Monday, 22 November 2021

Christmas at Dunham Massey 2021 - A Review

On Thursday evening we had the pleasure of attending the press night for the launch of Christmas at Dunham Massey 2021. My family and I have attended every year since 2017, with the exception of last year due to our local lockdown, so it is fair to say that we were all extremely excited to return to one of our favourite festive events.

Christmas at Dunham Massey is brought to you by Raymond Gubbay Ltd (Sony Music) in partnership with the National Trust and sees the stunning grounds transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland, with a magical, after-dark illuminated trail. Featuring over a million lights accompanied by seasonal sounds, it is the perfect place to make memories with loved ones or friends as you walk around the stunning grounds and take in the creative and mesmerising lights.

Prior to beginning the Christmas Trail you can spend some time in the courtyard, where there is a selection of different street food vendors, along with some vintage fairground rides that included a carousel and a helter skelter. Tokens need to be purchased for the rides at an additional charge and these are available from a kiosk located nearby, if you haven't already purchased them in advance. 


It is important to note that due to the one way system, you don't return back to the courtyard area after you have finished the trail, so if you are wanting to enjoy this area and have a bite to eat, then this needs to be done prior to entering the trail. The food and drinks available looked delicious and were reasonably priced. I also felt that there was a good variety of choices available to cater for all tastes.

Once we had finished in the Courtyard, my family and I made our way over to the giant sized reindeer located at the start of the trail where we were greeted by friendly staff who scanned our tickets. The mansion was lit up brightly and we were captivated watching the sequence of lights across the building. Our favourite part was when Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas began to play and my son, along with some other guests, began to dance. It felt so Christmassy and welcoming and we were excited to see the rest of the event as we began to walk down the path.


Just like previous years we were greeted with stunning displays and my son kept asking how long it must have taken people to create the fascinating arrangements. The fire garden was so relaxing and I could quite happily have stood there for a long time just watching the flames and listening to the music. We were also extremely impressed by the incredible rose garden installation which was absolutely breathtaking as the roses began to change colour. 

There were also plenty of opportunities along the trail to purchase hot drinks and snacks including hot chocolates, mulled wine and tea. The option of a children's hot chocolate was also available and my boys both said it was absolutely delicious. It cost £2.25 and they enjoyed taking sips and keeping warm as we continued our walk together.

Approximately midway through the trail, there is a place to stop and purchase marshmallows to roast on one of the fire pits. The marshmallows were available to buy for £1.50 each which I thought to be reasonable given their large size. My youngest son opted for a candy floss favoured marshmallow, but my eldest son noticed additional cabins that were selling waffles and crepes, with the giant tubs of nutella immediately catching his attention. He therefore chose to buy a nutella filled crepe instead at a cost of £4.50 which he described as the best snack he had ever tasted.


My favourite part of the evening was watching my son speak with Santa, albeit socially distanced. Whilst there are no individual meet and greets, Santa did his best to speak out to guests in the crowd and welcome everyone. It was beautiful to watch his interaction with visitors and the surrounding setting was wonderful and perfectly lit with gentle lighting against the backdrop of the night sky.

Overall we had a wonderful time and it was the perfect start to our Christmas celebrations. The way the event is designed makes it suitable for all ages and whilst it is a lovely family event, I also feel that it is ideal for couples and individuals to enjoy too. All of the staff we came across were extremely courteous and were very friendly each time my youngest son spoke to them. He had taken one of his teddies with him and insisted on showing it to every staff member, who all seemed more than happy to engage with him and have a little chat. The highlight of our evening was the interaction between Father Christmas and my son which was just a joy to watch. We would absolutely recommend Christmas at Dunham Massey to others and if you have already booked your tickets, then you're in for a treat.

