This holiday season was accompanied by a slew of train strikes in three consecutive countries that we were traveling through. We were able to dodge these with a Matrix-like series of pivots until it caught up to us at last in Birmingham, England.
Luckily, this was the best possible point that this could have happened to us- we were staying with a friend who not only had a car, but a determination to show us the best of her hometown.
With our extra time, we decided to make a last minute visit to the medieval Warwick Castle (pronounced “War-ick”). Since we purchased our tickets approximately 12 hours before we were going to use them, it actually worked out to be cheaper to purchase combination entry and ice skating tickets.
As is becoming common, our tickets were timed and we were immediately directed to head to the ice skating rink as soon as we entered. This ice skating rink has the honor of being placed right under the foot of Warwick Castle. It was an incredible experience to be skating in the shadow of such a historic structure!
I’d been watching the ice skaters jealously throughout our Christmas Market touring, and it was an utter delight to be on the ice myself for the first time since I was young. There were skaters of varying levels of ability on the ice, but there are skate aids for children who may need it. Despite not skating in years, we managed to stay upright for our entire adventure- and overall win!
When we finished with our 45 minute session on the ice, we headed into the castle proper. We spent some time exploring the Great Hall and State Rooms. Each room had a plaque with descriptions for a really easy self guided tour. We were lucky enough to stumble upon a guide explaining the armor collection in the main hall. This guide was super informative and entertaining, and I really enjoyed his narration of the historical artifacts- I had no idea that the modern salute got its start by knights holding up their visors! It was also wonderful to be in the castle for the holidays- they decorate it so beautifully for the season!
The Conqueror’s Fortress, or the Mound, is the one of the oldest part of the historical site. The fortified burh was originally established in 914 by Æthelflæd and was expanded on throughout the years by the likes of William the Conquerer and the Greville family before ending up the tourist attraction that it is today. Much of this history is explored in the family-friendly immersive show “Time Tower”, located on one side of the Fortress. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I love immersive and interactive museums. I was right there with all the children enjoying the creative videos displaying the development of Warwick Castle over time.
Up the other side of the Fortress, a series of informative plaques guide visitors through history as they make their way up to the best view of the Castle and the surrounding town of Warwick.
There are also several scheduled activities, such as England’s largest bird of prey show- the Falconer’s Quest, archery, an interactive maze and more. It’s always a good idea to check the schedule online before arriving. We missed out on their famous trebuchet, but it should be back later this year!
Since we were visiting for the holiday season, we were able to walk through the illuminated light trail (probably not worth the ticket cost), and enjoy some food at the festive Christmas market stalls (definitely worth the cost).
We did make an attempt at an afternoon tea at the Conservatory Tea House, but it was unfortunately closed by the time we got there. It did look super cute from the outside and it was fun to see all the peacocks roaming around the area,
I really enjoyed my trip to Warwick Castle. The plethora of activities were admittedly more geared towards visiting families, however the effort put into the tours and signage made it entertaining to adults as well. It definitely made our late departure from Birmingham worth it!