If the drama of simply wandering the battlements of our fabulous fortresses isn’t quite enough, we’ve gone out of our way to make them come alive for a younger audience.
In some castles, kids can dress up as knights and princesses, explore the grounds with our family-friendly ‘Castle Quests’ and use the Cadw app to access the ‘Little Dragons’ and ‘FairyTrail’ augmented reality games. They’ll also be entertained and engaged by interactive displays, and enjoy special events ranging from ‘meet the dinosaur’ to storytelling and medieval re-enactments. Here are 10 of our favourite castles for kids.
With its ring after ring of walls and water-filled moat, Beaumaris has been called the most perfectly designed of all the castles in Wales. Find out more about how it was built by setting off on a ‘Castle Quest’, searching for masons’ marks and interactive installations hidden around the grounds. Kids can also dress up in period costume, have fun with the ‘Little Dragons’ game on the Cadw app, and get hands-on medieval mason-style with our ‘soft play’ giant jigsaw of Beaumaris that lets them build the castle itself.
There’s enough here in Wales’s most famous fortress to keep kids occupied for days. After scaling the battlements take the ‘Castle Quest’ to find hidden beasts linked with Caernarfon. In the Eagle Tower’s ‘Game of Crowns’ room you’ll meet the Princes of Wales. Elsewhere in the castle you’ll discover the ancient Welsh legend which helped convince King Edward I that he was justified in building his castle here in deepest Wales, and be entranced by the intricate installation dedicated to Edward’s wife, Queen Eleanor. There’s also a ‘Little Dragons’ game on the Cadw app and impressive Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum with exhibits, film, sounds and models that tell the story of Wales’s oldest infantry regiment.
For Wales’s biggest historic adventure head to Wales’s biggest castle. Make for the ‘Dragons’ Lair’, home to a family of Welsh dragons brought to life by an audio-visual display complete with smoke and snarls. Other child-friendly activities include the ‘Castle Quest’ and ‘Little Dragons’ game on the Cadw app. And look out for the replica siege engines on the south dam platform. They include the mighty mangonel and terrifying trebuchet, weapons of warfare that come to life during Caerphilly’s packed summer events programme.
Castell Coch, near Cardiff
Here’s one castle with a head start when it comes to kids’ kudos. Castell Coch, a Victorian confection of conical turrets, fable and fantasy, looks like it has just stepped out of the pages of Sleeping Beauty. There’s more fable within – quite literally, for its over-the-top interior is decorated by scenes from Aesop’s Fables, tales from ancient Greece. Then there are the fairies – only to be expected in this most fairytale of castles. Download the Cadw app to start your digital search for fluttering fairies and see how many can you find. Other enchanting features include optical Victorian toys that bring Castell Coch to life as if its builders, the immensely wealthy Bute family, had just finished their fairytale creation, a digital projection in the kitchen, and even a Victorian central heating game.
Conwy Castle and Town Walls
There’s drama and excitement everywhere at this commanding medieval fortress. Climb the spiral staircase to the battlements for a bird’s-eye view of north Wales, coast and country. Involving interactive display boards tell the story of kings and princes, castle and conflict as part of the ‘Castle Quest’, and kids can search for legendary creatures with the ‘Little Dragons’ game on the Cadw app. There’s also the thrill of exploring Conwy’s ring of medieval town walls – one of the finest in Europe – by following a ‘Quest’ on the Cadw app that uncovers the legend of the jackdaw and reveals the bird’s connection to the ancient town.
Criccieth’s long and involved history comes to light on a ‘Castle Quest’, in which you help celebrated poet Iolo Goch find inspiration for his next masterpiece, and are introduced to interactive displays in the recently renovated visitor centre. Sit at the ‘Prince’s Throne’ to meet key historic characters and play the ‘Prince’s Powerball’, a fun installation that traces the timeline of the native Princes of Gwynedd. Can you answer all the questions and make it right to the end?
Follow the family ‘Castle Quest’ around the castle and complete the Cadw app’s ‘Denbigh Castle Mission’ digital trail that takes in the grounds and town walls. You can choose to play one of three characters: Tom the Kitchen Boy, Eleanor de Clare or Huw the Spy. Inspired by items found in excavations at the castle, each character has an individual mission to carry out and unique strengths to do so.
There’s a great beach for the kids at Oxwich on the beautiful Gower Peninsula – and, to go with it, a great castle overlooking the bay. Kids can get into the spirit of things by dressing up in period costume. Interactive displays tell the story of this fascinating Tudor manor house (it’s a ‘castle’ in name only), and there’s a ‘Castle Quest’ to follow with clues on panels scattered around and about. Discover the castle’s links with a shipwreck in Oxwich Bay and the famous Oxwich Brooch, a medieval gold brooch now on display at Cardiff’s National Museum.
Handsome Raglan, surrounded by green border country, is the perfect place for a picnic with the kids. Refreshed, they can then go off to look for fiery beasties by using the ‘Little Dragons’ game on the Cadw app, or set off on the ‘Castle Quest’ in search of Edward the Inventor’s wacky contraptions. Edward grew up at Raglan and came up with a number of eccentric inventions. Follow the trail and decide which ones are for real. The Tudor-style lawnmower, perhaps?
Follow the ‘Castle Quest’ searching for clues that reveal the story of this groundbreaking ‘walls within walls’ medieval castle, the first of its kind to be built by King Edward I in north Wales. Enjoy medieval games in the grounds, plus a picnic overlooking the Clwydian Range of hills and River Clwyd.