Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Dates for your Diary - Pinocchio: The Boy Within at the Epstein Theatre - 23rd to 24th July 2018

Liverpool based theatre company Cuckootales, are bringing a brand new and enchanting show to the Epstein Theatre on the 23rd and 24th July with Pinocchio: The Boy Within.

This original production is written and directed by Pauline Morris and Gemma Hurst with music arranged and recorded by Felix Hagan and is performed by a local Liverpool cast who are joined by the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy.

Characters from the shabby and sinister, to the pure and ethereal combine with a visually striking set. Puppets and costumes will capture the imagination of audiences of all ages, and the host of memorable songs are guaranteed to have everyone singing along.

 Photo by Andrew AB
Carlo Collodi's classic story tells of the impoverished carpenter who lovingly carves a puppet son, Pinocchio. Magically springing to life but struggling with the 'truth' he embarks on a journey facing moral temptation and mortal peril. Finding that his nose grows with every lie he tells, Pinocchio ultimately overcomes all obstacles to find 'the boy within.'

This adaptation packed with humour, focuses on the human bonds of friendship, family and compassion. The timeless setting seems an unlikely and somewhat 'grubby' backdrop for our heroes, but it is one capable of showing that 'magic truly is a wonderful thing.'

Tickets are on sale now.

The 11am show on the 24th July will be a Relaxed Performance, perfect for anyone that would benefit from a more relaxed performance environment - including those with an autism spectrum condition or learning disability. There will also be a 'Meet and Greet' with the cast after this performance.

Listing Details

Show - Pinocchio: The Boy Within
Date - Monday 23rd July and Tuesday 24th July
Time - Monday 2pm & 6pm / Tuesday 11am, 3pm & 7pm
Tickets - £10 Standard, £9 Concession, £35 Family
Website - www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk
Facebook - www.facebook.com/epsteintheatre
Twitter - @EpsteinTheatre

Relaxed Performance: 11am on 24th July

To book tickets please call 0844 888 4411* or go online at www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk* or in person at The Epstein Theatre Box Office from 12pm - 6pm Monday to Saturday.

*Subject to booking fee. All prices include a £1 per ticket restoration levy.

Photo by Andrew AB
*Disclaimer - Information provided is correct at time of writing, but is of course subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Monday, 25 June 2018

A Day Trip to Venice from Portofelice Camping Village

If you are a regular visitor to the blog, you will have seen that we recently visited the Portofelice Camping Village with Al Fresco Holidays. The holiday park was situated in Eraclea Mare on the Venetian Riviera and was ideally situated for a day trip to Venice.

On arrival we asked at reception for the best way to visit Venice for a day trip. They kindly provided us with a bus timetable and explained that during our stay the buses would only run on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I had a quick look at the weather forecast for the week and we decided on choosing Wednesday for our family day out.

We opted for the Quickly bus and boat service which involves a bus journey to Punta Sabbioni and then a boat across the water to Venice. Tickets needed to be purchased from reception and so I visited the desk on Tuesday evening. However, I was informed on arrival that they were no longer selling tickets that evening as the weather forecast had changed and due to the tickets being non refundable, they asked me to come back the following morning to purchase them before we boarded the bus. Whilst I totally appreciate their reasoning for this and the fact that they are only thinking of their guests, my inner organised self did not like having to purchase the tickets last minute and I was worried that when we returned to buy them in the morning that they would be sold out. Luckily there was no problem and I simply set our alarm ten minutes earlier than planned and joined the short queue at reception on the Wednesday morning.

Our tickets cost a total of 107 euros for 2 adults and 3 children which I thought was reasonable considering that it also included a boat trip. Once we safely had our tickets, we made our way outside of the park, crossed the road and waited at the bus stop on the opposite side. Shortly after our scheduled pick up time, two buses arrived together and we began to board.

The buses were very busy, but we were lucky enough to get five seats together towards the back of the bus. Some guests who got on after us though did have to stand which isn't ideal given that it is an hour long journey to Punta Sabbioni, so I would advise getting to the bus stop early if you want to be one of the first to board. The bus journey itself was very straightforward and it was nice being able to relax and just observe our surroundings as we travelled.

We arrived in Punta Sabbioni just after 10am and it was extremely busy, I would imagine that this is probably peak time for crossings as there were lengthy queues in both the tourist and local entrances. We had to wait around half an hour before a boat arrived, but once on board it was a very pleasant and enjoyable journey across the water. My children enjoyed being able to spot things from a distance and waved at the other boats. Much to my youngest sons delight, a lifelike pirate galleon complete with pirates passed us and Riley could not believe his eyes!

The boat journey took approximately half an hour and we disembarked a short walk away from St Mark's Square. Just like Punta Sabbioni it was extremely busy and we noticed that there were also a large amount of tour groups walking around and taking in the sights. I had done some research beforehand and had planned to visit St Mark's Basilica and The Bell Tower so we began to head in their direction. I had also read about the Bridge of Sighs which connects Doge's Palace to the Jail. It is constructed of white limestone and looks really beautiful and unique.

I wasn't too sure as to whereabouts in Venice this was actually located, though fortunately for us, we passed it as we were walking to St Mark's Square. It would have been hard to miss as there was a large crowd of people all excitedly taking photos.


As we continued to St Mark's Square we took a moment to stop and take everything in. Venice is just so picturesque, but due to it being so busy, it would be easy to focus on making your way through the crowds as opposed to taking in the stunning views.

There were gondolas galore all neatly lined up waiting for passengers and my youngest son Riley found them a bit of a novelty as he had never seen one before. We were very tempted to go for a little journey on one of these, however Riley felt that the seats were too close to the water and so refused to even entertain the idea, which was a little disappointing.


Everywhere we turned there were little narrow streets or waterways and everything looked so beautiful and idyllic. Buildings looked grand and historic and the inquisitive side of me was intrigued as to how much property would even cost to buy in such a magnificent place. A quick look on google gave me the answer I was expecting - Very Expensive! I found a 2 bedroomed apartment a short distance away from St Marks Square that was really small and in need of decoration for an incredible 1.3 million euros!


We continued our journey past Doge's Palace which seemed to be a hive of activity for tour groups. Underneath the arches of the palace also seemed to be a popular place for people to have five minutes rest and get some shade from the sun. We noticed that there was very minimal seating for such a built up area and we thought that there would have been a lot more benches. Visitors were therefore finding any spot they could to have a sit down, which is a shame as there is plenty of space for public seating along the waterfront.


Once we had made our way past Doge's Palace we immediately noticed the absolutely stunning St Mark's Basilica and what an incredible building it is. I had read beforehand about the excessive queues so I had pre-booked Skip the Line tickets and I am so glad we did as the queue was enormous. Usually this attraction is free entry, but Skip the Line tickets cost 3 euros each and are well worth the money to be able to just walk straight in. I was also able to show our tickets on my phone, so this meant that we didn't need to print anything off to take with us, which is always handy when you are travelling and have no access to a printer.


