Friday, 31 August 2018

Dates for your Diary - Peter Pan at St Helens Theatre Royal - 8th December 2018 to 13th January 2019

Audiences of St Helens will be dancing down to the Theatre Royal this Christmas as producers Regal Entertainments have announced its strictly fabulous cast for high-flying panto Peter Pan - coming to the venue from Saturday 8th December to Sunday 13th January 2019.

Leaving audiences hooked, Coronation Street's Louis Emerick leads the all-star cast as Captain Hook with special guest star, Strictly Come Dancing's Kristina Rihanoff as the loveable Tinker Bell.

The full cast also includes Lewis Devine; Georgina Parkinson; and Si Foster.


Best known for his portrayal of Mick Johnson in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside and his recurring role of PC Walsh in Last of the Summer Wine, Liverpool born Louis Emerick is no stranger to the St Helens stage after appearing in the 2013 production of The Ciggie Run. Louis plays series regular Herman in UKTV's Zapped which returns for a third series this Autumn, and recently joined the cast of Coronation Street as Mike Thornberry, a role which he will be reprising this November.

A highly accomplished and critically acclaimed stage actor his other theatre credits include A Little Pinch of Chilli (Liverpool Everyman), On the Ledge (Royal Court, Liverpool) and Elf the Musical (Theatre Royal, Plymouth & The Lowry, Salford). He is also touring the UK playing Horse in the current National Tour of the smash hit stage show The Full Monty.

Waltzing on to the Theatre Royal stage, Kristina Rihanoff will be bringing lots of glitz and glamour as Tinker Bell.

A world finalist professional ballroom dancer, instructor and choreographer, she joined BBC's Strictly Come Dancing as a professional dancer from 2008-2015, reaching the final in 2011 with actor and singer Jason Donavan and again in 2014 with singer Simon Webbe. She visited the Theatre Royal earlier this year as part of her UK tour Dance to the Music.


After causing mayhem aplenty last Christmas as Muddles, and as Buttons in Easter's Cinderella, St Helens favourite Lewis Devine will be flying high as he stars as the boy who never grew up - Peter Pan.

She found her Prince Charming in Easter's Cinderella and now the delightful Georgina Parkinson returns to the Theatre Royal stage as Wendy Darling. Her other theatre credits include the UK and Ireland tours of Billy Elliot, Shrek the Musical and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

And of course, no St Helens Theatre Royal panto would be complete without its resident dame, the hilarious Si Foster will be up to his usual comedy capers as Mrs Smee.

Chantelle Nolan, Theatre Manager said: "I am delighted to announce the cast for St Helen's Theatre Royal's Christmas Panto, Peter Pan. Louis is a hugely popular household name and is a local talent hailing from Liverpool. And I am excited to welcome Kristina Rihanoff to the production, she is a firm favourite on Strictly and I am certain audiences will love her as Tinker Bell.

"There are also returning favourites Lewis, Georgina and Si, and with lots more surprises in store audiences are in for a real treat this year in what is I'm sure going to be our best show yet!"

The action will once again jump right off the stage - get ready to be amazed with the welcome return of the magical interactive 3D scene, which proved to be a highlight for audiences during last year's production of Snow White.

With a sprinkling of fairy dust get ready to join Wendy, John and Michael as they leave St Helens behind, flying past the second star to the right and straight to Neverland, to enjoy daring adventures battling the evil Captain Hook and his hapless henchman.

Get set to go on a swashbuckling adventure full of Pirates, Fairies, Lost Boys, Indians, and of course one tick-tocking crocodile, in this timeless classic tale about the Boy Who Never Grew Up.

Peter Pan runs from Saturday 8th December 2018 to Sunday 13th January 2019 and tickets are on sale now.

Directed by Chantelle Nolan, Choreographed by Nazene Langfield, Musical Supervisor Callum Clarke, Script by Si Foster.