For further information on Christmas at Dunham Massey, please visit their website or social media channels which can be found here:

Website - National Trust - Dunham Massey
Facebook - DunhamMasseyNT - Facebook
Twitter - @DunhamMasseyNT

Event Details

Attraction - Christmas at Dunham Massey, the magical after-dark illuminated trail.
Location - Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ
Dates - 19th November 2021 to 2nd January 2022 (the event is not open on all dates so please check for availability).

The majority of tickets for this event are now sold out, however on checking today (20/11/21) there are currently limited tickets still available for the 1st and 2nd of January 2022. However, the creators for Christmas at Dunham Massey are also operating a new lights trail approximately 40 minutes away from Dunham Massey called Christmas at Delamere Forest. You can find out more details on this event on the blog here.



*Disclaimer - We attended the press evening of Christmas at Dunham Massey and were provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing but can be subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the attraction's own website in order to obtain the most up to date information. 

Monday, 27 September 2021

Competition - Win a Family Ticket to Silcock's Winter Wonderland Manchester VIP Night

You may have read our recent blog post announcing the wonderful news that Silcock's Winter Wonderland Manchester is returning to EventCity this December after a four-year gap. This fabulous festive extravaganza offers families the opportunity to make some wonderful memories together this Christmas and I am very excited to have a family ticket to give away to attend their VIP night on the 6th December 2021.

Kingpin Events, organisers of the UK's largest indoor Christmas theme park, are delighted to announce that Silcock's Winter Wonderland Manchester returns after a 4-year gap, bringing the magic of Christmas back to Manchester.

This much-loved festive extravaganza returns indoors at EventCity next to the Intu Trafford Centre from Saturday 4th December 2021 to Sunday 2nd January 2022.

The Christmas event became a top attraction in Manchester for five years from 2013-2017, becoming one of the city's biggest annual events and now the much-loved attraction returns bigger and better than before with tickets now on sale for the unmissable festive family adventure.

Kingpin Events will transform the indoor 22,000 sq m exhibition space into an unbelievable and magical winter wonderland, featuring over 50 family rides and attractions all under one roof including Dodgems, Roller Coasters, Waltzers and too many children's rides to mention. There is also a dazzling array of theatrical shows on the main stage including TV stars Daisy and Ollie, Ice Princess Show, Christmas Meltdown plus the spectacular Christmas Circus returns, all with daily performances. Not to mention being greeted by Elves and Fairies and the amazing surprises that are still to be announced. 

Of course Christmas would not be complete without visiting Father Christmas - complete with real reindeers - who will be taking time out of his busy schedule for meet and greets every day, up to and including Christmas Eve. You also have the option to purchase a toy and a photo from Father Christmas Toy Workshop.

If this wasn't enough there are also games stalls and festive foods from German sausages to waffles and crepes, as well as an authentic German Bar for alcoholic drinks and refreshments.

Four hours of non-stop fun and entertainment all included in one amazing ticket price (excluding games and food stalls) along with 3000 free car park spaces.

To find out more or to book tickets please visit www.winterwonderlandmanchester.com or alternatively you can visit the following social media channels:

Facebook - facebook.com/winterwonderlandmanchester

Twitter - @wwmanchester

Instagram - @wwmanchester

Listing Details

Event - Silcock's Winter Wonderland Manchester

Venue - EventCity (next to Intu Trafford Centre), Phoenix Way, Off Barton Dock Road, Urmston, Manchester, M41 7TB

Dates - 4th December 2021 to 2nd January 2022

Parking - Free parking available

Ticket Information

Off-Peak Tickets

Adult: £29.50 (plus booking fee)

Child: (3-16) £29.50 (plus booking fee)

OAP: £20.00 (plus booking fee)

Child (Under 3): Free (Ticket Required)

Family Ticket of 4 (must include at least 1 Adult) discount of £10 (plus booking fee).

Peak

Adult: £35.00 (plus booking fee)

Child: (3-16) £35.00 (plus booking fee)

OAP: £27.50 (plus booking fee)

Child (Under 3): Free (Ticket Required)

Family Ticket of 4 (must include at least 1 Adult) discount of £10 (plus booking fee).