There are several rules when visiting St Mark's Basilica which are no bags allowed, no filming or photography and also that shoulders and knees must be covered at all times. The boys in my family all wore over the knee shorts and my daughter and I wore lightweight trousers, though my daughter brought some shorts along with her to change into afterwards.

Due to the no photography rule, I don't have any pictures of the inside but I can honestly tell you that it is amazing inside and a must see place to visit when in Venice. You can also pay extra once inside to enter other areas of St Mark's Basilica including the balcony which overlooks the square, however we opted not to do this. At the exit there was a lovely little shop that sold numerous items at really reasonable prices. My children all attend a catholic primary school and so they purchased some presents for their teachers here, as well as a gift for their head of religious studies which I thought was very thoughtful of them.


The weather was extremely hot and so all the children were eager to cool down with some delicious Italian ice cream. We visited a nearby restaurant that also had an ice cream parlour at the entrance and purchased some lovely flavours. We noticed that a lot of the ice cream parlours operate a two scoop minimum policy, so Riley and I shared two scoops in a tub as it would have been too much for him on his own. We then found some steps to sit on in the square whilst we ate and took in the view of the Basilica and the Bell Tower. It had originally been our intention to climb to the top of the Bell Tower, however when you are stood at the bottom of it, it is definitely much taller than how it appears in photographs. As both Ben and I are scared of heights we decided to observe it from the ground instead and set about exploring the narrow streets surrounding the square.


Some of the shops sold such beautiful items and it was enjoyable just window shopping and viewing the products on sale. However, everything seemed very expensive including the use of the nearby public toilets! When the kids wanted to make a quick loo break it cost us 1.50 euros each. I even had to pay just to accompany Riley as I didn't want him to go on his own regardless of whether I was using them or not. Luckily I had brought plenty of change with us, so although costly it wasn't really a problem.

Before we knew it several hours had already passed and we were conscious that we only had a couple more hours until our return boat trip back to Punta Sabbioni. We therefore decided to stop exploring the narrow streets in case we became lost and make our way back to the waterfront. On the way we found a lovely little cafe that sold freshly made ciabatta sandwiches so we purchased some of these to eat along the way. We had originally planned to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, but due to how busy everywhere was, we wouldn't have made it in time, so we had to settle with a light lunch instead.


We took a slow stroll along the waterfront, which gave us the opportunity to appreciate everything that was around us. We managed to find some steps to sit on whilst we ate our sandwiches and this gave us a lovely view of the passing gondolas. It was strange to be aware of how busy it was behind us, yet so peaceful in front. Certainly one of my most favourite lunch spots yet!


As we continued along the waterfront, the children enjoyed looking at some of the street stalls. A lot of these generally sold the same souvenirs, but the kids enjoyed browsing whilst also trying to bargain with the sellers for a good price. Emma managed to purchase a t-shirt and hat for 15 euros which should have been 20 euros originally and Riley bought a hat for 5 euros instead of 8. Ben was tempted by the football shirts, but ultimately decided to save his money to buy something he had seen in the shop at the campsite.


After taking in more of the views, we returned back to our boat station where we caught a slightly earlier boat back to Punta Sabbioni to wait for our return bus. As it had been so busy earlier in the morning, I didn't want to risk missing the boat back due to queues, so we felt that by leaving a bit sooner, this would be a safer option. This actually worked out extremely well as on arrival in Punta Sabbioni we found it to be extremely quiet and quite the contrast to our morning experience. This meant that we had plenty of time to sit outside one of the cafes and enjoy a refreshing cold drink and some snacks.

Once the bus arrived, it was an hour journey back to the campsite. Again it was full, but we all managed to get seats, although we were separated this time and Riley had to sit on my knee. A couple of families did decide to take a taxi back to the campsite as opposed to waiting for the bus and there is a large taxi office just opposite the boarding area. If you wanted to use a taxi instead, this would cost you in the region of 80 euros one way. Having already paid 107 euros for the bus & boat, we were quite happy to stick with this option.


Overall we had an absolutely wonderful day in Venice, it was very busy and did feel very crowded at times, but it is definitely a city worth experiencing. I would suggest taking advantage of the skip the line entry tickets for the most popular attractions as although it will cost you slightly more, it definitely beats lengthy queues, which in the heat of the summer can be very uncomfortable. I would also recommend sensible shoes such as trainers or pumps. I opted for sandals that matched my flowery trousers as I had completely underestimated the amount of walking we would do and subsequently my feet were really hurting by the time we caught the boat back. Lastly if you get the chance to visit, make sure you take the time to just simply stop and take everything in around you. It is truly a beautiful city and there is so much to see, so don't just follow the crowd, find a quiet spot and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

*Disclaimer: This review is based on our own experience and any prices quoted or details provided are subject to change. Opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise. This post contains an affiliate link.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Our Experience of Renewing A UK Adult Passport Online - A Review

*This review is based on our own experience of the service only. All application processing times will vary dependent on individual circumstances and it is important to obtain the most up date information and eligibility requirements on the official government website.

A few weeks before our trip to Portofelice in Italy, I began to prepare our documentation and realised that my husband required a passport renewal. Luckily I always do this in plenty of time after a very close call seven years ago, when my daughters renewal took over six weeks to arrive. After a lot of phone calls to the passport office, they managed to get it to us on the day that we were travelling to Tenerife, but it was certainly a very stressful time that I don't wish to experience again. This is also why the government website specifically tells you NOT to book travel until you have a valid passport and it was certainly a lesson learnt in our case.

Photo Credit: Kyle Glenn on Unsplash.com
We used to be able to pick up the usual forms from the post office just down the road, but apparently in the last couple of years they have stopped providing these and request that you go to your nearest large branch instead, which in our case is a half an hour round trip. We would then need to make an appointment at this particular branch to use the check and send service. It all seemed a bit inconvenient and it was going to be a struggle to even collect the forms during working hours, but at the same time we do understand why these processes are in place.

My husband therefore went to get his passport photos taken, which I think are extremely expensive for what they are. Our nearest photo booth is £6, but a lot of photography stores have caught on to the idea that people want to be assured that their photo is correct. I got several quotes from shops in the area that offered a passport photo service and their prices ranged from £9.99 to £14.99!

Having had plenty of ID photos taken previously, my husband was quite confident that he could get it correct in the photo booth, so popped down to our local supermarket to have them done. He returned home shortly afterwards with some interesting news and told me that it was now possible to renew your passport online. I had heard of this previously, but when I had looked into it a few years ago "renewing online" literally just meant that you filled the forms in and then still had to print them off and submit everything by post......but not anymore! We also found out that you can also take your own photographs on your digital camera or smartphone as long as they adhere to the usual passport digital photograph rules.

Placed along the top of our digital photographs was a code and my husband explained that you could now apply online and by entering the code it would bring up the passport photo on the screen. Genius! Not only that, but if it is an adult renewal and your appearance hasn't significantly changed, then you also don't need to have the photographs countersigned. This can be a struggle in itself if you don't know anyone with a qualifying profession to sign it for you.

I therefore went on the Gov.uk website to find out how we could submit the application, how long it would take and also how much it would cost.  The charge for the online service is £75.50 in comparison to £85 for using the postal service (£94.75 if you also use the post office check and send service). I was therefore pleased to find that not only was this service much more convenient for us, but it was also cheaper.