For more information please visit: www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

Listing Details

Show - Regal Entertainments Ltd present Peter Pan
Dates - Saturday 8th December 2018 to Sunday 13th January 2019
Times - Performance times vary, so please visit the website for the most up to date information.
Venue - St Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ

Tickets - From £11*
*All prices are inclusive of a £1 per seat transaction fee. On-line bookings are subject to an additional 50p per seat on-line processing fee.

Box Office - 01744 756000
Website - www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com
Twitter - @TheatreRoyalStH
Facebook - www.facebook.com/St-Helens-Theatre-Royal

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

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Paris!

We wrote a review on our visit to Disneyland Paris last year, but recently returned a couple of weeks ago, whilst visiting one of our favourite campsites La Croix du Vieux Pont. Riley was adamant that we had to meet Mickey Mouse this time and so as soon as we arrived I booked a slot using the Lineberty App, which I had read about prior to our visit.

The app was really easy to use and you simply entered the number of guests and it provided us with a number along with an estimated waiting time. This meant that we could go and enjoy the rest of the park, without having to stand in line, and instead we could just wait for the app to inform us when it was time to meet Mickey Mouse.


As our Meet & Greet approached, we were sent a notification to inform us that it was almost our turn in the queue, so we made our way over to Toon Studios. I thought the whole system was a great idea and when we arrived at the meeting point there were only two other families in the line in front of us.


When it came to our turn, I felt that Mickey Mouse spent a really nice amount of time with the children. The experience didn't feel rushed at all and the photographer was also happy for us to take our own photos too (although we did end up purchasing the professional ones as well). It was a lovely moment that created some beautiful family memories of our visit to Disneyland Paris.


*Disclaimer - This post is based on our own experience of a Disneyland Paris Meet & Greet using the Lineberty App. Thoughts and opinions are my own. We paid for entry to Disneyland Paris ourselves.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Dates for your Diary - Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs at Liverpool Epstein Theatre



The cast of this year's Christmas panto from LHK Productions will certainly scrub up well as producers today announce that The Queen of Clean, How Clean Is Your House? star Kim Woodburn will appear as the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Coming to the Epstein Theatre Liverpool, this festive holiday season from Friday 7th December 2018 to Tuesday 1st January 2019, the cast also includes renowned spiritualist medium Derek Acorah; Radio City 2's Claire Simmo; the hilarious Lewis Pryor; and everyone's favourite dame - Michael Chapman. There is also further casting to be announced shortly.

Television presenter and expert cleaner, Kim Woodburn is best known for present Channel 4 show How Clean Is Your House? from 2003-2009, which also led to a Canadian version called Kim's Rude Awakenings from 2007-2009.

The television personality has also remained a household name with appearances on the ninth series of I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! finishing runner up in 2009, and entered the Celebrity Big Brother house as a housemate on the nineteenth series in 2017 where she made it to the final and finished in third place.

Britain's best loved and most entertaining medium, Derek Acorah, will be using his psychic ability to declare who is the fairest of them all, as he appears as the Magic Mirror via the power of video projection.

The Liverpool born star is most notable for his work on British paranormal reality television series Most Haunted from 2002-2005. He has since starred in numerous tv shows including Derek Acorah's Quest for Guy Fawkes and Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns. He also competed in the twentieth series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2017 finishing in fourth place.

She brought lots of sparkle and magic to Easter's Jack and the Beanstalk as Fairy Moonbeam, and now one of the city's best loved radio hosts - voice of the airwaves, Radio City 2's Claire Simmo is back this Christmas as the Fairy.

Britain's Got Talent star Lewis Pryor storms back on to the Epstein stage after taking audiences on a high-flying adventure to Neverland last Christmas as Peter Pan, who returns as Muddles.

The young star finished 3rd place during the live finals of the 2016 series of the ITV show with dance troupe Boogie Storm. No stranger to the Liverpool stage, Lewis is currently training at Jelli Studios and has previously studied at Liverpool Empire Youth Theatre and the Jennifer Ellison Fame Academy.

Michael Chapman never fails to have audiences rolling in the aisles laughing and he is certain to keep everyone on their toes with his hilarious comedy antics as he makes a welcome return as Liverpool's favourite Dame.

LHK Productions Managing Director Lee Kelly said: "I am absolutely delighted with this year's cast! I am so excited to be working with Kim Woodburn - she will bring her feisty personality to the role of the Wicked Queen and I know audiences will love her; and home-grown talent Derek Acorah is one of the nation's best-known mediums and will be a fantastic addition to the cast as the Magic Mirror.

There are also some returning favourites with Claire Simmo who is always a pleasure to work with, the hilarious Lewis Pryor, and of course no LHK production would be complete without Michael Chapman.

We are back this Christmas better than ever before! 2017's Peter Pan was our biggest year to date and 2018's Snow White promises to be even bigger. With this phenomenal cast and plenty more tricks up our sleeves Liverpool audiences are in for a real treat this Christmas, so be sure to book your tickets fast!"

A timeless tale and one of the nation's favourite pantomimes, follows the story of the beautiful princess Snow White, as she tries to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother, who's one aim is to become 'the fairest of them all'.

After fleeing the Kingdom to escape the Wicked Queen's evil plans Snow White seeks refuge with seven dwarfs living in the forest.

Complete with wonderful songs and choreography as well as poisoned apples, magic mirrors and of course that much loved panto magic, Snow White will have audiences on the edge of their seat.

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it's off to the Epstein we go this Christmas!

Listing Details

Important Note: Kim Woodburn will not be appearing in the 10am performances.

Show - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Dates - Friday 7th December 2018 to Tuesday 1st January 2019
Times - Performance times vary so please visit The Epstein Theatre website for further details.
Venue - The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ

Tickets -
Opening Night Ticket Offer: Friday 7th December - All tickets £13
Special Offer: Wednesday 26th December 5pm & Monday 31st December 5:30pm - All tickets £15.50

Sat and Sun performances and Monday 31st December 1pm and Tuesday 1st January: Adult £19.50 / Concession £17.50 / Family £65

All other performances: Adult £18.50 / Concession £16.50 / Family £63

There are also a limited number of £11 tickets available on all performances from Friday 7th December to Monday 10th December.

*Tickets are subject to booking fee. All prices include a £1 per ticket venue restoration levy.

To book tickets you can ring the box office on the number below or visit the website.

Box Office - 0844 888 4411
Website - www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk

Tickets can also be booked in person at the theatre box office (open 2pm-6pm Mon-Thu & 12pm-6pm Fri-Sat)

Alternatively you can book tickets via TicketQuarter by calling 0844 8000 410 or visit www.ticketquarter.co.uk.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Dates for your Diary - Bing Live! to Visit Chester & St Helens in September

Calling all "Bingsters"! Bing and his friends are going on tour in the first ever Bing stage show! Bing Live! kicked off in St Albans at the Alban Arena in June and will play at Storyhouse in Chester and St Helens Theatre Royal in September.

Join Bing, Sula, Coco and Pando as they learn how to tell stories by pretending, dressing-up and singing songs. Flop and Amma are there to help, but in this magical world of make-believe things don't always go according to plan...

The CBeebies favourites are brought to life in a brand new stage production full of fun, laughter, music and magical puppetry. Bing Live! is the perfect first theatre trip for pre-schoolers and their families. Going to the theatre... it's a Bing thing!

Photo credit: Johan Persson
The cast of Bing Live! are Mia Jerome, Michael Magennis, Hayley Murray, Will Palmer, Alice de Warrenne and Nia Walsh.

Bing Live! is produced by Minor Entertainment (In the Night Garden Live) and directed by Will Tuckett, guest principal character artist of the Royal Ballet, whose production of Wind in the Willows won an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment in 2014.