Carers tickets go free with full paying adults.

Groups: 1 in 10 goes free (no booking fee)

School and nursery bookings: From 7-10 December and 13-17 December, tickets £15 each including booking fee.

Payment plans are available this year - see website for details.

Reduced £22.00 (plus booking fee) tickets are available for NHS and Armed Forces on certain dates, see website for details.

All rides and attractions are included in the price (excluding games and food stalls) and each session lasts for 4 hours.

Bookings can be made online at www.winterwonderlandmanchester.com or by ringing 0344 815 7131 for both individual and group bookings.

Tickets can be purchased now, however if you are feeling lucky then why not enter our competition. Simply read the terms and conditions and then enter using the gleam form below: 

Win a Family Ticket to Silcock's Winter Wonderland Manchester VIP Night


Terms and Conditions

  • There is 1 (one) prize of a family ticket (consisting of 2 adults and 2 children) to Silcock's Winter Wonderland Manchester at EventCity on 6th December 2021 only. The family ticket cannot be transferred to an alternative date and there is no cash alternative.
  • Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 years or over.
  • Competition closes on the 31st October 2021 at 23:59pm
  • The family ticket cannot be resold and is not transferable. 
  • The winner will be drawn at random from all eligible entries after the closing date and notified via email.
  • The winner shall have 7 (seven) days to respond to the winning notification and confirm their acceptance of the prize. Should the winner fail to respond, then an alternative winner shall be drawn from the remaining eligible entrants.
  • No bulk or third party entries.
  • Winner's details shall be shared with BEA for the purpose of prize fulfilment and permission shall be obtained from the winner prior to doing so. BEA are responsible for arranging/sending out the prize.
  • If circumstances arise that prevent the event from going ahead as planned then It's A Family Adventure accepts no liability and no alternative prize will be offered.
  • Entries will be validated to confirm that the entry action has been completed as stated. Any incorrect or invalid entries shall be removed.
  • The winner's name may be displayed on this blog post once the winner has been drawn and have confirmed their acceptance of the prize.
  • In entering this competition you confirm that you have accepted these terms and conditions and any additional terms that may be available to view within the Gleam entry form.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Dates for your Diary - Jack and the Beanstalk at St Helens Theatre Royal

A panto streamed online earlier this year is being brought to life to entertain families this October half term - with hundreds of tickets also being donated to frontline NHS workers in St Helens.

Leading panto producers Regal Entertainments is counting down four weeks until the curtain rises on family favourite Jack and the Beanstalk at St Helens Theatre Royal.

Regal Entertainments kept online audiences entertained at Easter when they went the extra mile to stream its popular seasonal show so families could still watch together at home while the country was still in the midst of a national lockdown.

The show proved so popular that theatregoers now have the opportunity to watch it in real-life during the October half-term school holidays featuring a cast of St Helens Theatre Royal favourites.

Jack and the Beanstalk comes to St Helens Theatre Royal for 15 performances between Thursday 21st October and Sunday 31st October 2021.

St Helens Theatre Royal has been granted the use of The Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre's 'See It Safely' mark. This certifies that the venue is complying with Government and industry Covid-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of staff, performers and audiences.

Regal Entertainments and St Helens Theatre Royal wanted to mark the return of live panto to the venue by doing something special - so they are thanking the tireless efforts of frontline NHS workers by donating 500 panto tickets to Whiston and St Helens Hospitals.

Regal Entertainments, St Helens Theatre Royal, and St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust are working together to allocate the tickets.

Ann Marr OBE, Chief Executive of St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, commented: "The past 18 months have been the most challenging time for our staff, and we are incredibly grateful for the support we continue to receive from our local community. Thank you to everyone at St Helens Theatre Royal for thinking of our staff during this time and giving them the opportunity to have some much-needed fun in our wonderful local theatre. I am sure they will enjoy every moment."


