COVID-19 safety update
Some facilities and attractions may be closed or restricted this year, due to COVID-19 – and there may be extra safety rules, pre-booking requirements or one-way systems in place. Please check Warwick Castle’s website before travelling or booking.
Who we are and when we visited:
I visited Warwick Castle with my 4-year-old daughter on a cloudy Saturday at the start of the school holidays in July.
What age is this venue best for:
Best for: Pre-school and primary school aged children
Still good fun for: Grown-ups and older children. The history of the castle is fascinating – as are the interactive walk-through exhibits such as The Royal Weekend Party and The Kingmaker. The grounds and ramparts are stunning too if you have the time (and the weather) to explore them.
Avoid if: You have mobility issues – the site is huge and requires a lot of walking to get around it so older, less mobile grandparents may struggle to keep up. A limited number of wheelchairs are available to hire.
How much does it cost?
On the day prices start from £31 for anyone aged 3 or over, or £25 in advance – so a family of 4 would pay from £100 on tickets alone. Under 3s go free.
Are there discounts or cheap tickets available for Warwick Castle?
- Booking online in advance can save you up to £6 per person for a start and there are multiple promotional offers available if you do your research ahead of time
- Look out for special deals on days out ticket websites like Attractiontix, Picniq and Kids Pass
- Short breaks – such as an overnight stay in one of the Warwick Tents – start from £47pp and discounted second-day tickets are available for overnight guests. Look for entry ticket & accommodation deals at Holiday Extras.
- For families who think they will visit more than once or who might visit other Merlin attractions, such as Sea Life Centres, Chessington World of Adventures, Legoland or Alton Towers, you could consider investing in a newly-relaunched Merlin Annual Pass which gives unlimited entry to all the attractions from £89 per person.
- Christmas in a castle? For an extra special experience, you can book a Santa Sleepover at Warwick Castle, including an ‘elf wake-up call’ and Stories With Santa experience.
- For a spooky experience Warwick Castle are hosting Halloween events.
Are there any extra charges once I’m there?
Standard parking is charged at £6 per car and is a 5-10 minute walk from the main entrance. Express parking, which is a little closer, costs £10. The site is easy to access on foot from the centre of Warwick so you could try and park elsewhere and walk in or arrive by train. Warwick Railway Station is around one mile from the castle.
The majority of the attraction is outdoors and there are loads of places to eat a picnic – you are also really close to the town centre so can pop out to get food if you’ve forgotten to bring your own. This could save you a fair whack of money as coffees alone are around £3 a pop and not the best (I had to ask for two new ones as ours arrived cold, although they were very apologetic). Cans of fizzy drink and water are £2-£2.50 each.
Themed castle merchandise is on sale everywhere – and I mean everywhere – so it’s hard to avoid the pleas for a sword and shield or a princess crown. Especially as half the parents there appear to have already succumbed to requests for that premium knight/princess costume. But the prices really are extortionate – a wooden sword costs £13. We took our own sword with us and I would suggest you do the same if you can – recycling an old fancy dress costume or buying a supermarket alternative will save you a tonne of cash but still let little ones feel part of the fun on the day.
How long will you spend at Warwick Castle?
With 64 acres of castle, grounds and gardens to explore, you could easily spend two days here. We spent one and only really covered the outdoor activities – we hardly touched the castle itself. During the summer holidays 2021, Warwick Castle was home to the pop-up outdoor Zog cinema where “Zog” and “Zog and the Flying Doctors” played on a loop with huge hay bales and comfy bean bags to sit on while you watch. My daughter would have spent the entire day here had we not insisted she come and play elsewhere!
What’s Warwick Castle like for families?
In a post-Covid world, Warwick Castle really is an ideal day out as so much of the attraction is based outdoors. The clever theming and the way in which characters and time periods have been brought to life make it fun for children of all ages while the history of the site is truly fascinating for older children and adults alike.
The castle itself is incredible to behold – the view as you approach is quite breath-taking. Much of the ground is cobbled and things like the castle ramparts are up steep steps so it’s not the easiest day out with a pushchair. But that’s not to say it’s impossible. Much of the castle is accessible to wheelchair and pushchair users and there are some accessible lifts, offering access to attractions such as The Great Hall. Depending on your child’s age, I would suggest taking a sling for ease or encouraging toddlers to get out and walk as and when necessary.
As the site is so sprawling, we did find toilets weren’t always as close as you might like – we got caught short near the bridge over to the War of the Roses Live show and my four-year-old couldn’t wait so had to go for an “adventure wee” in the bushes.
Is Warwick Castle suitable to visit in all weather conditions?
