Day tripper: Four go to Warwick Castle
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Ooh yes indeedy, I love castles and am always on the look out for a new one to visit. So when I found out (via the Muddy Guide in fact!) that Warwick Castle had a special Lego event on this month it sounded like heaven. My Lego-nut children would need no persuasion to leave the ipad in peace for a day, and I’d have a good nose around the state rooms.
We arrived at 10.30am – frankly some kind of early morning miracle in my book – but already the closest car park was full and we had a 20 minute walk to the castle. No problem for us, but if it’s tanking with rain and your kids are a bit tricky it might be worth factoring in. There was also a large queue for tickets, so again might be worth buying online (they’re cheaper that way if you book a week in advance).
So to the day. Warwick Castle is one of the most attractive of the large UK castles. It also happens to be incredibly child-friendly. There’s a frenetic pace of activities inside, from tossing the Horrible Histories rats through hoops…
archery, chocolate coin searches, Lego building, mock-fighting shows…
jousting, facepainting (at £7 a pop!), the dungeons, a Merlin attraction … You get the gist.
It’s all massively stimulating for kids, and fun for adults too (with or without children), but a little part of me wondered if the castle managers needed to have so much stuff on the go – after all, the castle itself is stunning; attacked, besieged, burnt and still surviving after 1000 years. Some of the loveliest castles keep it simple – Broughton, Leeds, Pembroke. But maybe this opinion is just my raging snobbery!
In truth, I did manage to get the children up on the ramparts…
and through the state rooms
… and I lied about which direction the ice-cream could be found to get them into the conservatory gardens.
All of which they loved. They’d have really enjoyed raising the portcullis and the trebuchet too, but unfortunatly we missed those.
In terms of food and rink, there’s a decent cafe at the entrance where you can steel yourself with a cappuccino and sugar-rush the kids before you start your odyssey, and there are several decent food stations in tents around the castle.
We ate hearty pork belly, stuffing and apple sauce sandwiches on the grass (delicious, huge), while waiting for the birds of prey show. The show was very good by the way, though the bald eagle flew off and never came back!
The lure of Lego was always nagging at the kids, so I eventually caved in and let them spend an hour constructing Lego castles. It was a shame that the Lego making tent (smaller than I thought it would be – room for 16 kids maximum) was outside the castle walls, so the children started asking to do the Lego before we’d even made it through the portcullis. It would have been better to have had the Lego within the castle itself, perhaps half way around or something.
Then it was a dash around the kids play area, a quick look in the shop for the usual array of swords, shields, headgear and crappy snowglobes, and then past the glamping tents (sold out for 2013 but possibly fun for brave families in 2014) and back to the car.
Really, it was a very enjoyable day. Not cheap (these events never are) but make it there early and stay late – and force-feed the little blighters some history along the way! – and you’ll definitely get value for money.
£30.60 adult, £25.80 child. Family of 4 £107.40, family of 5, £132.
40% discount if you book family tickets 7 days earlier. www.warwick-castle.com