a place to rest. Within its beautiful surroundings is a newly restored Victorian sunken garden, filled with vivid seasonal flowers in full bloom. You can also walk or cycle along the lough trail, through the sheltered woodlands, spotting wildlife as you go.
Game of Thrones fans will revel in this scenic spot, with the Georgian farmyard and lough shore being identifiable filming locations for the hit show.
If you want to make a day of it, after your picnic you can also head out into the open waters of the lough. Or, if you want to up your picnic game, at Indie Fude, we offer a ‘Glide with the Tide’ kayaking food tour on Strangford Lough. On the tour, we embark on an exploration of the stunning waters under the guidance of a trained chef and adventure expert.
Landing on one of the wonderfully peaceful islands, we take you to a quiet spot to enjoy an artisan feast of local produce, talking you through each aspect of your meal. If the tide and season is right – we will also take you foraging for mussels which you can cook and enjoy with a stunning whiskey cream sauce.
Botanic Gardens, Belfast
Botanic Gardens is a popular park that is also a Green Flag Award winner, meaning it is recognised as one UK’s best open spaces. It is home to the Palm House and the Tropical Ravine, and also functions as a venue for concerts, festivals and other big events.
After you’ve chosen your perfect spot and enjoyed your delicious picnic, there’s lots more you can do at Botanic Gardens. From walking routes to the Ulster Museum – you can enjoy the very best of the indoors and the outdoors.
The Tropical Ravine contains some of the oldest seed plants around today, as well as banana, cinnamon, bromeliad and orchid plants. It is a listed building dating back to 1887 and has been restored with many of its original Victorian features reinstated and preserved.
The Palm House comprises a range of tropical plants, hanging baskets, seasonal displays and birds of paradise. It is one of the earliest examples of a glasshouse made from curved iron and glass during the Victorian period. Both the Tropical Ravine and Palm House are superb ways to spend your day before or after you settle down for your picnic.
Murlough Beach, Newcastle
Murlough is a golden sand beach, nestling under the astonishing Mourne Mountains. It stretches five miles long, making it a popular spot for any and all visitors, especially for those who enjoy surfing, kite surfing, and windsurfing!
On a sunny day, it is a gorgeous place for a picnic. After your meal, you can even go sand duning or go for a quick dip in the sea.
Behind the beach is Murlough Nature Reserve, renowned for its diverse range of wildlife. It actually became Ireland’s first nature reserve, after the National Trust took ownership in 1967.
Making the Perfect Picnic
A picnic can be anything you want it to be. Savoury or sweet, themed or random! At Indie Fude, we specialise in independent food, crafted by makers from all over Northern Ireland. Whether it be a ready-made hamper, or a tailored grocery list, we can supply all the goodies you need to make your perfect picnic.
Wondering what to include in your picnic? Here are our top essentials:
- Irish Mixed Seed Crackers
- Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Biscuits
- Cherry Tomato and Chilli Chutney
- Mixed Charcuterie Board
- Ballykilcavan Brewery Cheese Pairing Selection
Picnic spots in Northern Ireland are vast, with many more for you to explore and enjoy. For more recommendations, check out the best of what Northern Ireland has to offer on Discover NI’s website.