Most of the attraction – including live shows such as The Falconer’s Quest – are outside so ideally you want to visit on a dry day. While cold weather is just about do-able with enough layers and a hot chocolate in The Undercroft Cafe, indoor areas are limited and also less appealing to younger children. Things like the Castle Dungeon (age 10+ only), A Royal Weekend Party and The Kingmaker walk-through experience are all inside but are better suited to older children/teens and won’t hold you pre-schooler’s attention. On a hot sunny day the castle will obviously be busier but this is less of an issue on an outdoor site that is so spread out.
What shouldn’t be missed?
Highlights for us were:
- The live shows are an absolute must-see. Over the summer holidays, Wars of the Roses Live offered an impressive mix of live action entertainment, jousting, special effects and horse riding tricks. The Falconer’s Quest (runs until 31 October) is also a great addition to your day out – the live bird of prey show set to music and storytelling is truly stunning. The Warwick Bowman also makes regular appearances throughout the year, demonstrating his adeptness with a bow and arrow
- Pre-school children will love the Zog-themed interactive trail where they can learn to fly without actually leaving the ground, test out their roar and practise capturing a princess before joining Princess Pearl and Sir Gadabout at knight school to earn a golden star, just like Zog in the children’s book by Julia Donaldson
- Primary school-aged children and tweens can run off some energy exploring the Horrible Histories maze, where they can meet the Vicious Vikings, Stormin’ Normans and Vile Victorians as well as journeying through the Measly Middle Ages and the Frightful First World War
Is there anything else to see?
The new Zog Playland is a great option for younger kids. They can let off steam on the Dragon Wing Zip Wire, climb up Princess Pearl’s Tower, and slide down Zog’s tail. There’s a sand area, adventure tunnels, and dragon-themed slides and swings too.
Are there any scary elements that young or sensitive children might not enjoy?
The Castle Dungeon attraction (tickets £10, sold separately) is only open to guests over 10 years old so we didn’t enter this bit but the Warwick Castle website warns that “due to the scary and jumpy nature of this attraction, The Castle Dungeon is not suitable for pregnant women, people with heart conditions or those of a nervous disposition”.
Warwick Castle at Christmas 2022
If you plan on heading to Warwick Castle during the festive period, you’re in for a treat. Christmas at the Castle runs from 26th November to 2nd January, where the State Rooms are decked out with beautiful Christmas trees and festive lights, and a traditional Christmas food market selling everything from hog roast rolls to mulled wine is set up in the grounds.
Parenting writer and mum of 2, Sarah Dawson, visited the Christmas at the Castle event with her husband, 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, on opening night, enjoying a 45-minute ice skating session on the open-air ice rink, Stories with Santa and the illuminated light trail through the castle’s grounds and gardens.
She said: “If you’re struggling to get into the festive spirit, a trip to Warwick Castle will definitely do the trick. You can book your time slot for all the activities, which means there’s no waiting around – an absolute must with our impatient pre-schooler!
Ice skating right next to the castle walls and huge turrets felt really special (it costs from £15.50 per person). You need to be 3 or over to go on the rink, and there’s a choice of clip-on, double-bladed skates for young children, as well as the traditional skates for older kids (our 6-year-old had no problem with these) and adults. Thankfully skate aids were available – it’s fair to say my husband relied on them as much as the kids! – but be aware these are at an additional cost (£5) to the skating and can’t be pre-booked. We thought with such young kids we’d only be out on the ice for 10 minutes or so, but the full 45-minute slot went by really quickly and we all loved every second of it. If you’re not a fan of the ice, there’s a large spectators’ area where you can still get into the festive mood thanks to the cool light show and Christmas music.
The highlight of our visit was, of course, meeting Santa himself. Stories with Santa (from £31 including the standard day ticket) starts with a cute game with the elves, which all the kids got involved with, before we were led through to the most picture-perfect setting inside the castle to meet Santa and Mrs Claus. They were as warm, friendly and wonderful as you’d hope and, while our 3-year-old was a little nervous, our 6-year-old was very excited to say hello and pose for photos! Each child gets a castle-themed gift, and we all went away with huge smiles on our faces – even our pre-schooler.
As well as this, you can book onto the amazing light trail around the grounds (from £15.50) and indulge in the offerings from the Christmas food market – toasting our own marshmallows was a big hit but be warned the food and drink prices are high, as seems to be standard at markets like this. As a full day and evening out, the cost does add up, but it’s truly the most perfect Christmas treat all ages will love. We cannot wait to go again next year!”
To book visit: Warwick Castle.com
What to bring
As the walk to the car park is not too long and you get a hand stamp allowing you to leave and re-enter the castle, you don’t need to pack too light as it would be fairly easy to nip back to the car if necessary.
- You will want to dress for the weather though – layer up if it’s cold and take a rain coat in the autumn as you will be spending at least 80 per cent of your time outside
- You can save a lot of money by bringing your own food or even popping into town on foot to eat
- If you have a young baby, bring a sling as not all parts of the castle are accessible with a pushchair
- You will do a lot of walking so make sure everyone is in comfy shoes – high heels are actually not permitted in some areas so best leave the stilettos at home!
What are the queues like at Warwick Castle?
We didn’t really have to queue for anything when we visited. There was a slight delay at the main entrance as they check bags and again at the War of the Roses live show as they were asking everyone which side they wanted to take (House of Lancaster or House of York) but nothing of note. I have previously visited the castle on a hot August bank holiday weekend many years ago though and do remember having to queue for the car park.
What to watch out for/how to make the most of your day
Download the free Warwick Castle app to get alerts for when the live shows are starting and for an interactive map to help you find your way around. This will really help you plan your day and stay on top of what you want to see. Check the weather in advance too – maybe you could plan lunch around the time it’s due to rain or head for the Horrible Histories Maze when you see that window of sunshine.
What are the food and drink facilities like at Warwick Castle?
There are loads of stalls and snack stands dotted about during busy periods such as school holidays and weekends, although less are open during off-peak times. There is also The Undercroft Café for more informal dining and The Conservatory Tea House for fancier feeds such as afternoon tea (from £19.95pp). Food, as you would expect, is pricey though. A sausage roll will set you back more than £4 but they have tried hard to cater for special dietary requirements.
We didn’t eat at The Undercroft Café but it did look very busy when we passed around lunchtime – especially as people are also trying to access the toilets near there too.
Can we take a picnic?
Yes, you’re welcome to bring a picnic and there are plenty of places in the grounds to enjoy it.
What are the toilets like?
Other than our slight emergency near the bridge, toilets were not a problem – for the summer holidays at least there were several temporary toilet blocks on site to boost capacity. We found all of these to be clean and well stocked with toilet rolls, soap and sanitiser. The cubicles are quite small though so you will struggle to share one with a toddler.
Near the entrance especially, the permanent toilets are much more spacious. We didn’t notice any queues at the baby changing facilities but then we did generally use the temporary facilities which didn’t offer this service.
How well does it cater for disabled visitors?
Not all parts of the castle are accessible due to the nature of the lay out (for example the ramparts are up some steep steps) but the Warwick Castle website has very detailed information about specific attractions and entrances which we found really helpful.
- All live shows take place outside and are fully accessible
- My own daughter no longer uses a pushchair but I have visited with one in the past and it wasn’t a big problem. There are places to leave them if you are going inside The Great Hall for example
- There is an accessible lift to part of the Great Hall – although it’s not suitable for large electric mobility vehicles
- Guests who require a registered carer are entitled to a free carer ticket (must be booked in advance) and there are a limited number of wheelchairs for hire.
Is worth a long car journey?
In a word, yes. Warwick Castle is such a fun day out that will appeal to every member of the family for different reasons – and the kids won’t even notice that they are absorbing educational information while you’re there. I’ve visited multiple times and always find a new area to explore. If you have the time and the money, Warwick itself is a great destination for a staycation and you could easily kill two full days at the castle.
Opening dates and times:
Warwick Castle is open every day except Christmas Day. Opening hours vary.
How to get to Warwick Castle:
- CV34 6AH is the best postcode to put in your satnav if you’re travelling by car, it is well signposted and less than 2 miles from junction 15 of the M40
- If travelling by train, Warwick Station is one mile from Warwick Castle, a direct service runs from both London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill
- Multiple companies offer day tours from London by coach or train (check Warwick Castle’s website for more information)
Which hotels or holiday accommodations are near Warwick Castle?
- There are multiple options to stay on site at Warwick Castle including Caesar’s Tower private suites, as well as Knight’s Village Lodges and Glamping tents.
- The nearby Warwick Arms Hotel offers a selection of family rooms and is just a 5 minute walk to the Castle.
- For Warwick Castle tickets, hotel, and extras included, look for deals on Holiday Extras.
- Find family-friendly hotel deals near Warwick Castle on Booking.com
- For self-catering cottage ideas near to the Castle, look on Rural Retreats
St Nicholas Park is just a 10 minute walk from Warwick Castle and offers many family-friendly attractions including fun park, play area and mini golf. The Children’s Play Village is also a 5 minute walk away.
Warwick Castle provides the ideal day out for families who might be a little nervous about visiting crowded places post-lockdown. Even on the busiest day it doesn’t feel packed as so much of the attraction is outdoors and everything is spread across such a vast site. Staff are so friendly and helpful and stay in character throughout, which adds to the magic for young visitors. It’s also a great way of doing something fun yet educational with your kids and helping your children to learn more about the past and for them to really experience how different life was. The live shows are second to none – so engaging and professionally put together – and are included in the entry fee which while high, is not prohibitive like some of the theme park prices within the same Merlin group can feel.
The castle grounds are stunning too and the peacock gardens make a beautiful backdrop for a picnic. While weather isn’t everything, a young family might struggle with a long cold, wet day here so try to plan to visit on a dry day or be prepared to attend in full puddle suits and wellies.
Visit the Warwick Castle website