This is a review post – we were gifted tickets in exchange for an honest review. To be in with a chance of winning a family day pass to visit Warwick Castle yourself, read this review and enter the giveaway below.
When we told Pickle we were going for a day out to a Castle – he had no idea what to expect. In his head, we were going to a bouncy castle. Imagine seeing his face when he was actually confronted with the mightily impressive Warwick Castle, and it’s gorgeous grounds.
I love that we live in a country so steeped in history. Learning about our past fascinates me – the living conditions, the social structures, and of course, the politics. Warwick Castle does a fantastic job of sharing their history in a fun, interactive and engaging way, offering a wonderful day out for families of all ages.
Growing Up Locally
I grew up not far from Warwick Castle, but I don’t think we ever visited when I was younger. Embarrassing story: when I was in Year 7 at school, I remember a lad telling us he’d been to visit the Castle during the school holidays and was boasting about seeing jousting and a trebuchet. I genuinely rolled my eyes and told him he was making it up. We must have driven past the entrance to the Castle once in the car, and I’d gotten confused. All I could see was a clock tower, with a pedestrian archway underneath (at the bottom of High Street, for those local), and that’s what I thought Warwick Castle was. I was adamant there wouldn’t have been room for jousting in that tiny passageway.
More recently, I’ve visited Warwick Castle more as a runner. I ran the first Warwick Half Marathon which started and finished there, and I’ve done the Two Castles 10k a number of times. Wandering through the castle grounds at 7.30am is pretty spectacular, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend that running event for anyone looking for a well run, gorgeous and enjoyable 6 mile run.
Summer Holiday Visits
I wasn’t sure what to expect on the first weekend of the Summer Holidays, and so we arrived at what I thought was quite early (around 10.15am – the attraction opens its doors daily to the public from 10am – 4pm), to find we already needed to park on the overflow field car park. Be warned if you’re visiting with anyone who finds walking a struggle: it was about a twenty minute walk from the car to the Castle entrance. Pickle was an absolute trooper and was full of energy, but he did fall asleep in my arms on the walk back. It was quite a good work out!
Top tip: there is a pedestrian path the entire way to the entrance. We saw lots of people just following the road, but I always think it’s best to be absolutely safe when it comes to children. Once inside, there was plenty to explore and get involved in, but I was particularly excited for the special summer events: War of the Roses Live and The Falconer’s Quest.
War of the Roses Live
The War of the Roses Live show was my ‘we-must-not-miss-this’ event of the day – a thrilling mix of jousting, combat and historic story telling. Even though we gave ourselves plenty of time to make our way down to the tournament ground, the arena was already fairly filled. In fact, later that day – we saw people queuing up to bagsy the best spots so it’s worth allowing plenty of time to arrive if you’re keen to see it (which you should be, it’s WELL worth it!).
After crossing the bridge over the beautiful River Avon, you have a choice to make: are you with the House of York, or the House of Lancaster? We let Pickle choose – white for the House of York, or red for the House of Lancaster. He chose red, even persuading us to buy a big red foam hand to help us in our cheering efforts (I was only too happy to buy it… I spent a lot of time watching Gladiators as a child and always thought the big foam hands looked like fun!).
We found ourselves a little spot, and got ready for the spectacle. It was brilliant. A great mix of history, entertainment, skill and theatrics. The dramatic music, the smoke, the sound of hooves and the element of danger made it so exciting to watch. It was obvious a lot of work had gone into ensuring a high production value. I absolutely loved it.
Pickle sat a top Jim’s shoulders to watch, and as much as I loved watching the jousting, I also loved watching his face too. He was taking it all in, and looked quite concerned at times! Sadly, his concentration didn’t last for the whole performance, so we ducked out just before the end to avoid any tantrums or disrupting the other audience members.
The Falconer’s Quest
The other show we made sure to see was The Falconer’s Quest. Warwick Castle has quite the eye for staging, and as we were walking back over the bridge from the War of the Roses Live, I could see they picked a beautiful spot to showcase their birds of prey.
