The Lanterns at Chester Zoo Review

When your children start to get older it becomes increasingly difficult to find ways in which to keep the magic of Christmas alive.

So when we were invited to see The Lanterns at Chester Zoo, we were intrigued to see what the evening would entail.

Even setting off to the venue in the dark brought along its own excitement as the children are use to attending outdoor events during the day.

We were booked on to the 530 slot and the first thing we saw were two elves dressed in uniform informing us of what to expect. The acting was great and while the kids enjoyed the interactive elements I couldn’t take my eyes off their pointy ears!

We were to follow the trail of (pretend!) animals, who each had written a giant letter to Santa informing him of what they’d like for Christmas.

The children were each given a small lantern (which they got to keep) and we were also given a larger light per party to return at the end.

The zoo was lit up and looking magical in the dark with fairy lights and the wonderful animal lanterns guiding us.

We were very lucky with the mild and dry weather which made our walk even more enjoyable.

If you’ve been to any events by Wild Rumpus before, then you’ll know they often incorporate a circus theme. This was no different, as actors hung on trapezes pretending to be gibbons and we saw roller skating flamingoes!

The walk doesn’t take very long it depends on how fast or slow you would like to go, we did it in about an hour and a half but throughly enjoyed the experience.

The children loved walking in the dark (it made them feel very grown up!) and as we are a family who love theatre, especially outdoor theatre, they really enjoyed watching the performances, in fact if there was any criticism, it was that they wanted more of that interactivity as we walked around.

The walk culminates with a fantastically realistic Santa who waves at the children as we pass along. We certainly managed to find a unique event that reminded the children of the magic of Christmas!

The event continues until December 30. To book or find out more, visit the link below:

Aladdin Review

We’ve become regulars at Preston Guild Hall the last couple of years and as soon as we hit December, the kids excitedly asked if we’d be going to see the pantomime there this year.

It’s one of the few nights of the year they stay up late and it’s always been worth it!

This year was no different. We were invited to the first night of Aladdin at Preston Guild Hall and the jokes and special effects were just as funny and spectacular as they have been the last couple of years.

Aladdin is written and directed by Phil Walker who’s also in the panto as Wishee Washee. If you’re regulars like us, then you’ll recognise him from previous years as he was in Sleeping Beauty and also Jack & the Beanstalk.

Phil’s act is always a great hit with the kids, it’s not as though he’s written himself the best jokes, in fact they’re often jokes you’ll have heard before but it’s his delivery that appeals. The slapstick humour is perfect for panto and the way he interacts with the audience especially the children that are invited on stage is great.

The story of Aladdin is a tale most are familiar with and the cast and crew all performed their parts well.

Aladdin (Carl Tracey) and Jasmine (Stacey McClean), had good chemistry and sung and danced brilliantly. The flying carpet scene was of course the most eagerly awaited and we weren’t let down. Definitely one of the best scenes I’ve seen in a pantomime, full props to Craig Woof, Freedom Flying and The Twins FX. I also liked that they didn’t sing the song that we were expecting to hear while on the flying carpet!

It was however panto villain Abanazar, played by the talented Paul Zenon that stood out, helped of course by some fantastic special affects.

His side kick Jonathan Mayor who played Slave of the Ring also got lots of laughs, especially when he mentioned how he was there for some much needed diversity!

The supporting cast of Jeffrey Longmore as Widow Twanky and Marvyn Dickinson PC Pong deserve recognition. We are big fans of CBBC’s Class Dismissed in our house so the kids were even more excited when Marvyn was running around on stage!

People were still singing the songs or excitedly talking about their best bits while leaving which always goes to show how much they’ve enjoyed themselves.

The Preston Guild Hall did it again. The winning formula is a perfect start to the festive period and gets you feeling the Christmas spirit.

Aladdin is at the Charter Theatre, Preston Guild Hall from Thursday 7th December 2017 to Wednesday 3rd January 2018.

To book tickets or find out more visit the website:

Inside ‘Level’, Lancashire’s new entertainment venue

In early December we were lucky enough to be invited to Level, a new entertainment complex in Preston.

Perfect for those winter months when you’re looking for indoor entertainment, Level has something for the young and old all under one roof!

Based at Preston Guild Hall and aptly named (as you’ve probably guessed!), because it has something to do on every floor.

When we visited there were a few finishing touches being done on LEVEL 1 which will house laser quest, a unique 12-hole indoor crazy golf course that will be themed around Preston’s landmarks, and will even have a section dedicated to the city’s famous cricketer, Freddie Flintoff. It will also include a bar area, a retro games arcade, and two private party and karaoke rooms.

