Alnwick Castle 2024 Review

This post was published in April 2024. Please check with venue direct for the most up-to-date info, especially regarding opening hours and admission costs. Our most recent visit was in April 2024 however some of the photos/info in this post is from previous visits.

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review

We love visiting Alnwick Castle and have visited a few times over the years, especially back in the day when you could buy a combo annual pass for both the castle and gardens (no longer available).

We haven't visited so much in recent years though and I think this is due to a number of factors: 

  • Cost - for all five of us to visit, it costs £76.15. Now we LOVE visiting castles and although you can validate this ticket and turn it into an annual pass, it's still the most expensive castle to visit in Northumberland (and we aren't exactly in short supply) and objectively, an expensive day out for us
  • It's not dog friendly and most castles allow dogs to visit so for us, visiting a castle is something we usually like to do with Fozzy 

  • It can feel over-commercialised with the Harry Potter vibes 

  • As stated above, we've already visited quite a lot, especially when the kids were little and castles don't really change that much 

As you may have read on some of my previous posts, we are visiting every Castle in Northumberland and documenting our experience. It worked out better for us to sign up to Historic Houses membership for a year rather than pay admission to several castles and it just so happens that Alnwick Castle is covered by this membership so when visiting Alnwick Garden to see their cherry blossom, we decided to pop into the castle as well. 

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Alnwick Castle 2024 Review

You don't need to pre-book if you're a Historic Houses member, just flash your card on arrival and they'll take a quick photo of your card and let you in. 

As a little segway, we have visited / plan to visit the following attractions with our Historic Houses membership this year: 

Lowther Castle is also included and has a fantastic adventure playground. 

Historic Houses Membership is £103 for double membership and you can add any adult/child (from the same household) onto this for £30 per person. 

Back to our day at Alnwick Castle though - we LOVED it! I'm so pleased I took the time to re-visit. It's definitely one of the best castles I've visited. 

I would recommend setting aside 3-4 hours ish to visit. You can easily combine with Alnwick Garden / Lilidorei or there is an exit directly into Alnwick town and there is plenty to do in Alnwick itself too.  

Here are some of the areas you can explore: 

Artisan's Courtyard

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review  - kids in the stocks

This area is one of my favourite areas to visit with kids as there are plenty of fun, hands-on activities to enjoy. 

There's a big dressing up area where you can get dressed up in Medieval costumes and pose in the mirror as well as traditional courtyard games like quoits to play. 

Time your visit with the 'talk of the day' and learn about one particular aspect of Medieval life - this could be medicine, writing or armour. On our last visit it was all about armour and you could get a close look at some of the armour and helmets on display. 

You can also join in with a daily medieval craft here. On our last visit you could make your own Medieval soap which looked fun. 

All of the above is included with admission. 

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review  - medieval dress up

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review - dress up area

Dragon Quest 

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review - dragon quest entrance

I wouldn't recommend Dragon Quest to anyone who is sensitive or easily scared - it's easy to skip. You can go through as many times as you wish. 

It's recommended for families with children aged 5-12 and if you're unsure, speak to staff in the courtyard who can provide more guidance. 

It's an indoor part of the castle where you have to enter the Dragon's lair - journey through a mirror maze, cross a rickety bridge, hold on tight in the whirlpool and most importantly, avoid the Dragon at the end! 

I would say it takes around 3-5 minutes to complete the quest and it's included with admission. 

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review  - dragon quest


Alnwick Castle 2024 Review  - archery

Archery is available to ages 11+ (weather permitting) and costs £5 for 8 arrows. Expert archers will be on hand to provide tips for hitting the bullseye. No need to book in advance - just check the what's on board on arrival for timings and location. 

Broomstick Training 

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review - broomstick training

Broomstick training is a real highlight at Alnwick Castle and not to be missed! Lots of fun for young and old. 

Lessons take place in the exact spot where Harry Potter himself had his first lesson in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. 

Broomstick training takes place at set intervals across the day, it's included with admission but you do usually need to book a free ticket/timeslot on arrival. 

Professors will take you through your paces and teach you how to fly a broomstick with lots of various tricks and photo opportunities available across the session. It really works too! You'll be flying (or crash landing) by the end of it as these photos prove. 

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review  - broomstick training

The State Rooms 

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review  - the state rooms
Credit : Alnwick Castle 

No photos are permitted to be taken inside the state rooms which in my opinion, is a real shame. I've shared a press image above instead. 

I did visit the state rooms with the kids when they were little but I don't really have much memory of them. I guess trying to keep my eyes on three little ones had me a little pre-occupied. 

Visiting with teenagers who do not require constant supervision was a game changer for me and I absolutely loved the State Rooms on our most recent visit. 

WOW they are so oppulent! The ceilings are adorned with gold, there are grand fireplaces, ornate furniture and more. 

One aspect I really enjoyed was seeing the actual invite to the King's coronation and all of the dos and don'ts listed. Fascinating! 