I knew this show would be perhaps a harder sell to a three year old, so we sat on the grassy bank near the back, with plenty of green space behind us for Pickle to have a run around if needed (spoiler alert: he did need it).
Unlike most birds of prey shows I’ve seen, I liked that Warwick Castle incorporated a historical and story telling element to The Falconer’s Quest, meaning we learned plenty about these incredible birds but in a context that felt very fitting to the location.
I really love the atmosphere of large gatherings outside – the sense of occasion and community really appeals to me and so both of these shows at Warwick Castle were right up my street. There’s something magical about seeing hundreds of people sat on the side of a grassy bank, sitting with their loved ones and enjoying a family day out. I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as me.
The Mighty Trebuchet Talk
During our day’s visit, there were also a scheduled Trebuchet Talk. Pickle was getting tired at this point and his ability to concentrate was waning, but I was still able to listen in to the informative and entertaining show, which including a countdown of the top 5 trebuchet ammunition.
Climbing the Towers
Pickle’s favourite activity of the day was climbing the towers – obviously. This kid just loves climbing anything! As soon as he realised it was possible to get right to the top, that’s all he wanted to do.
He gave it a really good go, too! There’s over 500 steps on the towers and ramparts walk with some steep, dark spiral staircases and I was so proud of his efforts. It does make you think about the young men running up and down these during battle – a very sobering thought. Pickle did ask for us to carry him going down, as I think he was finding the steep stairs with the queue of other visitors behind him a bit daunting – but it didn’t stop him dragging us up there a second time!
Although we attempted to take in the history available in the exhibits, Pickle wasn’t keen on staying inside, so after a quick wander around The Great Hall, we headed back outside to enjoy the beautiful grounds and summer weather. Luckily, Jim and I had visited Warwick Castle pre-parenthood and had been able to fully absorb lots of the history then. I’ll look forward to returning again when Pickle is old enough to appreciate that side of things too.
One of the things we didn’t fit into our day on this visit was Knight School – the chance for children under the age of 12 to be trained in tactical defence skills. Ironically, on the walk from the car park, I was telling Jim that I wasn’t wild about the idea of buying Pickle toy weapons to play with… only to then end up buying two toy swords for us. I couldn’t resist how excited he was when he saw them in the gift shop.
Tips for Visiting
If you’re planning a day out at Warwick Castle, here are a few little tips that might help you make the most of your day:
- Wear flat, comfortable shoes.
- Taking a picnic is a great idea, although best to keep it on you (carry it in a rucksack for example). You can gain re-entry to the castle if you want to go back to the car, but it’s a long return walk.
- Take water bottles with you, there are plenty of water stations around the Castle that you can use for free for refills (excellent idea, Warwick Castle!).
- Castle entry costs £21 when booked online in advance, and allows access to the castle itself, 64 acres of grounds and all events and daily shows except the Castle Dungeon.
- Kingdom entry costs £26 when booked online in advance, allows access to the castle itself, 64 acres of grounds, all events and daily shows and includes the Castle Dungeon experience.
- Starting in August, Warwick Castle are also bringing back their sell-out success from last year: Dragon Slayer on selected dates.
- For a special treat, why not extend your stay by booking accommodation in the Knight’s Village? We had a sneak peak of it on the walk from the car park, and it looks amazing! You get a second day entrance to the Castle too.
Win a Family Day Pass for Warwick Castle
To enjoy this day out for yourself, enter the giveaway below for the chance to win a Family Day Pass (covers a family of five) for Warwick Castle, to be redeemed before 1 September 2019.Win a Family Day Pass to Warwick Castle
Good luck to all who enter, and I hope the lucky winning family has as much fun at Warwick Castle as we did.
Disclaimer: we were given tickets for our day out at Warwick Castle on Sunday 21st July 2019 in exchange for an honest review and social media coverage. All content (except for the embedded YouTube video),views and opinions are my own.