We’ve had some time away in Northumberland as part of our Easter holidays and we decided to make our second visit to Alnwick Castle.
It’s been four years since our last trip but the children could still remember all the fun they had that day which is pretty impressive when you are 10 and 7 years old.
Alnwick is a beautiful castle right in the heart of Alnwick and it’s well worth a trip. Parking was really easy and just a couple of minutes walk down to the gates. You can buy discounted tickets online in advance but we left it too late so first stop was the ticket office. Our family ticket for 4 cost £45 and you can get it validated so you can return for free within a year (although I never managed to find the place you have to go to do that)
In case you didn’t know, Alnwick isn’t just a beautiful castle, bathed at this time of year in a sea of daffodils, it was also used as a location in the filming of Harry Potter. There is a real sense of the familiar if you are a fan, and plenty of reference to a Harry and Hogwarts in the activities and the gift shop. You don’t need to be a Potter fan to enjoy the place though – there is plenty more to see and do.
We started our day looking at the amazing birds of prey ( flying displays run all day) then went along to the free Archery sessions. With a cold wind blowing and quite a few people waiting we decided not to queue so went on to explore into the towers of the castle where various exhibits are displayed.Through into the main section we could join in on broomstick training sessions and watch a show featuring Harry, Dumbledore and some magic. They were both good fun and I would highly recommend the broomstick training if only for the photo opportunities at the end – grab your camera or phone and snap your family members flying on their broomstick – if you time it right you’ll get an awesome photo!
Into the courtyard there is an area for dressing up and trying out the stocks. They also offer free craft activities. The kids remembered making homemade soap on our previous visit, today it was magic wands.
In the courtyard you can also collect a ticket to visit the Dragons Quest which was a really good walkthrough exhibition full of lots of really good special effects and a tricky mirrored maze which nearly caused us a few bumped heads
We finished our trip inside the castle visiting the state rooms. There were lots of tours and guides all around to speak to. We chose to go round ourselves but we chatted to a really friendly and knowledgeable guide. It amazed us all to see signs of normal life among all the state and history and to learn that the family do use some of those rooms for real. It was lovely to see real family photos alongside famous art works and some pictures of Royals who have stopped by for a visit.
The castle is a great place to visit and the activities made it a great family school holiday trip. We only visited the castle but Alnwick also has beautiful gardens and the fantastic treehouse restaurant which could extend your visit even further.
If you haven’t been I would highly recommend a visit. I’m off to practice on my broomstick….