The website stated that renewals online usually take three weeks to complete, which I thought was reasonable given that it is peak season and so my husband set about filling in the online form. This was a really simple process with no over complicated questions. He was then asked to upload his photograph and so he simply inserted the code from the top of his photos and it brought the image up online. Their system then checks the photograph to make sure it complies with the requirements and will bring up an error message if it detects anything wrong. In our case the image was fine, so he continued with the application.

Once it had all been completed, we made the payment and instantly received confirmation of the application along with a reference number that would allow us to track the progress of it online. An address was also provided for us to post back my husband's old passport. In order to prevent any delays, I paid for the old passport to be sent by next day special delivery, but you can send it via normal unregistered post if you wish.

Now that everything had been submitted, it was simply a case of waiting for updates and for the new passport to arrive. My husband received regular emails and text messages which kept him fully informed and he received his brand new passport only 14 days after applying. The full timeline was as follows:

Application submitted - 6.49pm on 26th April 2018
Application received - 6:49pm on 26th April 2018
Old Passport received - 9:28am on 2 May 2018
Joined processing queue - 8.33am on 3rd May 2018
Application approved - 9:36am on 7th May 2018
Passport printed and sent - 9:41pm on 8th May 2018
Passport received - 10th May 2018

The whole process was really quick, simple and most of all stress free. There are certain requirements that are needed to be able to do your renewal online and so it is important to read the full government guidelines on the official website here: www.gov.uk/renew-adult-passport. However, if you are eligible to use the online renewal application service, then I would definitely recommend it. We found the service to be great and we were really pleased with the speedy and efficient delivery of the new passport.

Disclaimer: This review is based on our own experience only and processing times can vary based on individual circumstances. It is important to check the full government guidelines on the passport renewal website in order to obtain the most up to date and accurate information.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Our Family Holiday to Portofelice in Italy with Al Fresco Holidays

We have travelled with Al Fresco Holidays now on several occasions and they have quickly become a holiday brand that we know and trust. From the booking process to the return journey home, I can always be sure that we are in safe hands and that we are going to have a fantastic holiday.

Previously, we have visited two of their large and lively parks which were Sanguli and La Croix du Vieux Pont. This time however, we were staying on a medium sized park on the Venetian Riviera in Italy.

We chose this destination for our Al Fresco holiday due to its close proximity to Venice, which is somewhere that both my husband and I have always wanted to visit. It has also been quite some time since we last ventured to Italy, with our previous trips to both Rome and Genoa being over ten years ago. In all honesty, whilst I had often thought of returning to Italy, we hadn't actually considered it as a family holiday destination and it was only due to the fact that the Union Lido holiday park was mentioned to us during our trip to France, that we became aware of the possibility.

Once we began to look into a family holiday along the Venetian Riveria, we were actually surprised to find that Al Fresco Holidays have five parks based here. Whilst they all looked fantastic, it was Portofelice Camping Village that really stood out to us. This was due to its prime location, easy access to a beach and plenty of activities for the children. It also had some fantastic reviews and I often rely a lot on other peoples experiences of somewhere, when choosing where to stay.

About Al Fresco Holidays

Al Fresco Holidays specialise in mobile home holidays throughout Europe, with some fantastic family friendly parks on offer. Whether you are looking for a beach break, a peaceful countryside setting, or an action packed activity filled holiday, then Al Fresco Holidays is sure to have a site that will suit your needs.

Featuring 74 parks across Europe, Al Fresco Holidays can be enjoyed in France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Holland and Austria and they have all been hand picked to ensure that they have everything you need to enjoy a memorable holiday.

They offer a variety of mobile home options, which are all well equipped, comfortable and modern. The mobile homes offer a fantastic solution for larger families as some of the accommodations can sleep up to 8 people, which makes them extremely cost effective. They offer more space than just an individual hotel room and some of the holiday homes also offer decking, outdoor seating and a barbecue, which all help you to make the most of the sunshine too.

This year has also seen the introduction of two new styles of mobile homes which are the Toscanini Lounge and the Da Vinci Lounge, with both featuring an extended decking area and canopy. They can sleep up to 6 people comfortably in their 3 bedroomed models and a 2 bedroom version of the Da Vinci can also be found at the Union Lido Holiday Park on the Venetian Riviera.

It is also worth noting that the Toscanini Lounge is available as a wheelchair adapted model at the Le Clarys Plage Holiday Park in France, which has easy access, lowered surfaces and an adapted shower room.

Their website is extremely easy to use and the added function of an online chat ensures that any enquiries can be dealt with promptly. If it is out of hours, or an online adviser is unavailable then you can simply leave a message and someone quickly gets back to you with a response. They can also be contacted by telephone, which makes dealing with any queries either before, during or after your booking really simple.

The Al Fresco Holidays website makes searching for your ideal holiday an enjoyable process and by using the search function you can refine your results to suit your particular needs and requirements. You can also make selections based on budget, location or facilities so using this can help you find your perfect destination.

There is also plenty of information available on travel options with choices such as flights, self-drive, the ferry or Eurotunnel all being something to consider. The detailed information on each park tells you where your nearest airport or port is, so if you are after somewhere with a short transfer, or would like to limit your driving time, then this information can come in very useful. If you are unable to decide which option would suit you best, then Al Fresco representatives are always happy to help and can provide recommendations.

Our Arrival at Portofelice Camping Village

We flew with Jet2 from Manchester to Venice Marco Polo Airport. We had no problems with the airline at all and everything ran to schedule. The flight time was only two hours which passed really quickly and we were transferred from the plane to the arrivals area by bus.

The airport was well organised and it only took five minutes to get through border control and to the luggage area. The children were amazed with how the airport looked, as all over the baggage collection area there was incredible art work everywhere, including the flooring and even on the grooves of the baggage carousel.

We had a transfer arranged with Sun Transfers and it was only a very short walk from meeting our driver in the arrivals hall to get to the actual vehicle. As we began to travel along the roads, we all enjoyed taking in our new surroundings and it took approximately 45 minutes in total to reach the site.

As we began to get closer to the holiday park, my son Ben noticed a sign for Portofelice at the side of the road. We were so excited to almost be there and it wasn't long before we could all see the entrance in the distance. It was time to let our holiday begin!


We arrived just before 1pm and the taxi driver parked up outside reception and helped us to unload our luggage. There were a couple of other guests in the queue, so we patiently waited for our turn to check in. The reception area has three service desks so we didn't have long to wait at all to be welcomed.

I had initially been a little concerned about the language barrier as all of my family can manage conversational Welsh, French or Spanish, certainly not at a fluent level, but enough to ask for directions, order items, general greetings or make a simple enquiry, However, we had no knowledge of the Italian language at all, so even simple words such as please or thank you were completely new to us. Fortunately the reception staff spoke extremely good English and we were able to check in without any issues. I did feel a little awkward not even being able to say thank you in the native language and wish I had learnt the basics prior to our trip, but we all made the effort throughout our stay to learn words from others and use them when we could.


