This once-fearsome fortress earned itself the name “Key to the North” thanks to its strategic position and importance in the power balance of Yorkshire and beyond. Today, Pontefract Castle boasts captivating ruins, panoramic views and fascinating stories to discover. Take a Dungeon Tour and explore the turmoil of the Civil War.
Things to do in PontefractThere are loads of things to do in Pontefract. Check out our list of top picks!
Pontefract’s got a couple of big weekends coming up – with Armed Forces Day on 17 June and then the legendary Liquorice Festival making its triumphant return on 9 July. That being so, it’d be a nice place for a staycation taking in these two red letter events. But what else can you do in Ponte to fill the time? Well, loads, actually! We’ve pulled together some suggestions so that visitors can extend their stay – and locals might just discover a few things they didn’t know about, too…
1. TAKE IN HISTORY AT PONTEFRACT CASTLE
2. GO ANTIQUING AT THE MAGISTRATES MARKET
Pontefract’s Georgian Magistrate’s court is now a treasure trove for antique and vintage aficionados. From mid-century modern furniture to vintage clothes, local Bagley’s glassware and classic Americana, there’s something for everyone.
3. CYCLE AROUND THE TOWN’S PARKS
4. GO STARGAZING AT ROSSE OBSERVATORY
Rosse Observatory is situated right on the edge of town to maximise sky viewing. The observatory, home of the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society, holds regular members’ nights, but they’re holding a special Open Night for the public on Friday 8 July – just in time for the festival. So make like Patrick Moore and get stargazing!
5. PICK YOUR OWN AT FARMER COPLEYS
Farmer Copleys is a Pontefract stalwart. If you love farm-to-fork freshness and the very best locally sourced produce, then this award-winning farm shop and cafe is well worth a visit. July falls right in the middle of The Strawberry Experience, a chance to get out in the fresh air and sunshine and pick your own fresh, juicy sweet Yorkshire-grown berries.
6. ENJOY THE EXCITEMENT OF RACEDAY AT PONTEFRACT RACECOURSE
Pontefract Racecourse is Europe’s longest continuous flat racing circuit, and a fantastic place for a summer day out. The first July race day – the Listed Weatherby’s Pipalong Stakes – is on Tuesday 5 July, so ideal for your extended stay. The fixture promises some brilliant action on the track – perhaps a little flutter is in order?
7. GO GHOST HUNTING AT 30 EAST DRIVE
Perhaps not surprising, given its extensive history, but Pontefract is (allegedly) home to one of Britain’s most haunted houses. From the outside, 30 East Drive looks like any other 1950s council house, but it is supposedly home to a violent poltergeist who has been terrorising residents and visitors alike since the 1970s. Dare you stay the night with the “Black Monk”?
8. SAMPLE A GLASS OF REAL ALE AT THE ROBIN HOOD
Pontefract has a strong commitment to real ale, with plenty of venues giving the chance to sample this amber nectar. The Robin Hood is a good place to start, though. Not only is it right next to its own brewery, it’s also a hub of live music, with performances in their several event spaces, Brewers Yard, The Pigeon Loft and Del’s Attic.
And if all of this tickles your fancy, there’s plenty more where that came from: Pontefract is just full of quirky, historical charm.
To explore more things to do, as well as places to eat and drink, and where to stay, check out our Pontefract page now.