With bellies made of straw, slacked necks and beady eyes to watch all around them, the latest fright of Scarecrows created for Halloween at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens are taking over the Walled Garden for the next six weeks, and for one spooky Halloween weekend – the whole of the Estate.
The Scarecrow Parade for 2022 is a collection of well-known historic faces that have been created by local schools, artists and community groups to bring the grounds of Hillsborough Castle alive this Halloween, all themed around Kings, Queens and Rulers.
During the Halloween weekend, from 28 – 31 October, a scatter of Scarecrows will come alive throughout the gardens during the Scarecrow Night Walk, with magical performances and artistic installations from Cahoots NI Children’s Theatre Company and Lumiere Events. A spooky and illuminated evening walk suitable for all the family, visitors can brave a search for the escaped scarecrows who have been possessed by evil spirits, before enjoying a range of autumnal food and drinks after their chilling adventure.
Taking up residence this weekend, from 01 October until 13 November, the Scarecrow Parade will be included as part of general daytime admission and will be made up of various fictional and real life royalty, from Elvis to Cleopatra, Henry VIII to the Queen of Hearts, and even Blu Hydrangea – the local drag queen who debuted in the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and triumphed in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Vs The World.
Blu’s Scarecrow alter-ego has been created by local artist Shauna McGowan, who says her design is also inspired by the work of drag designer Call Me Sophia (Chloe Dougan) and aims to celebrate the diverse creative talents of both artists and the LGBTQIA communities in Northern Ireland.
Visitors can also meet Scarecrow versions of Marie Antoinette made by artist Sue Cathcart, King Kong made by Sue alongside pupils from Belfast Royal Academy, Freddie Mercury – lead singer of Queen, made by Hillsborough Castle Garden volunteers, the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland made by Year 13 pupils from Beechlawn School assisted by artist Kelsey Carroll and Queen Grimhilde – the Evil Queen from Snow White, created by Killicomaine Jubilee Club, a community group for the over 50s based in Portadown.
For true nature lovers, families can discover more about the gardens this autumn at the Wonder Weekends on Saturday 8 and 15 October, with tree-themed walks and fun workshops suitable for littles ones aged 5+ to enjoy. The events are included in gardens admission, but places are limited and cannot be pre-booked.
Laura McCorry, Head of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, said:
“We have a wholly immersive experience lined up for all the family to enjoy this Halloween, from our spooky Scarecrow Parade in the Walled Garden to a dynamic and dramatic experience with the Scarecrow Night Walk for Halloween weekend that will make our gardens come alive like never seen before.
“We are really thrilled to work with various schools, artists and community groups, including Cahoots NI Children’s Theatre Company who will bring the Hillsborough legend of Hercat to life, alongside some of our garden’s most popular attractions, making Hillsborough Castle and Gardens a top visitor attraction during the Halloween and harvest season.”
For more on the Scarecrow Parade and Night Walk, and to purchase tickets, visit hrp.org.uk/Hillsborough-castle.