The whole check in process took approximately five minutes and the receptionist provided us with a large envelope, booklet and sun lounger reservation board. She informed me that one of her colleagues would take us to our accommodation on a buggy, where we would be met by our Al Fresco representatives. I was already very impressed with the service and it was nice to be taken to our accommodation as opposed to us having to search for it whilst hauling our suitcases.

The buggy picked us up straight away and it was a short drive to the accommodation. During the journey we drove past the main entertainment area, stage and pool zone, so it was nice to instantly get a good idea as to where everything was situated.

As the buggy pulled up outside the accommodation, our Al Fresco representatives were there waiting for us and ready to show us around. As we had arrived a few hours before the official Al Fresco check in time, we hadn't expected our accommodation to be ready straight away. This was therefore a lovely surprise, as after a morning of travelling we just wanted to get changed, sit down and enjoy a drink outside.

Our representatives Michael and Kathryn were really welcoming and the accommodation was spotless. They showed us around each room and also how to work any items of equipment that we may need during our stay. As with all Al Fresco holidays, you are required to leave a housekeeping deposit on arrival of 60 euros, so I filled in a brief form confirming that the accommodation was clean and tidy on check in and handed over my deposit. I personally think that this is a really good system as it encourages all holiday makers to look after their accommodation which makes it beneficial not only for you whilst staying, but also future guests.

Accommodation

For the duration of our holiday, we were to be staying in a Da Vinci Mobile Home which is new to the Al Fresco Holidays accommodation range. Although visually it appeared quite compact on first glance, we soon found that it had more than enough space for our needs and suited us perfectly. It had been cleverly designed and made use of every square metre it had, with plenty of storage in every room.

Each mobile home on our road was nicely separated from the next and I liked how they had all been sited. On some sites we have stayed at, the mobile homes have been situated behind one another, so when sitting out on your decking you are simply staring at a wall, where as the layout of these meant that you were facing outwards and could see what was going on around you. This also meant that the children could play out with their friends and that we were able to supervise them from the comfort of our decking. There was plenty of space between each one which meant that there were no noise issues and we didn't feel too cramped in. The decking area created a lovely outdoor living space and our first impressions were great.


Although located by a road, this is used as more of a walkway and we very rarely saw vehicles on here, unless they had just arrived and were unloading their car. Once unpacked, cars would be moved to their designated parking space which was situated at the end of the road, so it was very safe for our children to play outside during our stay.

Inside our accommodation we were really pleased with both the space and the modern interior that ran throughout. The kitchen was well equipped with everything we could possibly need and due to our mobile home being a new Da Vinci model, we were actually only the second family to have stayed in it. This meant that all the items were practically brand new and some utensils hadn't been used at all. I did find that the kitchen was somewhat limited on storage areas for food as every drawer and cupboard was filled with equipment, however all the items can easily fit in one cupboard, so we simply moved some items which then gave us an empty cupboard for food.

The fridge freezer is the ideal size for a weeks stay and there was more than enough room for all our chilled items. We did a large food shop once we had settled in and despite purchasing a fair few things, there was still ample space for more and everything was kept nicely chilled during our stay.

Although equipment is plentiful, we found that there were two items that we would have also liked to have been available in the kitchen. These were a pizza cutter and oven gloves. Neither of these are provided as part of the standard inventory, however we mentioned this to our Al Fresco representatives and they came back to our accommodation within an hour to borrow us some. I felt that this was really great service, as they could have easily just told us to purchase them from the shop, so it was nice that they took the initiative to resolve this for us.


Our mobile home had three bedrooms which consisted of a double room and two twins. Our double room had a very comfy bed, overhead storage, full length mirror, wardrobe, shelves and bedside tables. It felt very spacious and there was plenty of room for us to unpack our belongings.

Emma and Riley shared one of the twin rooms and again there was overhead storage, shelving and a wardrobe. Ben had the second twin room, however one of the beds had been collapsed and stored under his bed. This gave him a lot of space and also gave us somewhere to place our suitcases once we had unpacked.

The indoor living area is relatively small, however we only ate in here for breakfast, as we utilised the outdoor space instead for the remainder of our time. The sofa was comfortable though and all five of us could sit around the table with ease. The decking area was our preferred place to relax though, as it was nice to be outdoors enjoying the weather and observing everything that was going on around us.

The outdoor dining table was a really good quality rattan and glass design, which is far better than some of the plastic tables we have experienced previously. It adds a bit of luxury to the accommodation and we enjoyed sitting out here to enjoy our lunch together. There are only four chairs, however there are also two fold away chairs stored in the double bedroom wardrobe for additional guests. As well as the dining table seating, there is also two comfortable loungers which the children in particular enjoyed relaxing on.

A large outdoor clothes airer was also provided which we found to be extremely useful for drying our swimwear and towels. We were very fortunate to have extremely good weather throughout the whole week, so we would place any wet items on there in the evening and they would be warm and dry by the morning.

A gas barbecue was also available for us to use and there were some bbq meat sets available to purchase in the shop, such as kebabs, burgers and chicken. We had planned to have a barbecue one evening, but had enjoyed our meals in the restaurant so much that we decided to continue dining there for the majority of our stay.


The Swimming Pool

The swimming pool area was absolutely fantastic and it was also where we spent the majority of our holiday. There are three pools in total which consist of a large shallow area for infants and toddlers, a medium depth pool for general fun, swimming and activities and then a larger pool that is suitable for full length swimming. The third pool is deep and from memory it is a consistent 1.4 metres throughout, with steps on either side for entry.


Riley absolutely loved the children's pool as this was a really large area and at its deepest point it only ever went up to his waist. The pool's aren't heated and do feel a little cool on entry, but it only takes a few minutes to get used to it before it feels fine. Located within this pool was also a small slide and a large mushroom shaped fountain.

Inflatables are not allowed in the pools, but you are welcome to play with small swimming toys and so we purchased some weighted sharks which I would throw into the pool and Riley would have to find them. There was a really lovely moment during one day of our holiday when Riley made friends with a young boy from Germany. Neither of them could understand what the other was saying, yet they played together beautifully for ages, taking it in turns to find the sharks. I loved the fact that they kept talking to each other and smiling and laughing, which just goes to show that language should not be a barrier to making friends.


As I research all my holiday destinations thoroughly before travelling, I knew that we needed to book our sun loungers for the pool on Portofelice's own website if we wanted to be sure of a lounger during our stay. I know that some people may not like the idea of having to pay for a lounger, but personally I absolutely loved it and think that the idea works really well.

Firstly we were able to choose from a map online where we would like our loungers to be, so we were able to get a fantastic location right by the toddler pool. This meant that when I wanted to have a rest away from the water, then I could sit down and relax whilst still being able to supervise Riley. The biggest plus point for me though was no early morning battles to reserve a lounger with your towel. This is one of my biggest annoyances on holiday, as in some places you have to get up really early just to go and join a queue to place a towel down.

