Plans for Caerphilly Castle’s epic makeover get the green light

Monday 09 July 2018

‘Gilbert’s Maze' and ‘Dragons’ Lair’ will be open to the public in August this year

  • Caerphilly Castle Maze

  • Caerphilly Castle Maze

  • Caerphilly Castle Maze

Plans to transform Caerphilly Castle into a major UK tourist attraction have been given the go-ahead with work to install new features commencing this week ready for an August unveiling.

The project, which has been given the green light by local authority planning officials, will see Wales’s largest fortress become bigger and better with the installation of an interactive Maze and an audio-visual Dragons’ Lair.

All part of a £9.5m investment to enhance the visitor experience at Cadw’s top sites*, the new attractions at Caerphilly Castle will be unveiled as part of Cadw’s Castles Alive! campaign.

Gilbert’s Maze will be designed and built by Theme 3 — the specialists behind interpretation at Madame Tussauds and The London Dungeon.

Boasting interactive props, secret passageways and photo opportunities, the maze will tell the story of Caerphilly’s unique defensive features that make the castle one of the most impressive in the world.

It will invite brave visitors to attempt to capture the castle without getting caught by its 13th century owner, Gilbert de Clare.

Meanwhile, Wild Creations — the Cardiff-based creative team that built the Cadw Dragons — will construct the eerie Dragons’ Lair, which is set to delight visitors with smoke, snores and a magical reading of the beasties’ epic tale.

Throughout August, visitors will also get to meet a ‘real’ Gilbert De Clare courtesy of historic interpretation experts, Past Pleasures – the team behind interpretation at world-class sites such as Warwick Castle and the Tower of London.

The immediate £570k plans for Caerphilly Castle are part of a wider £9.5m investment into Cadw’s historic monuments over next three years, promising to enhance visitor experience at sites across Wales — including Caernarfon Castle which recently became home to holographic dragon game, Legends of the Sky.

The installations at Caerphilly coincide with the castle’s 750th birthday celebrations and will see a complete re-brand of the site, in an effort to attract family explorers and history enthusiasts alike.

Minister for Culture and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said: “Admissions to Cadw sites have risen dramatically in recent years, with an increase of almost 20% between 2016 and 2017 alone — largely as a result of crowds who flocked to meet the Cadw Dragons.

“This level of success brings significant benefits to Wales’s tourism economy, so I’m thrilled that the planning application for Caerphilly’s new Maze and Dragons’ Lair, which is in line with wider Welsh Government programmes of investment in the Valleys, has been accepted.

“It’s vital that we continue to invest in our sites to further improve the visitor experience and strengthen their role in Wales’ tourism offer — and the £9.5m investment will do just that.

“I look forward to seeing what the next chapter will bring for Cadw, with new experiences, events and interpretation to be installed at castles across Wales during the next three years, beginning with Wales’s biggest castle — Caerphilly.”
Plans to transform Caerphilly Castle into a major UK tourist attraction have been given the go- ahead with work to install new features commencing this week (July 9) ready for an August unveiling.

The project, which has been given the green light by local authority planning officials, will see Wales’s largest fortress become bigger and better with the installation of an interactive Maze and an audio-visual Dragons’ Lair.

All part of a £9.5m investment to enhance the visitor experience at Cadw’s top sites*, the new attractions at Caerphilly Castle will be unveiled as part of Cadw’s Castles Alive! campaign.

Gilbert’s Maze will be designed and built by Theme 3 — the specialists behind interpretation at Madame Tussauds and The London Dungeon.

Boasting interactive props, secret passageways and photo opportunities, the maze will tell the story of Caerphilly’s unique defensive features that make the castle one of the most impressive in the world.

It will invite brave visitors to attempt to capture the castle without getting caught by its 13th century owner, Gilbert de Clare.

Meanwhile, Wild Creations — the Cardiff-based creative team that built the Cadw Dragons — will construct the eerie Dragons’ Lair, which is set to delight visitors with smoke, snores and a magical reading of the beasties’ epic tale.

Throughout August, visitors will also get to meet a ‘real’ Gilbert De Clare courtesy of historic interpretation experts, Past Pleasures – the team behind interpretation at world-class sites such as Warwick Castle and the Tower of London.

The immediate £570k plans for Caerphilly Castle are part of a wider £9.5m investment into Cadw’s historic monuments over next three years, promising to enhance visitor experience at sites across Wales — including Caernarfon Castle which recently became home to holographic dragon game, Legends of the Sky.

The installations at Caerphilly coincide with the castle’s 750th birthday celebrations and will see a complete re-brand of the site, in an effort to attract family explorers and history enthusiasts alike.

Minister for Culture and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said: “Admissions to Cadw sites have risen dramatically in recent years, with an increase of almost 20% between 2016 and 2017 alone — largely as a result of crowds who flocked to meet the Cadw Dragons.

“This level of success brings significant benefits to Wales’s tourism economy, so I’m thrilled that the planning application for Caerphilly’s new Maze and Dragons’ Lair, which is in line with wider Welsh Government programmes of investment in the Valleys, has been accepted.

“It’s vital that we continue to invest in our sites to further improve the visitor experience and strengthen their role in Wales’ tourism offer — and the £9.5m investment will do just that.

“I look forward to seeing what the next chapter will bring for Cadw, with new experiences, events and interpretation to be installed at castles across Wales during the next three years, beginning with Wales’s biggest castle — Caerphilly.”

*Top sites include:
Caerphilly Castle
Raglan Castle
Chepstow Castle
Castell Coch
Tintern Abbey
Conwy Castle
Caernarfon Castle
Harlech Castle
Beaumaris Castle

Caerphilly Castle — immediate investment £571,000
• Caerphilly Castle Maze: £140,000
• Dragons’ Lair: £61,000
• Siege Engines: £120,000
• Caerphilly Castle events: £50,000
• Conservation and interpretation: £200,000

Top-performing castles, collective paid visitor figures, by year
• 2017: 730,473 – up 10% on previous year
• 2016: 661,371 – up 6.5% on previous year
• 2015: 620,755 – up 4.9% on previous year
• 2014: 591,593 – up 2.6% on previous year
• 2013: 576,487 – up 5.8% on previous year.