Castles are alive with the stories of the past and the events, exhibitions and activities of today. So whether you fancy a majestic fortress, grim prison or luxurious mansion you’ll find a great family day out at one of Britain’s castles… royalty, here we come!
Framlingham Castle has a long history stretching right back to the Norman times. During holidays and half terms, the castle honours this history with great family events, where kids can meet characters from Framlingham’s past such as Bloody Mary. They can learn the knack of being a right-hand person to a king or queen or even how to be a knight. Thanks to their talented in house knights, kids can get up to all sorts of fun learning sword skills, squire training, poo-flinging and listening to stories.
For any music lovers, Framlingham Castle is actually the very castle sang about in the number one song ‘Castle on the hill’ by none other than Ed Sheeran. Being a Suffolk native himself, he grew up roaming this extraordinary castle… and now the whole family can too! Not only walking in the footstep of real royalty but also music royalty. English Heritage has even put cardboard cut-outs of Ed Sheeran dotted around the castle walls. Don’t forget to get a selfie!
You can spend the whole day here with the family, embarking on a wall walk where you can see the castle from high up on the castle walls and even discovering the history of Framlingham Castle through a ‘time tunnel’ slide.
the super fun audio trail that’s been designed specifically for kids
If… your kids love the Jungle Book then Bateman’s is more than a Just So place. This National Trust property is a Jacobean Castle that was also the home of Rudyard Kipling. Feel Kipling’s spirit alive in the rooms and study of his home from 1902 – 1936, where he wrote many of his famous works.
Kids will enjoy visiting the mill and receiving a prize at the end of one of the seasonal trails. There are many treasures still in the castle from Kipling’s time such as original illustrations of the Jungle Book. You can even pop into the cafe for a spot of cream tea – what could be better?
Don’t forget to bring the ‘bear necessities’ on your day out to Bateman’s so you can enjoy all the activities they have in store. On the agenda could be puppet making, exploring the Natural Play area, marvel at the abundance of wildlife in the estates garden or even listening to poetry in the garden. Be sure to keep an eye on their website as they usually have fun and interesting exhibits to see.
the Jungle Book days and also the tree climbing days which tie in with the number 1 thing to do on the National Trust’s list of 50 Things to Do Before You’re 11 3/4.
Dunnottar Castle, is like the north of Scotland where it resides, stunningly beautiful, but hard to get to. Surrounded by ocean on three sides, those who manage to travel all the way up to Aberdeenshire and then scale the many stairs to reach the castle will be rewarded with amazing views. Think about how many steps you’ll rack up whilst getting that fresh sea air into your lungs!
This is a spot that you want to remember with the family. How many castles are there on a cliff looking right out to sea?! Okay, I googled it… turns out there’s quite a few but that doesn’t make Dunnottar Castle any less special. Famous residents of the castle include Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace. The castle has been the setting to many important events, including saving the Scottish Crown Jewels for Charles II.
There are several different buildings to explore from the barracks to the keep or have a mooch around the storehouses and stables. There’s even a chapel and drawing room, which are in a better condition. Whilst you’re in Scotland, why not visit The Tall Ship in Glasgow from our list of 15 family days out under £15?
Check their Facebook page for updates.
the storyboards which help the history of the castle come alive.
Osborne House was the holiday house for Queen Victoria and her massive brood of children. And so the house has always been great for kids! “It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot”, said Queen Vic herself. Within the grounds of the house is a smaller structure, Swiss Cottage, which was where the royal children played and learned practical skills, such as cooking and farming.
Whilst you’re on the beautiful Isle of Wight, be sure to embark on a Dinosaur Expedition as seen on our 10 Family Days Out For Under £15.
You can visit Queen Victoria’s private beach where her nine children, including future King Edward VII, learned to swim in the sea and collected shells from the shoreline. The whole family can peruse the Royal Collection which is full of things owned by the queen herself and walk the corridors where Victoria entertained heads of state, inventors, princes and princesses all whilst ruling the vast British Empire. There are also many children’s trails for kids to explore throughout the day.
playing in the two fun-filled playgrounds after a long day of learning about the Victorians.
Pendennis Castle was built by Henry VIII and used as a defence castle right up until the Second World War. The castle includes the clifftop observation station and air-raid shelter that had been vacated by the troops stationed there during the Second World War. There are even tunnels carved into the cliffs for military use! You can play hide and seek around the moat and in the carved tunnels.
