Over the years I’ve been a bigger fan of Brian Potter than Harry Potter.
But since the legendary Phoenix Nights nightclub isn’t close to our Alnwick holiday destination, I was happy to visit Hogwarts instead.
Alnwick Castle served as Harry’s famous school in the first two film adaptations of JK Rowling’s wizarding books.
We were all just Muggles on the lawn when we took part in broomstick training, but that didn’t stop us from having a party. Bonnie, my two year old, loved every second of it and my wife Emma and I had a chance too.
After a few tries, I managed to get the technique right – even though I was wearing a unicorn backpack and had Bonnie’s sunglasses on my head.
Broomstick training is just one of the many activities Alnwick Castle offers and you could easily spend a whole day there.
Bonnie could dress up, make medieval soap, sit on the broomstick, stroll through the corridors and rooms, and then run around on the huge lawn.
What made it even better was that the castle was only a five minute walk from our fantastic hotel Cottages.com property for the week.
A four-day stay for up to four people in September at The Old Forge in Alnwick costs from £485. Prices are valid at the time of writing and are subject to availability. See Cottages.com or call 0345 498 6700.
The Old Forge is located in the heart of Alnwick on quiet Upper Dodds Lane.
Everything was right on our doorstep – from shops to restaurants and cafes to great family pubs.
One of the main attractions of staying at Old Forge is its proximity to numerous attractions.
Alnwick Gardens are within walking distance and offer plenty of entertainment for everyone.
From the huge park area to the stunning water features and mini tractors for the kids, it was a great way to spend an afternoon.
It also offers features ‘Lilidorei’ – a newly opened playground. To be honest, this is a disservice. It’s much more than a playground – it’s a magical, mystical village worth £15 million.
It is home to nine clans that celebrate Christmas and are ruled by Lord Elfwin from his tower in Castle Elfwin Drin – the “largest play structure in the world.”
It’s set in a forest of Nordic Christmas trees, next to elf, troll, fairy and goblin houses and walkways speckled with gold glitter. It’s simply breathtaking. Bonnie enjoyed every second, just like mom and dad.
Back at our second home for the week, we spent the evening reminiscing about our Lilidorei adventures. We were amazed that we had never heard of the place before arriving in Alnwick. We are so glad we chose this special vacation home for our stay.
On the way there we drove along the east coast and ended the trip with a visit to Bamburgh Castle.
After lunch we headed to the stunning beach and then Bonnie had fun in the playground.
From there it was just a short drive to Alnwick and after a smooth check-in we quickly settled in at the Old Forge thanks to the owners Phil and Catriona.
Built on the site of an old blacksmith shop, the two-bedroom stone house is perfect for the family. It featured a large country-style kitchen and a spacious living room, an ideal home away from home.
My youngest, Jessie, is six months old but all her needs have been taken care of. The travel cot and baby bathtub were a huge help and ensured we had room for more toys in the packed car.
We also received a bottle of wine as a friendly welcome package Prosecco and used the private garden area to have a drink.
There is just so much to do nearby that we were really spoiled for choice.
Northumberland Zoo is a 25 minute drive on the motorway and Bonnie was thrilled to see a wallaby which, to keep her entertained, was promptly reclassified as a kangaroo!
We all enjoyed visiting the various beaches along Northumberland’s stunning coastline. Boulmer Beach, quiet and full of shells, was our favorite but you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Willowburn Leisure Center in Alnwick has an excellent swimming pool and soft play facilities, which came in handy when the skies turned grey.
The town is also home to Barter Books, an excellent used bookstore on the site of an old train station with a great children’s section.
This was a charming family vacation and we will definitely be back for another stay at The Old Forge and a visit to Lilidorei.
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