A visit to Warwick Castle’s Dragon Slayer experience
A visit to Warwick Castle – which dates back more than a 1,100 years, has plenty to keep children and adults occupied, including a Horrible Histories-themed maze, a castle dungeon (recommended for those over 10 as there are some scary elements) and the Time Tower – a multimedia experience charting the history of the castle.
Anyone who visits this August however is in for an even bigger treat, with the chance to view ‘Dragon Slayer’- an immersive live show playing on selected evenings throughout the month. It’s the first time that Warwick Castle has put on a night time show and if you are familiar with Merlin Entertainments (which operates Warwick Castle, as well as other family favourites such as Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Shrek’s Adventure London and Chessington World of Adventures), you might have an idea of what to expect.
We were promised an evening of ‘spectacular entertainment’, including fire jousting, stunts and a projection light show. Add the chance to ‘glamp’ in medieval-themed tents located just five minutes walk away from the castle, and it didn’t take long to persuade the kids to jump in the car for the two-hour journey (or it’s just under two hours by train from Marylebone).
Admittedly, none of us knew much about the story that has inspired the show. Dragon Slayer is based on the legendary 10th century warrior, Guy of Warwick, who fought against beasts and mythical creatures across Europe. including a giant cow and dragon, all in the name of love. But the staging and actors’ performances meant we were hooked from the start – so even if you miss some of the storytelling, the action more than makes up for it.
The show kicked off just before sunset in a jousting arena; we all jostled for the best views and were treated to fire-eating, epic jousting, sword-fighting and equestrian stunts. We were then led from the arena to the castle grounds for the second half of the show, with performers hurrying the crowds along.
This is where special effects really came into their own, with a projection light show on the castle walls really bringing the story to life – the dragon scaling the walls and breathing real fire was particularly impressive. The evening was rounded off with fireworks above the castle. We enjoyed this second part the most and at around an hour and a half, the show is the perfect length to keep even the most fidgety of children engrossed.
We visited on the opening night (3 August) which was pretty packed; it took a while for the crowds to move from the arena to the grounds and for the light show to start, but this might be down to getting the timings right. Toilets by the jousting arena wouldn’t go amiss either!
We kept the medieval theme going with a overnight glamping stay in a Kings Luxury Tent in the Avenue of the Kings in the castle grounds. New for 2018, these tents are beautifully decorated and feature a four-poster bed and two single beds. It’s definitely one of the most comfortable glamping set-ups I’ve experienced.
Dragon Slayer is available with a number of packages – the silver package for example includes an immersive dining experience with a hog roast, while the gold package offers a three-course royal banquet in the castle’s Great Hall, with dedicated hosts and additional
entertainment, including music and the chance to interact with some of the show’s characters. The hall is steeped in history – a great way to get into the mood for the evening ahead.
Dragon Slayer debuted on 3 August and is also taking place on these days: the 4th, 10th, 11th, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th August 2018.