A ramble around Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast is hard to beat.
In fact, it’s arguably up there with the best things to do in Belfast, especially when the weather’s fine!
Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is an award-winning green space on the outskirts of the city. It has something for everyone – walking trails, forests, a café, playground and formal gardens including the International Rose Garden.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and toilets to the different walks you can tackle while you’re there.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast
Although a visit to Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
The Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is 4 miles southwest of Belfast City Centre. It is on the Upper Malone Road (B103) near Drumbeg and the Malone Golf Club. It’s a 5-minute drive from Colin Glen, a 20-minute drive from Crumlin Road Gaol and a 15-minute drive from the Black Mountain.
2. A fine spot for a ramble
The lovely park includes three walking trails which are particularly colourful in spring. The Woodland Trail is just under 2 miles long and is moderately difficulty. The Meadow Trail at 1.78 miles is slightly shorter and similarly graded. There is shorter Garden Trail (1.1 miles long) which is classed as easy.
3. Home to the International Rose Garden
The park is home to the world-famous City of Belfast International Rose Garden. It’s a must-see for green-fingered gardeners and rose lovers. It contains over 20,000 rose bushes, including trial and display beds. There’s a historical section and a heritage garden showcasing the best roses from local growers. The annual Rose Week attracts thousands of visitors.
4. Parking and toilets
Entrance to the park is on Upper Malone Road and there is plenty of free parking in the Upper and Lower car parks. Disabled parking is also available. There are good facilities including picnic tables, a café and toilets.
A speedy history of Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park
In the mid-18th century, this beautiful park was part of the Wilmont Estate. Originally the land belonged to the Stewarts, a farming family from Scotland. They built a home where the main car park now stands, grew crops and bleached linen on the estate.
In the mid 19th century, the estate was sold to the Bristow family and they built Wilmont House. Designed by Thomas Jackson, it was completed in 1859.
Various owners added the walled garden, gate lodges and gardens before Sir Thomas (High Sheriff of Belfast) and Lady Dixon bought the estate in 1919.
During WW2, troops were stationed on the estate and officers were accommodated in the main house. Lady Dixon was made a Dame of the British Empire for her work assisting the troops. She donated the parkland to the people of Belfast in 1959 in memory of her late husband, Sir Thomas.
Things to do at Lady Dixon Park
There’s plenty to see and do at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast, regardless of whether you’re after a long walk or a leisurely stroll.
Below, you’ll find everything from the cafe and the gardens to the various walking trails that you can tackle.
1. Kick-start your visit with coffee from Ability Cafe at The Stables
Located within the Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, the Ability Café at The Stables offers a range of drinks, snacks and refreshments. We’re big advocates of Ability cafés at The Irish Road Trip as they offer employment and training opportunities for those living with disability. This is one of several places for coffee in Belfast offering similar service.
2. And then head off on the Garden Trail
The circular Garden Trail (one of 3 in the park) has gravel and grassy paths, is just over a mile long and is one of the more popular walks in Belfast.
From the upper car park, head to the Japanese Water Garden (some steep steps here) before passing Wilmont House.
Continue along the grassy path and turn right towards the Golden Crown Fountain. Pass the walled garden, keeping to the right, and head to the Azalea Walk and children’s playground. Turn right at the T-junction and follow the path between the yew hedges to a crossroads. Follow the markers back to the car park.
3. Or tackle the slightly longer Woodland Trail
The Woodland Trail is 1.93 miles long and runs around the outskirts of this lovely park. It’s a circular walk with surfaced and grassy paths. From the lower car park, walk up the main drive (playground on your left) before following the park boundary to the upper car park.
Continue to the gate lodge and join the Meadow Trail. It passes Wilmont House, several bridges and a path beside the River Lagan before returning to the lower car park and coffee shop. The trail runs through woodland areas with some steep ups and downs and superb views.
4. Explore the gorgeous gardens
The gardens in this award-winning green park include the celebrated Rose Garden, a sheltered Walled Garden and a Japanese Water Garden with serene plantings and water features.
There is also an area dedicated to Camellia Trials which are a magnificent picture of heavy blooms in spring. Beyond the formal plantings, the park has rolling meadows, copses and woodland areas.
Things to do near Lady Dixon Park
One of the beauties of Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Belfast.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the park (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Colin Glen Forest Park (5-minute drive)
Nearby Colin Glen Forest Park is Belfast’s top adventure park. Fancy laser tag, SKYTrek High Ropes Course or coasteering? This is the place to head for. There’s a 9-hole golf course, driving range and indoor Sports Dome along with the Black Bull Run Alpine Coaster and River Rapid Zipline. The parks Gruffalo Trail is one of the more popular things to do in Belfast with kids.
2. Explore the city (20-minute drive)
Belfast city is packed with attractions around the Cathedral Quarter and the famous Titanic Quarter right on the waterfront. Discover history, visit the Botanic Gardens and shop till you drop in St George’s Market.
3. Grab a bite to eat
FAQs about visiting Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how many acres is Lady Dixon park (there’s 128!) to whether or not there are toilets (yep, there are!).
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Who owns Lady Dixon park?
The people of Belfast! The park was donated by, unsaurprisingly enough, Lady Dixon in 1959.
Are dogs allowed in the park?
Yes, but the have to be kept on the lead at all times.
What is there to do at Lady Dixon Park in Belfast?
You can kick-start your visit with coffee from Ability Cafe at The Stables And then head off on the Garden Trail. Followed up with a visit to the gardens.
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.