The sun shone and the icy wind rosied our cheeks as we walked through the gates at Warwick Castle, to be met with the impressive sight of soaring towers and battlements. We’ve never visited Warwick Castle before, so when we were invited to experience Christmas at Warwick Castle we couldn’t wait to travel through time and blow away the cobwebs on an historic and festive day out.
Christmas At Warwick Castle
Once inside, we explored the state rooms, all beautifully decorated with twinkling archways and Christmas trees in almost every room, including a 40ft tree in the Great Hall! Much to the delight of the younger visitors in our family, amongst the armour and artefacts we discovered the death mask of Oliver Cromwell and Queen Anne’s deathbed!
One of my favourite rooms inside the state rooms included the beautiful Victorian sleigh once owned by Daisy Greville, 5th Countess of Warwick, surrounded by Christmas trees and piled with gifts.
Stories With Santa
Then it was time for stories with Santa. We waited in a small drawing room with around 10 other families, before a door opened and a very happy elf announced that Santa was ready.
We all filed into a grand room decorated with Christmas trees, garlands and lights. Santa sat next to the fireplace, there were cushions on the floor for the children to sit on and the adults stood around the edge of the room. Santa’s story reminded children that it’s good to be good and nice to be nice. Then Santa reached down under the tree to reveal the magical bells that ring out across the world on Christmas night and he led the room in a rendition of Jingle Bells. Then, one by one, each family had their chance to take a photograph with Santa before saying goodbye and there were photographs and mementos available to buy at the end of the experience.
You do have to book in advance online for Stories With Santa but there’s no extra charge and it is included in the entry price. The experience is only 15 minutes or so, it’s quite short but very sweet and Santa is superb. Just be aware that there’s no opportunity to really talk to Santa and there’s no gift… it’s not a grotto, it is a storytime with the opportunity for a photograph at the end.
Exploring Warwick Castle
With smiles on our faces we ventured outside to explore the rest of the castle. The Time Tower took us on a self-led tour through the history of the castle from it’s beginnings as a Saxon fortification built under the direction of Ethelfleda (daughter of Alfred the Great), to William the Conqueror, Richard Neville The Kingmaker, King Richard III and the Greville family.
The walls of Warwick Castle have many stories to tell and we have to go back to visit the Princess Tower, climb the Towers and Battlements and enjoy some scary fun in the Castle Dungeon (which is not suitable for children under 10 years old).
Winter Birds of Prey Show
At the picturesque Riverside Arena we watched the Winter Birds of Prey display, which was an amazing opportunity to get very close to a magnificent Milky Eagle Owl and a majestic Barn Owl. With the impressive back-drop of Warwick Castle’s mighty Trebuchet and the River Avon, we watched the raptors swoop and dive as the knowledgeable Falconer gave us an insight into the lives of these incredible birds.
In need of warmth and sustenance we treated ourselves to a meal in the warmth of the Undercroft Restaurant which offered a pizza buffet. The options were limited despite the buffet layout but we all enjoyed our meals and we were glad of the cosy surroundings. If we visit again on a warmer day then I’ll bring a picnic or investigate the options at the Coach House Restaurant which is next to the entrance.
Horrible Histories Maze
We’re huge Horrible Histories fans so our next stop had to be the Horrible Histories Maze. We picked up a Horrible Histories passport at the entrance to the maze and then wandered through six different time periods, in search of stamps to complete the passport. As we walked through the barrels of gunpowder piled high by the Slimy Stuarts we learned about the small part that Warwick Castle played in the Gunpowder Plot. Our favourite area was the Frightful First World War, which gave some sense of being in the trenches with walkways flanked either side with walls of sandbags.
We visited on a crisp, dry winter’s day which meant that we could enjoy the outdoor and indoor attractions at Warwick Castle, from the Stories with Santa to the Birds of Prey and Horrible Histories Maze. There’s so much to do and we’re all looking forward to returning later in the year.
TOP TIPS FOR A VISIT TO CHRISTMAS AT WARWICK CASTLE
- Christmas at Warwick Castle is on from 24th November to 31st December 2018 (closed 25th December 2018).
- Book your Stories With Santa session online ahead of your visit. Stories with Santa is included in the ticket price and sessions run on the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 18th-24th December 2018. Visit the website to book in advance.
- Don’t miss the Winter Birds of Prey Show at 12.30pm and also 2.30pm.
- Warwick Castle has parking just a 5-10 minute walk from the entrance on Stratford Road, Warwick, CV34 6AH. Parking in the Stratford Road car park is £6 per vehicle.
- Visit the Warwick Castle website for more information including the details of opening times.
I visited in December 2018, all information is correct at the time of publishing.
I visited as a guest of Warwick Castle. Images, words and opinions are all my own.