We fell in love with what we saw which was LEVEL 2 and it’s beautiful decor. This is the ground level and the entrance to the complex. It boasts Odin’s Bowl, an eight-lane bowling alley, and a sports bar. This level is also home to Spare Room, a VIP area with two private lanes. There’s also Mundo Street Kitchen, with graffiti style art on the walls that had the kids mesmerised. There is also a fab gaming area, which has darts boards and shuttle boards.

We can’t wait to go back and try out the whole complex especially LEVEL 3. This is where Daredevil takes place, two challenging assault courses, similar to TV’s Ninja Warrior UK – one for beginners and the other to test the more experienced fitness fanatics. As well as a children’s soft play area for those too young to try out the assault courses.

You can find out more information and how to book via the link below:

A Christmas Adventure at Thornton Hall Country Park

As you can imagine when your children get to 11 and 7 years old, you will have visited Santa’s grotto many many times.Some that we’ve seen, have been great and others a let down.

When Thornton Hall Farm invited us to their Christmas Adventure I thought the children might be a little old. Especially my son, but being the loving older brother he is, he was happy to tag along to make sure the magic wasn’t ruined for his sister.

The farm is undeniably one of our favourites places and we visit regularly. Both children have had birthday parties there and whenever we visit, we end up spending all day there (often leaving when they’re shutting up!). I knew that the tickets included all day farm access so even if we didn’t enjoy the 2 hour Xmas adventure, the kids would have plenty to do in the indoor barn, feeding animals, caterpillar rides and riding the quad bikes or ponies.The other children in our time slot were younger than my two but that didn’t phase them, they went along with the instructions from the farm’s funny and friendly staff.First up, hot chocolate (or mulled wine!) in Santa’s dining room.

Once we were warmed up, we were led by elves in to a craft workshop to create reindeer dust, write our letters to Santa and make our magical keys.We were off to save Christmas and stop the mischievous elf so we needed to arm ourselves with supplies!

The children then thought they were off to see Santa but in fact the naughty elf and Christmas fairy put on a show where we realised we actually had to go on an adventure to find Santa! So off we went on the Santa express where we found reindeer but no Santa..yet! When we finally got to the magical grotto we found a great Santa who was waiting with gifts in a lodge just like Lapland!We had such a lovely couple of hours and so much creativity and thought was put in to making the Santa visit special and magical for the children.

If you want to take the kids on a unique Christmas adventure, then we highly recommend a visit to Thornton Hall Farm.The Christmas adventure runs from Saturday 25 November until Sunday 24 December. Find out more and how to buy tickets on the link below:

Berlin Family Break

This October half term we decided to opt for a city break in Europe rather than faraway sunshine.

Friends and family members raved about Berlin, so both my sister’s family (which included my 1 year old nephew!) and my family, (7 year old daughter and 11 year old son), decided to see if the art and culture of Germany’s capital could keep the kids entertained.

We set off on our four night stay on a Sunday with a quick flight from Manchester.

On arrival we visited the tourist information office and were surprised to find that all travel for under 15’s is free. We decided to purchase a five day welcome pass costing €41 each per adult (with up to 3 children traveling free) and this also included a map and book with information about the city (including discounts!).

The apartment was a little far from the airport but very straightforward to get to via train and then the underground. We were a little concerned about our luggage, the children and pram but really didn’t need to be as the efficient transport system meant tons of space for all these things.

After travelling we stayed in our gorgeous apartment the first evening and decided on an early dinner and night for the kids so that we could make the most of the next three days.

As we were staying in the Mitte area of the city it was very family friendly and close to many of the attractions.

Our first full day was spent at Berlin Zoo. We had debated whether to visit it because we have seen so many zoos in the UK but the kids love animals and the zoo had so much history (having opened in 1844), we decided it was a must.

So many beautiful animals in this amazing family friendly place that we’d never come across, especially the amazing Pandas! All thriving in habitats created to look like their natural environment.

We realised we had to see a few things a day if we were going to cover even a little of Berlin. So the second day of our trip we visited one of Germany’s most famous landmarks the Brandenburg Gate.

We also saw the Reichstag building and Charlottenburg Palace. The kids loved seeing these historical huge buildings just as much as we did.

For our final day we decided to visit Museum Island and of course Berlin Cathedral. It was spectacular to see nestled between all the museums.

As our daughter is studying ancient Egypt we decided to pay (adults only €14) to enter the The Neues Museum so see the bust of Nefertiti and other ancient Egyptian artefacts, truly mesmerising.

City breaks might be a little more challenging with children in tow but they are such confidence builders. The way the children were navigating the transport, trying to learn the language and research the places we visited was such a joy to watch.

The thing that amazed us all and a huge factor in visiting again is the people. They truly were some of the most friendliest and helpful individuals we’ve met on our travels. Be it helping my sister with the pram or walking over when seeing you reading a map. All the interaction made our trip that much more special.

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin