Warwick Castle - The Falconer's Quest


Warwick Castle (www.warwick-castle.com) has recently launched The Falconer’s Quest, the new aerial adventure starring over 70 birds of prey – up to around 40 of which are in the sky at once. My family and I were delighted to be invited to stay at Warwick Castle overnight and to see The Falconer’s Quest.

The show promises to be the UK’s largest birds of prey display, bringing to life a riveting storyline with avian acrobatics by the Castle’s flock that includes Red Kites, Bearded Vultures, eagles, falcons and an Andean Condor boasting a wing span of 3.2 metres.

Chris O’Donnell, Warwick Castle chief falconer, said: “The Falconer’s Quest showcases the skills of some of the world’s most beloved birds in a thoughtfully choreographed show that, just like a ballet or stage show, tells a gripping story. The cast have been rehearsing well, even with some last-minute cast changes as one of our Barn Owls is now on maternity leave having recently hatched two chicks.”

Melissa Paniccia, head of historical interpretation at Warwick Castle, said: “In medieval times birds were a potent symbol of status and wealth. The Falconer’s Quest weaves together the historical story of falconry with a breathtaking family-friendly aerial spectacle. Featuring entertaining acrobatics aplenty, the show is held in a custom-built amphitheatre highlighting the beautiful Castle grounds and boathouse.”

'After a 3.5 hour drive we arrived and as our Woodland Lodge wasn’t quite ready we went to investigate and find somewhere to eat. We found our way to the Conservatory Tea House (the former orangery) above a beautiful fountained topiary garden set at the top of a huge expanse of lawn, lined with bright pink rhododendrons and the meandering River Avon to the right. Peacocks strutted their stuff around the gardens, intermittently shaking and shrieking, to the children’s surprise and delight. The queue in the conservatory café was long, staff minimal and the help yourself fridges rather empty, so after hovering about behind people for a bit and getting ‘hangry’ we decided on a lovely pub in town for chips and sandwiches, The Rose and Crown.

On our return to drop our bags off at our Woodland Lodge we were welcomed by friendly and accommodating reception staff. As the Castle closes at 4pm we didn’t have much time to look around after we’d dropped our things off and we had decided to plan most of our activities for the following day. We wandered down towards the Castle and were just in time to see the wonderful Falconer’s Quest. Everyone sits on benches just above the river and families are dotted about on the grass with picnics. The whole scene is set up for the birds to fly over the heads of the audience.

The show was magnificent, set to a dramatic medieval theme tune, this is the story of a local falconer Hobby and his quest to find the most magnificent birds and bring them back to Warwick Castle. A succession of huge, beautiful birds swept down over the heads of the awestruck crowd and up over the river to the tower on the other side, obediently following their master’s signals with their beady eyes firmly fixed on their gruesome little meat treats. The slow, effortless, almost prehistoric swoop of Rosie the Andean Condor, the incredible speed, twists and turns of Liam the Peregrine Falcon, and the power of Nikita and Eddie, the Sea and Bald Eagles (respectively) was completely breath-taking and the choreography outstanding. For me, the finale was surprisingly moving; when over 40 birds are released at once and perform a beautiful dance together in the skies. It was so impressive we went back the next day to see it again.

Dinner was squash and spinach curry (perfectly nice) and my husband had a burger (no steaks available that night!). The children had plenty on their plates and enjoyed refilling their cups up with the endless Fanta on tap. The atmosphere in the dining room was jolly, and the evening’s entertainment of a duelling knight and tough princess was amusing, if a little too loud for our very sensitive 12-year-old. The children slept soundly and the lodge was comfortable although our bed could have done with a better mattress!

On the Sunday after an all you can eat buffet breakfast (more juice on tap!) we set out to see more of the Castle itself. The children loved doing archery and our five-year-old now wants a full set of arrows, bow, and target for his upcoming birthday. We would have liked to have a bit more time to look around the Castle, but after admiring some impressive chandeliers and portraits of King Henry VIII and his hapless exploits, we had to leave our tour of the interior due to an unrivalled fear of mannequins. We managed to do a bit of climbing up the turrets and listened to a princess story of unlocking a spell; ‘that was REAL magic!’ said the five-year-old.

All in all a really lovely experience, regardless of the odd bit of tweaking required (beds, stock up on sandwiches and staff, please!) We'd suggest you go for two days or more if you can and take something (G&Ts) to enjoy on the balcony while your children play ball outside the Woodland Lodge (we forgot to!)'

Warwick Castle buzzes with activity throughout the school holidays and beyond with daily shows including the firing of the UK’s largest siege engine, the Mighty Trebuchet; the Horrible Histories maze; expert-led history tours of the Great Hall and State Rooms; archer’s-eye views from the Towers and Ramparts; story-time in The Princess Tower; and seasonal treats.

Sleepover in Warwick Castle Knight’s Village from only £83 per person per night including two days’ Castle entry, overnight accommodation with a hearty breakfast, car parking, exclusive entertainment including sword fighting skills and archery lessons, and more. Price based on a family of four sharing a Woodland Lodge.

The Falconer’s Quest is included with general admission to Warwick Castle and tickets start from £19 per person (based on online bookings made a minimum of five days in advance).

Visit www.warwick-castle.com to book.

Website: www.warwick-castle.com

For day visitors:

The Falconer’s Quest at Warwick Castle flies from Saturday 6 April to 3 November 2019 as part of the Castle’s daily entertainment programme included with general admission. Castle entry starts from £19 per person when booked online at least 5 days in advance. Book your ticket at www.warwick-castle.com

For weekends/overnight:

The Falconer’s Quest at Warwick Castle takes to the skies from Saturday 6 April to 3 November 2019 as part of the Castle’s daily show programme. Short breaks at Warwick Castle include one night’s accommodation in the Knight’s Village; two-day entry to the Castle so you can catch your favourite shows again or see those you’ve missed on the first day; buffet breakfast served in the Knight’s Village Banquet Hall, and car parking. Prices start from £172 per night, based on a family of four sharing a Woodland Lodge. An entertaining medieval themed dinner is available in the Knight’s Village Banquet Hall for an additional £18.95 per adult or £9.95 per child. Find out more at www.warwick-castle.com