Warwick Castle reopens

One of England's top attractions has reopened its doors after lockdown - but how has it survived the latest threat?


Warwick Castle has endured for over nine centuries by keeping enemies at bay – and as it reopens for the first time since before lockdown, the popular attraction has some new defences against the latest invader.

Instead of siege weapons like the imposing trebuchet (not currently in service), there are hand sanitiser stations around the grounds, staff in masks and PPE checking visitors’ temperatures as they enter, and new social distancing measures to welcome people back safely.

The changes start from the moment you pull into the car park, with distanced spacing, contactless payment and pre-booked tickets only, not to mention additional toilets, and new one-way systems.

But for all the extra safety measures, the essentials are still the same: the only current closures are the Castle Dungeon, the Time Tower and the Princess Tower, although the majority of the shows haven’t yet resumed.

Instead, you can spot the princesses (and knights) wandering the grounds, offering new story sessions for families.

Numbers are limited for the indoor attractions too: a one-way system guides people through the State Apartments, with Queen Anne’s bed, a host of portraits and other historic adornments still on display. The majority was roped off for security in any case, so the biggest difference will be that you have fewer people to share it with.

Around 250 are expected to be allowed inside the rooms off the Great Hall at any time, from a total of 2,500 visitors (an average summer’s day last year could expect to see 8,000 people at Warwick Castle).

There are similar changes to the area showing the Royal House party, as well as access to the ramparts. 

A limited number of family groups will be able to head up the narrow spiral staircases at a time – medieval architects not having designed for social distancing – although there has always effectively been a one-way system to walk through the main towers and along the walls.

The Conqueror’s Tower, on the site of the oldest part of the castle, now has its own one-way system too, although some of the information boards along the way are interactive, so it’s worth taking your own precautions if you’re planning to spin and turn the wheels.

And there’s no longer much chance of getting lost in the Horrible Histories maze, which has been tweaked to become a walk-through experience but with all the usual gruesomely amusing details which make it a favourite for kids.

With 64 acres of grounds to explore, there’s plenty of space outdoors to roam as well. The peacocks have apparently been missing their usual adoring audience, so are happily strutting through the peacock garden.

The garden is also home to one of the castle cafes, with the chance to get a takeaway afternoon cream tea to enjoy on the lawn or picnic benches, as well as prosecco and other alcoholic drinks, plus sandwiches and snacks.

The cafes, along with the drink kiosks and souvenir stands, are take-away only and accept contactless payments. If you’re determined to emerge with your own battleaxe or shield, you can browse from afar and staff pass any purchases out.

And while jousting and trebuchet firing are cancelled for now, you can still watch the UK’s largest birds of prey show, Falconer’s Quest, twice a day. 

Once again, numbers are limited with people able to sit on one bench in three, so it’s worth arriving early to ensure a place to watch owls, eagles and a condor soaring through the sky by the river. 

Warwick Castle has certainly worked hard to reassure visitors they can enjoy a safe day out, but as the birds swoop almost close enough for their wing tips to touch the audience, it’s proof you needn’t miss out on all thrills.

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