One of the things we loved about our extended time in England was being there during the summer. Previously our visits to visit family had been at Easter or Christmas. Always when the weather was very cold and many historic places and castles are closed for the winter season. This was the first opportunity we’d had to visit Alnwick castle. If castles are what you want to see in England, be sure to check their seasonal opening times before you book your trip.
With two big Harry Potter and history fans, Alnwick Castle was top of our list for a visit. Alnwick castle is the real life Hogwarts where filming took place for the first 2 Harry Potter movies. Alnwick is a working castle, home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and their family. Another reason to visit Alnwick is the castle is intact and operational. Many other castles you can visit are ruins or part ruins. You don’t get to appreciate the internal decorations and finishings like you can at Alnwick where the state rooms are incredible.
Where is Alnwick Castle (Hogwarts)?
The castle is located in the town of Alnwick, 45mins drive north of Newcastle on the way to the Scottish border. Good for a stop on the way to Scotland. Don’t be fooled into thinking it can be a quick stop, it is possibly to spend at least a day exploring everything the castle has to offer. We spent 2 full days!
Alnwick Castle Tickets
Tickets are available to purchase online, in advance, for a 10% discount. If you are lucky enough to be in the area for awhile, you can take your castle ticket to the ticket office on the day to have it ‘unlocked’. This allows you unlimited visits for a year. While a castle family ticket is over 40 GBP if you manage more than one day’s visit it is good value. Especially if you can visit on one of their themed days or weeks. There are lots of family friendly activities available at no extra cost, during themed weeks. Alnwick gardens are also fantastic to visit. You can buy combined tickets, note the garden ticket is only valid for one day.
What is there to do at Alnwick Castle?
When planning your visit check out the castle’s website and their events page to see what is on during your visit. If you are there during the English school holidays there will be more family friendly activities, including the popular Wizarding Week and Harry Potter Characters. But it will also be much busier during this time.
Probably one of the most popular activities at Alnwick Castle, for the visitors that are coming for the Harry Potter experience. Places fill up with a combination of families and overseas tourists. The first two Harry Potter movies featured Alnwick Castle as Hogwarts. The scene where Harry and the other students learn to ride broomsticks was filmed in the Outer Bailey.
Tip! Sign up for Broomstick Training as soon as you arrive if it is peak season. Places are limited and fill up quickly.
How do you get these ‘flying a broomstick’ pictures? Now that would be telling… Visit Alnwick Castle and try it out for yourself!
Alnwick Castle On Location Tour
The castle hasn’t just featured in Harry Potter. You might recognise it from the Downtown Abbey Christmas specials or Transformers: The Last Knight. During this tour the guide shares lots of behind the scenes stories about filming at the castle. L & S really loved hearing about the Harry Potter filming.
Patient castle helpers take the time to show children (and adults) archery technique. This activity is for those aged 9 years and over. S was so determined that the instructor let her have a sneaky turn too. This was the only activity where we had to pay a little bit extra ( about 3 GBP) but it was well worth it.
Artisans Courtyard and Medieval Crafts
Each time we visited there was a different craft activity in the artisan’s courtyard. We made wands during Harry Potter week and medieval tiles from clay on our next visit. During the Harry Potter wizarding week there was also a Magical Menagerie of weird and unusual creatures, including giant hissing cockroaches, an albino hedgehog, and a Giant African Black Millipede.
In the Artisans courtyard you can dress up in costumes, play traditional games and learn about a knight’s armour. On our second visit, the new school term had started. For the first hour we had the artisans courtyard to ourselves. We had a personal lesson on the knights and their armour including lots of opportunity to try things on.
Dragon’s Quest at Alnwick Castle
Free with your admission but during busy times you’ll need to collect a timeslot ticket. This family friendly activity takes you on a quest with Knight Harry Hotspur, to come face to face with a dragon.
Worldschool at Alnwick Castle
Worldschool opportunities at Alnwick Castle are endless. We filled 2 days with activities, incorporating so much learning while the kids just thought they were having fun.
Experimenting with some clay and pottery work, we made tiles while learning about how they were made in centuries past. We learned about the 700 year history of the castle. Also more recent history in the exhibits and small museums throughout the grounds. There was a fantastic exhibition about the staff of the castle and their roles in the Great War. Loads of information about Knights and their armour kept L interested for ages.
There really is something for people of all ages at Alnwick castle. I thought my Mum would have loved to see the state rooms, all the china and decoration. Little boys (and girls) love the swords, armour and knights. Downtown Abbey fans will be in heaven alongside the Harry Potter fans.
Alongside our season pass to Alnwick Castle we had a Jorvik Pastport for the Jorvik Viking Centre and other attractions in York and an English Heritage Membership. The initial outlay meant we then had endless day trips available to us for no additional cost. Posts about York and worldschool history in England coming soon (ish).