Reserving your sun lounger by payment completely eradicates that problem and once you have booked, you know that those loungers are yours for the duration you have them reserved. In total we paid 42 euros for the week which gave us two sun loungers, a parasol and a table. On arrival we were provided with a reservation board which you then simply hang on your parasol to make other guests aware that the lounger is not available. It is also strictly enforced by the pool, so you don't need to worry about turning up and finding someone else on your loungers as the pool staff consistently monitor this extremely well. You can also reserve sun loungers on arrival, however this is subject to availability.

If you don't fancy parting with your cash though and you aren't too bothered about sun loungers, then there is also plenty of open space where you are welcome to lay your towel and sunbathe. The first of these areas is located adjacent to the main pool (pictured below) and consists of a large wooden decking area. Alternatively there is another area behind the water slides where towels may also be placed.


In addition to the pools, there is also a separate waterslide area that consists of two slides, one blue and one yellow. Depending on your age you can only use one of these slides which then takes you into a small separate pool away from the main swimming areas. They are only small slides, but they do still provide lots of fun. My children went on these a few times, but tended to spend most of their time in the medium pool, taking part in the organised activities.

The entertainment staff all work extremely hard, but a special mention has to be given to the gentleman who runs the Aquagym at 11:40 each day. Unfortunately I did not catch his name, but he is an incredibly enthusiastic individual, who made keeping fit and exercising so much fun! We all enjoyed taking part in his morning activity, even Riley, who could not help but join in and do the moves to the fabulous zumba sound track.

As well as Aquagym, there was also Pilates, Games and a Water Dance session that took place each day, which we all really enjoyed. The game changed each day and both Emma and Ben were lucky enough to win the final round in two of the challenges and both won a Portofelice cap for their efforts. We later found out that these were on sale for 11 euros in the shop, so the children were absolutely delighted to have won them.


The Beach

We visited the beach on six out of seven days during our stay and found it to be a lovely place to relax and enjoy a swim. The water is really shallow and very gentle for quite some distance out, so the children enjoyed being able to swim in the sea and play games, without being too scared of going deep or being caught in currents. There is a buoy system in place and plenty of lifeguards to help ensure guest safety. We also noticed that during the busier days, there was always a lifeguard in the water as well as on the beach.


The water was much clearer than I had expected and this meant that you could safely see where you were standing and also watch the small fish swim around your legs. My son Ben also enjoyed searching for crabs and found quite a few on the sea bed. Riley really enjoyed looking for shells and finding unusual colours or designs and he would walk around every day collecting them in his little bucket.

Another popular activity was digging holes and building sandcastles. There was a slight confusion over whether this was permitted, as in the booklet on arrival it states that digging holes on the beach is prohibited, but then states that they recognise it is a popular activity so they can be dug, but must be filled in afterwards, which obviously contradicts itself. Either way the majority of children seemed to enjoy this, so we allowed our children to do the same and just filled them in as requested before we left. It only takes a minute to push the sand back in, so this really wasn't a problem.

Al Fresco Holidays also have a great idea where you can borrow outdoor items from their hut and there is plenty of fun equipment to choose from including buckets, spades, toys and boogie boards. Both Emma and Ben decided to borrow a board each and they enjoyed paddling out to sea and allowing the gentle waves to carry them back to shore.


The beach was really busy each day that we visited, but it never felt too crowded. Just like at the pool, you could reserve and pay for sun loungers if you wished, but we chose to just use our towels on the sand here, just like we do at any other beach, so didn't feel that hiring a lounger was necessary.

There was an ice cream and drinks cart that would travel up and down the beach at regular intervals and the prices were very reasonable. With it being so hot during our stay, it was nice to be able to purchase a cold refreshing drink and ice creams for the kids without having to venture too far.


By the entrance to the beach there is also a bar and cafe, which again served a wide range of drinks and snacks at reasonable prices. An extensive menu was also available here with plenty of choice for hot or cold meals and there were numerous table and chairs under a shaded area for customers. It had been our intention to eat here one evening whilst overlooking the beach, however we were unaware that it closed at 7pm so missed the opportunity. When we return we will definitely dine here, though will most likely visit for lunch instead of evening meal.

The toilets and showers that are available are all really clean and despite the beach being extremely busy, the staff obviously work hard to ensure that the facilities are well maintained. We had seen a few pictures before our holiday that showed pedaloes being available for hire which also had slides on the front. We had been looking forward to using these, but unfortunately we couldn't find anyone renting these out during our stay. It is possible that these may only be available in the peak summer season, but with the water being so clear and calm, they would be a great activity to enjoy in the water along with some kayaks or paddleboards.


On the beach we were approached by a couple of local sellers. They sold a whole range of items from coconuts to kites and we found them all to be very polite with no hard sell. A simple no thank you would see them leave you alone immediately, but I must admit that we were all extremely tempted by the kites. They looked so fantastic against the blue sky background.

Activities

Activities at Portofelice are plentiful and there really is something for everyone. My children enjoyed the arcade most evenings before the mini disco and collected tickets throughout the week on the games, to exchange them for a prize. The arcade uses a token system, which makes it easy to manage a budget. Tokens are 50 cents each, but there is a deal where you can get 22 tokens for 10 euros, so we took advantage of this and shared the tokens between us. The arcade offered a great range of games that were suitable for all ages and the fishing game, air hockey and Sega Rally game were all popular choices with my children (and husband)!


Outside the main shopping area, there was a host of activities to enjoy, which all offered really good value for money. There were bungee trampolines, rickshaw hire, bike hire, go karts, coin operated rides and Happy Land. The bungee trampolines were only 3 euros a go and a large rickshaw only cost us 9 euros for half an hour. This was really enjoyable and we rode around the whole site together to have a look at all the areas we hadn't seen previously. It was funny trying to pedal over the speed bumps and manouvere the rickshaw around the roads and we saw lots of families and groups of children having a great time with them.

Happy Land is a young child's paradise and features a range of bouncy castles, outdoor toys, pedal cars, push along bikes, ball ponds, play equipment and a fun obstacle course. Riley absolutely loved it in here and was even brave enough to try the large inflatable drop slide by the end of the week. (Personally I think I was more scared watching him, than he was attempting it)! Entry to Happy Land cost 5 euros and paying guests receive a hand stamp. I couldn't see it advertised anywhere as to how long you were meant to have access for, so we just stayed for an hour each time we visited. The large inflatable obstacle course was Riley's favourite and he loved making his way through the challenges and sliding down at the end. Benches were also available for supervising adults, so it was also nice to be able to sit down and relax whilst watching Riley play.


Portofelice provides an excellent Mini Club for younger guests as well as organised sports games. The Mini Club programme was full of fun activities that included a Sandcastle building competition, Chocolate Party and Arts & Crafts. It is designed for children between the ages of 4 to 10 and during our stay there was a morning and afternoon session on each day, with each activity lasting two hours. We didn't use the services of the Mini Club as my children enjoyed the activities by the pool so much, but it was useful knowing that it was available for us, if the kids did want to participate.


Next to the Mini Club, there is a really nice park area for children, with plenty of equipment for them to play on. This is located adjacent to the beach walk entrance, so we stopped here on a couple of occasions on our way to or from the beach. All of my children really enjoyed it here and with beautiful woodland surroundings, it made it a really nice place to enjoy some play time.

