2019 marks 40 years since Warwick Castle has been run solely as a tourist attraction.
Anyone who has visited since will be familiar with the jousting shows, birds of prey demonstrations, the dungeons and the challenging climb up Guy’s Tower.
But those who were lucky enough to see the first performance of the castle’s new night-time Dragon Slayer show on Friday night will have never seen anything quite like it before.
Not only was this a rare opportunity to be inside the walls of this most spectacular piece of history after dark, it was an opportunity to see the castle in a whole new light.
Dragon Slayer is described, quite appealingly, as ‘spectacular entertainment combining immersive dining experiences, a projection light show on the walls of the castle, fire jousting, live-action stunts and more’.
It didn’t disappoint.
The near two-hour show centred around the largely fabled story of Guy of Warwick – a page at the court of the Earl of Warwick who falls in love with the Earl’s daughter, Felice. But his low standing means she rejects his advances until he has proven himself.
Cut a long story short, and he returns to be knighted and take her hand in marriage having completed a series of superhuman tasks, including ridding the country of the monstrous beast that is the Dun Cow.
The jousting and the slaying of the Dun Cow in the first half of the show was not that much different to the daily battles that take pace in the riverside arena, despite the additional pyrotechnics under the night sky.
However, what happened when the audience had been marched up to the castle itself for part two where Guy’s battle with a dragon was played out, was quite simply jaw-dropping.
An impressive light show, projected onto the castle walls really brought the place to life – showing the 1,000 year old castle in virtual 3D as it hosted Guy and Felice’s wedding, before being partly destroyed during the attack by the dragon, and then catching fire.
It was history literally being brought to life on a brilliant night out, albeit one that is reliant on the balmy summer weather continuing throughout its short run!
There are just eight performances of Dragon Slayer throughout August – and hopefully the link between the two halves will become slicker than it was on the opening night.
Tickets are between £25 and £85, the latter including a three-course banquet in The Great Hall. See www.warwick-castle.com
Review by Chris Smith