A con­ver­sa­tion piece

Take in an ex­cit­ing pro­gramme of talks and events at Mount Stewart

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - TRAVEL -

Mount Stewart will come to life next week­end with an ex­cit­ing pro­gramme of arts and an­i­ma­tion. Lo­cated on the shores of Strang­ford Lough in County Down, Mount Stewart is one of North­ern Ire­land’s best loved his­tor­i­cal houses.

Cared for by the Na­tional Trust, the 19th-cen­tury prop­erty has re­cently un­der­gone a three-year £8 mil­lion restora­tion pro­gramme, mak­ing it a must-see at­trac­tion.

Mount Stewart Con­ver­sa­tions Fes­ti­val 2017 is tak­ing place on Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 14 and Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 15, promis­ing an ex­cit­ing week­end for lit­tle and big kids alike.

Chal­lenge your minds in the Gar­den of Thought Ex­per­i­ments where the world-fa­mous gar­dens will come to life and you will meet an ar­ray of char­ac­ters who will chal­lenge, amaze and en­gross you in the world of phi­los­o­phy and in­tro­duce the young and old to new ways to ex­pand your mind.

Or drop into the Lake­side Clip Show and spend some time in the world of chil­dren’s en­ter­tain­ment. Ex­plore it all from The Magic Round­about to Ren and Stimpy with clas­sic favourites.

Test your cir­cus skills at the cir­cus school or learn about street art in an in­ter­ac­tive work­shop. Try a Grime rap and pro­duc­tion work­shop, or leave your mark on the in­ter­ac­tive Con­ver­sa­tions art wall. While you are there, take time to visit the nat­u­ral play area in Mount Stewart’s wood­lands, with its unique mix of climb­ing frames and walk­ways in­spired by the story of the Magic Inkpot writ­ten by Edith, Lady Lon­don­derry in 1928.

Wildlife fans should walk the one-mile red squir­rel trail, which takes in the path around the lake and gar­dens. Mount Stewart and the Ards Penin­sula has one of the few sur­viv­ing pop­u­la­tions of red squir­rels in North­ern Ire­land. And, lastly, step in­side The Look­out, a wildlife in­ter­pre­ta­tive cen­tre show­cas­ing the wildlife on Strang­ford Lough. Te­le­scopes and re­mote-con­trolled cam­eras al­low close-up views of bask­ing seals and breed­ing se­abird colonies.

Turn your visit into a County Down short break, and stay at one of the fam­ily-friendly ho­tels nearby.

The 3* Strang­ford Arms Ho­tel is ideally lo­cated in New­tow­nards, only a 15-minute drive to Belfast city cen­tre and 10-minute jour­ney to Ban­gor’s lively town cen­tre and marina. Re­lax in one of the en suite bed­rooms or un­wind with drinks and din­ner in Le Win­ters’ Bistro, Bar and Restau­rant. Al­ter­na­tively, head to the coast at 4* Pier 36 Guest House, over­look­ing Don­aghadee Har­bour and light­house. It has nau­ti­cally-themed rooms, with sea views and a su­perb break­fast.

LIV­ING HIS­TORY: The for­mal gar­dens and manor house at Mount Stewart, take an au­tumn walk in its wood­land which is home to red squir­rels (in­set left) and take in the views of Strang­ford Lough and Scrabo Tower be­yond

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