It was a ‘knight’ to remember as tales of dragons and princesses were told in the grounds of a medieval castle.
For starters, Zog and Princess Pearl climbed out of the pages of Julia Donaldson’s best-selling children’s book to recall how they became flying doctors.
Then, as bedtime grew near, a sword-wielding knight recalled a tale of another fire-breathing friend which enthralled young listeners and – like all the best pantos – amused mums and dads, too.
Accident-prone Zog and Pearl read their story in Warwick Castle’s Peacock Garden, shortly after all of the daytrippers had departed, and the pair then happily posed for pictures with children.
This drew big smiles from our two, aged six and ten, who must have every single Julia Donaldson picture book, from The Highway Rat to Room on the Broom and, of course, The Gruffalo.
The event was exclusive to overnight guests who had booked the new ‘Zog Play and Stay’ package, which also includes some Zog goodies on top of the standard entertainment, breakfast, parking and one day’s castle entry.
The castle’s Knight’s Village is in a secluded woodland grove. It is home to 28 fully equipped lodges (sleeping five or seven) and, during the warmer months, 37 glamping tents (sleeping four plus a cot).
We dined in the Village’s spacious and well ventilated ‘banqueting hall’ where we enjoyed three courses (roughly £23 adults; £15 children) as well as the visits to our table by medieval characters.
There was also the option of a lavish, all-you-can-eat barbeque (adults £20.95; children £10.95) alongside the River Avon, with vegetarian options and plenty of sides.
Unfortunately, our dinner reservation clashed with a ‘knights school’ but, before the bedtime story, we caught a display of weaponry, which also went down a storm with guests young and old.
But parents be warned: following this show you WILL have to kit your children out in some form of medieval attire. We got away with just buying a couple of plastic swords, but shields and armour are also available!
The swords were on the pricey side but turned out to be money well spent as our two trainee knights gleefully bashed the hell out of each other and the pells in the practise arena.
The kids also enjoyed a tricky treasure hunt and the prize for completing it.
As night fell, and the village took on a magical appearance, it was time to snuggle up in our top-of-the-range King’s Tent, with a comfy four-poster bed for the ‘royal couple’ and singles for our prince and princess.
Rugs, drapes, wooden chests, chandeliers and a terrace with a canopy, thrones and chess table completed the medieval look and we had a peaceful night, the quiet only occasionally broken by the squall of a peacock.
The following morning, after a hearty breakfast back in the banqueting hall, the dragon theme continued as our kids tried to earn a golden star, just like Zog, in a new activity trail at the castle.
After learning to fly, roar, breathe fire and capture a princess (sort of) the final challenge saw them join Sir Gadabout’s school for ambitious knights.
The trail was part of a full day’s entertainment (see below) that, like the Knight’s Village, scaled new heights!
Staying at the Knight’s Village
Each self-contained lodge in the Knight’s Village comes with a private bathroom, private terrace and medieval-inspired decor. All tents include power and use of communal toilet / shower facilities. The Zog Play and Stay package is available until September 5 and costs from £222 for a family of four in one of the glamping tents. For details of this and all other overnight options head to www.warwick-castle.com or call 01926 406610. The castle is open daily from 10am – 4pm. Day tickets cost from £20 per person (3+). The Zog and the Quest for The Golden Star trail is included.
Warwick Castle highlights
- The Falconer’s Quest. This 30-minute birds of prey show takes some beating (we watched it twice). Featuring all the biggest, fastest and cleverest birds, you’re guaranteed to have them swooping over your head wherever you’re sat. And don’t leave before the amazing finale.
- The Horrible Histories Maze. You don’t have to like the TV show to like this maze. Find the Vicious Vikings, Stormin’ Normans, Terrifying Tudors and Slimy Stuarts, then explore the Measly Middle Ages and the trenches of the Frightful First World War.
- Ramparts walk. Take a deep breath before you climb the 12-sided Guy’s Tower for spectacular views in every direction, then head for the Barbican to see the ‘murder holes’ above the main entrance, then Caesar’s Tower, where Edward IV was imprisoned.
- Castle Dungeon. Not one for little visitors, this is a gruesome journey through 300 years of history with a jester, witch, monk and torturer. Stay on the good side of the dreaded judge else you’ll end up in the Execution Room.
- Royal Weekend Party. A lavish 1898 social event where the guests include the future Edward VII and a young Winston Churchill, and a walk through a series of rooms in the main castle building with authentic scenes.
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