Wars of the Roses live at Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is one of our favourite days out in the UK and we were thrilled to be invited to stay over in a Lodge in the Knights Village so that we could make the most of a visit and enjoy the new Wars of the Roses experience.

When we arrived at Warwick it was really clear and easy to find the Knights Village which has its own parking area. The reception staff were really helpful and although we couldn’t check in immediately as we had arrived quite early, we were given a special code which enabled us to use a secret gate to access the castle without having to walk to the main entrance. This was brilliant.

After a general stroll around the castle we decided to go and see Wars of the Roses live, partly as there are only 2 shows per day and we wanted to maximise our opportunities to see it.

Wars of the Roses Live is set in a specially-constructed riverside arena and is a spectacular show of knightly heroism, all included in  the castle admission at no extra cost. We knew (from having friends who are re-enactors) that the show was staged by a group called The Devils Horsemen who are absolutely without doubt the best at jousting displays and horsemanship of this type in the UK- even appearing in Game of Thrones. So, with that in mind we were all really excited!

The arena holds a crowd of 2,000 and evokes magnificent medieval jousts recorded in historical sources. It really adds to the whole experience. The show uses the key players in the wider Wars of the Roses story with direct links to Warwick Castle include Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick – known as The Kingmaker, who switched sides from York to  Lancaster and imprisoned Edward VI (whom he had helped to ascend the throne) at the castle; and The Kingmaker’s daughter, Anne Neville – born at Warwick – who became Queen of England upon marriage to Richard III. It really is an amazing spectacle, the horses were incredible and some of the stunt riding simply awe-inspiring. We loved it so much we went back and saw it again. Much discussion followed on how much effort it must be to train both horses and riders to do this sort of thing and whether it would be possible to learn quite quickly!

Top tips for watching the show- make sure you get in the queue nice and early to secure yourself a good spot. We made the mistake of standing on the decking and then lots of people stood in front of us, so stand at the front by the fence  especially if you have small children. Also, make sure you’ve all gone to the toilet before you get to the arena, we saw so many people having to leave to take their children to the toilet as there are none nearby.

Without doubt this trip will be one of the highlights of our summer, not only because we really enjoyed our time in the Castle watching the Wars of the Roses, exploring the castle, watching the bird and the Horrible History show and generally just enjoying our time together. The thing which really made it was the chance to stay over in the Knights Village.

Being an archaeologist with children who really like and appreciate a bit of history you can imagine my utter delight at being faced with a medieval style bed (in fact I was so delighted I tweeted it and put it on my private Facebook page to which many of my archaeological friends remarked jealously). The whole experience was utterly fantastic, both luxurious and historic! The beds were comfortable with crisp bed linen and the wet room was as good as i’ve seen in any really top quality hotel.

Have a look at our video (unfortunately my phone ran out of battery half way) but it gives you a good idea:

The other delightful thing about staying over was the ‘all you can eat buffet’ for dinner and breakfast (in a medieval style banqueting hall) followed by the evening entertainment. The kids had a fantastic time after dinner wandering around by the River Avon and learning circus skills, archery and having the opportunity to have their photograph taken with a falcon. It was lovely to see them doing something active and learning new skills.

learning archery

Warwick Castle is one of those places which never fails to delight, it is both historic and entertaining and somehow there is always something new to see and enjoy. There was more than enough this time round to keep us occupied for two whole days which I must admit did surprise me. However, I think one of the nicest things about staying over was not feeling that we had to rush and see everything in a day.

Staying over in the Knights Village is clearly really popular, we spotted several families celebrating birthdays both young and old. Having an experience like this is a brilliant alternative to a soft play party or similar, so I could definitely see why people had opted to do this and my children seemed really keen on the idea for us going forwards. You can choose whether you stay in a tent (prices start at £49.75pppn based on a family of four sharing a Warwick Tent, just a few paces from the new show arena.) or a lodge like we did.

Overall a weekend at Warwick Castle is a great experience, we really made the most of our visit and made some memories we wont forget. However, if you cant stay over its well worth a trip to Warwick Castle just to catch the Wars of the Roses Live which will blow your mind if you like a bit of history and some fabulous horsemanship.

Book now at www.warwick-castle.com for the best price guarantee

Disclaimer: We were given free entry to the castle and free accommodation, however this hasn’t influenced my review- our family loved the whole experience!

