I love Warwick Castle. I love the War of the Roses and the Tudor period, which this place is steeped in. We’ve been several times and will go again in the future. This post isn’t a review of Warwick Castle however, this is all about the social distancing measures they currently have in place. You can read my review of Warwick Castle by clicking here. I’ve kept the two separate as social distancing does make a visit to Warwick Castle slightly less enjoyable than before, and I know the measures won’t be around forever.
Over the past few months we’ve been to lots of different places, both indoors and out. Warwick Castle has to be one of the most commercial places we’ve been to, although we’ve also visited Blenheim Palace post-covid.
Like pretty much everywhere, you have to pre-book in advance. Apparently they have limited numbers significantly. It’s actually always been a good idea to pre-book as Warwick Castle is a very popular family day out. Should you be experiencing any covid-symptoms you’re asked to contact their customer services to make arrangements. I’m guessing that means rearranging your booking.
There are several social distancing measures in place as you arrive at Warwick Castle. You have to queue outside and there are up to three separate admission areas. Everyone has their temperature scanned. The sign says they don’t scan under 5’s, but Smallest Child was scanned and she’s three (and it’s quite obvious she’s not over 5). They also scan you ticket and check your bag. Everyone is required to wear a mask in the admissions area. There are signs everywhere asking people to keep their distance. Hand sanitiser is available in various locations throughout the site.
As well as the normal toilets, there are additional ones near the conservatory. Again, people are asked to wear a mask in the toilets. In my experience, less than half of people were, and they can’t all have been exempt. This particular social distancing measure not being followed isn’t unique to Warwick Castle. You see lots of people in various places not wearing masks in toilets. There weren’t any cubicles or sinks closed off when we visited.
One way system
According to the map there is a one-way system in place through the castle grounds. There was no evidence of this in reality though. There weren’t any signs near the entrances and people were walking both ways through the one-way sections.
Ahh, the Great British Queue. We are VERY good at queuing and we’ve had a LOT of practice in the past few months. There’s a queuing system in place for the food kiosks, castle walls and state rooms. There didn’t seem to be a queuing system in place for the Kingmaker exhibition, this was a free-for-all. There is also no queue for the maze which did surprise me a lot. Personally both Hubby and I felt there needed to be as the maze was very busy, but more on that later.
At the entrances to the State Rooms and the Castle walls there were characters in costumes controlling numbers. There is also a barrier that says the waiting time at this point is 40 minutes long so please don’t queue beyond here, come back later. This barrier was about half way along the queue at one stage!!
At the time we visited Warwick Castle the shows had started to re-run. The falconry shows were also running twice a day. There is a seated area for this show, and it looked liked they’d closed some benches off. The queue to get a seat started 45 minutes before the show so we just decided to leave it. They let people start sitting down 30 minutes before the show, but all of the seats had gone by then. I really didn’t fancy making the kids stand for 30 minutes and then throughout the show, which is a shame as I LOVE a good falconry show. If you go on a quieter day it is definitely worth watching.
The bowman show has also re-started. Instead of the normal show a couple of times a day he’s doing shows throughout the day. This means that at pretty much any time of day you can hear him talk and watch him shoot, but with much smaller crowds than in a normal show. You absolutely have to watch one of these though, he’s hilarious and a real highlight of a visit to Warwick Castle.
We visited Warwick Castle on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend. Normally I imagine this would be one of their busiest weekends of the year. Surely limited tickets and social distances would mean this isn’t an issue? We felt that it was very busy, VERY busy indeed. Part of the problem is that most people spend most of their time within the castle walls, and there’s only a certain amount of space. Another bottle neck is where the castle path comes out near Oak Tree Lawn. When we visited there was a fish and chip van here and there was a significant crowd here and lots of people walking through the area as well. We walked through here after the kiosk closed and this was virtually empty again.
The numbers of other people visiting meant that you didn’t feel you could linger like you normally would. In the Kingmaker exhibition we couldn’t really stop to read the signs so the kids didn’t necessarily know what it was all about. That was a bit of a shame, but I think that’s the reality of our “new normal.”
Avoiding the crowds
If you are concerned about crowds I have a couple of recommendations. 1 – go as early as possible and do the walls and state rooms as soon as you get there. 2 – go for their afternoon sessions. Tickets for these allow entry after 2pm and are about 3/4 of the full day price. I’d probably get there from 3pm as that was when the crowds significantly started to reduce.
I know that different people will have different views of what “too busy” is so I took this video. It also shows you how long the queue for the state rooms became. Yes, most of the time you were able to maintain social distance but, as people queued up and were moving around there was a LOT of time when you were closer than we felt comfortable with. It was mainly just the pinch areas that this was a problem, and the crowds definitely built throughout the course of the day. There were places where we were the only people around, you just had to go away from the main areas of the castle.
There are some areas of Warwick Castle that were still closed due to social distancing when we visited. This included the time travel tower, bear tower, the trebuchet firing, the conqueror’s fortress and the mill & power house.
The Horrible Histories Maze
A lot of other places we’ve visited have closed their mazes due to social distancing concerns. Blenheim Palace, Cliveden and Belton House all had their mazes closed when we visited. We were a bit surprised it was open, but they have tried to put measures in place. So you’re not doubling back on yourself too much they’ve closed off many of the paths. This is to try and create some kind of one-way system. There are several points where there is only one entrance and exit though so it doesn’t completely work. Also, taking the maze element out of the maze means you’re essentially going for a walk through some narrow hedge-lined paths along with lots of other people.
Social distancing measures at Warwick Castle
I really like visiting Warwick Castle. It’s a fascinating place and I know we’ll go again. This visit was less enjoyable than previous visits though, and that was purely because of social distancing. Previously we wouldn’t have cared about some of the things we were concerned about, like walking closely past other families. I do appreciate that Warwick Castle have taken (almost) all of the steps that they can to keep everyone safe. It’s just a shame that not everyone wants to keep themselves safe. Personally I find it really annoying when people do things like take their masks off for a photo-op within an indoors space. Maybe they just need cooler masks like mine and they wouldn’t mind??
Merlin Entertainment have done what they can, and I will absolutely go back to Warwick Castle again. I love it there, I just might wait until covid is less of a thing, or pick a rainy day in the middle of October or January!
The price of tickets various according to when you visit. For the latest ticket prices, and to book, click here (affiliate link)
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook
I sometimes use affiliate links if there is something that I genuinely think will be of interest and that I think is relevant to the post. I will always indiciate if a link is an affiliate link. I do earn a small commission for these, and that goes towards the running costs of the site. Any discounts mentioned may only be available for a short time so please double check prices before booking.