Review – A spooky weekend at Warwick Castle for Halloween

There is something that keeps attracting us back to Warwickshire in the Autumn. Shakespeare’s England is one of the most beautiful parts of the country and in particular it also has one of the best medieval castles for families in England.

What made our visit to Warwick Castle even more exciting was that we were able to stay within the castle grounds at their new Woodland Lodges at the Knights Village (you can read our review here).

As a family we love Halloween and Warwick Castle is one of the best places for Halloween fun in the country, so what better place to spend the 31st October!  It’s been three years since our last visit and a lot has changed including the new Horrible History’s Maze and the girls who are now 6 and 9 were the perfect ages to get the most out of our family visit.

We took advantage of the two day tickets which are included as part of your Warwick Castle stay and made the short walk from our beautiful medieval themed lodge to visit the castle at dusk.  For the Haunted Castle Halloween event the castle was open until 9pm.  Having the grounds lit up in different colours and a giant ‘The Haunted Castle’  projected against the side of the castle wall, just added to the Halloween ambience.

Walking from the Knights Village via a private entrance to the Warwick Castle grounds allowed us to explore the beautifully kept gardens and admire the delightful autumn scenery, giant oak trees and peacocks that roam freely in front of you.

First up was the Trubuchet.  When we checked into the Knights Village we picked up a schedule of daily events and saw that the Trubuchet was due to fire at 4.30pm just outside the castle walls. It’s something that we have always wanted to see but have never had the chance.

For those who are unaware what a Trubuchet is ( I must admit I didn’t know before I visited 3 years ago) it’s a medieval weapon and the one  at Warwick Castle is the world’s largest catapult, firing a flaming fireball 150 metres into the air.

Just before the show was about to begin, the audience was informed at the last minute that because of technical difficulties it would not be firing during the 2 days of our visit.  This was a little disappointing as I imagine this would have been spectacular to witness, but as an alternative there was a Trebuchet talk plus it gave us the opportunity to get up close to this great piece of medieval machinery.

Built by William the Conqueror, the castle dates back over 1,000 years which sits majestically in the castle grounds. What makes Warwick Castle one of the best in the country for families to explore is how they have managed to seamlessly integrate history, learning and fun.   As we entered the majestic courtyard via the giant portcullis the girls were so excited especially when they saw the amazing Halloween theming.

We made our first visit to the Princess Tower which has been transformed for Halloween into the Witches Tower (it’s worth visiting this first as spaces are limited).  Visiting at dusk just added to the superb spooky theming that Warwick Castle has cleverly created.  The girls faces lit up as they spotted the giant cauldron at the steps of the tower, complete with interactive singing pumpkins!

Friendly witches congregated at the entrance, where they were looking for children to help them find the missing ingredients to their magic potion.

The girls loved this superbly themed experience so much they did it twice especially when they dressed up as cute little witches on Halloween.

What made this storytelling session so good was the interaction with the children from a clever interactive mirror to helping the witches find missing items (bats wings, frog’s legs, rat’s tails and even a smelly shoe from the audience)  for their cauldron.

Buzzing after spending time with the witches the girls went in search for more Halloween fun at the haunted hallows.  On this spooky trail we encountered green swamps, giant spiders and jumped out of our skins when what we thought was a pumpkin decoration turned out to be one of the really fun creepy actors that you encounter at every turn.

Before we made our way back to the Knights Village after a fun evening at the castle, we joined in with the dance routines to the background music of Michael Jackson’s Thriller at the dead centre stage, located in the central courtyard of the castle.  My husband and I tried to stand and watch but we were quickly picked out for not participating as audience participation was key!

The next morning after a great night’s sleep at our lodge in the Knights Village and dressed for Halloween we were ready to explore more of Warwick Castle.

The girls are big fans of Horrible Histories, so when they saw on the map that there was a Horrible Histories Adventure Maze it was on top of their to-do list for the day.

This adventure maze is one of the latest attractions at Warwick Castle and will be unlike any other maze that you have likely been in before, it’s brilliant.   The six history zones (Frightful First World War, Vicious Vikings, Slimy Stuarts, Measly Middle Ages, Stormin’ Normans and Terrifying Tudors) in the maze are superbly designed and landscaped, ranging from First World War trenches to a Viking ship – each area scattered with lots of interactive elements.

We collected our Time Passports at the start of the maze and the girls loved hunting down the six stations to receive their stamps whilst learning about different eras of history.

What was so clever about how the Horrible Histories maze was constructed was that it encouraged the girls to learn about history whilst having lots of fun, which is no easy task.  Even exiting the maze is fun for children, it was so good that we had to visit again later in the day.

Entertainment aside, Warwick Castle is steeped in history and is a fascinating castle to visit.  At the Great Hall the range of armour and weapons on display were spectacular, it truly felt like we had gone back in time.  From the beautiful chapel to the attention to detail and grandeur of the state rooms especially in the dining room where George IV, Edward VII, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert have all dined was exquisite.

Tucked away in the basement area of the castle was the kingmaker exhibition.  This took us through what it would be like to walk into battle alongside a Medieval army, where we experienced the sights, sounds and smells of medieval England.

What made our castle experience more interesting and educational for the children were the amazing waxwork displays and information boards which detail the history of the castle going back to the year 914.

It’s worth the effort climbing the stone steps onto the battlements and towers for wonderful panoramic views of the castle, its grounds and surrounding area.

I think one of the towers had 500 steps, we lost count as we made our way up the spiral staircase but its well worth the effort, as once more you are rewarded with magnificent 360 degree views of Warwick and the Warwickshire countryside.

With so much to do at Warwick Castle, we easily lost a few hours and took a well-deserved break for lunch.  With only one restaurant serving just a pizza and pasta buffet, and fast food kiosks serving burgers and roast meat rolls –  lunch options and places to sit and recharge your batteries are limited here.  This is something that could be improved upon at Warwick Castle, a tea room where you could enjoy tea and cake would make a lovely addition to the castle.

However, we picked up some warm doughnuts and hot drinks and took a seat to watch the flight of the Eagles show.  Holly loves wildlife and this impressive display captured her attention with eagles along with owls, buzzards and vultures swooping over the crowd.

Whilst Holly and her daddy were being entertained watching the Bird of Prey Show, Chloe and I snuck off to try her archery skills.  This was a perfect time to try this medieval sport as there was no queue and at a cost of £5 for 12 arrows I thought it was really good value.  The instructor was brilliant spending time explaining the correct technique to Chloe, who after hitting the target with each arrow I think has found a new passion for the sport.

After a quick re-run of the maze, haunted hallows and scaling yet more heights of the mound and with two exhausted children and parents, we said our final goodbye to our favourite bear in the Knights Village and left with lots of happy family memories of our weekend.

Overall

Warwick Castle is one of the best castles you can visit with your children, we had so much fun.  Warwick Castle really does have it all, we loved the mix of history, entertainment and activities over our two days and learnt so much.

Staying at the Knights Village made our visit to Warwick Castle even more special and with so much to see and do having the 2 day ticket included in your lodge break was definitely worth it.  The Halloween event at the castle is one of the best in the country for children and we had so much fun.  With lots of other cool events throughout the year we will definitely be back for another visit.

For more information visit www.warwick-castle.com and Shakespeare’s England

We were guests of Shakespeare’s England and Warwick Castle.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.

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