The fabulous cast sees Timothy Lucas reprise his role of Jack, Catherine Cunningham as Mrs Fleshcreep, Olivia Sloyan as Princess Jill, Reece Sibbald as Simple Simon, Mark Two as Dame Dolly Trott, and Jenna Sian O'Hara as Fairy Mary.

The creative team includes director Chantelle Nolan, musical supervisor Callum Clarke, choreography by Nazene Langfield, and written by Reece Sibbald.

Theatre manager and director Chantelle Nolan added: "Online audiences absolutely loved Jack and the Beanstalk at Easter, it was different hosting a panto in this way but we had so much fun making it possible. Now we're counting down the days until we welcome families back to the theatre to experience our lavish and magical pantomimes for themselves. 

"After such a tough 18 months, we want to say thank you to the incredibly dedicated frontline NHS workers in our local hospitals by inviting them to join us for the show.  They've worked tirelessly and we're all in awe of them - they are real-life heroes. We're inviting them to take a well-deserved break and join us on a magical journey with Jack and his friends." 

Jack and the Beanstalk tells the rags to riches story of a boy who sells the family's cow for a handful of beans, getting him into a lot of trouble with his poor mother. But the story takes a magical twist when the beans sprout into a magnificent beanstalk that reaches up to a mystical land high in the sky.

Audiences will join Jack on his gigantic journey up the beanstalk as he discovers geese with golden eggs, a magic harp, and not forgetting a close encounter with a very hungry giant. But he needs to tread carefully, as the villanous Mrs Fleshcreep is hot on his heels, determined to stop him.

St Helens Theatre Royal has a range of Covid-secure measures in place. They include increased cleaning, hand sanitiser stations at points throughout the building, and a QR code phone app for audiences to order food and beverages to be delivered to them at their seats.

Customers are asked to continue to wear face coverings (unless exempt) as a courtesy to others, and are being encouraged to take a lateral flow test up to 48 hours before attending the show. People are asked not to visit the theatre if they have Covid symptoms. Meanwhile theatre staff are taking daily Covid tests.

St Helens Theatre Royal's Autumn season brochure can be found online by visiting https://www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com/digital-brochure/

You can also follow St Helens Theatre Royal on the following social media pages:

Facebook - facebook.com/St-Helens-Theatre-Royal

Twitter - @TheatreRoyalStH

Instagram - @TheatreRoyalStHelens

Listing Details

Show - Regal Entertainments presents Jack and the Beanstalk

Venue - St Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ

Dates - Selected dates from Thursday 21st October to Sunday 31st October

Tickets - From £13

Performance Schedule

Thursday 21st October - 12pm

Friday 22nd October - 12pm

Saturday 23rd October - 12pm and 5pm

Sunday 24th October - 12pm and 5pm

Wednesday 27th October - 12pm

Thursday 28th October - 12pm and 5pm

Friday 29th October - 12pm and 5pm

Saturday 30th October - 12pm and 5pm

Sunday 31st October - 12pm and 5pm

Tickets can be booked in person at St Helens Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ (Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756000 or visit www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com.

*Disclaimer - This post is written based on a press release kindly provided by BEA. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venue's own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Dates for your Diary - A Feast of Festive Fabulousness Coming Soon to Waterside, Sale

Sisters are indeed doing it for themselves in Sale this Christmas when the previously unloved and ill-fated Ugly Sisters come to Waterside to sing some songs, write some wrongs and tell it how it is, in this brand new musical play, The Not So Ugly Sisters, inspired by everybody's favourite fairy tale - Cinderella.

Presented by award-winning children's theatre makers, Wrongsemble in a co-production with Leeds Playhouse and Red Ladder, The Not So Ugly Sisters is a funny, fast-paced family show where the action centres around Dolly and Barb in their hairdressing salon on the day of their sister Cindy's wedding to Prince Smarming. Thinking that they have not been invited to the so-called event of the year, the sisters gather to share their story and wash their woes right out of their hair. With the salon phone only ringing for customers to cancel their blow-dry appointments, it is time for the sisters to tell the much-loved story from their perspective. Hell hath no fury like a hairdresser scorned!

