We were delighted to receive an invitation to kick off our February Half Term with a day at our favourite attraction, Warwick Castle. We have been visiting Warwick Castle regularly as a family for years now and we never get bored because there are so many great things to do there and so much to learn.
My own fascination with castles started at a very young age when my Grandad would take me to visit his favourite castles and of course, Warwick was one of his top 5 and quickly rose to my number 1 spot so it’s a place very close to my heart which I love to share with my family.
February Half Term Live Action Shows
The Mighty Trebuchet
This February Half Term sees the welcome return of the legendary Warwick Castle live shows which take place throughout the day. To help you plan your visit you can download the itinerary for the day you plan to visit from their website. We must have watched the firing of the Mighty Trebuchet more than 20 times now but we never tire of it. The characters who present the show and fire the Trebuchet are always very entertaining whilst they teach you about one of the greatest weapons in medieval history.
Usually, the Trebuchet will be wound manually by people climbing inside the huge wheels and running like a pair of hamsters but the weather conditions yesterday meant it was unsafe for them to do so. Rather than cancel the show entirely, they used a tractor to set the Trebuchet instead. What makes the live shows so much fun for the children is how the characters encourage audience participation, the louder the better. The children love shouting out answers when asked questions or helping to give the instructions to set and ‘loose’ the Trebuchet – note the terminology, we don’t ‘fire’ a Trebuchet.
Winter Birds of Prey
Warwick Castle is home to a large and rather stunning collection of Birds of Prey. In the past, they have flown the birds on the Oak Tree Lawn but this year they have moved down to the Riverside Arena. Yesterday we met Ernie, the Milky eagle-owl who is just 6 months old. The Milky eagle-owl is a giant eagle-owl from sub-Saharan Africa. At Warwick Castle, Ernie lives on a diet of dead animals including chicken, day-old chicks, squirrel and rat. He has been working with his trainer regularly but in the words of his trainer “Ernie doesn’t love me, he will only come to me if I have food”. Even so, you can’t help but be drawn in by those big eyes. Ernie would fly up into the trees but would always have an eye on his trainer ready to fly down when food was on offer.
Next, we met 6-year-old Oscar, the prettiest Barn Owl who looked tiny in comparison to Ernie. The Bird Keeper even said that he had to ensure that Ernie and Oscar were not out at the same time as Ernie wouldn’t hesitate to eat Oscar. The trainer explained how the heart-shaped faces of the owls enable them to hear the high-frequency sounds of even the smallest prey. As they fly the sound waves are pushed up past their eyes towards their inner ears which are situated just behind their eyes.
The Bowman Show
Just down from The Coach House to the side of Guy’s Tower, you can watch The Bowman perfecting his archery skills as he talks you through the different bows which would have been used to protect Warwick Castle. Afterwards, you can try out your own skills at Have-a-go-Archery for an additional fee. The children always love doing this whenever we visit.
Yesterday they were holding Knight School on the East Front lawn, unfortunately, we arrived just as the session was finishing but as you can see it was well-attended and the children taking part looked to be having lots of fun. The resident Knight of the castle will put young charges through their paces as they learn the valiant skills needed to become a real-life Knight (if only for a day).
The Falconer’s Quest – NEW for 2019!!
New for 2019 from 6th April to 31st October is The Falconer’s Quest. Let your imagination soar in the UK’s biggest Bird of Prey Show. Search the skies overhead as more than 70 high flying Birds of Prey take flight in an all action, dynamic display of aerial acrobatics. Join the Falconer in an epic quest of discovery to find the finest Birds in all of the lands, in this brand new, action-packed, spectacular show.
The Kingmaker is situated just behind The Courtyard Shop and takes you on a tour under the Castle in the year 1471 as Richard Neville prepares his army for battle. The exhibition is staged with lifelike wax models as they make weapons, spend time with their families and prepare the animals for battle.
Personally, I have always enjoyed visiting The Kingmaker but it’s been a mixed bag for the Beans. Lillie and Albie don’t like dark spaces, loud noises and strong smells so they choose not to go through. Ollie decided to join Will and me who will regularly go through The Kingmaker exhibition but even Ollie still had his moments yesterday when he wasn’t comfortable.
Horrible Histories Maze
All of the Beans are big fans of Horrible Histories and always look forward to racing each other through the Horrible Histories Maze to test each other on the fun challenges and see who will be the first to collect all of their stamps. Throughout the maze, they learn fast facts about The Vicious Vikings, Terrifying Tudors, Slimy Stewards, Measly Middle Ages, Stormin’ Normans and the Frightful First World War.
Elsewhere in the Castle
For those who are feeling a little braver, I have heard that a trip to the Castle Dungeons can be very entertaining. There you can witness some of the darkest and most gruelling times in Warwick Castle’s history brought to life with actors and special effects.
We would usually take a walk through the Royal Weekend Party, Great Hall and State Rooms, around the Towers and Battlements too when we visit but we had unexpected car troubles which meant we arrived 3 hrs later than planned.
Why not plan a visit to Warwick Castle yourselves this half term, you’ll love it!