A day trip through history at Warwick Castle

From birds of prey to medieval battles, the past very much comes to thrilling life at Warwick's historic castle.

There's been a castle dominating the town of Warwick for nearly 1,000 years, which for centuries was visited by royalty and high society. However, since the 8th Earl of Warwick sold the castle in 1978, it’s been drawing the general public in great numbers.

Today Warwick Castle is part of Merlin Entertainments, which has introduced attractions to bring some of England’s most pivotal historical moments to colourful life for all the family. It's also teamed up with the creators of a dragon beloved by younger children and a book and TV series that makes history entertaining and engaging, in all its gory glory, for older kids.

Read on for the must-see attractions at Warwick Castle. We begin our journey in the Middle Ages...

The Wars of the Roses joust at Warwick Castle (Image: Warwick Castle) Warwick Castle

Wars of the Roses Live

Take the side of the House of York (white rose) or House of Lancashire (red rose) as the battles and betrayals of the Wars of the Roses are played out in a costumed arena spectacular. The actors’ ability to ride and joust is breathtaking and will dazzle all ages, while hopefully also explaining some of the back story to this turbulent time.

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The Falconer’s Quest bird of prey show

Many country houses and castles have a bird of prey show but Warwick has gone one step further by creating an enchanting medieval tale of a wannabe falconer wanting to “fill the skies above Warwick with birds”. And he does, with the likes of peregrine falcons and Steller’s sea eagles whooshing above the audience in a tightly-choregraphed celebration of these majestic birds at the castle throughout the centuries.

Zog and The Quest for the Golden Star trail

For those younger visitors who are bewitched by Julia Donaldson’s magical (if somewhat stereotypical) book about Zog, a young dragon training to be a knight, and his nurse companion, then this brand-new trail, complete with stamps to collect, will delight. Kids will get the chance to practice their roars and fly (without leaving the ground). There’s also the chance to meet and greet Zog himself at certain times and the BBC film is screening in an open-air cinema throughout the day.

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Horrible Histories Maze

Most children will enjoy this trip back through time via the Horrible Histories maze, but will get very different things out of it depending on their age. Younger ones will enjoy careering around collecting stamps from each time period and seeing what mischief Horrible Histories character Rattus Rattus has been up to, while slightly older kids can get a sense of what life was like in World War I trenches and Victorian homes.

Horrible Histories maze at Warwick Castle (Image: Warwick Castle) Warwick Castle

Teenagers might find it a bit lacking in drama but there are skill games to play in each time period, allowing all the family to get competitive and learn something at the same time.

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The castle and dungeons

Away from the themed attractions, there’s plenty to explore, including the castle itself. The armour and weapons collections wowed my family and the portraits of past monarchs brought history lessons to life. The castle ramparts took me back to my own ancient history of the occasional school holiday trip here, with stunning views across the River Avon.

Armour display at Warwick Castle (Image: Simon Ward / loveEXPLORING) Simon Ward/loveEXPLORING

There’s also a walk-through exhibition on how medieval soldiers prepared for battle and, for an extra fee, those of a strong disposition can venture into the castle dungeon. Those who fancy trying their skills at medieval pursuits can go to Knight School or, again for an additional charge, have a go at archery. There are also plenty of costumed characters roaming around seeking groups of young warriors to train.

With so much history, real and imagined, to immerse yourself in, it's an action-packed day that both kids and adults will remember for a long time.

Warwick Castle is open 10am–5pm daily. www.warwick-castle.com, 01926 406610. Day tickets from £20 per person (3+). Children under three receive free entry. Wars of the Roses Live, The Falconer’s Quest, Zog and the Quest for the Golden Star and all day Zog Cinema screenings included in entry ticket costs this summer. Wars of the Roses Lives runs twice daily until 5th September 2021 (1pm and 4pm). The Falconer’s Quest runs twice daily until 31st October 2021 (11.30am and 2.30pm).

Lead image: Warwick Castle


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