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This summer, Warwick Castle is hosting an array of spectacular shows and events. A visit to the castle is always a full day out, but this year they’ve gone one step further. An already impressive bird of prey show has been transformed into the breathtaking Falconer’s Quest. The thrilling Wars of the Roses returns and the Castle Dungeon is as frightening as ever. During August, certain evenings will see the return of the awesome Dragon Slayer show. We headed to Warwick Castle this week to see what all the fuss is about.
About Warwick Castle
The huge, imposing castle at Warwick has been a landmark since as early as 914. These days, it is a Merlin attraction with all the entertainment and excitement that goes along with the Merlin brand. Despite that, the castle itself remains authentic. Both building and interiors have been restored to show the castle as it would have been during different eras of its history.
Attractions are for the most part educational and based on Warwick Castle’s fascinating history. As you would expect from Merlin, waxworks are used to show period dress and demonstrate how certain rooms would have been used. Each area of the castle features either an informative display or an interactive attraction.
As a day out, Warwick Castle is totally full-on. There’s so much to do that you can’t possibly get round it all in a day, we’ve tried. It’s possible to extend your day and stay over in a Knight’s Lodge or glamping tent. This is well worth doing, particularly if you’re travelling a long way. We just about managed to fit in everything we wanted to do when we were there for two days.
Warwick Castle summer shows
We’ve always really enjoyed the shows at Warwick Castle. They’re a great way to keep children engaged with learning about the history of the site. Whilst it’s a good day out anyway, I always view a visit to something like this as a learning opportunity. So, any shows that teach the children a little more about history can only be a good thing.
War of the Roses
The War of the Roses has always been one of our favourite shows at Warwick Castle. I love how interactive it is. Children are engaged with the story before they even arrive at the arena. Every spectator is asked to choose between the white rose of the House of York, or the red rose of the House of Lancaster. Lancastrians join the viewing area nearest to the river, whilst Yorkists head over to the far side.
Actors whip the crowd up into a frenzy of shouting for their side before the show even starts. Then, the War of the Roses is retold in all its glory. Kings, Queens and horseback jousting command your attention from start to finish. I’m sure children learn more from watching the War of the Roses play out in such an action packed manner than they ever would from a text book or lesson. You can watch my video of a day at Warwick Castle a couple of years ago. It includes a War of the Roses show and gives a sense of the drama involved!
Reviews of last year’s Dragon Slayer night-time show were fantastic, so it’s returning to Warwick Castle this August. It tells the story of a 10th century warrior battling to win the heart of Princess Felice, the daughter of the Earl of Warwick. The grand finale is a huge stand-off between the warrior and a fire-breathing dragon. The tale unfolds in a mix of live action, fire-jousting, light projected animation, and pyrotechnics. Dragon slayer takes place on select dates only between 7th and 26th August 2019.
Warwick Castle’s falconers and their birds have been delighting the crowds for a long time. This summer though, the show has got bigger and better as it has been transformed into the Falconer’s Quest. Now, the birds are used to tell the story of Hobby, who goes around the world looking for the finest birds around. It features up to 70 birds per show, including a finale when many of the birds all fly together. The show is now at a riverside arena instead of on the castle lawn where it used to take place. The new venue is stunning and the show is well worth a watch.
Other entertainment at Warwick Castle
For children, looking around a castle or historic building is never enough. Seeing historic artefacts and reading about the past doesn’t engage them. That’s why the entertainment at Warwick Castle is so good. We’ve been taking our girls since Lia was tiny and there’s always something to keep them amused. The Princess Tower is always a hit with little ones, who help the princess to solve a riddle and break a magic spell.
The Horrible Histories Maze is another educational attraction. Children collect stamps from around the maze, whilst learning about different periods in history. Older children will love the Castle Dungeon, although this one isn’t for the faint-hearted. The Mighty Trebuchet catapult is released a few times a day during an informative show. Learn about the castle’s history in the Time Tower, and explore exhibitions, gardens, towers and ramparts. There’s also archery available for an additional cost.
I’m rarely disappointed by anything at Warwick Castle. Unfortunately though, Knight School was a disappointment. A knight greeted children on the Oak Tree Lawn to teach them tactical defence skills. Libby bounded over, keen to join in but she soon realised she wasn’t allowed to take part unless she had her own toy sword.
Then, I watched as the knight turned children away. Some bought toy swords from the gift shop at the bottom of the lawn and took part, others cried because they couldn’t. I refused to buy Libby another sword from the gift shop when she had one at home. Luckily, she is aware of the problem with buying plastic unnecessarily and wasn’t too upset.
I’m not sure whether swords were given out at the beginning or whether every child had to have their own. However, we arrived about five minutes before it was due to start and none were available. Knight school is a great idea and the girls have participated in it at other attractions. However at all of those, swords or sticks were provided. I have two problems with the approach taken at Warwick Castle. Firstly, this is a once in a lifetime day out for many people. If you’ve saved up to take family on a fantastic, educational adventure, there might not be another fiver to spare for a sword. The other problem is the consumerism of purchasing a sword just to take part in a short activity.
I hope to hear that Warwick Castle rethink their policy on this. Luckily it didn’t ruin our day and we will definitely be back in the future. For some though, it certainly caused upset.
Things to note about visiting Warwick Castle
I would, and frequently do, recommend Warwick Castle as a brilliant, educational day out. There really is something for everyone and there’s so much to do that a day just isn’t enough. Here are a few tips to make the most of your day.
- Be aware that it’s approximately a 20 minute walk from the car park to the entrance.
- Arrive early on a hot day. The castle opens at 10am during the summer and it’s advisable to make the most of the cooler morning temperatures.
- War of the Roses will (rightly) be cancelled if it gets too hot for the horses. Sometimes the first show takes place and not the second one, depending on the temperature.
- If your children want to take part in the Knight’s School and they have a toy sword, bring it with you.
- If you only have a day, check the Warwick Castle website before you go and decide what you want to do. You won’t manage it all, so it’s important to prioritise.
- Consider staying overnight. The prices can be quite reasonable, especially off peak. You then end up with two full days to explore.
- Free water refill points are available around the site and you can also ask at food and drink kiosks for a refill. It’s well worth taking a reusable water bottle each, especially in hot weather.
- There are restaurants, cafés and kiosks around Warwick Castle and there are also plenty of places for a picnic. We took a picnic and enjoyed some time in the shade while we had lunch.
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