The Alnwick Garden was opened to the general public officially in October 2002 by its patron, the Prince of Wales. They were not as big as I thought they would be but interesting nontheless - a good mox of plants and fountains of modern ddesign too (see pics). The large fountain has various timed displays. The gardens can be visited separately to the castle but really whilst here its best to see both - although the combined ticket at £12 per person I though was a bit steep and car parking was extra :-S
If you're in the Gardens, it's not at all apparent that you're right next to the town - if you're come by car it would be easy to leave without seeing the town centre at all. Which would be a pity, as Alnwick is a very pleasant market town (the market is on Saturdays, incidentally, although I was there midweek and missed it), with some nice historic buildings. Well worth a stroll, around especially on a fine day.
If you are a big Harry Potter fan, or are travelling with one, then this castle is likely to be a must see - it's one of the filming locations for Hogwarts School. When I got there, there was a "Harry Spotter" tour going on, which seemed, naturally, to be aimed at kids.
For the rest of us, the castle is the real deal - it dates from 1309, but unlike most English castles it is still intact, and it's remarkably been in the hands of the same family all of that time - the Percys, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland. It's worth getting there by at least mid-afternoon to see the "State Rooms" - a set of elegant rooms with fine furnishing and decoration, with an excellent art collection which includes a set of Canalettos - one of my favourite artists.
Adult entry is 8 pounds 50p - suprisingly there seems to be no combined ticket with the next-door Alnwick Gardens. Entry is from 10am to 6pm, but they stop letting visitors into the State Rooms at 4.30pm.
If you like gardens, or enjoy a stroll in attractive surroundings, then the Alnwick Gardens are well worth a visit. The modern gardens opened in 2002 and are based around a huge water feature and a lovely walled garden, and new features are being developed as the garden matures. The main water feature, named "The Grand Cascade" has a set of fountains which are set off every half hour for a few minutes for a nice display - this is well worth watching. In addition there is a rose garden, a woodland walk, a "poison garden" (where you get an escorted guide to various dangerous plants), numerous water features and quite a bit more - there is plenty to look at.
You can spend the whole day there - there are a couple of restaurants on site, or you can do as I did and spend some time visiting the Castle and the town.
Admission is 8 pounds per adult (you can leave and go back in on the same day with one ticket), and the gardens are open from 10am every day except Christmas day. Closing times vary from 4pm in summer to 7pm in winter.
we went to alwick castle for my daughters 5th birthday as a surpriseas she is a mad harry potter fan and she wanted to go and see where he goes to school!!!!!!. When we got there we went around the gardens while we waited for the castle to open and had a brief look and were very impressed and then we went to the castle when we went around the footpath and saw the castle for the first time we had a lump in our throars it was just the most gorgeous site the castle was beautiful. We spent a long time looking around the castle and went into the part for the kids where they could dress up in olden day clothes and do old fashioned games with the children, it was great fun. after a few hours we went to the tree house which is down from the castle and it was brilliant it had a cafe and a shop and a rope bridge which my children loved going across which i opted out for that one. We then went back to the gardens and had great fun in the water gardens we walked right up to the top of the fountain and had a snack at the top and just sat while the children paddled in the water, it was a most fantastic day one i will always remember always we are hoping to go back to the castle and gardens as it was so fantastic i really recommend that you go and have a great time.
I really enjoyed the castle visit - both externally in the grounds and internally where there is so much to see. You really do get the impression that it is a much loved family home (informal family pictures in the rooms added to the homely feel) and not just a museum piece. Infact its the second largest inhabited castle in England (second only to Windsor Castle) The castle has been the home of the Percys, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland since 1309. Apart from the family rooms on show, several towers contain interesting exhibitions. The castle is set in beautiful sweeping grounds and has often been used for film locations - most recently as one of the locations for Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films. See the website for more info.