The show also brings together a first-class creative team. Bing Live is adapted for the stage by Helen Eastman with costumes and puppet design by Tahra Zafar. As Head of Costume, Hair and Make-up for the Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies staged in London, 2012, Tahra managed the production of 23,000 costumes for all four Ceremonies. Her film projects include: Star Wars VII The Force Awakens, X-Men First Class, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and The Fifth Element and for television : In the Night Garden, Zingzillas and The Aventures of Abney and Teal.

The show has music by Alex Silverman, sound by Rich Walsh and set design by Samuel Wyer.

Since its launch on Cbeebies, Bing has been a huge ratings hit and is the number one pre-school show on BBC iPlayer. Celebrating the joyful, messy, reality of preschool life, Bing finds the big stories in the smallest moments that little ones and the grown-ups in their lives will recognise...whether it's dropping your ice cream or losing your favourite toy.

The series has won an International Emmy Award in the Kids' Pre-School category in 2016, a Writer's Guild Award and a BAFTA nomination for Best Pre-School Series. The animated series, which saw Mark Rylance make his children's television debut voicing Flop, is produced by Acamar Films.

For more information please visit www.bingliveshow.com

Listing Details

Chester

Venue - Storyhouse Chester, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR
Show - Bing Live!
Dates - Wednesday 5th September to Thursday 6th September
Times - Performance times vary, so please visit the website for the most up to date information.
Tickets - Prices vary.
Box Office - 01244 409113
Storyhouse website - www.storyhouse.com
Twitter - @StoryhouseLive
Facebook - StoryhouseLive

St Helens

Venue - St Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ
Show - Bing Live!
Dates - Tuesday 18th September to Wednesday 19th September
Times - Performance times vary, so please visit the website for the most up to date information.
Tickets - Prices vary

Box Office - 01744 756000
Website - www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com
Twitter - @TheatreRoyalStH
Facebook - www.facebook.com/St-Helens-Theatre-Royal

Photo Credit: Johan Persson
*Disclaimer - Information correct at time of writing, however I would always recommend visiting the venues own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Wild Worlds Festival at Chester Zoo - A Review

Chester Zoo is only a ten minute drive away from our home, so it is an attraction that we visit regularly and know well. We have seen the changes that have been implemented over the years as well as watching the zoo expand, with the addition of the Island's habitats that opened in 2015. In recent years the zoo has seen its visitors grow to over 1.9 million guests a year, as well as being recognised for its regular animal care programmes and vital conservation work. Each time we visit, we find that something new has been introduced for guests to enjoy and our recent trip to the zoo was certainly no exception, as we learnt more about their Wild Worlds Festival.


Wild Worlds at Chester Zoo is advertised as being a festival like no other, which celebrates the amazing worlds of plants and animals. It is a unique festival that provides guests with fun experiences, educational insights and exciting events. There are opportunities to enjoy pop up performances which vary from day to day, entertainment shows of music and dance, as well as the chance to learn more and become a poo scientist or even a science rapper!

On arrival we were provided with a Wild Worlds map that showed us where some of the spaces around the zoo had been transformed. The experience began from right outside the main entrance as we looked at the incredible artwork and prints that had been created onto life-size animal backdrops. These pieces of art had fantastic attention to detail and we spent a little bit of time trying to find what other animals we could find hiding within each piece. This area was described as Transitions, which allowed you to get a taste of Wild Worlds prior to entering the Zoo.


As usual Riley took charge of the map and despite only being five years old, he found it easy to follow thanks to the picture designs that indicated where things were. There were no event times listed within the map which we would have liked to help plan our day around them, however this is due to the fact that events vary each day. You can however visit the Wild Worlds website which provides full event details along with dates, locations and times so that you can see exactly what will be available during your visit. The website can be found here: https://wildworlds.chesterzoo.org/

Riley noticed that the first feature we came to was located by the elephants, so we made our way over to the bird symbol which stood for "What the Botanist Saw". These were intimate Victorian-style peep shows that allowed you to take a sneak peek into the plant world. There were three of these located around the zoo and all were clearly identified on the map. As we were near the elephants we also strolled over to take a look and Riley was delighted as he spotted a baby alongside his mum.


