Castle Howard is one of our favourite places for a family day out near York, so we couldn’t be more pleased that it is opening again soon for outdoor adventures. Skelf Island may not be open just yet, and the house remains shut for now, but there’s still a huge amount of fun to be had. You will need to plan ahead though as there are new restrictions and guidelines in place, including the need to pre-book your visit. Here’s what to expect.
Reopening Dates and Times
– For the first five days of re-opening (Wednesday 3rd to Sunday 7th June inclusive) they will be opening the Gardens only for Friends Members between 10am and 5pm.
– From Monday 8th June they will be open daily 10am to 5pm for all visitors. The Gardens will close at 6pm.
– From 15th June they will be offering Members only entry hours from 9am – 10am and from 5pm – 6pm. The Gardens will close at 7pm.
Pre-book an arrival slot online
Castle Howard is moving to an entirely online booking function so that they can manage the capacity of visitors coming through the Courtyard, therefore maintaining social distancing and importantly so that you can enter through the ticket office and self scan your booking barcode.
Sessions available to book
Sessions available are:
10am, 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 12noon, 12.30pm, 1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm, 3.30pm, 4pm, 4.30pm (with last entry through the Ticket Office at 5pm)
You can book an arrival slot at any of the following times listed above, and then stay in the gardens for as long as you want. You can arrive anytime during the half-hour slot, so, for example, if you book an 11am slot, but turn up at 11.15am that is fine. Also, if you happen to be running late or early, your booking barcode will still work so there is no need to try to re-book; this is simply about spreading out visitors throughout the day so that you can have a better experience, and they can manage capacity and maintain suitable social distancing conditions.
When will tickets go on sale?
– Priority booking for Gold Members will go live on Thursday 28th May from 3pm.
– Booking for Silver Members will go live on Friday 28th May at 3pm.
– Booking for the general public will go live on Tuesday 2nd June.
How to book your admission tickets and what happens when you arrive
Visit the Castle Howard website and click Book, or you can access this via the ‘Visit Us’ tab. Choose the day you would like to visit, click the arrival session time. If you are a Member, you will be asked to enter the Membership numbers of everyone in your party, including child members. As long as you have a valid, current membership there will be no need to pay anything for your admission tickets.
You will be emailed a bar code for each person visiting and this is what you need, either printed at home or visible on your phone to self-scan in, when you arrive at the ticket office. There will be a member of the team present, behind a perspex screen wearing the recommended PPE, to welcome you and to be available should you need assistance. There will also be a separate desk set up for those wishing to renew or buy Memberships.
They have placed markers on the floor and will be using signs to encourage anyone queuing to maintain a 2-metre gap. However, by pre-booking an arrival slot online this will help them to manage the flow of people into the car park, through the ticket office and into the grounds. Every measure they have put in place is following current government guidelines.
What will be open?
In the first weeks of opening the focus is on allowing people back into the gardens, with limited facilities, but Castle Howard will phase these back in over the coming weeks and will only re-open outlets when they are confident that they have systems, risk assessments and team members in place and trained up to operate each outlet safely.
The Farm Shop and Garden Centre are open and operating with social distancing, limiting the footfall into the outlets and ensuring all trolleys and baskets are disinfected.
In week one the Coffee Shop will be open for a grab and go, takeaway service including hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, ice creams and cakes. They will be operating a one-in, one-out, queuing system and enabling social distancing measures by re-routing the flow through this space. Please ensure you dress for the weather on the day of your visit as the new queuing systems and social distancing measures rely on the outdoor spaces. There will be a takeaway service operating from the Kiosk at the Boathouse on busy days.
In the first week it is unlikely that any other catering outlets will be open, but they are preparing these spaces and systems to allow for this in line with further easing of restrictions. Of course you are very welcome to bring your own picnics and Castle Howard is reopening but with new restrictions and guidelines – here’s what you need to know they have spaced out what picnic tables they do have. As usual dogs on leads are welcome in the Gardens.
The main toilets in the Courtyard will closed, with the exception of the accessible toilet and the baby changing facility, only available for those visitors who need to use these specific facilities. They have installed portable toilets on the North Front (as you walk down the main drive they will be on the left by the tree line). These are individual units, allowing outdoor queuing in the open air and they will be regularly cleaned and maintained by the facilities team. You will see additional hand wash and hand sanitiser stations around the site, which everyone is encouraged to use.
At the moment they are not able to open the Adventure Playground and Skelf Island and they are monitoring government advice carefully on this. They cannot say at present when this area will re-open and they do understand that many of you will be desperate to get back there. All of the gardens and Ray Wood are open, and you will be able to download the seasonal spotters trails and sensory trails before visiting to bring with you if you think the family would enjoy some more structured play. These will be uploaded shortly. Please note that in the initial phases of re-opening the Kelly Car land train will not be operating. And, of course, the House itself remains closed until further notice.