Warwick Castle has been turned into a Haunted Castle for Halloween!
We’ve never been to Warwick Castle before as it’s too far to be a day trip. So when Warwick Castle invited me, along with my friend and our 3 children (8, 8 and 5) to come and join them for a weekend, staying at The Knights Village (attached to the Castle), we were very excited to see the Castle for ourselves. We’d only ever heard fabulous things about the Castle, especially the jousting arena. So were a bit disappointed to hear that this was closed after the summer season. However, Warwick Castle were setting up for Halloween season and we were lucky enough to preview some of the special events on offer shortly.
Visiting at the start of Autumn, we really did get to experience the beautiful grounds at their Autumnal best as the leaves were starting to colour and fall. The grounds are beautifully kept and a pleasure to explore. The Castle itself sits majestically in the grounds (surprisingly close to the very beautiful town centre, which is probably why parking is charged at £6). A wander around The Great Hall (no pushchairs/prams) and the battlements, towers and turrets afford some impressive views. The stone spiral staircases and uneven ground would be difficult and potentially unsafe with a sling or baby carrier, they were also tiring for the legs of a 5-year-old and would certainly be difficult for anyone unsteady on their feet.
We enjoyed a number of other attractions at the Castle:
Flight of the Eagles – By far the highlight of both our first and second day’s entertainment. We’ve been to a lot of birds of prey shows as a family and this really does rank up there as one of the best. The presenter is extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. The birds are all very experienced at flying within the castle grounds and utilise battlements and towers to perfection. They are also very good at low flying, much to the delight of the audience as members get feathers in their hair! Different birds are flown in the morning and afternoon shows, so it’s well worth attending both if you can. Get there early if you want to sit down though, the benches fill up at least half an hour before the show starts.
Horrible Histories Maze – A super way to spend half an hour (or less if your children are inclined to ignore all the information displays and simply want to find the next ‘stamp’ for their maze passport!). The maze has been well designed, just enough opportunity to get lost without any real moments of panic. I would imagine that at peak times it might be best to do the maze either early or late in the day, as I would expect it would be somewhat chaotic when busy.
The Witches Tower – The Princesses Tower has been transformed for Halloween into The Witches Tower. The children enjoy a short interactive storytelling session with a friendly, charismatic witch, helping her create a special potion in her cauldron. This is one of those events that the adults thought was short and sweet, but the children really seemed to enjoy. Probably best suited to 8 and under.
The Castle Dungeon – It is recommended that under 10’s do not visit the dungeon. Heed this recommendation. It’s dark, smelly, cramped and there are some unpleasant sights and stories. The 8 actors who take you through the 9 different rooms of the dungeon are masters in comedy and scare. Audience participation is required; trying to avoid eye contact with the actor does not get you off the hook as I discovered! I don’t want to spoil the event for you by giving any more details. The activity lasts about 50 minutes and costs £9 per person. On top of the entry fee that might be a little steep, to be honest.
Séance – Another event on offer over Halloween. Billed as being straight from the Edinburgh Festival, I was not sure what to expect. Prior to entering there is a warning that the event is not suitable for under 14’s (I’d say 16), takes place in total darkness, in a small room and is not suitable for anyone unable to contend with these conditions. It would also add that you need to wear large headphones throughout, where at times very loud noises are emitted, so perhaps not suitable for anyone with tinnitus or suchlike. I find this event difficult to review. I believe it was aiming to be a physiological thriller, to leave you feeling disturbed. In actuality, the people in my group were left feeling a bit unemotional by the experience, describing it is very odd and “arty”. I understand that this is to be an event incurring an additional fee. You’d be better off spending your money on the dungeon.
Fire Joust – The excellent actors will be participating in a fire joust over Halloween. Our preview of this event was short but excellent. I am sure that the headless horseman and his ghoul knights will put on a fabulous show.
The Knights Village
The Knights Village is situated only a 5-minute walk from the Castle and enjoys its own private entrance. Medieval glamping and woodland lodges are nestled next to the river, among the beautiful mature trees (acorns and conkers everywhere, including all the children’s pockets by the end of our stay of course!). The grassed areas are scattered with large barrels and carts, which are of course covered in climbing children. There is a well-lit raised wooden walkway running through the village which links everything together, ending at the Banqueting Hall, where both breakfast and the medieval evening banquet are served.
We’re recent converts to glamping, the lodge itself was sturdier and of more solid construction than other places we have stayed. We lucked out with our woodland lodge as it wasn’t overlooked and the veranda looked straight onto the river. The lodge itself is of the very best quality, with added tapestry, shields, swords and leather falconry gear! It was characterisation certainly excited the children. The lodge was very clean, warm (a heater in both bedrooms) and well equipped.
The Banqueting Hall is wonderfully designed, with thrones, shields, tapestries and candle holders. It really came alive just after 7pm when the evening entertainment quite literally barged into the room. A fantastic fight ensued around the tables between the good knight and the bad knight. All the children were very entertained by the super actors and were excited to have their photograph taken with the knights afterwards. I’d made a last minute Amazon purchase of medieval costumes for the children and I am so glad I did, as they were made a fuss of as a result and felt very special.
The Medieval Banquet is served each evening. There is a buffet serving a good selection of food, so you can eat when you choose, to suit your family. Children can either go for the typical breaded goujon and chips type food, or have a smaller portion of the carvery. There is a choice of desserts in the cooler cabinet. You can help yourself to hot and cold soft drinks, although there is a pay bar should you feel inclined to partake. The food was average; for 2 adults and 3 children, the cost would be circa £70.
There is no other food available in the evening, so unless you intend to go the short distance into town, you will need to eat in the Banqueting Hall. This is all part of the experience though and even though the food is nothing to write home about, the experience itself was fun.
The Castle grounds were beautiful, the Knights Village was magical and certainly constituted high-end glamping. The Knights Village was a wonderful experience for the children and was a very special treat. Every actor and staff member we experienced was professional, friendly and talented. Warwick Castle clearly ensures that they’ve found the very best people to enhance the experience for their guests. There are many add-ons you can take up as part of the experience and most families will need to carefully consider if those add-ons are worth it them on top of the already costly prices. A quick look online reveals a number of special offers though, so shop around!
Kelly and her family were invited to review but all views and opinions are their own.
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