As we continued our way around the zoo, we came across this beautiful elephant statue and families were queuing to have their photo taken with it. There were numerous statues located around the park that provided great photo opportunities.


As we made our way over the bridge we passed a rhinocerous and its calf located in a large enclosure. They were both lay by a large hay feeder and fence, so it was too difficult to get a photograph of them, but they were so beautiful just lying there together and it was incredible to be able to see them so close. I believe that on the day of our visit, the calf was only one week old.

Next we came across the camels where we took some time to read the information boards and learn more about these animals. For some reason I had always thought that the humps were used to store water, however I learnt that the humps are in fact fat. We always like to take the time to read some of the information and educate ourselves, so Riley and Emma really enjoyed learning some new facts.


Opposite the camel enclosure were some picnic benches, so we decided to take the opportunity to enjoy our lunch that we had brought with us. This was when Riley then noticed that the next Wild Worlds installation was nearby in the form of The Dormouse Garden. This was a cleverly designed structure consisting of large wooden poles. Located on the exterior of these poles were some small sliding doors that hid a selection of images, sounds and commentary behind them. Riley enjoyed moving all the wooden windows and finding which ones had sleeping dormice behind them.


We continued on our Wild Worlds adventure to the Arthropods area where we were able to take a stroll along Insect Avenue and explore their insect homes. Riley absolutely loved observing all the bug hotels and we particularly liked the bug menu for all the insect guests.


The insect homes had been cleverly designed using numerous items such as plant pots, wood, bricks and sticks and they highlight the many different habitats that appeal to a variety of invertebrates. The pods provide great detail on the type of guests that they attract and why. We were very interested to learn about how different creatures will inhabit these throughout the various seasons and can attract anything from woodlice to bumble bees.



The path continued to the Honey Bee Garden and we saw hundreds of honey bees flying around the area. The Keeper's Hut provided us with plenty of information on these creatures and it was fascinating to see a bee close up through one of the microscope lenses. We were also able to observe bees in an active hive located behind a curtain window and a lovely gentleman spent some time with children, explaining to them as to what was going on inside.


We continued through the Butterfly House and made our way to an open grass space on the opposite side. Here we found a show taking place and we saw families seated all around enjoying the entertainment whilst seated on the lawn.


Our journey around the zoo led us to the penguins where Riley enjoyed watching them play both in and out the water. They swam past the large clear windows and Riley would try and run alongside them. It was lovely seeing them waddle along the outdoor area and then jump into the pool.


Riley noticed another symbol nearby and this was for one of the talking chairs. At first glance it may look like something you would find in the Big Brother Diary room due to its large and eccentric design, but on closer inspection these comfy oversized chairs tell an interesting tale. There were several of these located around the zoo, with each one telling a different story and surrounded by beautiful mini gardens.


One of Riley's favourite areas was the Celebritrees, which put some fantastic tree species right in the spotlight. There were numerous installations located all around that allowed us to view the trees from different angles, feel the trees and also listen to them! He loved running around amongst them and posing in the gold coloured picture frames that helped you obtain the perfect picture.


The last area we visited was the Awekids Grassland Village which provided a mini-sensory safari for all to enjoy. There were plenty of sights and sounds in this audio-visual walkthrough and my daughter Emma particularly enjoyed this area.

In addition to the activities available on the Wild Worlds map, there are a whole host of events taking place throughout the summer with a great rang of entertainment on offer. Chester Zoo is a fantastic day out in itself, so the added addition of the Wild Worlds Festival makes it even more enjoyable. The majority of activities can be enjoyed whatever the weather, so it is definitely worth paying a visit to experience this fun and educational event.


Overall, we had an absolutely fantastic day at Chester Zoo and I would like to thank them for inviting us along to experience their Wild Worlds Festival! There is so much family fun to be had, with activities for guests of all ages. The animals are very well cared for and we were very lucky to see one of the new baby Rhino's that was recently welcomed to the zoo as well as some baby elephants. . We had a really enjoyable day and cannot wait to see Chester Zoo continue to achieve great things in the future.



