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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.

Palm House opening times

  • Summer opening times (1 April - 30 September) 10am until 5pm
  • Winter opening times (1 October - 31 March) 10am until 4pm

Botanic Gardens access restriction at Colenso Parade

The entrance to Botanic Gardens at Colenso Parade is closed to the public until summer 2017 due to the restoration of the Tropical Ravine. Only construction vehicles and staff can have access through this entrance. We apologise for any inconvenience.

All other entrance routes to Botanic Gardens will be open as normal. These are:

  • Stranmillis Embankment
  • Stranmillis Gardens
  • Stranmillis Road
  • Botanic Court 
  • College Park East

Restoration of the Tropical Ravine

We're restoring the Tropical Ravine. The ravine had 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 most popular tourist attractions.

The Tropical Ravine is closed while the restoration work takes place. 

The park will remain open, but the ravine and some paths are closed during construction. Look out for signage within the park for path closures.

Before the work started on the Tropical Ravine, many of the plants were moved into the Palm House or rehomed to other ferneries. The large specimens that we couldn’t shift have been 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 
17 April - 30 April 2017
1 May - 7 May 2017 9.30pm (9pm for Botanic Gardens)
8 May - 30 July 2017
10pm (9pm for Botanic Gardens) 
31 July - 13 August 2017
9.30pm (9pm for Botanic Gardens)
14 August - 27 August 2017
28 August - 3 September 2017
4 September - 17 September 2017
18 September - 1 October 2017
2 October - 15 October 2017
16 October - 22 October 2017 6.30pm 
23 October - 29 October 2017
30 October - 12 November
13 November - 31 December 2017

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, 2014, 2015 and 2016, 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