 

Short Breaks at Warwick Castle

SALE EXTENDEDBOOK NOW TO SAVE UP TO 25% ON HALF TERM

Family Trees – Trebuchet – Towers – Dungeons – Maze and More

Two-day half term breaks from £47pppn

February 2017: Warwick Castle (www.warwick-castle.com) is extending its early booking offer into February, enabling families to save up to 25 per cent off mediaeval themed short breaks this half term.  

From just £47 per person per night, families can enjoy two days at the castle staying in Knight’s Village that offers mediaeval-style accommodation within the grounds of Warwick Castle. The package includes overnight accommodation in a riverside woodland lodge complete with themed evening entertainment such as Knight’s School; breakfast; car parking and two days’ priority access to Warwick Castle.

There’s plenty going on at the castle this half-term to keep the entire family entertained. Step back in time to explore 1,103 years of history through the ancient Towers and RampartsState Rooms and Time Tower, where visitors can discover more about the castle and its previous inhabitants.

There’s also the opportunity for families to explore their own history and heritage with Ancestry.co.uk, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, who are on a quest to find living descendants of Richard Neville, the fifteenth-century Earl of Warwick, known as The Kingmaker.  This half term (18-26 February), visitors to the attraction can enjoy a discount on a 12-month Ancestry membership, providing access to millions of online records.

Furthermore, the Mighty Trebuchet is back and preparing to fire for the 10,000th time. Watch this amazing spectacle from the Riverside Arena and marvel as the mediaeval machine of war catapults cannonballs over 150 metres.

Also not to be missed this half-term are six expert-led tours including, new for 2017, Upstairs Downstairs, a glorious romp through the heyday of Daisy, Countess of Warwick, and a special Kids’ Tour. 

The twice-daily Flight of the Eagles showcases birds of prey including vultures and eagles soaring over the castle whilst the remarkable Horrible HistoriesÆ Maze features long-gone eras from England’s past. The Princess Tower provides a whimsical storytelling experience, ideal for younger visitors. To complete a full day at Warwick Castle, enjoy Kingmaker, the story of how Richard Neville prepared for battle, and – for the bravest – The Castle Dungeon awaits!

Price for two-day Half Term family short break:

February half-term short breaks (17th – 25th Feb) start from £188 per night (£47pppn) based on a maximum of two adults, two children and one infant sharing a Woodland Lodge with 

priority two-day access to Warwick Castle.  Knight’s Village guests will enjoy exclusive 

mediaeval entertainment throughout the half term including Knight’s School, where little warriors will learn the skills required to fight fierce dragons and mediaeval battles, plus a real life story-telling knight will roam Knight’s Village sharing his tales and experiences. The price also includes breakfast and car parking.

Book before the end of February to take advantage of savings of up to 25 per cent on a range of Warwick Castle themed breaks taking place throughout the year, including:

TINY KNIGHTS – dates in March and May; from £163 per family per night (2 adults and one under-3)

New for 2017, Tiny Knights midweek breaks are perfect for tots and toddlers. There’s plenty to entertain even the most active of little knights or princesses as they explore history in the Horrible Histories® Maze, play to their hearts’ content in the Pageant Playground and marvel at the birds of prey show. They’ll meet some memorable faces from history along the way, too.

Historical quests completed, retire to a themed mediaeval lodge where little ones can drift off in either a travel cot (provided) or their own sleeping area whilst parents relax and enjoy cable TV and free Wi-Fi. In addition to breakfast, car parking and two days’ entrance to Warwick Castle, Tiny Knights enjoy a free two-hour playtime in the Tiny Knight’s Club. Hosted by the Castle jester, it’s a hands-on play experience with crafts, colouring, building, songs and story telling. 

Tiny Knights are available 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st, 22nd March and 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th May 2017. 

EASTER BREAKS; from £79.70pppn

Easter (7th – 22nd April 2017) at Warwick Castle is packed with ‘egg-citement’, with each day bringing the opportunity to ‘egg-xplore’ the Towers and Ramparts, following the story of 

Devile Warwick. Admire birds of prey soaring over the ancient castle; navigate the Horrible Histories® Maze and meet characters from history in a real castle. Then, head over to Knight’s Village for an ‘egg-xtremely’ comfortable night’s sleep in a lodge before a hearty breakfast – and the chance to see even more of the castle the next day!

