Showing posts with label Father Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Father Christmas. Show all posts

Monday, 2 December 2019

Feeling Festive at Coral Island Blackpool - A Review

If you are a regular reader to the blog, then you may remember that back in April, we paid a visit to Coral Island in Blackpool. We had a fabulous family day out and we all had a fantastic time playing on the rides and the machines, as well as enjoying a treat in the restaurants. Therefore, when I recently saw an advertisement for the Santa's Grotto, I knew that my children would love it, so we organised another visit to this popular seafront arcade.

We began our day with a full cooked breakfast at Peggy's Snack Bar. They have a great choice of breakfast items on offer and having eaten here during our last visit, we knew that the food was good quality as well as being great value for money. Coral Island currently have a 'Kids Eat Free' offer on throughout their restaurants, so children under 10 can get a free children's meal with each full paying adult meal, which is great. We purchased four full english breakfasts since my older children have adult appetites, and Riley enjoyed his free children's breakfast which consisted of toast, beans and sausage. We also bought some hot chocolates, which my daughter claimed was the nicest hot chocolate she had ever tasted, along with some fresh orange juice for me and a cappuchino for my husband. The service was fast and friendly and there were plenty of seats and tables available to choose from.

Once we had finished in Peggy's Snack Bar, it was time for some fun, so after collecting our tickets for the Santa's Grotto, we spent some time in the arcade enjoying some of the games and rides, before heading over to see Santa at 12pm.


For only £7.50 per ticket (or £5 for under 3's), each child gets to spend some quality time with Santa, a goody bag filled with tickets and gifts, tokens for the camel derby and rides, as well as the chance to choose your very own gift from Santa's workshop. Tickets can be purchased in person on the day, or alternatively they can be booked in advance online, however a small booking fee does apply. I thought that this price offered excellent value for money, so we couldn't wait to see if this was just as good as it sounded.


In my honest opinion, it actually far exceeded my expectations and as my children and I joined the queue, Riley excited looked around him at all of the decorations and reindeer. Everywhere he looked there were lights twinkling, mischevious elves hiding and Christmas trees galore. It was beautifully decorated and created a lovely festive atmosphere. We queued for around twenty minutes before it was our turn, which we were quite happy with as there was plenty to look at in the queue and we enjoyed chatting to Riley about what he was going to ask for off Santa. We could also see that families weren't being rushed, so we knew that we were going to get a nice amount of time with Santa to make it all the more special.


Once we reached the front of the queue a friendly and welcoming elf, invited us into Santa's workshop and Riley took a seat on the small bench next to him. Riley absolutely loves dinosaurs and had won a keyring on one of the machines earlier, so he began to show Santa and started talking all things prehistoric. Santa was absolutely brilliant with him and they had a good chat all about dinosaurs and the toys that Riley likes to play with. He asked him what he would like for Christmas and Riley asked for a large dinosaur playset, which Santa said he would try his best to do. The conversation flowed so easily and Riley, who is normally quite shy, really engaged well and thoroughly enjoyed the moment. He had a huge smile on his face the whole time and it really helped to make our visit quite magical.

My eldest two (although now past the age of believing in Santa) also had tickets, so that they could join in with the experience for Riley. My eldest son took his seat on the bench and we had a good laugh as Santa made some jokes and chatted to him in a way that was suitable for his age. This was great for us as it meant that my eldest two also really enjoyed it and each of my children left the workshop with huge smiles on their faces.


However, before we left, we were provided with a gift bag that contained some prize tickets and sweets and each of my children could also select a gift from the workshop. Riley chose a Car Garage Playset, Emma chose a giant Elf on the Shelf which is now perched on the top of one of our Christmas trees, whilst Ben chose a Car Racing Playset which he is donating to charity following a recent Christmas Toy Appeal that he saw before our visit.


Following our visit to Santa, we decided to try our luck at a game of bingo. We had been lucky enough to have won some games on our previous visit, so we were hoping that we could possibly win again. The bingo boards are all touch screen, which really helped Riley as he simply needed to tap his board and the numbers would auto-mark. The prize display looked fabulous and we loved how there was a Christmas and Winter theme with Santa toys and elves in abundance.


Ben managed to win his first game and received a prize ticket worth 50 points. The more points you collect then the bigger the prize you can claim and there is a great selection to choose from. Unfortunately we didn't win any other games, so I was a little worried that he wouldn't be able to find anything for 50 points, but there was still quite a few small prizes that were suitable and in the end he opted for a good quality Blackpool themed pen.


After our games of bingo, the children decided that they wanted to use their Santa's Grotto voucher to claim their free go on the Camel Derby. This is great fun and so simple to play, so it is suitable for the whole family to enjoy. All you have to do is roll balls as quickly as you can and get them into the coloured holes. The more balls you score, then the faster your camel runs in the race, so you have to be quick to compete against the other players and be the first to the finish line. Emma was delighted to win this on her first go, despite playing against several other people and she exchanged her win for a small cuddly toy.

