Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Tutbury Castle - Pirate Event

It was only 9 months ago I was posting about how much we loved Tutbury Castle when we went for their Fairytale Day last August (see here). Captain Jack was a favourite with the boys, who use any excuse to be a pirate, so we were really pleased to find out they were having  pirate theme Bank Holiday Weekend event and best of all we could get our tickets cheaper thro Amazon Local (you don't have to pay for under 5's but was a cheap to get 2 tickets then by 2 thro amazon and an adult on Tutbury's site).

The weather treated us to sunshine on the 5th (Monday) so we packed our picnic and caught the train to the event.  What a good job we did.  The traffic completely gridlocked the beautiful village and I believe the Police had to come and turn people away.  The car park was packed with not enough room for people to park in so they were parking wherever possible on roads leading up to the event.

We went to give our printed ticket to the attendant just as he stepped out the way with someone who had a smart phone ticket.  We were then ignored for 10 minutes while they tried to make the phone work (I am guessing lack of mobile signal didn't help) before I had to ask if he would take our ticket so we could go in (the ticket office queue hadn't move either).

can you spot the solitary pirate sign?

If it hadn't been for the pirate on stilts at the entrance (who I admit was the cheeriest person we met all day) you'd be hard pressed to know what the event was.  With fairytale you couldn't move for fun characters, they were there at the entrance and happy to pose for photo's.  We saw no-one for the first half an hour.

As it was 12 when we arrived we decided to eat our picnic first.  That was a problem as there was very little grass left to sit on... and once we did find a spot it was a case of dodging feet, footballs and swords as people walked over you or kids were left unattended to run riot.  The dog who was off a lead and took an interest in our picnic was at least removed by it's owner.... tho no apology was given and the dog was not put on a lead (appalling with young children and food around).

At 1ish I believe a display/ re-enactment was happening, we could hear gunshots but no tannoy announcements or signs to say this was the case so we missed it.

Disappointing was not the word. Amazon and Tutbury's websites claimed 
We passed the Donkey Rides on the way in ...... but they were chargeable (as last time) so we passed on this. 

As for the treasure hunt/ paddling pool or walking the plank we couldn't find any sign of them. 

The South Tower had a huge queue which we stood in for 10 minutes without moving.  There appeared to be no one assisting on the stairs or up the top as had been on Fairytale day.  The few people that had been let up while we were in the queue all came down apart from one lady who appeared to be trying to get a mobile signal, and replying to text messages or emails, until she came down no one else was allowed up.  We gave up the wait and went to look elsewhere.

Spotting a camp with various characters in we went for a look.  The pirate (yes I state THE pirate - the only
one we saw inside the event) had a very quick sword fight and photo opp before moving onto the next person.  The others (who appeared to look more like guards from the civil war) stayed behind the barriers and didn't interact with anyone.  Certainly nothing like the characters last time where nothing was too much trouble and they had all the time in the world to talk to the children.

There were a few birds of pray ..... and I gathered a cost involved if you wanted a photo with any of them.  Tho as the staff only spoke to those who flashed a palm of gold you'd not have known.  Similarly with the parrots - for a photo you had to pay (there was at least a sign on this one).

Knowing these, and the fact the helpers had money belts on I'm going to make the assumption you had to pay for the fairground rides too ... again tho I couldn't see a sign.

There was a tent set up to make clay magnets (or something) ...... but yup .... you guessed it .... that cost £2.

We had left by 1.45pm


The ladies toilets at the entrance had stopped flushing by the time we got there which was delightful (and I believe worsened as the day went on).  However they had provided 6/7 portaloos in the carpark.


Entry on an event day like this would set you back £6 an adult, £4 (5-12yr and OAP's) and free for children under 5.  We used an Amazon Local deal which got 2 children and 2 adults in for a reduced price of £10. 

Was it worth it.  .... NO!!  For an event like this I expected there to be more for children to do.  I would have liked to see at least some FREE things (as there was at Fairytale) or at least for the advertised events to be signposted or detailed so we could actually find them.   At the very least I expected to see some more pirates!!!!!!

Would I go again?

Just to see the castle?......no. As far as a ruin goes this is pretty degraded and there are better castles to visit.  Event the bits that were open cost (the great hall) or were so poorly managed you couldn't see them.

On an event day?  After this shambles no.  Sadly after we enjoyed fairytale so much this was a complete let down.  In total (including travel costs) it cost us £20 for a picnic spot and a photo with a pirate.

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