Running at just under an hour with no interval and jam-packed with up-tempo original songs, puppetry and many funky moves - Not So Ugly Sisters is the perfect festive treat for small people and their grown ups with a good laugh and a family outing being the perfect way to end a challenging year for all.

Waterside is also delighted to announce a series of other festival treats, kicking off on Sunday 7th November with Ballet Theatre UK's beautiful re-telling of Hans Christian Anderson's classical fairy tale ballet, The Snow Queen. Ballet Theatre UK's renowned company of international dancers, beautiful costumes and glittering stage sets combine to create a magnificent spectacle, all set to a glorious and magical score.

For even littler people, Lyngo Theatre presents Little Red Riding Hood from Monday 13th to Friday 17th December. Recommended for ages 3-7, this is a theatrical gem of a show, complete with a magical wardrobe, a snowy wild wood, animal puppets hiding in trees and lots of catchy songs.

Older kids can hunker down at Waterside for the eerily beautiful retelling of everybody's favourite festive ghost story - A Christmas Carol on Friday 17th December. Aimed at ages 11 and over, this Christmas tale is brought to life while the ghosts of Christmas return from the dead through the magical art of storytelling - presented by The Book of Darkness & Light in association with Little Mighty.

Comedy lovers are in for a treat with not one but three great chances to laugh out loud this Christmas. Waterside's legendary monthly comedy night - Best of Buzz Comedy - brings the talents of Sam Avery, Bobby Murdock and Brummie funny man and compere Ryan Gough together for one night of hilarity for adults on Saturday 4th December. Waterside also presents the much loved ComedySportz improv comedy stalwarts in their annual adult panto which is created completely by scratch and on the spot in front of a live audience on Friday 17th December; whilst on Friday 10th December and Saturday 11th December - younger audiences are invited to come along and help make up their own family friendly version of the improv panto with the ComedySportz teams! Kids can expect quick-witted gags, games, panto dames and lots of silliness whilst the adults get a bawdier version of the same with the addition of rude words and even more innuendo. Oh No It Isn't.... Oh yes it is!

Rounding off Waterside's programme of festive delights is a one off musical gig with Belshazzar's Feast. Made up of Paul Sartin (of Bellowhead and Faustus) and Paul Hutchinson (of Pagoda Project) - together they have become one of the best-loved duos in folk music today and previous BBC Folk Awards Best Duo nominees. Join them on Thursday 16th December as they bring their celebrated Christmas show to Trafford, mixing traditional folk music and seasonal material, stirring in classical, pop and music hall, all topped off with audience participation and lashings of wry humour that has won them many fans across the world. 

Manager of Waterside Darren Adams says "After another challenging year for the arts and artists alike, it is so great to end on a cultural high with so many great shows and companies joining us at Waterside this Christmas. From live ballet to comedy and from theatre to folk - there really is something for all ages and tastes. It was so fantastic to see families and grown ups alike out enjoying the arts together once more this summer at our annual Refract Festival and we cannot wait to welcome more through our doors once again over the festive season."

Elvi Piper, Artistic Director at Wrongsemble comments: "We are thrilled to bring The Not So Ugly Sisters to the brilliant Waterside this festive season. We've been waiting for two years to entertain the good people of Manchester with this ultimate family feel-good festive feast of a show - which has something in it for everyone! Live theatre is well and truly back with a fairytale bang and we can't wait to get started."

The Not So Ugly Sisters runs at Waterside from Wednesday 24th November 2021 - Saturday 1st January 2022. Tickets are on sale now: waterside.org/sisters.

For further details on the shows at Waterside this festive season you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://watersidearts.org/

Facebook - facebook.com/watersidearts

Twitter - @watersidearts

Instagram - @watersidearts_

*Disclaimer - This post is written based on a press release. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venue's own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.