Dragon Slayer is a Warwick Castle event. Starting at dusk during select summer evenings, it’s action-fuelled, fiery fun. It’s full of knights and princesses, a fire-breathing dragon and magical castle, and basically all of the exciting things that tumble out of my little three year old’s head every single night.
What is Dragon Slayer?
Split into two halves, the first is held in the jousting arena and tells the tale of Guy of Warwick. He fights for his true love, on horseback of course. Brave knights fight, some in more underhand ways than others. And dragon eggs appear and explode, bursting into flames. It’s high action and fast paced, with surprises at every turn (particularly when the knights jump into the crowd!).
The second half is held in the castle courtyard once the sun disappears and the stars come out to play. Impressive lightshows bring the castle to life and let you imagine what it would be like to fight an angry fire-breathing dragon. Real fire roars from the castle walls and fireworks light up the sky. It’s mesmerising.
Of course, older visitors will understand the storyline and the fatal twist at the end, but it’s cleverly done so that little ones aren’t upset. It totally passed by my three-year old and six-year old nephew.
Is Dragon Slayer for Kids?
Despite the late start (8.30pm) and finish (10/10.30pm) there were lots of young children in the audience.
Nova (3) absolutely adored the show, from start to finish. He was captivated from the start and was high on adrenaline as he raced to the entrance. We followed the twinkly lights to the action, breathing in the tempting smells from the food trucks, before watching the medieval musicians. He was hooked from the get go and only more so as it went on.
We wriggled our way into the busy jousting arena, and the boys managed to squeeze into a little gap at the front. We watched as knights fought and Nova’s little face was full of anticipation, excitement and adrenaline. It was so funny and cute to watch!
For the second part of the show most people sat down, so I was able to have him on my lap and cuddle him, which probably helped if he did feel scared – not that I think he was as he didn’t want to leave. Instead, he told me he’d protect me and wanted to go climb the castle wall to chop the dragon!
There were only two moments that worried him a little. The first was a scene were some rogue knights stole a princess and tied her to a stake – he didn’t want her to die and I gently reminded him it was pretend. And the second was near the end when an image of a giant ogre appeared, but that part was over in seconds.
I think as a parent you know your child best and will be able to make a call on how you think they’ll handle it. Expect loud noises, convincing fight scenes and a realistic dragon. Once there I did worry it might be a bit much for him, but he loved it. I think it helped that he’d watched the trailer (numerous times!), we’d spoken about it being pretend and that he had a good nap so that he wasn’t running on empty. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for under 3s.
Dragon Slayer Tips
1. Book a Stay
Make the experience that bit more special with an affordable (and well worth it!) Warwick Castle stay. The Knights Lodges are really amazing and you won’t have to faff about with a late journey home. You can just bundle the kids into bed.
2. Take Cash
If you fancy a drink, snack or dinner from one of the hipster food trucks bring some cash. Some of them do accept card, but one truck had technical issues on the night we visited which meant they couldn’t accept card payments. Don’t risk missing out by bringing cash. There’s a cash machine at the petrol station just by the car park.
3. Take a Torch
It’s a 20-minute walk from the car park to the castle. Although the path is lit up with a few lights it can be hard to see on the way out and little ones may be a little nervous of the dark. Bring a small torch to help shine the way.
4. Impose a Nap (If You Can!)
If you’re bringing young ones try to get them to nap before the show, so they bank a little bit of sleep. Overtired children are no fun. With the show starting at 8.30pm and finishing at 10/10.30pm it really is a late night for them.
We had an hour’s drive from our house to the castle, which was the perfect opportunity for Nova to nap.
5. Take a Pac-A-Mac
The forecast is pretty windy and drizzly for the next few weeks. And let’s face it, the English weather often chops and changes. Buy a foldable rain jacket or pac-a-mac – one of those lightweight jackets that folds into a little bag. It’ll help keep the chill out, but more importantly, any downpours.
6. Use an ID Bracelet
It’s a popular event, so expect crowds. The walk from the jousting arena to the castle gets pretty busy as people rush to get a spot. It’s also dark, so minimise any worries by popping an ID bracelet on your little ones. You just write their name and your mobile number on the paper that then folds inside the bracelet.
I use the above ones, but you can also get pre-printed ones that are embossed with the details. It means that if you get separated you have a better chance of being reunited quickly.
7. Leave the Chairs at Home
You’re not allowed to bring deckchairs and other sorts of seats into the event. We saw loads of people carrying them on the way up to the castle and I was kicking myself for not thinking of that, but then we saw them being told to take them back to the car.
Most people sit on the floor to watch the lightshow, so bring a blanket if you really want something a bit comfier.
8. Leave the Snacks
You’re not allowed to take food and drink in. There’s a bag search on arrival and you may be asked to leave anything at the gate. There are lots of snack options inside the event, as well as dinner options from the two or three food trucks.
9. Consider Ear Defenders
If your child is noise sensitive consider packing a pair of ear defenders for them. There are fireworks at the end of the show.
10. Arrive Early
Gates open at 7pm, but the show doesn’t start until 8.30pm. Allow 20 minutes to walk from the car park and then 20-30 minutes to queue up for food from the food trucks. If you want a front spot at the first part of the show you’ll want to head in by 8pm. Bear in mind you’ll have to wait around so you might want to bring something to entertain little ones.
11. Travel Light
Just bring minimal things with you. It’s a 20-minute walk to the castle, the watching area for the jousting gets quite busy and you may end up with your child on your shoulders so they can see. Plus, you then have an uphill walk from there to the castle courtyard (where the second part of the show is) and it’s highly likely you’ll end up carrying young ones again! Oh and don’t forget the walk back to the car.
12. Prep Little Ones
Watch the trailer in the lead up to the event and have a chat about it being pretend, so that little ones can feel safe and begin to understand what’s happening.
When is Dragon Slayer?
Dragon Slayer only runs once a year during selected evenings in August. For 2019 the dates are: 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 August.
Dragon Slayer Tickets
Tickets start from £20 per person (and are separate to Warwick Castle day tickets). You can find out more and buy tickets at the Warwick Castle Event page.
Where is Dragon Slayer?
Dragon Slayer is at Warwick Castle. The address is Stratford Road Car Park, CV34 6AH. Parking is normally £6, but is waived for Dragon Slayer ticket holders.
My visit was gifted by Warwick Castle.