There are staff on hand to answer any questions - do ask to hear more about anything you're curious about. 

The State Rooms are just beautiful. My eldest really appreciates a good castle and thoroughly enjoyed exploring these rooms. He said it was good to see actual Medieval artefacts rather than just learning about Victorian's partying (he's still bitter about our trip to Lindisfarne Castle 😂). 

Towards the end of the State Rooms, you'll find a Lions of the Red Rose exhibition which is really interesting and showcases the turbulent history of the castle and includes some cannon balls that were dropped from the castle during a siege. It was all very Game of Thrones (in fact Harry informs me that part of Game of Thrones was indeed based on the War of the Roses which features in this exhibition).

Please note, the Library is undergoing restoration work during 2024. 

Talks, Trails & Tours 

There are several talks across the day which will provide more of an insight into the castle. Check the 'what's on' board on arrival for meeting points and timings for that day. Talks & tour can include: 

  • Historical Grounds Tour 
  • State Room Tour (I'm going to try and join one of these next time as would love to learn more) 
  • Family Friendly History Tour 
  • Film Location Tour 
  • Medieval Life Spotlight Talk 

Castle Walls & Cannons 

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review  - castle walls

You can walk along part of the castle walls which is fun and provides an alternative view. 

And kids will love the Gun Terrace with replical cannons, there's even a replica Napoleonic Cannon in the exact location it would have been. The castle sometimes fires the cannon too! Check their what's on page for any upcoming dates. 

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review  - gun terrace

Castle Museums 

There are three museums within the castle not to be missed and all included with admission: 

  • Fusiliers Museum of Northumberland (explore the history of Northumberland's Fusiliers with dress up opportunities and interactive displays)
  • Castle Museum (items collected over the years by the Percy family) 
  • Constable's Tower (three levels of exhibition space) 

Special Events at Alnwick Castle 

We've enjoyed many special events at Alnwick Castle over the years including magicians, potion makers and walk-about dragons. It's worth timing a visit with a special event to get the most out of your day. Events are usually included with admission. 

Upcoming events include Longbow Demonstrations, Tom Fool, Historical Re-enactments & Silly History Boys. 

Check what's on here:

Food & Drink Options 

There is a cafe with some indoor seating and fish and chip shop open on selected dates inside the castle. Plus a large courtyard with pop-up food traders (hog roast, ice cream and a vegan food van on our visit). 

We found the cafe at Alnwick Castle to be WAY quieter than Alnwick Garden and they pretty much sold the same thing. It is fairly pricey though and I wasn't impressed with my coffee- very bland and weak and overpriced at £3.35 for a Black Americano. 

I would personally recommend exiting at the town exit and walking a few minutes along the road to Dirty Bottles instead. It's fantastic there and has an interesting history. If you buy your ticket online, it is automatically converted to an annual pass so you can re-enter after lunch.

If you buy a ticket on the gate, you can also upgrade to an annual pass on the day at no additional cost. I don't really know why all tickets are not annual passes as standard - it makes much more sense. 

You are permitted to bring a picnic and there are picnic benches just after you show your ticket but before you enter the castle (where the title image in this post was taken) which offer beautiful views of the castle. Or you could bring a picnic blanket and enjoy a picnic inside the castle grounds (watch out for broomstick lessons though). 

Alnwick Castle 2024 Review  - food options

Need to Know & Accessibility 

  • Pet dogs are not permitted inside the castle/castle grounds 

  • The castle is closed from the start of October Half Term until the end of March 

  • Several buses stop in Alnwick Town Centre, a 5 minute stroll from the castle entrance (X15, X18 and X20 from Newcastle for example)

  • Parking is available in Alnwick Town (check restrictions) or the Alnwick Garden Car Park 

  • Access for pushchairs and wheelchairs is limited in some areas due to the historic nature of the site. Find out more about access here.  We have managed with a pushchair in the past but did have to skip some parts / take it in turns

  • You don't need to pre-book if you are visiting with Historic Houses membership - just show your card on arrival 

  • You don't need to pre-book if you are paying regular admission, however it's best if you do as you save 10% and your ticket is automatically transferred into an annual pass

  • Picnics and backpacks are permitted but you may be subject to a bag search 

  • Check the What's On boards on arrival and plan your day so you don't miss anything 

  • If you do fancy lunch at Dirty Bottles, book a table ahead

  • (ad) Looking for somewhere to stay nearby? I recommend  The Hogs Head Inn which is a lovely pub with rooms, kids menu, themed seating and an outdoor play area just across the A1 from the Castle or there's a Premier Inn with free parking in Alnwick offering family rooms. 

    If you fancy glamping or camping, Doxford Farm Glamping & Camping just up the A1 would be my recommendation. 

Alnwick Castle is a fantastic day out with lots to see and enjoy. I'm really pleased we re-visited after a few years of not doing so and I am going to make a point to visit again this year before my Historic Houses membership expires. 

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Alnwick Castle 2024 Review


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