Located on the banks of the River Bann, Portadown is a historic town in Northern Ireland. It flourished during the Victorian era following the arrival of the railway and became a major transport junction for passengers travelling between Belfast, Dublin and Derry. Today, Portadown is one of the most charming towns in County Armagh and worthy of a few days’ exploration.
In this guide, discover the best time to visit Portadown and the top things to do in and around the town, whether you’re a history buff wanting to discover its textile manufacturing past or a family looking for a leisurely weekend away. Your accommodation needs are easily sorted with a quick search at rentola.co.uk, which has a wide choice of options to suit everyone’s needs.
It’s a simple way of connecting with hosts in Portadown and browsing their online listings, with both cosy apartments and spacious houses available. Opt for a holiday rental in the heart of the town, within walking distance to Portadown’s most popular attractions, or spread out in a converted farmhouse surrounded by County Armagh’s rolling countryside.
Best time to visit Portadown
The best time to visit Portadown is generally considered to be between May and October when the temperatures are at their warmest. In June, July and August, the temperatures average around 17°C before plummeting to around 6°C in January and February. Snowfall is not common in Portadown but if it does occur, it’s most likely to be in December, January and February.
Things to do in Portadown
One of the town’s most impressive landmarks is this Victorian-style red brick building, which was designed by Robert and Thomas Roe in the 1880s. It served as the town hall for most of the 20th century before being transformed into a theatre venue. Admire its symmetrical facade with gabled outer bays and the small balcony on the first floor.
Established in the 17th century, Ardress House was remodelled during the Georgian period and is now owned by the National Trust, which offers guided tours of its period-furnished rooms. It nestles amidst 40 hectares of rolling countryside and is surrounded by apple orchards and a terraced garden filled with roses. Take time to explore the cobbled farmyard, which is complete with a dairy, a threshing barn and a smith’s workshop.
A short stroll from the High Street is this leafy recreational area, which has undergone a recent transformation with the creation of a state-of-the-art playground. Kids can let loose on the pirate ship and fly along the zip line while parents take advantage of the picnic tables and barbecue facilities. You can stretch your legs on the walking trails that meander around the landscaped garden beds and small pond or enjoy a kick around on one of the two football pitches.
Art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to this two-gallery arts complex, which provides an exhibition space for contemporary works by local and international artists. It occupies what was once Portadown’s municipal market hall, a red-brick landmark that dates back to 1929. In addition to its gallery spaces, the Millennium Court Arts Centre features a workshop, a darkroom and a kiln, plus a studio that is used by artists-in-residence.
Extending from Portadown’s Bann Bridge to the Newry Town Hall, this 20-mile-long canal towpath offers a relatively flat and level surface for exploring the surrounding countryside. When it opened in 1742, the Newry Canal connected the Tyrone Coalfields to the Irish Sea and incorporated 14 locks along its route. Of particular note is Moneypenny’s Lock, which features an 18th-century residence and stables where canal workers and their horses once stayed.
Just outside Portadown is one of the only fully restored nuclear monitoring bunkers built by the Royal Observer Corps during the Cold War. It once formed part of a network of monitoring posts located across the United Kingdom, with the purpose of reporting any nuclear explosions or radioactive fallout. Since 2010, it has been open to the public as a museum, with its two-room living quarters and operational area located 12 feet underground and accessed via a narrow shaft.
Whether you’re interested in sustainability or looking to develop new crafting skills, Portadown hosts a wide range of events and workshops throughout the year. The Seagoe Hotel regularly puts on live music shows featuring touring bands and tribute performers, with everyone from “ABBA” to “Dolly Parton” making an appearance. Alternatively, why not coincide your visit with the annual Portadown Festival, which celebrates traditional dance, music and drama.
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