A new addition to the Portofelice site for this season is a Mini Golf Course which is situated close to the reception area. Unfortunately we completely forgot that this existed as it is located in an area that we didn't need to pass during our stay, so didn't realise until the day of our departure that we had missed this out.

The coin operated rides were very popular with Riley and the costs varied between 50 cents and 1 euro. Located next to these rides was a large open space with astro turf grass that gave children somewhere nice to run around and play. We spotted a few geckos running by the trees and rocks here, so this also became a regular activity for the kids who found it quite a novelty to have little lizards running around near them.



Food & Restaurants

Our initial plan had been to cook meals in our accommodation most nights and enjoy a couple of evenings out. In reality we actually only ended up cooking on two occasions as the on site restaurant Burlina's offered really good value for money along with great service and food, so ultimately we ended up eating out during the majority of our stay.


We purchased some fresh buns, salad, cheese and some meats from the supermarket, so that we could enjoy some sandwiches at lunch time, then made the most of the on site dining in the evening. The food was absolutely fantastic and we were really surprised with how good the prices were. For our family of five with drinks, we paid between 30-50 euros each visit and felt that this was extremely good value for money, especially given the large portion sizes that were provided.


They also offer a range of deals such as early dining discounts, family meal deals and specials. In the welcome brochure we received on arrival, there was a voucher for a free round of aperitifs when dining in the restaurant, so on one evening we combined this with their 20% off early dining offer and received all the following for only 37 euros:

1 x Diavola Pizza (Pepperoni)  - 7.10 euros
1 x Proschiutto E Funghi Pizza (Ham & Mushroom pictured below) -  6.95 euros
1 x Patate Frite (Fries) - 3.90 euros
1 x Kung Fu Panda Pizza (Cheese, Tomato, Hotdog & Fries) -  5.90 euros
1 x Pikachu Pizza (Cheese, Tomato & Ham) - 5.90 euros
1 x Hamburger & Fries -  6.50 euros
2 x Spritzers - Free with voucher
3 x Fruit juice - Free with voucher
2 x Small Sprites - 5 euros
5 x 1 euro service charge - 5 euros

In total this came to 46.25 with a 20% discount for dining at 6pm which meant the total bill was only 37 euros. This was an absolutely delicious family meal at a bargain of a price and the pizzas were fantastic.

The meals are also available as a take out option and so on the day we returned from Venice, we purchased some pizzas to eat back at our accommodation. Again this was really good value and we purchased 3 Kung Fu Panda pizzas to share for only 17.70 euros.


Evening Entertainment

Another thing that Portofelice get absolutely perfect is the evening entertainment. They have a large outdoor stage with plenty of seating for guests. There is also ample space behind the seats so if you arrive a little too late to grab a chair, then you can easily stand behind the main seating area, or relax on one of the nearby benches.

Every night the entertainment would commence with a children's mini disco at 8:30pm where children (and adults too) could learn dance moves to some popular disco songs and also have the opportunity to go up on stage as well.

This would then be followed at 21:30 with "Show Time" and each night during our stay there was a different form of entertainment suitable for families of all ages. We really enjoyed the Variety Show on the first night of our stay, but our personal favourite was The Foam Party, which was absolutely fantastic. It was so much fun dancing along, whilst huge bursts of foam were sprayed into the air and onto the children and adults partying below. At one point there was so much foam it was up to our knees and we had the best time together enjoying all the fun.

Another highlight of our week was on the Saturday night before our departure, a professional Brazilian Circus team performed a wonderful show that was really spectacular and also a perfect way to end our holiday.


In the Local Area

We had initially planned to have several days out as there is plenty to do in the local area. On arrival I had mentioned to our Al Fresco representatives where we had planned to visit and they said that a lot of guests come with the same intentions, but end up staying on site for the majority of the holiday. Initially I didn't think that this would be the case with us, as we usually like to split our time on holiday both relaxing and enjoying the local attractions and so we will often alternate days on site with a day off exploring. However, the reps ended up being absolutely right and despite intending to visit numerous places, we ultimately only ended up having one day off the park, due to the fact that we loved it so much.

If you do want to enjoy some of the local attractions though, then there is an information office that provides lots of details and leaflets on where to visit. There is also a touch screen computer available that can tell you more about the local area and the upcoming weather to help you make an informed decision. Nearby attractions includes Aqualandia, the Sea Life Centre and Go Karting.


Of course we could not travel to the Venetian Riviera without visiting Venice and so we had one day out to explore this fascinating city. I purchased a Quickly Bus and Boat ticket for us all which cost a total of 107 euros for our family of five. Refunds cannot be given on these if you later decide not to go, so it is worth checking the weather before purchasing to make sure that you will be able to make the most of your visit.

The bus picks you up from outside the park on the opposite side of the road and then transports you to Punta Sabbioni where you then board a boat. The bus journey lasted approximately an hour and then it was a further half an hour on a boat to reach Venice.

We really enjoyed the boat trip and it was lovely to be able to take in all the scenery whilst gliding along the water and the seats were very comfortable. There was enough room for everyone and my children enjoyed waving out of the windows to the other boats as they passed.


I will be writing a separate blog post about our day in Venice, but in brief it was an incredible city packed full of interesting architecture and narrow streets. There was something quite soothing about watching the gondolas travel down the waterways, which made me forget all about the busy crowds around us. The first tourist hotspot we came across was the Bridge of Sighs which connects Doge's Palace to the Jail. It is constructed of white limestone and looks really beautiful and unique.


A short walk from the Bridge of Sighs led us to the bustling St Mark's Square, where we made our way to St Marks Basilica. This is an absolutely stunning and magnificent Cathedral and it can be entered free of charge. However there are very lengthy queues, so we took advantage of the Skip the Line system and purchased entry for 3 euros each, which meant we could enter straight away without the need to wait. There are a few rules that need to be observed when visiting St Mark's Basilica and they request that shoulders and knees remain covered at all times. You are also not permitted to film or take photographs inside, which is a shame as the interior is incredible. Bags are also not allowed to be taken in to the cathedral, but they do offer a free left luggage room just across the road.

The Bell Tower also looked fantastic, but since both Ben and I are scared of heights, we decided not to venture up and instead we began to explore the narrow streets. Some of the shops sold such beautiful items and I could have literally spent the whole day just window shopping. We found a lovely little bakery that sold tasty Ciabatta sandwiches for only 3.50 euros each, so we purchased some of these for lunch and went and sat on a bench near the waterfront to watch the boats go by.

Our time here literally flew and after having lots of fun exploring we caught our boat back to Punta Sabbioni. As it was so busy we decided to return slightly earlier, as I was worried that if the boat was full, then we would miss our bus. This actually ended up working out really well as Punta Sabbioni was extremely quiet when we returned and we enjoyed some food and drinks in one of the cafes whilst waiting for the bus.

I am so glad that we were able to visit one of my bucket list destinations and it was even more beautiful than I had expected. It was very hot and extremely busy, but what an amazing place it is. I would definitely recommend a day trip here if staying at Portofelice.