We spent a further hour playing on the various 2p machines and ticket machines, to try and win as many tickets as possible to exchange in the shop. My children absolutely love 2p machines and they could spend hours playing on them. The machines at Coral Island are well stocked with plenty of keyrings or sweets on the edges to try and win. Ben and Riley won 18 prizes from the 2p machines alone and are now the proud owners of various themed keyrings.

Each of my children also had tickets to exchange at the prize shop, so before we left we used the ticket eaters to count our tickets and print a receipt. We then took the receipt to the prize shop and each of my children chose some prizes up to the value of the tickets. Coral Island has such a great selection of prizes that there really is something for everyone.


Due to having a full english breakfast at Peggy's Snack Bar earlier in the morning, we had skipped lunch, so were looking forward to a filling dinner before heading home. We ate in the Buccaneer Family Bar and Restaurant which is located within Coral Island and offers a great selection of family favourite meals to enjoy.

The menu is extensive and the Kids Eat Free offer applies in this restaurant too. It was very busy on the day of our visit, but we asked a member of staff to help us find a table and they soon found one available for us. We each took some time to look over the menu, before my husband went to the bar to place the order. The meals we ordered were 2 x Buccaneer Burgers, Steak and Chips, Scampi and Chips and my youngest had Chicken Nuggets from the children's menu. 

Despite the restaurant being full, we found the service to be very quick and we were served within 20 minutes. The food was absolutely delicious and we were all happy with our choices. A waitress also came over part way into the meal to check that everything was ok, which it most definitely was.


Overall we had a wonderful festive day at Coral Island Blackpool. We absolutely loved the Christmas Grotto and were so impressed with Santa. He was fabulous with the children and knew how to interact well with the different age groups. Riley loved chatting to him about dinosaurs, whilst my older two children enjoyed just having a laugh with him as he told some jokes and a funny story about him and Mrs Claus. His elf assistant was just as friendly and welcoming and this made for a fantastic family experience. I feel that the ticket price offers excellent value for money and there was a good selection of gifts to choose from. As well as the Santa's grotto, we enjoyed playing on the gamesm rides and 2p machines, and we found the whole place to be well maintained and immaculately kept. If you are looking for somewhere fun to visit this winter, that also has a wonderful Santa's Grotto, then Coral Island Blackpool is most definitely the place to be!

Santa's Grotto will be open every weekend until the 22nd December between 11am to 6pm. Tickets are available to purchase on the day subject to availability, or alternatively can be booked in advance online.

If you would like to find out more about Coral Island in Blackpool, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.coralisland.co.uk
Facebook - facebook.com/coralislandblackpool
Instagram - @CoralIslandBlackpool
Twitter - @LoveCoralIsland


*Disclaimer - AD - We were welcomed as guests of Coral Island for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. Our breakfast in Peggy's was purchased by ourselves. Opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the attractions own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Father Christmas at Waterside, Sale - A Review

Our visits to Christmas events are well and truly under way and so far we have attended some fantastic family friendly attractions and productions. Whilst entertainment and fun are the main characteristics we usually look for, we also love those that have that special Christmas magic to help create beautiful moments and memories.

Last year we watched a truly captivating show called "The Bear" at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, which was created by the very talented team at Pins and Needles Productions. It touched every emotion possible and was the perfect introduction to theatre for my youngest son Riley. We were therefore absolutely delighted to hear that the team would be returning this year to bring another of Raymond Briggs' stories to the stage, the lovable Father Christmas!

We were invited to attend the press evening on Thursday and of course we gladly accepted the invitation. Both my husband and I decided to attend with our youngest son only, since he still very much believes in Father Christmas and we always find it nice to give each of the children some time with us on their own so that they get our full attention. We therefore thought that this would make it a lovely special time for us to enjoy together. Riley absolutely loves drama, dancing and music and although he can be quite shy around others, he is always putting on some kind of show or performance at home. This past year he has attended numerous productions and seeing how much he loves the theatre is always a delight to see.

The venue of Waterside, is a lovely arts centre and we have been impressed each time we have visited. We love the little additions that make the theatre so welcoming for children; for example Milk & Cookie packs, along with the option to come in your pyjamas to the slumber shows. This helps to create a really relaxed environment which I think is really beneficial for families of all ages attending the production.

The show itself tells the story of the grumpy but loveable Father Christmas and we followed his activities as he prepared for his busiest day of the year; Christmas Eve. Rather astonishingly this production consists of only three cast members, all of whom are extremely talented and draw you into the show from the very start. 