Important Information

Address - Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester, CH2 1LH (Sat Nav CH2 1EU)

Opening Times - Opening times vary throughout the year and so I would always recommend visiting the Chester Zoo website for the most up to date information prior to visiting. Opening time information can be found here: Opening Times

Entry Price - Prices vary and the most up to date information can be found on the website here: Ticket Prices & Online Booking


Chester Zoo can also be followed on social media and there social media accounts are as follows:

Facebook - Chesterzoo1
Twitter - @ChesterZoo
Instagram - @ChesterZoo
YouTube - OfficialChesterZoo

Disclaimer: We were invited to Chester Zoo as guests to experience the new Wild Worlds Festival. Opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Paw Patrol Live! "The Great Pirate Adventure" - Review

After a very early start this morning, we made our way on the train to the James Street Station in Liverpool, which is a short distance from the Echo Arena. We enjoyed a nice stroll along the waterfront, whilst Riley became increasingly excited as we approached the venue. Everywhere we turned there were children dressed as their favourite Paw Patrol characters and Riley was no exception as he skipped along in his Chase costume.

On arrival at the venue, we collected our tickets from the box office and made our way through the bag check and entry line, before being handed a cardboard pirate flag by a member of staff for Riley to wave throughout the show. There was plenty of merchandise on sale including some Tracker soft toys which I have not seen before, but as with any live entertainment venue they were slightly overpriced and fortunately I managed to distract Riley as we made our way past the stall.

Our seats were located in the lower tier which provided a great view of the stage. I noticed that the floor seats were all the same level which would have annoyed Riley if there was a grown-up sat in front of him, so I was more than happy with our location as it meant that we could see the stage perfectly.

As the start time of 10am approached, the music began to play and we were provided with a 3 minute warning that the show was about to begin. Shortly after the curtains opened and we were introduced to Cap'n Turbot on the stage who gets into trouble whilst trying to take a photograph of the Pirate Parrot. Meanwhile Mayor Goodway, Ryder and the Paw Patrol team are enjoying preparing for the Adventure Bay Pirate Day Celebration with plenty of singing and dancing for families to enjoy.


Paw Patrol Live! "The Great Pirate Adventure" allows audiences to join Chase, Marshall, Rubble, Skye, Rocky and Zuma as they embark on a quest to save Cap'n Turbot from a dark and mysterious cavern. However, whilst completing their rescue mission, the pups discover a secret pirate treasure map that leads them on an epic journey to find the treasure, with lots of twists and turns along the way.

The sound quality was fantastic and as the loud theme tune echoed around the arena, children were up out of their seats and dancing along. The costumes were superb, just like in their previous tour of Paw Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue and a lot of effort has clearly gone into the production. Riley's face lit up as Rubble & Chase appeared in their vehicles, which again had great attention to detail.

As the Paw Patrol team solved the treasure map clues, Mayor Humdinger created problems, which the team managed to work their way through using each pups special skills. Towards the end of the show the pups found themselves in a sticky situation as they became trapped in sinking sand, but Skye and the fabulous Tracker managed to rescue them much to the delight of the audience! Riley was so happy to see Tracker make an appearance and he loved the song that welcomed him to the stage.

The show had a running time of 85 minutes with a 15 minute interval, which did start to feel quite long towards the end. Riley usually manages to sit an hour at a show comfortably so this was a little longer than he was used to, but with the help of some snacks there was no issue and he managed to hold his concentration. He also asked to see the show again as soon as it had ended, so the running time clearly hadn't bothered him.

Overall we found it to be a great show that was well suited to its target audience. The costumes, music and scenery were great and the story was very easy to follow. The atmosphere was very relaxed so it was great to see everyone up on their feet dancing and singing along, making it fantastic children's entertainment.