Hints and Tips

Whilst my review should give you a really good idea of what to expect at Portofelice Camping Village, I wanted to summarise some of my top tips for you, to help with planning your stay.
  • Book your pool sun lounger in advance - If you enjoy soaking up the rays by the pool or simply love to relax and read a good book, then make sure you visit the Portofelice website prior to your visit to reserve a sun lounger. There are only a limited amount and these have to be paid for if you wish to make use of them. Whilst this may seem strange, we absolutely loved it and felt that it worked really well. It prevented that really annoying early morning rush for sunbeds that you have in most places and each set of sunbeds was nicely spaced out ensuring that you weren't too crammed in. We paid 42 euros for two sunbeds, a parasol and table for our 7 day stay.
  • Plan your day visits - During the week that we stayed the buses only ran on certain days, this may increase as the summer season progresses, but is certainly worth checking if there is a particular place you are wanting to visit. For example the buses to Aqualandia ran on Tuesdays & Thursdays, whilst the Quickly Bus and Boat service ran on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • Read the booklet you are given on arrival - There is a voucher inside for a free round of aperitifs when ordering a main meal from the restaurant. Adults receive a spritzer and children receive a fruit juice. Alternatively, if you request a paper copy of the takeaway menu, there is a paper voucher attached to the bottom of this too.
  • Visiting Venice - If planning a day trip to Venice, then consider booking skip the line tickets for the most popular attractions. St Marks Basilica is free entry, but the queues are really long which is not ideal when travelling with children. We therefore booked skip the line entry which cost us 3 euros each and was definitely worth the money. Skip the Line can also be booked for The Bell Tower and the Doge's Palace.
  • Quiet Time - The site observes a quiet time in the afternoon between 1pm-3pm each day. During this time the pool, shops and activities are all closed. We chose to return to our accommodation for lunch and played some table games to keep the children entertained. However, the gate for the beach does remain open, so you are still able to access the beach front if you wish.
  • Take out some store cupboard essentials with you - Whilst the on-site shop is reasonably priced, the cost of cleaning products, condiments and snacks etc, can quickly add to your grocery bill. We therefore took tea towels, flash cleaning wipes, washing up sponges, pasta, savoury rice, crisps and biscuits out with us, which helped us save quite a few euros.
  • Inflatables cannot be used in the pool, but are extremely popular on the beach. The on-site shop sells a great range of both inflatables and beach toys at really reasonable prices. The Al Fresco representatives also have a great range of toys and boogie boards that you can borrow for the duration of your stay, which really helps if you are on a budget or worried about luggage allowance on the way home.
  • If you do purchase inflatables then don't struggle trying to blow these up. As you arrive at the beach, turn left and walk along the wooden walkway, pass the toilets and to the showers. On the wall of the end building right by the showers, there is a small air hose that can be used for inflating items free of charge.
  • The restaurant offers an early dining deal for guests that visit at 6pm. This gives you a reduction of 20% off your bill. In addition to this you can also save 10% in the takeaway restaurant between 12-2:30pm each day. These times and offers were available during our stay but are of course subject to change throughout the season, so would recommend checking that these deals are still available when you arrive.
  • Make a reservation for dinner if you wish to dine at a particular time - Whilst we had no difficulty in getting a table during our stay, we noticed that the restaurant became extremely busy at times. They do accept reservations, so if there is a particular time you are wanting to eat, or are dining as part of a large group, then I would definitely recommend arranging this with the restaurant in advance.

Our Overall Opinion

Our holiday to Portofelice Camping Village is definitely up there as one of the best we have ever had. The whole site is spotlessly clean, the staff are really helpful and the entertainment is first class. Although it is a relatively small park, this actually worked out really well for us, as everything was in easy reach of our accommodation. The site seemed very secure with the use of security barriers and wristbands for all guests, so this also allowed us to give my older children (Ben & Emma) a little bit of independence and we allowed them to go over to the main entertainment square with their new friends in the evening on a couple of occasions. We loved our holiday to Portofelice so much that we are going to book a return stay there in a couple of months as we literally cannot wait to go back. Overall the site truly offered us everything that we look for in a family holiday and much much more!

Al Fresco Holidays currently have some fantastic deals on 2018 holidays and bookings are now also being accepted for 2019. If you would like further information then please visit Al Fresco Holidays on the following channels:

Website: Al Fresco Holidays
Facebook: /AlFrescoHolidays
Twitter: @AlFrescoHols
Instagram: @AlFresco_Hols


Disclaimer: We stayed at Portofelice Camping Village as guests of Al Fresco Holidays for the purpose of providing an honest and informative review of our experience. All opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise. This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Dates for your Diary - What The Ladybird Heard Live on Stage at The Lowry 1st-26th August 2018

Based on the best-selling picture book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, Kenny Wax Family Entertainment in association with Matthew Gregory presents What The Ladybird Heard Live on stage at The Lowry from Wednesday 1st to Sunday 26th of August.

Two crafty robbers, one tiny ladybird and a whole farmyard of fun!


What The Ladybird Heard Live comes to the Lowry from Wednesday 1st to Sunday 26th of August as part of a major UK and international tour direct from the West End.

Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len have a cunning plan to steal the farmer's fine prize cow. But they reckon without the tiniest, quietest creature of all: the Ladybird has a plan of her own.

Join the woolly sheep, the hairy hog, the fat red hen and the dainty dog as they take on the villains in this hit musical stage adaptation of What The Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, published by Macmillan Children's Books. This action packed 55-minute adventure has original songs, live music, puppetry, plenty of audience participation and lots of laughs, making it the perfect treat for families with children aged three and up.

Julia Donaldson says of the show: "I love the songs, the farmer's song at the beginning is wonderful and the lovely, lively acting set against Lydia's [Monks] farmyard is a joy".

The cast includes: Emma Breton - Farmer, Emma Carroll - Lily/Ladybird, Edward Way - Hefty Hugh, Benedict Hastings - Lanky Len and Will Steele - Understudy/Assistant Stage Manager.

The creatives include: Graham Hubbard - Director and Adapter, Bek Palmer - Set & Costume Design, Lydia Monks - Design Consultant, Ric Mountjoy - Lighting Design, John Fiber and Andy Shaw - Composers and Sound Design for JollyGoodTunes.

Listing Details

Show: What The Ladybird Heard Live
Venue: The Lowry
Address: Pier 8, Salford Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ
Dates: Wednesday 1st August to Sunday 26th August 2018 (excluding Mondays)
Times: 11am & 2pm
Tickets: £16
Age guidance: Recommended for ages 3+
Website: The Lowry

Photo Credit: Michael Jean-Marain

Disclaimer: Details provided are correct at time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting venue's own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Dates for your Diary - Brazilica to Return to Historic Pier Head for 2018

Liverpool Carnival Company recently announced that Brazilica Festival, one of the hottest events in the festival calendar, is back for 2018.

Returning to the city this July for the 11th consecutive year, with the main carnival day taking place on Saturday 14th July, organisers of Liverpool's International Samba Carnival are excited to now reveal that the main stage will once again be located at The Pier Head.

