Just when we thought the choice of things to do in York with kids couldn’t get any better – Viking villages! Amazing trains! Victorian sweet shops! A whole attraction dedicated to chocolate! – it has. The whole country went into lockdown at the start of the year, and by the time we were allowed out of our castles again – WHOOSH! – with the flick of a wand, a brand new family-friendly destination had appeared right in the heart of York! The Hole in Wand is the brainchild of the York-based owners of The Potions Cauldron on Shambles, and it’s a wizard-themed minigolf experience in York city centre for the whole family. We took our young wizards along (well, two of them) to try it for ourselves. A few teething issues have been tweaked since our visit, such as the difficulty of some of the holes and better spacing out of players to avoid having to wait along the way. Undeterred by those minor problems, we really enjoyed our visit and here’s why we’d recommend it.
1. The theme is magical!
We’d bet a golden snitch that most families have at least one Harry Potter fan in their midst, if not more. For us, it’s our eldest (11) who’s read all the books and got the T-shirt (and duvet cover, and Top Trump cards..), so it’s no surprise that the magical theme of The Hole in Wand appealed to him. The attention to detail in the decor (not to mention the music, the staff and the branding), from the door handles to the suspended arrows, piles of books to interactive elements (no spoilers) is seriously impressive. No expense has been spared, and it shows: anyone who visited the building before its transformation will be seriously impressed with the makeover. There’s a magical and welcoming atmosphere that even won over our daughter (9) who can take or leave Potter but loves The Worst Witch – any fan of magic is bound to be bewitched. It can be as immersive an experience as you like, depending on whether you want to follow the backstory behind the holes and the hunt to find the missing gargoyle, Grobblenook, or just want the challenge of a fun minigolf course.The Hole in Wand has all the hallmarks of a professional tourist attraction but with the friendliness and charm of an independent York business.
2. It’s a fun activity to do together
There’s no shortage of places to visit in York with kids, but there’s nothing quite like The Hole in Wand. We really enjoyed the fact that we were doing something together that was fun, screen-free and a bit of a challenge. Each of the nine holes has a different theme, and some are trickier than others: while our eldest managed to get the ball in every time in under six shots (the permitted limit to keep things moving and prevent bottlenecks in the building), I’m sorry to report that the girls were a bit more hit and miss (literally). My Incoming Tantrum Radar was on high alert in case of a set-to between the potential sore losers and boastful winner, but thankfully it didn’t transpire. We were all so happy to be out of the house and doing something fun together that everyone stayed in a good mood and didn’t mind too much about the outcome. It’s no surprise that the minds behind The Hole in Wand are parents: they’ve anticipated and avoided possible pitfalls by making sure that everyone feels like a winner at the end of the game. Each player receives a magical potion to take home, which instantly makes you feel as though you’ve succeeded (and also solves the inevitable issue of where to get a drink afterwards – all that golfing is thirsty work).
3. It’s unique in York
The Hole in Wand might not be the biggest attraction in York – we were probably there an hour, including having a drink afterward – but it’s a one-of-a-kind experience in the city centre. With the focus purely on enjoyment, and not a hint of homeschooling or having to learn anything, children can just relax and have a good time. It offers something completely different to York’s fantastic museum and galleries and they’ve already had wizards flying in from all over the country to try it out!
4. It’s good value
At just £6.99 per player including the magic potion at the end, The Hole in Wand feels like good value for money. While there are plenty of things to do for free in York, from the National Railway Museum to the Little Vikings I Spy Trail, much of it costs money and a trip into the city can add up. The pricing seems really fair, and is also true of their cafe, The Wizard Tavern, where prices are also very competitive. Serving hot and cold drinks, hot dogs, pop corn, snacks and even alcohol, The Wizard Tavern is a quirky place to stop for something to eat or drink whether you’re playing golf or not. If you have a Little Vikings Family Card, you can even get coffee, ice cream or a hot dog for just £1!
5. The location is amazing
With most activities of this kind located out of town, The Hole in Wand is a great city centre option. Right opposite JORVIK Viking Centre, around the corner from Clifford’s Tower and York Castle Museum and a stone’s throw from the other attractions, you can build it into a day of adventures in York (pointy hat and broomstick optional).
Good to know – Players have to be aged 3+, but realistically it will be difficult for a child under 6 to play with any ease. There are shorter clubs for younger players, which is great. At the moment, pre-booking is required (this may change as restrictions change), and it’s getting booked up at peak times. You don’t need to be playing to enjoy food and drink at The Wizard Tavern, and you should definitely take your Little Vikings Family Card along for a discount! You can also get a 10% discount at The Potions Cauldron, which is a great place for quirky gifts.
The Hole in Wand, 14 – 16 Coppergate Walk, York YO1 9NT – theholeinwand.com
Thanks to The Hole in Wand for inviting us along. As always, our review is independent and you can trust that we will only ever recommend something that we have genuinely enjoyed. Your money and family time are precious and we want to help you make the most of it