There are loads of activities for kids and history for them to learn. Admire the panoramic views of the Fal and coastline from the top of the keep. The discovery centre will enable kids to learn all about how the castle was used to protect Britain. Watch your kids discover out how wartime defences worked and how messages were sent in the interactive exhibition in the Field Train Shed. A mile down the road is its sister castle, St Mawes. Not so child-friendly, St Mawes is one of the best-preserved Tudor Castles in Britain.
the noonday gun, at noon an original working gun from one of the 37 on display is fired. So you can hear, not just see history.
Sudeley Castle was once the home of Katherine Parr, the only wife to survive Henry VIII. The picturesque castle was originally built as a manor house in the 11th century, and since then has undergone a whopping amount of development and reconstruction throughout the years. It’s even been destroyed more than once! Sudeley was made a Royal castle in 1469 and its ownership was passed along the royal line for many years.
The castle is host to a multitude of family-friendly activities, but it’s worth knowing that it has also been described as “the most romantic castle in England”… parents, I’m talking to you!
When you arrive, pick up a kids’ trail at reception. Kids have to find objects scattered throughout the castle and grounds – use one of the site maps to help you. There’s an adventure playground and a whole host of fun events throughout the year. Family fun days include arts and crafts and face painting as well as activities in the willow maze. A fun challenge for you guys… see if you can find all 20 treasures of Sudeley Castle; a mix of artworks and objects that are hundreds of years old, and some made by some very famous people.
Running around the beautiful grounds and gardens. Just try not to get lost in the maze!
Carreg Cennen is a 13th-century castle towering over the village of Trapp in Wales. Nothing can beat the quintessential image of this ruined and mythical Welsh fortress.
On a clear day the views of, and from, Carreg Cennen are spectacular. Take the kids to explore a passage leads from the castle to a large natural cavern deep within the rock. There you’ll find a natural spring that is said to have the power grant wishes!
The cafe serves great hearty food to fuel kids on their adventures around the ruins. Within the monument, you’ll find exhibitions that can educate and inspire the little ones on their day out. The castle is well equipped with all the facilities you’ll need for a fun day out. And as this is the “New Media Age”, a friendly reminder… no drones!
exploring the cave in the south-east corner of the inner ward – bring a torch!
A boat trip out to a massive castle, a secret (very good) cafe, and a great walk back home. There are masses of dark passages to explore, strange crevices and well-signed shell storage bunkers to explore. The kids will love playing hide and seek on this day out! The views from the top are spectacular.
This is a castle built at the time of Henry VIII, Charles I was imprisoned in Hurst Castle in 1648. The history does not stop there, the castle was important during the Napoleonic wars and in World War 2, making the contents of the castle eclectic and exciting for kids and adults. Located on a spit of land on the South Coast, the views are amazing, the Isle of Wight is hard to miss.
Get there by boat! The boat trips are run by Hurst Marine and cost £6.50 for adults, £3.50 for kids return, or 30% off for one-way trips. You don’t need to book, the ferry runs every 20 mins.
learning lots about history. While there are no children-specific activities, the castle is very child-friendly, especially if your kids are at all interested in military history.
Located at one end of the Royal Mile, Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Enjoying a magnificent setting next to Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano!), Holyroodhouse has provided the stage for many important historical events in Scotland’s past.
There’s a dedicated family room at the Palace with lots for younger children to do, including period dressing-up costumes, traditional games like quoits, and a range of books, drawing activities and worksheets. There is also a family audio guide which will take you throughout the castle including seeing Mary Queen of Scot’s chambers. The castle is really child-friendly and geared towards making sure kids have a fun and educational time. Check the kids section of the website before you visit for loads of top tips and things to look out for.
The Family Garden Trail and Family Abbey Trail: these worksheets include spotters’ tasks, drawing activities, puzzles and more, and can be collected from the family room (at the end of the Palace tour, before you venture in the grounds and abbey ruins) or downloaded before your visit.
joining in on the family activities that will allow them to experience and see more of the castle.
Castle Howard is a beautiful 18-century palace and the star of the 1981 TV serial and the 2008 film of Brideshead Revisited. The interiors repaired following a devastating fire in the 1940s are gorgeous – fancier than Buckingham palace dare I say!
With 1000 acres of parkland, kids can explore the Walled Rose Garden, feed the resident peacocks and land the little train which is pulled by a tractor to the lake. During the summer families can boat on the lake. Inside, it is still a family home, but visitors can still access a lot of the rooms. All kinds of family events take place throughout the year.
Don’t miss a visit at Christmas too! It’s a truly magical day out as Castle Howard is transformed for the festive season. You can ogle at the magnificent decorations as you journey through the House’s grand staterooms. Open fires, candle light and live music evoke all that we love about this special time of year, with the iconic 25 foot traditional Christmas tree adorned with over 3000 baubles providing a breath-taking highlight in the Great Hall.
following Geoffrey the Lion’s illustrated trails.
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