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Review: Dragon Slayer, Warwick Castle

Muddy Warwickshire trotted off to review this fab production.

Guy of Warwick’s forgotten legacy goes up in lights as Warwick Castle unveils its electrifying new after-dark digital installation and live-action fantasy epic.

Fireworks above the digital installation at Warwick Castle

Dragon Slayer Photos by Andy Sallis

Game of Thrones fans will not be disappointed by the star of Warwick Castle’s gripping new live action history drama – a 40m high dragon every bit as spine-tingling as Daenerys’ Viserion.

Dragon Slayer is an open-air night-time show of two halves – the second, a stunning summer al fresco digital art installation complete with fire canons, pyrotechnics and fire-works projected against four fortress buildings.

Based on the long-forgotten local legend of Guy of Warwick, a mythical figure rooted in Anglo-Saxon and Middle English literature, it begins in the packed riverside arena at sunset, 8.15pm, led by an expert equestrian stunt team.

Guy of Warwick charging forth on his steed.

A romantic tale of courtly love, heroic knight Guy seeks to win over Felice, daughter of the Earl of Warwick in a series of quests. He rescues a damsel in distress from being burnt at the stake, fights a tyrant and faces a masked beast known as the Dun Cow. It’s a fast-paced live-action fantasy epic with horseback fire jousting, pyrotechnics, sword-fighting and a fire-breathing jester thrown in for starters.

Pic credit: Warwick Castle

Think Merlin crossed with GOT – but tamer, perfect for a family audience and recommended for children aged 8+. It’s just a shame that the main female characters are side-lined to love interest/damsel-in-distress roles. Day-time show War of the Roses, also performed here, include feisty horseback queen, Margaret of Anjou.

A torch-lit procession then leads up to the castle for the super-impressive second half. There was a slight bottle-neck on the bridge across the River Avon, as the 3,000-strong audience made their way up to the Central Courtyard. We sat on the floor in eager anticipation (you may want to bring a rug). There was a great atmosphere, with families of all ages, retired couples, groups of twenty-somethings, students, teens and some families with very young children.

Guy and Felice’s love story resumes in an explosion of colour as digital art installations, fire canons, pyrotechnics and fireworks light up four walls of Warwick Castle, peaking in an extraordinary finale where Guy meets his nemesis, the dragon. This exciting outdoor visual spectacle has been created with award-winning London-based digital installation company, Projection Artworks. It really is awe-inspiring. A little boy sat behind me was in a constant state of wonder – all he could say was “Wow!” over-and-over again.

This animated green dragon comes to life on a canvas measuring 31 metres by 80 metres and lit with 150,000 lumens of light – apparently equivalent to more than 500 house light bulbs.  At one point the creature opens its mouth and real fire appears from the top of the castle ramparts.  In an extra dramatic after-show twist some of the flames were so powerful firefighters were called to extinguish them!

Only six more weekend performances are scheduled this month –  Fri Aug 10, Sat Aug 11 and Fri Aug 24 – Mon Aug 27 – with tickets going fast.

An unmissable al fresco family experience, let’s hope the lovely dry spell continues!

Dragon Slayer Dates & Tickets:

When? Fri Aug 10, Sat Aug 11 and Fri Aug 24 Aug through to Mon Aug 27.

Ticket options:

Bronze – from £25 per person. Includes evening show ticket & car parking

Silver – from £35 per person. Includes 1 drink; 1 hog or vegetarian roast; fast track entry; evening show ticket; & car parking

Gold – from £95 per person. Includes VIP priority entrance; three-course Royal Banquet in the Great Hall; unlimited soft drink and 2 x beer or wine during meal; VIP access to jousting arena; dedicated hosts; exclusive additional entertainment; evening show ticket; & car parking.

Knight’s Village accommodation:

Short breaks in new Avenue of Kings premium glamping tents, standard glamping tents and Woodland Lodges in the Knight’s Village (located within the grounds of Warwick Castle by the River Avon)  include 2 days’ entry to the Castle; car parking; buffet breakfast; and one night of accommodation.  See my review here. ££: from £352 for a woodland lodge. Based on four people sharing. Overnight guests can purchase Bronze tickets for Dragon Slayer for £15pp.

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