Showing posts with label Festive Fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Festive Fun. Show all posts

Monday, 22 November 2021

Christmas at Dunham Massey 2021 - A Review

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Event Details

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

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



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

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Christmas at Dunham Massey 2018 - A Review

One of our most popular festive reviews last year, was of the spectacular Christmas at Dunham Massey event, that featured the most wonderful and magical illuminated light trail. We were therefore extremely excited to be invited to the preview of this years event, which we attended as a family on Thursday evening.

Christmas at Dunham Massey has been made possible by a joint collaboration of the National Trust and leading events producers Raymond Gubbay Ltd, who have both worked together to transform the grounds and gardens into an incredible winter wonderland offering lights, music and plenty of festive fun.


On arrival we made our way to the restaurant where we were provided with some tea, coffee, mince pies and biscuits, whilst we listened to a short introduction to the event by one of the creators. After this brief talk we were invited to make our way to the courtyard and then onwards to experience the lights.

As we entered the courtyard we found that it varied slightly to the last year as there were more traditional rides for children which included a carousel, swings and a beautiful helter skelter, along with more food vendors to choose from. There were plenty of dining options available ranging from wood fired pizzas to pancake stacks & waffles. I also felt that the prices were very reasonable as well, with a lot more choice.

It was slightly too early for us to eat as none of the children were hungry just yet, so we made our way straight to the Christmas Light Trail. We had expected it to be very similar to our previous visit, but we were in for a huge surprise as this years event is even bigger and better than before!

As we made our way past the main property towards the trail, there was a mini-show featuring Mr & Mrs Claus, welcoming everyone to the event. The mansion was covered in a projection of snowflakes as Santa Claus asked for help to find his reindeer and for guests to look out for them around the trail. A short story was told in rhyme and the children were told to collect a wooden stick bearing a reindeer's name. They were then told to look for the reindeer on their stick and to tell a member of staff at the end of the trail where they had found it, in order to receive a large sticker. My children had Donner, Blitzen and Prancer and they loved trying to find the reindeer whilst walking around.


We were immediately blown away right from the very beginning, as we entered the trail through an incredible tunnel adorned with thousands of pea-lights. This certainly set the scene for the remainder of the trail as we were greeted with stunning displays at every turn. Each display was accompanied by well known festive tunes, apart from one area that featured the Harry Potter theme music instead, much to my children's delight.

Due to the poor weather, we had anticipated the path to be muddy and therefore came prepared with wellies, but it certainly wasn't as bad as we expected. Whilst a few small areas were a little squishy under our feet, the majority was absolutely fine, with some parts covered in rubber matting which showed that they were well prepared for any rain.


The singing trees were superb with lights wrapped around the trunks that moved in time to the music and we continued past coloured spheres that were scattered amongst the woodland. Riley was the first person in our family to find his named reindeer of Donner and he was absolutely delighted to have discovered it before his siblings. My daughter's favourite part of the trail came soon after as we walked through twinkling green lights accompanied by the theme music to Harry Potter. This led to her dancing through the trail, pretending to wave a wand around whilst singing along and I must admit that I did join in with this too!

We walked past a large tree with lights that replicated coloured raindrops falling from the branches, which was really beautiful to watch and quite mesmerising too. We also came across some giant sparkling reindeers that glistened against the night sky. You could also walk directly under one of them which Riley found fascinating. Another highlight for the children soon followed as we walked through another tunnel of lights, only this time they filled the entire walkway, so you needed to move the lights around you to make your way through.


My personal favourite of the entire trail was the huge grass area that had been filled with hundreds of football sized coloured balls. These lights shone brightly as they were perfectly choreographed to the relaxing music. It really was an incredible sight and something that must have taken a lot of planning to put together.

Photo Credit: This image was taken by a friend L.G (image not to be used elsewhere without permission from owner)

About three quarters of the way round, we arrived at the fire pits where you could purchase gourmet marshmallows for £1.50 each. Both Emma and Ben chose vanilla flavours, whilst Riley opted for a hot chocolate flavoured one. The marshmallows were mounted on sticks and we were directed to the fire pits where my children enjoyed toasting (and eating) them. There was a great range of different flavours to choose from including some extravagant choices such as blueberry & sipsmith gin, along with popcorn & cranberry.


As we made our way towards the end of the trail, we walked past a huge fire display that had a large quantity of stands that featured flickering flames. My youngest son thought that this was really interesting and it stood out as being something a little different to all of the other lights we had observed so far. We could also spot the fountain finale from across the water and Ben correctly guessed that he could hear the music from one of his favourite films 'Home Alone' in the distance.