Tickets are on sale now and are available to purchase from www.pawpatrollive.co.uk

The remaining tour dates are as follows:
  • Wednesday 8th August - Echo Arena, Liverpool
  • Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th August - Manchester Arena, Manchester
  • Wednesday 15th August - Fly DSA Arena, Sheffield
  • Saturday 18th August - Arena Birmingham
  • Wednesday 22nd August - Motor Point Arena, Cardiff
  • Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th August - The SSE Arena, Wembley, London
  • Wednesday 29th August - First Direct Arena, Leeds
  • Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd September - Windsor Hall, Bournemouth International Centre
  • Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September - Brighton Centre, Brighton
*Disclaimer - We were invited as guests to the show for the purpose of providing an honest review of the production. Opinions and thoughts are my own.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Family Fun at the CBBC Summer Social, Liverpool - A Review

This weekend, the wonderful city of Liverpool played host to the BBC's biggest ever children's event - the CBBC Summer Social 2018! Featuring a jam packed schedule of entertainment, which combined the very best CBBC talent along with global artists, it certainly provided something for everyone to enjoy at this spectacular family festival.


For the last two weeks my children have talked non stop about the CBBC Summer Social and they have been on countdown to the event, ever since I told them we were attending. My daughter Emma had been on the website and made notes about who she wanted to meet and who was performing and my eldest son Ben had been checking out the stage times so that they could plan the day around their favourite CBBC stars! My youngest son Riley was also looking forward to the event, especially when I told him that Hey Duggee would be performing The Stick Song! Stttiiiiicccckkkkk!

The setting for the CBBC Summer Social, was the beautiful Croxteth Country Park, which is located only a few miles from Liverpool City Centre and was held from Friday 3rd August to Sunday 5th August. The guests and performers varied slightly each day and so after speaking to the children, we decided to attend on the Saturday when most of my children's favourite acts were in attendance.


Our journey from North Wales took approximately 35 minutes and the venue was very easy to find. It was well signposted from the main roads and despite not visiting Croxteth Country Park before, we found the event with ease.

On arrival everything appeared extremely well organised and there were car park attendants on hand to guide guests to the vehicle parking. We had a permit for the day, but I believe that parking tickets could also be purchased in advance by guests, or alternatively on the day for £10 subject to availability. I felt that this was a reasonable price for a full day event.

Once parked up, we made our way over to the bag search and again this was very well ran. Bags were searched for prohibited items and it was reassuring to see that security was being taken very seriously. The queue to get in moved quickly and within a few minutes we were on our way into the event, excited about the day ahead.


As we entered the main event site, we saw this super cool inflatable festival map, which showed us where everything was. We loved the bright summery colours and these ran throughout the event creating lovely vibrant surroundings.

After taking a look at the map, we decided to take a walk around together to get our bearings and see where everything was. We intended to stay for the whole day, so we went for a wander so the kids could see where each of the stages were and how to get from place to place. With it being so busy, we also picked a central point where we could meet, if any of us became separated or got lost.

We double checked the schedule for each stage for the day and made a plan of action so they we could enjoy as much as possible from what was on offer. Riley was really excited to spend some time in the Cbeebies Village, where as Emma and Ben were looking forward to all the meet and greets that were available along with the live performances on the Summer Stage. We realised that at some point we would need to separate so that all my children could enjoy what they wanted to do, but this was only for brief moments throughout the day and actually ended up working really well.


After checking the time, we realised that Mr Tumble would soon be taking to the Summer Stage and so we all made our way over to the large grass lawn to grab a spot where we could enjoy the entertainment and some refreshments. Although the whole site was really busy, there was plenty of space and at no point did we feel crowded or enclosed. We found some space and placed our picnic blanket down and Riley and I enjoyed 'Something Special' as we watched Mr Tumble on stage.