The Brazilica main stage will take pride of place within The Pier Head Village - a family focused festival coming to Liverpool's Waterfront for it's 3rd year again this summer.

The Pier Head Village will deliver a programme of world class entertainment, locally-sourced street food and artisan markets, world class high flying thrill rides and activity-based family entertainment, offering a complete day to night summer experience designed to entertain all ages.

Guaranteed to create a spectacular carnival atmosphere, the site will be brought to life with a colourful celebration of the sights, sounds and tastes of Brazil on the Brazilica main stage.


Brazilica organisers are busy putting together the programme for the main stage which will run throughout the day on Saturday 14th July from 12pm til 8pm, and the full line-up will be announced in the coming weeks.

It is certain to feature plenty of Latin fever, extravagant costumes, exotic music, and of course, plenty of samba, with a host of activities to celebrate the very best of Brazilian culture.

Already confirmed for 2018's festival, the Brazilian Film Festival will once again return, plus a Fringe Festival packed with a wealth of exhibitions, workshops and performances.

The hugely popular and extravagant Carnival Queen competition will also return on Friday 13th July; the winner crowned at the event will lead the sensational night-time Carnival Parade on Saturday 14th July, which remains the festival highlight and features Samba bands from across the UK and overseas.

The UK's largest Samba Carnival event, Brazilica has become one of the flagship events of the year in Liverpool's festival calendar. A colourful celebration of Brazilian music, dance, culture, food and sport, it attracts over 60,000 visitors to the city centre.

2018 promises to be even bigger and better, and Brazilica will form part of the city-wide year-long cultural programme of events, as Liverpool celebrates its 10-year anniversary of being named Capital of Culture.

Maeve Morris of Liverpool Carnival Company said: "We are very excited to be returning to the Pier Head for 2018 with the Brazilica main stage as part of the popular Pier Head Village. We have some very exciting acts in the pipeline which we will be announcing very shortly, and it promises to be a fantastic day of live music and entertainment."

Martin O'Shea, managing director of The Pier Head Village, added: "While we are still preparing the announcement of our full programme for the Village for the summer, we are delighted to lead with the news that Brazilica is returning for another year. The performances last year were truly world class and the vibrancy and excitement it brought to the Village was wonderful; we can't wait to welcome the crowds back again."

The full programme details are to be announced very soon, but to keep up to date with all Brasilica Festival activity in the meantime, then please visit their website or social media accounts below:

Website - www.brazilicafestival.com
Facebook - /brazilicafestival
Twitter - @BrazilicaFest


Disclaimer: Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are of course subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the events own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Dates for your Diary - The CBBC Summer Social Comes to Liverpool 3rd-5th August 2018!

It is official, we are now in the final term of the school year, which means that there are only seven more weeks to go until the summer holidays. We are extremely lucky as a family that we get to spend the full six weeks together and this year we are determined to make it our best summer yet!

I have already been busy planning places for us to visit and events to attend, so we were all really excited to learn that the CBBC Summer Social was heading to Liverpool this August. This fun packed family festival, will be held at Croxteth Country Park from Friday 3rd August to Sunday 5th August and features a stellar line up of stars, acts and entertainment.

Guests at the event can expect the very best of CBBC programming including immersive activity zones, theatre shows, interactive and inspiring art workshops, top class musical experiences, cool outdoor and sporting activities, junior discos, themed treasure hunts, gaming areas, character walkabouts, vlogger meet and greets, live appearances from the most popular children's authors and much, much more.

The CBBC Summer Social is being organised in partnership with Liverpool City Council and forms part of Liverpool 2018 - a year of projects marking a decade since Liverpool was European Capital of Culture. Taking place from the 3rd to the 5th August at Croxteth Country Park in Liverpool, CBBC Summer Social is the BBC's biggest ever kids event, and the only festival to give 6-12 year old's and their families a unique lineup of CBBC favourites, alongside a host of international music acts including Union J, Johnny Orlando, Matt Terry and Mackenzie Ziegler.

Incredible artists including Max and Harvey, Sophia Grace, KIDS BOP and Merseygirls will also feature, and it was recently announced that the global sensation New Hope Club will also be performing.

West End and Broadway hit, Shrek the Musical, has also been added to the bill for Sunday 5th August. The theatre adaptation of the animation has picked up excellent reviews so far this year whilst on its new UK and Ireland tour, with a feisty princess, a lovestruck Dragon and all the charm of an ogre, the performances are sure to bring the magic of the big screen.

For the under 6's, there will be a Cbeebies Village which ensures that even the youngest of guests can have a great time. Popular favourites including Mr Tumble, Andy Day and Cook & Line will be in attendance, as well as Fern & Rory from Vet's Tales.

Performances, guests and acts vary each day, so please check the full line up before deciding which day to purchase your tickets for, especially if there is a particular artist or act you are wanting to see. I have added the current line up below, but this is subject to change, so would always recommend visiting the official CBBC website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Early Bird Tickets are on sale now priced from £28*. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit bbc.co.uk/cbbcsummersocial

*All ticket prices are per day. Booking and transaction fees apply.

You can also find out more on the CBBC twitter page @cbbc

The current line up is as follows:

Friday 3rd August

Featuring: Andy Day, Art Ninja, Bars & Melody, BBC Music introducing in BBC Merseyside, Ben Shires, Clangers, Everton in the Community, Go Jetters Disco, Got What It Takes, Hacker T Dog, Johnny Orlando, Liverpool Football Club Foundation, Liverpool LIMF, Mackenzie Ziegler, Mr Tumble, Naomi Wilkinson, New Hope Club, Opera North, The Pets Factor, Sam & Mark, Saturday Mash-Up!, The Next Step, Worst Witch, Yolanda Brown and more to be announced.

Saturday 4th August

Featuring: Andy Day, Art Ninja, Bars & Melody, BBC Music introducing in BBC Merseyside, Ben Shires, Clangers, Everton in the Community, Go Jetters Disco, Got What It Takes, Hacker T Dog, Johnny Orlando, Liverpool Football Club Foundation, Liverpool LIMF, Mackenzie Ziegler, Mr Tumble, Naomi Wilkinson, New Hope Club, Opera North, The Pets Factor, Sam & Mark, Saturday Mash-Up!, The Next Step, Worst Witch, Yolanda Brown and more to be announced.

Sunday 5th August

Featuring: Andy Day, Art Ninja, Bars & Melody, BBC Music introducing in BBC Merseyside, Ben Shires, Clangers, Everton in the Community, Go Jetters Disco, Got What It Takes, Hacker T Dog, Johnny Orlando, Liverpool Football Club Foundation, Liverpool LIMF, Mackenzie Ziegler, Mr Tumble, Naomi Wilkinson, New Hope Club, Opera North, The Pets Factor, Sam & Mark, Saturday Mash-Up!, Shrek the Musical, The Next Step, Worst Witch, Yolanda Brown and more to be announced. 

Disclaimer: We have been invited to attend this event and will be receiving a complimentary family ticket in exchange for an honest review. All opinions as always are my own.