NEW War of the Roses Live SUMMER SPECTACLE – 50 selected dates from 27th May to 3rd September 2017; from £40pppn (Warwick Tent)

Based on true events that tore apart England in the fifteenth century, War of the Roses Live (50 selected dates between 27th May – 3rd September 2017) promises to set hearts racing and adrenalin pumping, as the Houses of York and Lancaster – cousins at war – take over Warwick Castle. The live action show is held in a dedicated arena by the River Avon. All guests must pledge allegiance to either the Red Rose or the White Rose, and Knight’s Village will echo the show ground with memorable mediaeval themed décor. Sleepover in the Mediaeval Glamping Village or a lodge in the wooded glade and enjoy an overnight stay in a themed lodge; an encounter with the knights themselves; longbow shooting and sword handling; breakfast and car parking; and two days’ entry to Warwick Castle.

STARLIT SUMMER SLEEPOVER – June and July: from £40pppn (Warwick Tent)

Make the most of the summer sunlight hours (30th June-21st July 2017) with a full day out exploring the attractions and shows at Warwick Castle followed by a sleepover under the star-filled skies.

Families will love the comfortable Mediaeval Glamping Village (tents come complete with electricity, Wi-Fi, wooden floors and sturdy beds) or they can retreat to a cosy lodge. All guests enjoy exclusive evening entertainment and breakfast in the Banquet Hall! Guests can meet a real life knight, and really get involved: shoot a mighty longbow and train to handle a mediaeval sword in the unmissable sword skill workshop.

THE HAUNTED CASTLE – October; from £49.50pppn

With wondrous witches, heinous hags, Horrible Histories® and the return of the Mighty 

Trebuchet, Warwick Castle – The Haunted Castle – is the best place to be spooked at Halloween (20th-31st October 2017)! After a day of fearsome fun for all ages the fright factor is cranked high after dark and the Castle remains open until 9pm. Spine well and truly chilled, guests can head back to their comfortable Knight’s Village lodge to hear tales from the battlefield from a real-life knight.

SANTA SLEEPOVER– December; from £49.50pppn

Maximise the magic for Christmas 2017 (1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th – 24th December 2017) with a deeply fabulous festive getaway as packed as a yuletide stocking with treats for all the family. A Santa Sleepover comprises of an overnight stay in either a Knight’s Lodge, Woodland Lodge or one of the two Tower Suites; an enchanting Storytime with Santa in the Castle 

Library and an Elf-tastic wake up call, plus gift for young guests.  Breakfast, car parking and two days’ entrance to the Castle are included.

ALL YEAR: HERITAGE BREAKS; from £85pppn

Why wait for the weekend? Midweek Heritage Breaks in Knight’s Village start from just £85pppn offer immersion into all the history, myth, intrigue and adventure Warwick Castle has to offer.  With a host of new expert-guided tours on offer throughout 2017, from Women of Warwick to A Royal Welcome, shedding light on previously unknown characters and events, there’s never been a better time to become immersed in the ancient castle’s 1,103 years of history. 

Or, indulge in a Tower Suite sleepover from £550 per night (based on two adults). Each of the two suites occupies its own floor of the mediaeval Caesar’s Tower and is sumptuously appointed with a hand-carved wooden four-poster bed, exquisite drapes and unmatched views of the River Avon. Champagne upon arrival, a concierge and breakfast in one of The State Rooms ensure this is always a night to remember. Car parking, two days’ castle entrance and admission to The Castle Dungeon included.

Book now at www.warwick-castle.com for the best price guarantee.

The Torch Dragon Tour of London

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It’s not every day that you are given the opportunity to hunt for Dragon’s in London guided by Historian and TV Presenter, Suzannah Lipscomb and a fire breathing baby dragon! So, when Hasbro invited ‘Being A Mummy blog’ along to celebrate the launch of ‘FurReal Friends Torch My Blazin’ Dragon’  I was more than happy to step in and join the tour.

I took my 8 year old history loving boy with me and my ‘all things cute and cuddly’ loving 6 year old girl with me and I can honestly say we all had a brilliant day. It was an absolute privilege to wander around London with a historian who clearly loves both London and the stories that have seeped into the cityscape throughout the ages.

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We started the tour at the George Inn in Southwark with the legend of George and the Dragon and from here, over the course of a few hours, we visited sites of dragon lore, fire, treasure, executions and an icy River Thames. The enthusiasm of Suzannah’s delivery and the delightful game of spot the dragon meant there were no little voices complaining of tired legs. The only real demands of the day from the children were regarding when they might have a turn carrying Torch, the Baby Dragon. There was however, plenty of time to enjoy interacting with Torch after the tour when we warmed up attour the Soho Hotel.

