Where to get your scares this Halloween… try Warwick Castle’s spooky offerings
CASTLES are perfect for a Halloween scare.
Dark dungeons, thick walls to muffle the screams and a feeling that inhabitants from hundreds of years ago are watching over the present day.
Which is why Warwick Castle’s Halloween offering is so popular, offering both family-friendly frights and something a bit more chilling for when the sun has slipped past the horizon.
If you get a day ticket for the Haunted Castle you have access to all the usual castle attractions and shows (including both the trebuchet and bird of prey shows).
But there’s also the added Halloween events such as the Haunted Hallows, a spooky walk through the part of the grounds where there are some strange characters to meet; The Curse of the Kingmaker underground maze; a ghost hunt; the Witches Den for some singing and dancing entertainment (my 13- and 10-year-old insisted this was for ‘younger kids’) and Spooky Schools.
In the main castle courtyard is the Dead Centre Stage, where performers did their best to capture visitors’ interests with dances, music and comedy… with varying degrees of success.
The hardworking actors behind each of the attractions were the stars of the day – particularly in the Haunted Hallows where they fired up the kids’ imaginations while families explored and made each other jump (don’t worry, the characters have a nice not-too-frightening chat with children rather than trying to send them screaming from the castle grounds).
The only drawback with the Haunted Castle events is that the overall atmosphere was a little flat. Perhaps it was because it was the first Halloween themed day of the year (we went on Saturday, but daytime events run until 5th November).
That atmosphere changed for the after dark session, there was a definite buzz and a sense of apprehensive excitement (there is a separate entrance fee for this event).
The centre stage featured live music to entertain visitors as they queued for the new scare attractions, which were worth the wait.
So what frights await the brave?
First up is Pestilence which had visitors lined up in a sort of ‘fearful conga’ going through the very dark passages beneath the castle while the ‘infected’ jumped out at them from hidden depths.
But our favourite was the Glass Coffin which takes place in the castle’s main house where experts are on the trail of some paranormal activity… with scares, shouts and stares in abundance.
While our venture into the house started fairly orderly, it quickly descended into an ‘every man, woman and child for themselves’ dash for freedom as the encounters with the actors – and the scare levels – mounted up.
Even the coolest of teenagers in our group was seen crashing into furniture in their frantic haste to escape from an experience with an electric chair… we shall say no more here.
The third attraction was located at the Haunted Hallows, which had been given a dark makeover and again proved a favourite with us. The darkness had also changed the behaviour of the characters who ramped up the frights to have visitors squealing and jumping. (My top tip is, after heading through the exit, to watch through the fence as other people encounter the scares and are pounced upon. It’s highly amusing.)
The daytime is a mixture of history and some mild spookiness, which is good for the under 10s, whereas the evening is all about the atmosphere and is not for the faint hearted… our 10-year-old daughter struggled in parts; it was too scary for her.
The actors were the ones that really made the events come to life and it didn’t escape our notice that the same guys popped up in different roles thought the day and night.
Maybe they’ll pop-up in your nightmares…
Tickets to the Castle After Dark are from £21.50 with just two dates left, 29th and 31st October. From 6pm. There is also a dungeon scare experience aimed at older children and adults, which costs an extra £10. Tickets for the Haunted Castle (10am-5pm) are from £32 with events running through half-term until 5th November.
Find out more at www.warwick-castle.com.