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Botanic Gardens

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College Park,
Botanic Avenue,

Botanic Gardens is home to the Palm House and the Tropical Ravine.

The Palm House contains a range of tropical plants, hanging baskets, seasonal displays and birds of paradise, and is one of the earliest examples of a glasshouse made from curved iron and glass. It shows how advances in glasshouse technology allowed horticulturists to grow exotic plant species during the Victorian period.

The building was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, who also helped design parts of nearby Queen's University. The foundation stone was laid in 1839 and the two wings were completed in 1840 by leading ironmaster, Richard Turner. The dome was added in 1852.

The Tropical Ravine contains some of the oldest seed plants around today, as well as banana, cinnamon, bromeliad and orchid plants. It was built in 1889 by the park's head gardener, Charles McKimm, and his staff.

Like the Palm House, it shows how technology allowed gardeners to cultivate unusual species in a greenhouse environment. Features of interest include a plant-filled sunken glen, flowering vines, tree ferns and leaf silhouettes.

Botanic Gardens was established in 1828 by the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society, in response to public interest in horticulture and botany. Originally known as the Belfast Botanic Garden, the site contained exotic tree species and impressive plant collections from the southern hemisphere, many of which can still be seen in the park.

Unfortunately for the Society, the gardens proved expensive to run and many shareholders felt that the park's horticulture was compromised by financial issues. The site was eventually sold to the Belfast Corporation (now the Belfast City Council) and it re-opened as a public park, known as Botanic Gardens, in 1895.

Today, the park is popular with residents, students and tourists and is an important venue for concerts, festivals and other events.

Restoration of the Tropical Ravine

We're restoring the Tropical Ravine. The ravine has become old and inefficient. But it’s set to be restored back to its former glory, with a modern 21st century twist that will see it become one of Belfast’s popular tourist attractions.

The Tropical Ravine will close from Monday 17 November 2014 for the restoration work to begin on the building. 

The park will remain open, but the ravine and some paths will close during construction, which is due to start in June 2015 and hopefully reopen in autumn 2016 following the restoration. Look out for signage within the park for path closures.

Before the work starts on the Tropical Ravine, many of the plants will be moved into the Palm House or rehomed to other ferneries. The large specimens that we can’t shift will be covered and protected from reconstruction work and the cold. Some of the plants are very valuable - the tree ferns are estimated to be over 150 years old.

Find out more about the restoration project


Sports facilities
Toilet facilities

Park opening hours

Orangefield Park and Victoria Park are open 24/7. The rest of our parks open at 7.30am and close at the following times throughout the year.

 Date  Closing time 
16 February - 1 March 2015 6pm 
2 March - 15 March 2015 6.30pm 
16 March - 29 March 2015 7pm 
30 March - 5 April 2015 8pm 
6 April - 19 April 2015 8.30pm 
20 April - 26 April 2015 9pm 
27 April - 3 May 2015 9.30pm (9pm for Botanic Gardens) 
4 May - 26 July 2015  10pm (9pm for Botanic Gardens) 
27 July - 9 August 2015  9pm 
10 August - 30 August 2015  8.30pm 
31 August - 6 September  8pm 
7 September - 20 September 2015  7.30pm 
21 September - 4 October 7pm 
5 October - 18 October  6.30pm 
19 October - 25 October  6pm 
26 October - 1 November  5.30pm
2 November - 3 January 2016  4.30pm

Getting here

Enter the park at Botanic Avenue, Stranmillis Embankment and University Road. Take any Metro no. 8 and get off at Queen's University. You can also take Metro no.7 and get off at College Park.

Award nomination

In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Botanic Gardens was awarded the Green Flag Award, which recognises the best open spaces in the UK. 

Other attractions

Botanic Gardens contains assorted tropical plants, giant bird feeders, a rose garden, an alpine garden, mature trees, flower beds and sculptures.

Walking routes

View walking routes

Useful links
Contact us

Contact 028 9031 4762 or 07767 271683 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm only)
Email Email