Nearing the end of the trail, we found Ben's named reindeer which made him very happy as he had become slightly concerned that we might have missed it, but it was simply the last reindeer of the walk. There was a member of staff located shortly afterwards, who rewarded each of my children with a sticker.

It had been my intention to purchase some food to eat once we arrived back in the courtyard, but my children still weren't feeling hungry, so we headed straight towards the fountain finale. As you make your way there through the white exit gate, you finally spot the most famous reindeer of all, before following the path along the lakeside.

The finale at the end was superb and we sat on the conveniently placed benches as we watched the water fountains light up in time to the music. This was absolutely amazing and watching the lights against the watery backdrop to the soundtrack of "Somewhere in my Memory" by John Williams, was the most perfect way to end our evening.

Overall we absolutely loved the Christmas at Dunham Massey event. The effort that has clearly been put into this is tremendous and we didn't want the evening to end. My children grew increasingly excited to see what was coming next and around every corner there was something new to entertain us. In addition to the lights, we found the fire display and fountain finale to be spectacular and the festive courtyard added to the evening and made it a lovely place to relax both before and after we had entered the trail. The whole experience was wonderful from start to finish and I wouldn't hesitate to return in the future. I would definitely recommend this event to all and for me this was the perfect event to get us well and truly into the Christmas spirit!

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

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

Event Listing

Attraction - Christmas at Dunham Massey, the magical after-dark illuminated trail.
Location - Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ
Dates - Selected dates from 30th November to 30th December 2018.

Admission

Advance - Adult £16.50, Child (5-16) £10.00, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £50.00
On the day - Adult £18.50, Child (5-16) £12.00, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £58.00

Tickets can be purchased from the See Tickets Website here: See Tickets - Christmas at Dunham Massey (affiliate link)

*Transaction charges/print at home charges/postal charges/agent charges may also apply.

Please note that advanced booking is recommended, as some dates are already sold out.

*Disclaimer: We were invited to this event as guests of Dunham Massey for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. Thoughts and opinions are my own. Any event details provided are believed to be correct at time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the attraction's own website in order to obtain the most up to date details. This post contains an affiliate link, which means that I may receive a small commission should you choose to purchase tickets.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Dates for your Diary - Contact & Jackie Hagan present The Forest of Forgotten Discos! 11th - 23rd December 2018

The festive season is looming ever closer, and Contact is dusting down its glitter ball and ironing its spandex all in preparation for its journey into The Forest of Forgotten Discos! Running from December 11th to 23rd at the intimate and award-winning Hope Mill Theatre, this year's Contact family Christmas offering - integrating sign language and visual storytelling into all its performances - puts the FUN into funky for everybody aged 5-105!

There is a mystery in the forest - everyone has forgotten about dancing and bright lights and disco. Even Alexa the virtual assistant from the Amazon Rainforest - who normally knows everything - does not understand why this is the case. That is until 7 year old Red, who is afraid of nothing and nobody, explodes on to the scene. Red thinks that dad's new girlfriend will ruin Christmas and so has run away from home to make a new life in the forest.

Alexa introduces Red to the three bears who live there.... Bear Hug who is a creaky bear with a secret; Bear Minimum who has a higgledy piggledy bedroom she cannot keep clean and Bear Grills who just can't keep his head cool. Red and the bears embark on a journey through the forest and learn to work together....with some help from the audience along the way.

Written by the acclaimed Jackie Hagan - a stand up comedian, playwright and theatre maker who drinks cut price champagne from her glittery false leg - The Forest of Forgotten Discos! is an inclusive theatrical experience for all ages and all types of families. It has been written and is being staged very much in keeping with Hagan's aim to create work that celebrates the experiences of people left out of the mainstream. Creative integration of sign language and visual storytelling features in each and every show to enhance its accessibility.

Directed by emerging director Nickie Miles-Wildin, who starred in the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony, Nickie is currently Resident Assistant Director at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre as part of the Regional Theatre Young Director's Scheme. She commented:

"Having followed the work of Contact for many years, I feel honoured to be working with them on this playful Christmas show. I am really excited about the creative integration of the sign language at each show which we really want to be for everybody - regardless of age, family configuration or background. Working with the very humorous Jackie Hagan means also that rehearsals will be lots of fun."

