We were very excited to receive our Castle Howard tickets. As the host for the proms we had heard some great reviews and we were looking forwards to a jam packed family day out.
We decided to visit on a Sunday and arrived early morning just as it was opening. Armed with a picnic and 2 children we were looking forwards to a day of exploration and adventure.
After a seamless check in with a very helpful gent on the ticket entrance we were ready to go. The Children were given activity packs with lots of things to spot within the house and gardens. Our first stop was the train, pulled by a tractor. The kids were very excited to jump on board the front row seats and while we waited for it to set off we looked at our map and gave the children the choice of where to go first and the playground was voted as our number one priority!
The train stopped by the house on route to the playground and as people were alighting the very helpful driver told us all about a polo match that was taking place on the far lawn beyond the house. We had seen that a polo match was due to take place at 2pm but disappointingly we knew we would miss it as we needed to leave about that time. This was most useful to know and we quickly hopped off the train and headed over that way, having never seen a polo match first hand this was an exciting prospect for all! We walked through the luscious beautifully maintained gardens around the back of the house towards the polo match, and wow the scenery literally stops you in your tracks, the sight of the house and gardens are quite simply breath taking.
We had all the usual conversations at this point, “imagine if we lived here….” And for a short while it was nice to pretend that it was indeed our house (especially as it was early Sunday morning and not many visitors had arrived yet giving us the pleasure of almost being able to dream that this may have been true!) The gardens have that ability of just making you want to run and jump and play on the lawns, and immediately the children did just that, taking great delight in cartwheels, jumping, roly polys……… lots of laughter could be heard. We then came to a most fabulous fountain full of freezing cold water and furry algae, we had dares to see who would be brave enough to touch the algae and who would be prepared to dip a toe in the fountain! We got a few funny looks from other visitors but it had us howling in laughter. Eventually we made it to the polo match after a few games of hide and seek amongst the hedges, the sun was shining and it was a wonderful sight to see, however by this time the children were now feeling the effects of the elevenses and it was time for a second breakfast stop, having spied the café earlier they had their hearts set on something delicious so we headed back there. Freshly baked scones for the children and pots of tea later we happened to notice an impressively sloped hill perfect for rolling down just by the café. Being a beautiful dry day we decided to do some rolling down the hills and even started a trend as other children (admittedly no other adults felt the need to join in like us for some reason…..?) started rolling down the hill too (sorry Castle Howard if this has now become a “thing” on the lawn by the café?!).
Next the house, personally my favourite part, I love to look at the décor and as a woman who loves stories, history and fantasy, I love to imagine what it would be like if it was my house and I seem to have rubbed this off on my children too! Armed with our activity packs we had a wonderful time spotting the various things on our list and choosing which bedroom would belong to each of us. My daughter even spotted a cradle that we decided would be perfect for one of her much loved toys to sleep in! The staff were very helpful and chatty as we went around, taking time to speak to the children and help them with the map.
Castle Howard have very cleverly managed to make the house interesting to both the adults and the children, a recipe for success when it comes to family days out.
Next stop the playground! We hopped back on the trailer and we were taken for a ride down to a huge adventure playground with impressive slides, climbing nets, swings and much more. The kids loved the park and we got a chance to chat whilst they played.
After all of this it was time for some lunch so we hopped back on the trailer and made our way back to the car park, beside which lies a huge field so we got out our picnic basket and blankets and set up a beautiful alfresco lunch. Lots of families had the same idea and it was nice to see so many people enjoying the surroundings and the wonderful English weather. We brought a Frisbee and we had a few games of that after lunch and then sadly it was time for us to leave.
We all had a wonderful time at Castle Howard and I think if we lived nearer I would most definitely invest in a family season pass for just £80.00. We stayed approximately 4 hours however you could easily spend a whole day here and I can only picture how spectacular the place must look for the proms, it’s the most beautiful setting for such an event and it make you proud to be British.
Top Tips for your visit to Castle Howard
A family ticket to Castle Howard costs £35.50 for up to 2 adults and 3 children in high season. For more information on visiting Castle Howard please see their website www.castlehoward.co.uk