Castles, knights and magic: Princess days out
Do you know a child who longs to be a princess? Sadly, none of these days out will guarantee her a royal title or even an introduction to a real prince (someone should totally invent Tinder for royals) but they will capture the imagination. So with a wave of your magic wand, plan a royally fun day out with one of our top Princess picks…
This enchanting adventure takes you through beautiful gardens and orchards on a quest to save Princess Beauty from being poisoned. Start at the Fairytale Attic where you can meet a princess or two and borrow a costume to wear. From there, your princess (or prince!) can do the trail around the gardens, looking for clues to help save Beauty from the Wicked Queen. Don’t forget to visit the Crafty Cottage to make some fairytale keepsakes!
2. Holy Island of Lindesfarn, Northumberland
This tidal island (check tide times before you go to avoid being stuck!) has a magical tower just like the one where Rapunzel is locked up. Take a picnic and a storybook with you and read the Rapunzel tale from the bottom of the tower. Children will love imagining the action happening right in front of them!
Any kids studying medieval history at school will love the chance to explore this 14th-century castle. Play their Game Of Life and pick up a medieval passport for a chance to dress up and see what life was like for a craftsman, peasant or noble! Younger children can find out what it would have been like to work for a princess -- dressing up to explore the castle as a kitchen servant, laundry girl, page or maid. Don’t leave without having one of the amazing cream teas in the restaurant.
Fancy meeting lots of princesses in one action-packed adventure? Save Shrek with the help of Princess Fiona, Cinderella and Esmerelda. Better suited to kids aged 6+, Shrek’s Adventure has lots of mini performances and comedy from the movie characters we all know and love. Make a day of it on the Southbank and visit the London Eye, which is just next door – check out the website for discounts when you book both at the same time.
The whole of Warwick Castle is great fun but it’s the Princess Tower for which many younger visitors make a beeline. Entry is included in your ticket price but slots are limited so head there as soon as you arrive and get a time slot from one of the princesses. Then return at your allotted time for dressing up, stories and the chance to reunite Prince Guy and Princess Felice to live happily ever after. Older kids who like a scare will enjoy the dungeons (for over-10s only) and be prepared to tackle lots of steps in some parts of the castle.
The jury’s out on whether Maid Marian was a princess or not, but Sherwood Forest was definitely once the royal hunting ground for kings and dukes. Download the Sherwood Forest Adventurer’s Map and follow it to Friar Tuck’s Well and Will Scarlet’s grave. Take toy swords (Marian was handy with hers) in case the Sheriff of Nottingham jumps out from behind a bush, and be sure to find the tree that Robin Hood and Maid Marian famously hung out by.
The ultimate for any Disney Princess fan, this experience will see your child transformed with a costume, hairstyle and plenty of glitter. Your very own Fairy Godmother In Training will guide you through the magical day and your princess is guaranteed to leave with a big smile and plenty of memories. Packages vary in price, so check before you book. Perfect for a 5th or 6th birthday present, when they’re old enough to take it all in but young enough to still believe in magic.
Older kids can channel their inner Princess Merida and try their hand at archery here. Younger ones can play in the Knight’s Realm Playground or check out the maze (we recommend an adult go too –it’s actually a pretty tricky one to navigate). For an amazing overnight stay, the Knight’s Glampsite has four-poster beds where any princess would be happy to rest her weary head.
Saxon kings used this as a hunting forest in the 1300s and it was recently featured in movie ‘Into the Woods’. Fans of the darker take on fairytales will enjoy stomping through the forest (top tip: a footpath map is available from Royal Windsor Information Centre). But if it’s Cinderella’s home your kids want to catch a glimpse of, you’ll have to go to Byfleet Manor in Surrey, which was where actress Anna Kendrick filmed her scenes.
Which list of princess days out would be complete without the actual Queen’s house? A visit to see the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace is a must for any wannabe princess. Dress up in your finest gown and walk around the beautiful public rooms of the palace. Beady-eyed visitors will notice HRH has a penchant for pink sofas – surely the perfect thing for a real-life princess to perch on? The Family Pavilion (by the West Terrace) has costumes to dress up in, craft activities and the chance to design the Queen an outfit.