This is the castle that features as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films. Our daughters needed no additional encouragement to visit Alnwick Castle. Yet there is so much more to it. It’s also one of Britain’s most iconic castles, with origins dating back to the Norman period and it’s steeped in history. Here’s all you need to know about visiting Alnwick Castle with kids (or without).
Over the Summer our daughters binge watched all of the Harry Potter films and they couldn’t stop talking about it. The oldest told me that the castle where Hogwarts was filmed actually existed. I wanted to find out more. Of course I had to google it ?.
I’ve learned that they filmed Harry Potter at Alnwick Castle. I was even more excited to find out that the castle was on our way to Scotland.
Of course I added it to our itinerary. Let’s be clear, not only because of the kids, I too am a Harry Potter fan. I am also a great history fan. Reading about the castle convinced me it could provide something for everyone of us. And I was right.
About Alnwick Castle
- Located in the Northumberland.
- It’s the seat of the 12th Duke of Northumberland and has been in the Percy family for over 700 years.
- The castle dates back to the 11th century.
- It is the second largest inhabited castle in England. (Windsor Castle is the first).
- Not only Harry Potter was filmed at the castle. Fans of Downton Abby will recognize it too.
- It was built as a medieval fortress.
3 Highlights of the visit
As I’ve mentioned at the start this castle will appeal to kids as well as adults because it offers so much to explore. And these are the 3 things we all loved.
1) The Film tour
When we arrived at the castle we saw the sign for the film tour. Since the tour was just about to start, we decided to wait for it. It was well worth it and I strongly recommend it. The lovely guide told us everything about all sorts of films filmed at this location. Of course the emphasis was on Harry Potter, but we also learned about Downton Abby and Robin Hood, the Prince of Thieves, the Transformers and many others.
It was a treat for the kids (and us adults) to learn what trick the filmmakers used to bring the magic to the big screen.
We couldn’t get enough.
2) State rooms
The two of us visited the state rooms while the kids were busy with the highlight number three, which I’ll explain below.
The duke and his family still live in the castle (during the Winter time) and the state rooms give you a sneak peak into their lives. You can visit the magnificent library which they use as their living room. If this was mine, I’d never leave it, so I am not sure how they can do it.
You can also walk through the dining room with a massive table, surrounded with the paintings of the family’s famous ancestors. It’s quite a setting.
There are also important fine paintings on display, you can catch a glimpse of Titian, Van Dyck, Canaletto …, furniture from the palace of Versailles and ceramics from Paris, Minton and Meissen.
But what I liked most about our visit was the friendly and knowledgeable staff. They explained everything with such zest, answered all our questions and brought the whole place to life. I am sure we wouldn’t have found it as interesting if we only walked around on our own, which of course you could do.
3) Broomstick training
The whole castle lives and breathes Harry Potter. This is wonderful because it gets kids involved and without knowing it, they pick up on other things, too.
So, for all the fans (and everyone else) the castle offers free broomstick training.
You can’t book it in advance, so you have to try your luck once you get there. Make sure, you check for availability the second you come. Because trust me you will not want to miss this.
It’s fun for the kids and adults and it’s definitely memorable. Now, you’ll want me to explain it in more details, but I won’t because it’s magic and you’ll just have to go there and try it for yourself.
Plan your visit of the Alnwick Castle with kids
Let’s go over some details now.
First of all, you need to know that the castle is only open to visitors from the end of March to the end of October. So bear that in mind.
Here’s the official website and the opening times.
During the mentioned period the castle is open from 10 am to 5.40 pm, but the last admission is at 3:45 pm. Also it’s good to know that the state rooms’ last entry is at 4 pm and you definitely don’t want to miss visiting them. For me it was the highlight of the whole visit.
It’s best to buy tickets online a few days ahead especially if you are planning to visit the Alnwick castle with kids in the summer months when it’s super busy.
How much is it to get into Alnwick Castle?
For a family: that’s 2 adults and up to 4 kids it costs 53 pounds, which is around 58 euros.
Where to park?
Parking is easy and there are plenty of spaces at the car park. You will need to pay 3 pounds but it’s for the whole day. It’s good to know you can only pay by card.
How much time do you need for a visit?
We arrived late, at around 3 pm and we stayed till the very end. We did have enough time to visit. But if I could do it again, I’d come earlier then we’d have more time to enjoy it.
So, we absolutely have to come again.
Love castles? Here’s another one that you shouldn’t miss.