*in association with Brecon Carreg
Keeping the kids entertained for the six-week school summer holiday can be expensive business, so anything that makes life cheaper is a good thing in my book.
I’m excited to be teaming up with Brecon Carreg, Welsh natural mineral water, and Cadw to promote their kids go free offer. Each promotional bottle allows a paying adult to take along one child, age 5-16, for free to a Cadw site (under 5s are free). There are 22 castles and historical monuments across Wales to choose from, saving around a fiver per child.
To take advantage of the offer you need to pick up a promotional bottle of Brecon Carreg 500ml or 750ml before September 30th and fill in the required information online. You’ll then be emailed a voucher which you’ll need to show at your chosen Cadw site, either on your phone/device or hard copy. You can see the full terms and conditions on the Brecon Carreg website, as well as the full list of venues taking part.
Plus, use the hashtag #CarregKidsGoFree to share your adventures with Cadw on social media and your photo could be one of five to win a shopping voucher, with winners chosen by 30th September and contacted through social media.
We decided to head to one of our favourite local Cadw sites – Caerphilly Castle – today to take part in some dragon spotting with Cadw’s virtual app, as well as watching Legends Live!, which sees characters from Wales’s past replay history in an interactive live event.
We arrived at 12pm, just as the first of three re-enactments was kicking off. Visitors were transported back to 1326, where Edward II is losing support across his realm and must decide whether to stay within the barricades of Caerphilly Castle or flee, leaving his piles of money and glimmering jewels behind.
There are three parts to the interactive performance, with each 10-15 minute segment taking place at a specific time, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm when we visited, although it’s worth checking ahead to avoid disappointment. Sadly, our 2pm session today got cancelled due to a torrential rain storm, although the knights did come out to say hello to visitors and pose for photos.
The re-enactments were great fun. They really engaged the audience, taking us around the castle and involving us in the action. The costumes were such high quality, and Little Man O, my five-year-old middle child loved trying on the knight’s chain mail glove, or gauntlet, as they are called.
Our only complaint is that there wasn’t enough action for us. We definitely would have liked more!
In between the re-enactments and the rain showers, we downloaded the Cadw app to take part in the new Little Dragons virtual dragon hunt. There are a total of 70 baby dragons hidden across Wales, 10 dragons at each of seven different Cadw castles, including Harlech, Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon, Raglan and Chepstow as well as Caerphilly. There are 10 fairies to be found at Castell Coch with a separate download from the app.
Other than spotting the virtual animals on Cardiff Bay Barrage, my children have never taken part in anything like this before (we’ve somehow managed to avoid Pokémon Go so far!) so this was a really fun experience for them, adding a new dimension to a place they have visited before.
Caerphilly is Wales’s largest castle, originally built in the 13th century by Gilbert de Clare – also known as Gilbert the Red due to his hair – as part of his campaign to conquer Glamorgan. He also built the original Castell Coch. Caerphilly Castle, with its surrounding lakes and motes, was the site of battles with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. But once that threat was quelled by Edward I, the castle wasn’t so necessary and fell into disrepair, until the third marquess of Bute began preservation work in the late 19th century.
You can visit several of the castle rooms, climb the spiral staircases and walk among the battlements.
The Great Hall is beautifully impressive, with its huge wooden table and throne-style chairs. However, it was out of use today due to a wedding taking place, so again, it’s worth checking ahead if that’s something you’d like to see.
My children loved the various video stories telling the story of the castle, which really bring to life its historical significance. It was built in three years, which is incredible, even by modern standards, never mind medieval ones.
Legends Live! is at Caerphilly Castle on Saturday 5th-Sunday 6th, Saturday 12th-Sunday 13th, Saturday 19th-Sunday 20th August, 12pm-4pm.
Adults, £7.95, children under 5-16 £5.20, family (2+3) £23.70, under 5s free.
See the website for more information on Brecon Carreg’s Kids Go Free offer, or pick up a promotional bottle or multipack in store. The promotion covers basic entry fees and does not extend to paid-for special events. Visit the Cadw website here.