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Since the medieval times the market town of Pontefract has been making its mark on history, housing one of England's greatest Castles and one of the original places where liquorice plants were cultivated. While liquorice growing disappeared some time ago, this beautiful town is packed with things to do including lively shopping, action-packed horse racing, historic castles, pretty villages and colourful carnivals, making it a superb choice for a short break or family day out.
Liquorice Festival The Pontefract Liquorice Festival takes place every year.
Pontefract Castle was once one of the greatest in England and visitors can still explore the underground magazine at Pontefract Castle cut out of the solid rock and see where Civil War prisoners carved their names into the cell walls. History is hidden in every corner of this town - look out for Shoe Market, Ropergate and Market Place - which allude to the heritage of this quaint town. But there are of course other long-standing traditions, such as the large number of public houses and the racecourse continues, which continue to provide entertainment.
Liquorice is central to this town's success and visitors to Pontefract are still greeted by the aroma of warm liquorice which wafts through the air. Don't go home without buying the famous Pontefract Cakes, which are still produced in the town today and can be purchased from the two factory shops. The annual liquorice festival is not to be missed. Visitors can literally experience all sorts of fun and surprises with areas of the town being themed around famous liquorice sweets.
Pontefract Racecourse is well known in horse racing circles for having the longest flat, circular course in Europe and has offered top-notch horse racing for over two centuries. Pontefract prides itself on catering for the racegoer, and is not short on experience. Racing taken place in the town since 1648, and the town's passion for horse racing is evident. The flat race meetings generate great atmosphere in intimate surroundings, and are invariably graced with competitive racing too and guarantees some good grandstand finishes.
In the collection of pretty villages surrounding Pontefract (Ackworth, Darrington, Wentbridge, Thorpe Audlin and Badsworth) the distinguished history of the area continues to be evident with stretches of Roman road, medieval manor house and ancient Churches which can all be discovered and enjoyed on the numerous footpaths and cycle ways.
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