I have to admit that, before going, I thought my 8 year old boy would be interested in the tour but not particularly the toy, whilst I thought my 6 year old would be less interested in the history but delighted by the toy. I was wrong. Both the tour and the toy were a huge hit with them both. My husband and eldest daughter, who had stayed at home to bake profiteroles, were regaled with tales of dragons and heads on spikes whilst packaging was removed from our new pet baby dragons!

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At the Soho Hotel, when Torch was brought out for the children to play with, both were besotted. Torch is, in short, cute! He has a lovely, ‘look after me face’ and makes adorable little noises that make everyone say ‘aaaah’. He responds to touches on his nose, mouth and tummy with noises, burps, movement and ‘fire’. Feed the dragon water and then touch his tongue to see him breathe fire. The use of lights and steam give a good enough illusion of a baby dragon learning to breathe fire and the addition of a toy marshmallow which changes colour as the dragon ‘toasts’ it is genius. My 6 year old in particular loves her baby dragon. She is desperate for a real life dog which unfortunately isn’t likely, so this dragon has become her pet and she delights in looking after him. She carries him while he sleeps against her chest and then giggles when she wakes him up and he wants to play.

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It was interesting to see at the hotel how Torch appealed to girls and boys alike and to a much wider age range than I would have imagined. Even my 10 year old has been clamouring for her turn with the baby dragons. She is a massive Harry Potter fan and has commented how Hagrid would love to take care of Torch and with her Hogwarts letter only a year away from arriving, Torch provides some fantastic wizarding practice for future ‘Care of Magical Beasts’ lessons!

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As we were leaving the hotel Suzannah said to me she hoped she had inspired the younger tour members with even just a little bit of interest in history and I don’t doubt that she succeeded. My two left brimming with tales and let’s be honest, when history involves dragons what isn’t to love!

b51420000_630509475247_main_16As for Torch, would I recommend it as a toy? Most definitely. Dragons feature in so many myths and legends and inspire such wonderful adventures. This dragon isn’t just a cute plaything to be looked after until the child becomes tired of it. It can be used to fire up a child’s imagination in so many ways. It can facilitate storytelling through play and bring a little bit of magical fun to roleplay games. One of our new dragons is currently playing the role of Smaug, guarding the presents under the Christmas tree which I am told are in fact the treasure from Smaugs lair. The other is being rather cheeky and keeps trying to ‘toast’ my toes, (not such a terrible idea on a day as cold as today!).

You can buy the Torch at: 

Smyths, Argos, ToysRUs

If you’d like to find out more read on:

FURREAL FRIENDS TORCH, MY BLAZIN’ DRAGON

This playful little guy is just learning the tricks of the dragon trade, so he doesn’t really breathe flame, but he does breathe flame-colored mist. Really!

This wonderful baby dragon responds with 50-plus sound-and-motion combinations. Press his charm, pet his nose, or give him his treat for fun responses, such as breathing flame-colored mist, giggling, snorting, moving his head, and other sounds and movements. Of course, he’s a very surprising little fella, so he may just respond with a big burp instead!

His front legs are fully poseable, so he can be hugged and cuddled!

Take care of this adorable dragon… he’s full of mischief and surprises, but just like any baby, he loves to be cuddled and cared for.

Torch, My Blazin’ Dragon is definitely not an ordinary pet. He comes from a fantastical place far, far away, and has many wonderful features. With lots of love and care, this playful little dragon is sure to be one of the happiest pets around!

Includes pet, color-change treat, water vial, 2 extra filters, and instructions.

·       Ages 4 and up.

·       WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

·       Requires 4 “C” alkaline batteries, not included.

·       Distilled water recommended.

If you’d like to follow the Torch Tour with your children over Christmas the itinerary can be viewed on Map My Walk here. Locations include Golden HindeLondon BridgeMonument to the Great FireSaint Dunstan in the EastSite of ScaffoldTower HillLeadenhall Market (stop for coffee / refreshments), St Andrew UndershaftSaint Michael’s Alley, Change Alley, The Royal Exchange, Guildhall Yard, St Mary-le-Bow, St Paul’s Cathedral, Cock Lane, Giltspur Street, St Bartholomew, Smithfield Market and finish at St Bartholomew the Great End.