The atmosphere was fantastic and the crowd were really responsive, so it was great to see families of all ages jumping up and down and dancing together. Although Emma and Ben have outgrown Mr Tumble now, they did enjoy watching him as toddlers and still catch the occasional episode when Riley is watching Cbeebies, so enjoyed this entertainment too, before heading off to meet the man himself. Unfortunately Riley can be very shy, so was too nervous to meet him, but Mr Tumble very kindly recorded a video message for him to say hello, which I thought was absolutely lovely.


For the next couple of hours, Emma and Ben spent their time between the meet & greet area and the Summer Stage watching the acts in between. They were in their absolute element meeting some of their favourite stars and they managed to get some fantastic pictures throughout the day. Everyone was so friendly and took the time to have a little chat, which made the experience really personal to each guest. The queues did fluctuate throughout the day, depending on who was available for a meet & greet, but these were managed well and there was a board outside the entrance that gave a list of times for each celebrity.


Emma particularly enjoyed meeting MerseyGirls who rose to fame on Britain's Got Talent back in 2017. Not only were they a lovely group of young ladies, but were also fantastic performers and provided the background dancing for some of the artists when they took to the stage.


In addition to the Summer Stage, there were also two other stages which were the Social Stage and the Cbeebies stage. These all provided a fantastic line-up of acts and Riley and I enjoyed a lovely couple of hours watching Cook & Line from Swashbuckle, Dr Ranj and Jobi from Get Well Soon, Go Jetters and the wonderful Hey Duggee with The Stick Song.


Located around each stage was a whole host of other activities to enjoy which included The Worst Witch Spells Academy, Horrible Histories at Croxteth Hall, Football Skills with the Liverpool Football Club Foundation and Everton in the Community, Match of the Day Kickabout and a Boxing Heroes fitness activity to name just a few.


Croxteth Park Farm was also open to guests and it was lovely to take a walk around a working farm and see all of the animals. Rory & Ferne from Vets Tales could also be found there talking about the animals and providing fun facts whilst guests could be seated on hay bales. In the barn across the courtyard a very fun and gooey activity took place in the form of a slime making workshop with Scream Street Slime and the Science Museum, which my children absolutely loved taking part in.


Raven was also at Jungle Parc where you could swing through the trees and solve some clues, however we had not realised beforehand that this was a bookable activity and so we were unable to participate in this. It sounded great fun though and it was our own fault for not double checking at the ticket desk when we first arrived, as the pre-booked activities obviously filled up quickly on a first come first served basis.


One thing that we were extremely impressed with, was the amount of different food stalls available. We regularly attend events and more often than not the food is usually just burgers, chips and hot dogs. However the CBBC Summer Social had a huge array of different food stalls available that catered for all tastes and offered healthy food options too. These were located all around the Summer Stage area and opposite the Social Stage and the choice was fantastic.


For added enjoyment there were fairground rides placed around the site. These did carry an additional charge of £2 a go, but Emma and Ben had focused their attention on all the other activities and so there was only Riley that wanted to have a go on these, which saved me a small fortune. I actually only took £30 in cash with me to the event as I knew that there were cash machines available and I had expected to utilise these, but even after several fairground rides, four ice creams, a helium balloon and some hot food for Mr F, I still came home with £4 change so was very happy with this!


Emma also noticed a CBBC tent that was inviting guests to apply to star on a new CBBC Family Entertainment Programme. She currently attends theatre school and would love to be on television so she was very quick to take the opportunity to fill in the application form. It took her about half an hour to complete and then she took part in a short screen test, where a CBBC representative filmed approximately thirty seconds of footage, so she was very excited to apply for this.


Overall we had an absolutely fantastic time at the CBBC Summer Social and really hope that this becomes an annual event going forwards. There was so much for families to enjoy and we felt that the whole event was really well organised and offered something for everyone. We could have quite happily returned the following day to have made a weekend of it, as there was so much to do we didn't manage to fit it all in. We all loved the CBBC Summer Social and hope to see it become a regular feature on the summer holiday calendar!


Disclaimer: We were invited as guests to the CBBC Summer Social 2018 in order to write an honest review of the event. Opinions and photographs are my own, unless stated otherwise.