Family-friendly weekend: Warwick Castle offers a right royal time

We are at The Falconer’s Quest, the UK’s biggest birds of prey show on the banks of the River Avon in the grounds of Warwick Castle. In a dynamic display of aerial acrobatics featuring an eagle owl, a bald eagle, dozens of red kites and an Andean condor with a wingspan of 9ft we follow the story of Hobby, a falconer who searches the land to find the finest birds to soar across the skies of this truly magical setting. A brand new attraction for the summer, it is one of the highlights of our weekend trip to the medieval castle developed from a wooden fort, originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068.

With lots of individual attractions, shows and experiences to enjoy in and around its towers and ramparts, we decided to make the most of the summer sunshine and spend the whole weekend there.

A royal sleepover at the Knight’sVillage is the ideal way to ignite a passion for the past in your little prince or princess, as we soon discovered.

Designed to bring history to life in a fun way that appeals to kids, the castle’s medieval-themed lodges mix modern convenience – separate bedrooms, wetroom, TV and outdoor decking – with the magic of a bygone age.

Arrows and shields adorn the walls, as well as a Bayeux Tapestry-style wall hanging featuring a knight using a mobile phone.

Alternatively, go for a regal glamping tent, complete with polished wooden flooring and four-poster bed along the King’s Avenue.

Arranged within a woodland grove in Capability Brown’s beautifully landscaped gardens on a bend in the river, the setting for both accommodation options is verging on fairy tale. It’s also the ideal environment to try the exclusive activities for those staying in the Knight’s Village, such as archery and sword skills.

An evening feast fit for a king is served in the banqueting hall, before guests get to soak up the atmosphere of a sword-fighting display. Cheer and boo as loudly as you like while watching the very realistic staged battles, with much sword-clanking, metal-flashing and mock wounding.

Back out in the castle grounds the next day, we took our places in the stands along with a 2,000-strong crowd of spectators for the War of the Roses live jousting spectacular.

Pledging our allegiance to the Houses of York or Lancaster, we cheered the rivals on horseback as they fought to the “death” in an exhilarating show of equestrian and sword-fighting skills.

Our children,William, aged nine, and Charlotte, six, also loved the Horrible Histories Maze where, through the twists, turns and dead ends of the multi-sensory maze inspired by the books of Terry Deary, they were introduced to the Terrible Tudors, Slimy Stuarts and the Measly Middle Ages.

Little ones will also love taking the winding staircase to Princess Felice’s Tower to unlock the riddle and break the curse to free her sweetheart, the brave Guy of Warwick.

Those over 10 get the chance to encounter the gleefully grim Castle Dungeon. There are also the treasures, weapons, armour and waxworks of the main house, plus the Time Tower using state-of-the-art multimedia to present the 1,000-year history of the castle to a 21st-century audience.

GETTING THERE

Short breaks at Warwick Castle include one night’s accommodation in the Knight’s Village; two-day entry to the castle, buffet breakfast served in the Knight’s Village Banquet Hall, and car parking. Prices from £172 per night, based on a family of four sharing a Woodland Lodge. A medieval-themed dinner is available in the Knight’s Village Banquet Hall for an additional £18.95 per adult or £9.95 per child. See warwick-castle.com

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