Mike Aherne stars as the bloomin' marvellous Father Christmas and his portrayal of the character manages to display the loving, warm and friendly side of Father Christmas' personality along with his grouchiness. The opening scene was something that most of us could also relate to, which was when he woke up for work. Riley found this particularly funny as he knows how much our family struggle to get out of bed in a morning! A very funny scene followed shortly after when Santa popped to the loo and it was lovely to hear all the giggles from children sat in the audience.

Our personal highlight of the show was when Father Christmas boarded his sleigh and set off for his Christmas Eve duties, which was so magical and delightful to watch. Led by two puppet reindeers, it looked really spectacular and Riley was absolutely astonished as he sat watching open mouthed.


Another favourite for me was when Father Christmas was amongst the roof tops and needed to navigate his way down the many chimneys. The set and staging looked wonderful and had been really well thought out. Watching him move along the many steps that I hadn't previously noticed, made me realise how much effort had gone into developing such a creative set design.

Richard Booth features as the talented puppeteer and we actually found it quite amazing how you could relate to a puppet and its feelings simply based upon a persons movement. The cat, dog, chicken and reindeer became completely believeable and even Riley commented that the way they moved or reacted seemed really genuine. He also mentioned that he kept forgetting that the puppeteer was there, which meant that he had become focused on the puppets instead of the person controlling them.

Katy Sobey was superb providing not only the music, but all the accompanying sound effects too. It was great to see how the noises were being created and it gave us a great insight into the different roles within the theatre. She would replicate sounds associated with Father Christmas' actions, so for example when he poured his cup of tea, a jug of water would be poured into a glass by the microphone. Riley couldn't believe how she made some of the sounds and his particular favourite was when the cooker hob was lit as he said it sounded so realistic.

Overall we had a wonderful time at Father Christmas and we felt that it was a truly beautiful production. The cast members were all extremely talented and watching the story being told on stage was simply enchanting. Packed full of live music, hints of comedy, wonderful acting and most importantly Christmas magic, it is certainly a show that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to others.

Listing Details

Event: Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas
Venue: Waterside, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, Trafford, M33 7ZF
Dates: Tuesday 4th December to Monday 31st December
Times: Times vary, so please visit the Waterside website for the most up to date information.
Tickets: Ticket prices vary £16.50/£14.50/£12.50
School tickets available for £10 and 1 teacher free with every 9 students booked.
Running time: 50 minutes with no interval.

*Disclaimer - We were invited to watch Father Christmas as guests of Waterside, for the purpose of writing an honest review of the show. All opinions and thoughts are my own unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas Comes to Waterside, Sale

Christmas fever is truly kicking in at Waterside in Sale, Trafford as it gears up to welcome Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas in just 4 weeks time! This heart-warming and much loved family tale is brought to you by the creative team behind last year's sell out, acclaimed and sensational show, The Bear.

Children of all ages will delight in Briggs' grumpy but loveable Father Christmas as he gets ready for his busiest day of the year: Christmas Eve. Watch as he prepares his Christmas deliveries, feeds his reindeer and finally takes flight into the snowy night.

Bursting with live music, songs, puppetry and enough theatre magic to win over and melt the hearts of any non-believers - this critically acclaimed adaptation of Raymond Briggs' cherished book is a delightful festive treat for all the family.

Photo Credit: Tom Gladstone
Darren Adams, Manager of Waterside says: "After a record breaking year and unprecedented audience response to The Bear (which has recently been shortlisted for Theatre Production of the Year in the Northern Soul Awards 2018), we are thrilled to be working with the same team to bring another Raymond Briggs' favourite, Father Christmas, to Waterside this Winter. Joining forces with Pins and Needles Productions are the highly prestigious Lyric Hammersmith, who have staged the production in London and around the UK, receiving critical acclaim from both audiences and critics alike. We are proud of our commitment to creating enchanting experiences for our young audiences, presenting work of the highest calibre and we cannot wait for Christmas to begin on 04 December."

Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas opens to the public on Wednesday 5th December and runs until Monday 31st December. School performances are also available and for a full breakdown please visit www.watersidearts.org/fatherchristmas.

Cookies and Milk Packs are also available to pre-order along with your tickets for just an extra £2 each for all shows.

Children (and adults too!) are invited to come in their PJ's and bring a favourite bedtime teddy to the 6pm Slumber Shows to make their theatre experience a real bedtime treat.

The show is recommended for children aged between 3 & 11.

Listing Details

Event: Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas
Venue: Waterside, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, Trafford, M33 7ZF
Dates: Tuesday 4th December to Monday 31st December
Times: Times vary, so please visit the Waterside website for the most up to date information.
Tickets: Ticket prices vary £16.50/£14.50/£12.50.
School tickets available for £10 and 1 teacher free with every 9 students booked.

Photo Credit: Tom Gladstone
Disclaimer: Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of publishing but are 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. This post does not contain affiliate links. Images are not of the 2018 Waterside cast.