Details on the perfect locations for your family photoshoot in Northern Ireland with your photographer.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked as a photographer is “where should we go to take our family photos in Northern Ireland?”. With it being such a beautiful country, rich in history with stunning views, iconic locations and miles of coastline, it is understandably difficult to choose a location for a special portrait photo shoot. To save you the endless scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram, I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite family photography locations, ideal for young families, so that all you need to do is choose which vibe you want to go for!
- Antrim Castle Gardens – These stunning, award-winning historical gardens are a trip back in time to 400 years ago. There is lots of scope for photographs here, with forest areas, a river, and a lough. The gardens also have a little cafe, are pram friendly, and there is free parking available.
- Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, Belfast – 128 acres of gardens, picnic areas, meadows, woodland, and trails, steeped in history and sure to provide you with many opportunities for family photos in a natural setting. April is the perfect month if you want some pink camellias in your photos, or wait till summer for the show of roses. There is also a lovely Japanese garden which looks brilliant all year round too.
- Botanic Gardens, Belfast – This location, which is popular with locals and tourists alike, offers a wealth of opportunities for photographs. Between the rare plant species, the stunning Victorian restorations, impressive glasshouses, and exciting exhibitions, Belfast’s Botanic Gardens is a fantastic choice for family snaps!
- Belfast Castle and Gardens – Belfast Castle and Gardens overlooks the city and Belfast Loughshore. It has one traditional walled garden, and has a general estate garden feel. Add to that the mixture of colours, grand architecture and short forest walks, and you have the perfect recipe for lovely regal photos! It is also located close by Belfast Zoo, where you might like to head after, adding a bit of diversity to your family shoot. Free parking is available, so all you need to do is hope for a sunny day!
- Kilcoan Gardens, Islandmagee – Admissions are £5 for adults and children go free at the beautiful Kilcoan Gardens, situated outside Ballystrudder. Walk through a cottage garden, orchard, vegetable area, herb garden, and meadows. Stop for photos at the willow arch, the wildlife pond, and the polytunnel. Be sure to let them know you are planning a visit, and get lost in 5 acres of wild-grown gardens for some lovely photos to look back on.
- Galgorm Estate & Spa – This luxury estate, complete with a river running through its lovely gardens, makes for a nice setting for family photos, and you can make a day of it and book a meal as well! May is particularly nice with the display of rhododendrons in full bloom.
- Hillsborough Castle – Explore 100 acres of the beautiful gardens of Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland’s only royal residence. Wander through an array of smells and colours, grab a map to help you navigate, and keep an eye out for some rare plant species as well. What a dream setting for family photos, right?! Please note, unless you are a member, there is an admission fee for this location.
- Portglenone Forest and Sunflower Field – Not only does Portglenone Forest have some charming walking trails, picnic areas, and wheelchair access, but if you are planning to go in the Spring (specifically a weeknight before sunset to avoid crowds), the bluebells will be out in masses, making for some special family photos. Be careful, they are a protected species but do look amazing in the background of your photos. If you are planning to go in August, be sure to check out the amazing sunflower field, just outside Portglenone, which has been designed as a maze of six-foot-tall stems and giant yellow flowers. Great fun for the kids and will of course make for some really great pictures, all the while helping to raise money for a local charity.
- The Dark Hedges and Estate – If you time this one right, you could end up with a quiet walk through the iconic and mystical beech trees, planted in the Eighteenth Century. Another location appearing in Game of Thrones, The Dark Hedges is a stunning, atmospheric walkway to explore and capture some really original photographs in a setting that looks like it is right out of a fairytale. Then stroll across the road into the estate grounds.
- Whiterocks Beach, Portrush – This very popular beach, situated just off the Causeway, boasts stunning scenery and transports you to a foreign destination with white sand, topaz blue waters, and golden sunsets. The beach has easy access, parking, and toilet facilities, making it a perfect location for truly memorable family photos!
- Ballintoy Harbour – If you’re looking for a picturesque location with unusual landscape formations and a beach backdrop, Ballintoy Harbour provides just that! With little rock pools, a small fishing harbour, and the setting for some of Game of Thrones’ best scenic shots, you’ll have some super special pictures to look back on for years to come. The walk towards white park bay is such a good adventure!
- Whitepark Bay: Grab some ice cream and head down to the beach at Whitepark bay, where you will be met with beautiful views and a serene setting. There is also plenty of little rock pools around, so you never know what exciting sea life you might discover! Plus, family photos among rock pools with fishing nets is a dream.
- Downhill Strand and Mussenden Temple – Have you ever thought about having an iconic temple in the background of your photos whilst you take a stroll along the beach? Then look no further. This beautiful coastal landscape is a dream for anyone hoping to incorporate both history and nature into their family photos. Public toilets and parking are available, which is ideal, as there is plenty to discover and you may be there for longer than you think! The morning sun captures the temple best, so best to have your photos taken then.
- Portmuck Harbour, Islandmagee – Portmuck is such a cute little harbour with great views of the Antrim Coast. There is some wonderful trails on either side of the harbour, which are maintained by The National Trust. Although more remote, you get a classic coastal feel with a small (private, if you’re lucky!) Beach to get some nice shots and explore. This is not an ideal location if you will have a pram, but plenty of scope for adventure if you don’t!
Town and City Locations
- Barry’s Amusement Park, Portrush – If you’re up for having some fun, especially if there will be kids present, what better place to take your memorable family photos than a theme park! We can walk through the amusements, the kids will be eating portions of candy floss that are bigger than their face, and then we can head down to the beach for more photos. If you’re hoping for lots of colours, smiles, and something a little different, then this one is for you.
- Belfast Harbour and Titanic Museum Building – If history is what you’re in to, perhaps going for a stroll along the river Lagan, and exploring the docks and harbour at Belfast Harbour is a great idea for you. There is plenty of history to soak up, and you’ll have the iconic Titanic museum building in the background of your snaps! Move aside, Jack and Rose.
- Hillsborough Lake – This lovely lake is situated within 150 acres of woodland, with walking trails and fishing. You are likely to spot some big birds and perhaps other wildlife, including foxes and badgers if you’re lucky! This location is pram-friendly, offers free parking, and makes for a nice spot to capture some great pictures.
- Your back garden! This is such a popular option or popping over to Granny and Grandad’s garden, where the kids can be themselves.
Family Photos NI
It is fair to say that there are endless locations for the perfect family photoshoot in Northern Ireland. From theme parks to beaches, and coastline to castles, there is something to suit every taste, so be sure to take some time, perhaps visit some locations, and of course, feel free to have a browse through my photography to get a sense of how we can work together to ensure you have some beautiful and unique images to treasure forever! To read more information about family sessions with Tiffany Gage Photography, click here.