Half Term Days Out: The Haunted Castle- Warwick Castle at Halloween

witches cauldron

The Witches Cauldron

Warwick Castle is always a brilliant day out. Its a beautiful restored castle set within 64 acres of Capability Brown designed grounds on the River Avon. Its also fantastically well located in the centre of Warwick meaning that you can easily get there by train or from the M40. It takes us just about 1 hour 45 from St Albans generally- thats great for a different day out to usual!

From 22- 31st October Warwick Castle is been transformed into The Haunted Castle especially for Halloween. This makes a trip even better value! By day there are all sorts of family friendly activities including the Horrible Histories Maze (which the kids loved), through to The Haunted Hollows.

Gargoyle

The Gargoyle in The Haunted Hollows

If you have the stamina to stay on later you can see a Halloween Fire Joust and see the plague Doctor in the new Outbreak 1349 show about the Black Death.

Pumpkins at the entrance (and my little pumpkin)

Pumpkins at the entrance (and my little pumpkin)

We visited the Castle on Saturday and if you follow my Tweets you’ll see what a fantastic day we had. The kids loved climbing the castle ramparts and exploring the towers. The Haunted Hollows was eerily scary and pitched at just the right level for my lot (9, 4, 7). In fact, I was a little disturbed walking through the clothes lines hanging with sheets in the fog- it was eerily scarily like something from Victorian London.

One of the highlights of any trip to Warwick Castle is the Flight of the Eagles bird show, at the moment there are lots of new birds to see and we loved seeing them. The Condor was an amazingly impressive bird and its only going to get bigger, I cant think of a more spectacular bird display.

Witches Garden

Enter the Witches Garden at your peril

The Witches Tower is replacing the Princess Tower for  Halloween and it was a really popular attraction- if you want to go to it make sure you get your tickets early on in the day as we couldn’t get any suitable times for our kids. Its basically a new storytelling experience which looks great fun.

 

 

Unfortunately my little crew weren’t quite old enough to experience some of the more spooky halloween experiences. There are a couple of attractions suitable for over 10 and over 12 year olds. apparently Tormented is really, really scary. They’d be great if you have teenagers you want to entertain. The castle is also open until 9pm so you can experience at castle at night, which is a special experience in itself!

We had a really full day at Warwick, from 10:30 till nearly 6 pm the whole family was entertained in a fun way, but we also learnt loads! The kids are brimming with history facts and the trip was definitely one of the highlights of this half term. Warwick Castle is a beautiful magical place, you can have a lovely walk, watch the trebuchet get fired and explore the castle.

Beautiful Autumnal weather at Warwick Castle

Beautiful Autumnal weather at Warwick Castle

Inside the castle!

Inside the castle!

If you’d like to find out more have a look at the Warwick Castle website and make sure you add it to your bookmarks as there is an ever changing series of events here and they are always brilliant.

spooky cake

A spooky cake!

A day out at Discover

ed7I’m always looking for new and exciting things to do over the holidays and when we were invited along to the Discover Story Centre in Stratford (East London) it seemed the perfect chance to discover something new.

Stratford is not somewhere that you associate with books; its home to a massive shopping centre and the Olympic park. The story centre provides something different within all this, a little haven for people to come and explore their imaginations.

ed1Discover is the sort of place which inspires children by an immersive experience. There are loads of things to climb on, walk across and explore. Its a bit like being in an exciting adventure playground that is all themed around stories. We thought it was brilliant. In terms of age groups, it was ideal for the 4 and 7 year old but at 9 my eldest was really on the cusp of being too old. Of course, life begins again at 40 which probably explains why myself and the husband loved it.

ed3We were invited along to visit the Michael Rosen temporary exhibition which is in the basement of the story centre. The best way to describe this was that it seemed a mixture of theatre and physical interaction. You could find yourself inside the bear’s cave from the bear hunt books and immerse yourself in the swishy swashy grass. My 4 year old was the perfect age for this, he loved it. I wish my photographs captured his joy. Along with his sister he is a big fan of the Bear Hunt book, so I think it really was amazing to find himself in the bear’s cave.

ed5We loved Discover and its definitely somewhere we will revisit time and time again. What a fantastic idea and a great way to get children engaged in stories. I don’t think we realised what a great day out you could have in Stratford. There is loads of car parking, a beautiful and interesting park, loads of shops and lots of places to eat. We had one of the best days we have had all year.

I should point out that they are completely renovating Discover so you cant enjoy it until 23rd July when there will be a new Dr Seuss exhibition alongside a refreshed story trail. You’ll find us first in the queue! If you’d like to find out more you can check out their website and sign up for the newsletter here.