Warwick Castle storms Christmas with light trail, ice rink and, of course, Santa
IT’S December, so we can officially start to talk about Christmas without feeling that the festive season is being forced upon us before the last ghost of Halloween has been returned to the attic.
It’s now acceptable to check the bulbs on the Christmas tree lights, stock up on mince pies, heat up the mulled wine and start to plan where to get some of that festive feeling which is being created at so many Christmas events that pop up at venues at this time of year.
One of those venues is Warwick Castle where the Christmas offer includes ice skating beneath the imposing castle walls, festive food market, a stunning light trail around the grounds and the chance to gaze at the huge Christmas tree in the Great Hall where, just along the corridor, Santa is waiting.
It is an impressive line-up of Christmas entertainment, especially as the castle looks magnificent after dark, beautifully lit from all angles.
But the castle’s beauty is just the appetiser for the Light Trail (from £15.50 per person), a series of light installations created in the grounds.
From bright green umbrellas and outlines of deer cast from light, to illuminated tents and light dancing off disco balls, the trail is a wonderful display that will have cameras clicking (if indeed they make that sound any more).
The tribute to Queen Elizabeth II is poignant – the installation includes extracts from one of Her Majesty’s Christmas speeches as the display creates that famous silhouette seen on some many everyday items – from stamps to coins.
There are light displays on the side of the castle, a fluorescent ‘string’ structure, a rainbow tunnel of light and much more, including a film unique to the trail which is shown on a large screen.
There are thousands of lights involved in the displays (you can only begin to imagine the electricity bill) and each has its own name – the only slight niggle was that the signs, ironically, are not particularly well lit and are hard to read.
Away from the trail and just along from the food village where you can toast marshmallows, sip mulled wine and generally buy lots of festive treats, is the ice rink.
Pop-up ice skating rinks are nothing new, but it’s the setting that makes them so attractive – you can slip around on the ice at some wonderful historic sites in the UK such as the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace.
Warwick Castle’s ice rink (from £15.50 for 45 minutes) is equally impressive, especially if you’re clinging to the side and take the time to take in the surroundings. The more accomplished skaters will also enjoy the experience – it’s a decent sized rink and not overcrowded – while young beginners can hire a penguin to hold onto as they make their way round the ice.
The final Christmas offering at the castle involves the big man – and his wife.
Stories with Santa (from £31, including a day ticket to the castle) is a chance to meet the elves, take part in a game and head into a beautiful book-lined room decorated with Christmas trees and scattered with comfy cushions where the children can relax. Mr and Mrs Claus entertain the little ‘uns before there are gifts and photos. It’s all very enchanting.
Christmas at the castle is beautifully created and a wonderful family experience. Expect a few queues (especially at the food stalls) and to spend a fair chunk of money if you’re going all-in with the festive entertainment (make sure you combine castle entry with the Light Trail or ice skating to get the best deal). But the festive feeling and the reaction from children is priceless.
To book, visit www.warwick-castle.com.