Playing the role of Red is Paislie Reid who started her career as a child actress in two seasons of The New Worst Witch (CITV). Sophie Coward - who plays Alexa - trained at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) and has toured with Mac's Arcadian in their BSL integrated Great Odds and performed with Paperfinch Theatre in an immersive twist on The Nutcracker at Theatr Clwyd.

The Bear Family trio is made up Sara Cocker as Bear Hugs: A former member of Contact's Young Company, Sara is also one third of Eggs Collective whose work includes Get A Round for BBC2's Performance Live series. Marquelle Ward is Bear Grills, best known for his role as regular character BB in ITV1's Brittania High and made his West End debut as Rum Tum Tugger in CATS at the London Palladium in 2015, for which he was nominated for West End Frame's "Best West End Debut" award.

Completing the trio is Ali Briggs as Bear Minimum. She performs using sign language and lip reading and is an experienced stage and TV actress with credits including Fat Friends, Alphabet Soup and 23 episodes of Coronation Street as Freda.

The Forest of Forgotten Discos! is a fun, heart-warming story that can be enjoyed by everyone this festive season.

As Contact's permanent home on Oxford Road continues its building transformation, the company is delighted to be concluding its 2018 In the City Part 2 Season at the acclaimed Hope Mill - The Stage's 2018 Fringe Theatre of the Year.

The Forest of Forgotten Discos! Runs from Tuesday 11th December to Sunday 23rd December. Tickets are on sale now priced £13/£7 - booking is available at www.contactmcr.com or by phone on 0161 274 0600.

Listing Details

Event - Contact & Jackie Hagan present The Forest of Forgotten Discos!
Venue - Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester, M4 7JA
Age range - Suitable for over 5's
Dates - 11th December to 23rd December
Times - Times vary, so please visit www.contactmcr.com for further details
Tickets - £13 / £7 concessions

Monday, 10 September 2018

Preview - The Snowman Tour 2018 comes to Warrington's Parr Hall

The summer holidays now seem like a distant memory, so as we enter September my thoughts now turn to the excitement and enjoyment of Christmas. The festive season is my absolute favourite time of year and as a family we enjoy many Christmas events and activities.

Most families will have their own little Christmas traditions, such as going to a pantomime, enjoying a breakfast with Santa or preparing and opening Christmas Eve boxes. For my family though, one of our favourite things to do, is to cuddle up on the sofa and enjoy The Snowman together on Christmas Eve, which is something I also did with my parents too, when I was a child.

I was therefore delighted to learn more about The Snowman Tour from Carrot Productions which is heading to Warrington Parr Hall for one day only on Thursday 20th December 2018. There will be two performances with one being at 1:30pm and another in the evening at 7pm.

Parr Hall is easily accessible by public transport with Warrington Bank Quay train station being only a two minute walk away and Warrington Central train station and Warrington Bus Station being an easy seven minute stroll. There is also limited parking available for patrons at the rear of the venue if you wish to visit by car.

 Photo Credit: © Tom Bangbala
Tickets are on sale now and audience members will be in for an absolute treat as families can enjoy a beautiful presentation of this iconic film, whilst being accompanied by a live orchestra. A young soloist, who is local to the area, will also be performing the breathtaking 'Walking in the Air' solo and I cannot wait to see this song being performed live.

My youngest son who is five, has never experienced the wonder of a live orchestra before, so this is set to be the perfect introduction for him. With music being performed by some of the top musicians in the country, many of whom are members of orchestras such as The Halle and the BBC Philarmonic, this is sure to be an incredible moment for him and I cannot wait to see his face light up with wonder and delight!

The Snowman experience will also include a special visit from the organisation's very own snowman and I am sure that this will be very magical for the younger members of the audience.

Photo Credit: © Gareth Widdowson
Visitors to the Warrington performances, will also be treated to a second animated film of the award-winning book* 'The Bear and the Piano', written by David Litchfield, with a musical score by Daniel Whibley and narration by the wonderful Joanna Lumley. This is sure to add to the overall experience and my family and I are really looking forward to enjoying this production.


However, if Warrington Parr Hall is too far for you to travel, then don't worry, as this magical experience will be visiting a total of 16 different venues across the country including seven cathedrals in Blackburn, Chester, Durham, Gloucester, Lichfield, Liverpool and Winchester. A full list of all the tour dates and venues can be found here: https://www.carrotproductions.com/the-snowman/.

Some venues will also feature a special screening of a world exclusive, in the form of 'A Donkey's Tale' which tells the heart warming story of Dillon. An ordinary donkey, with an extraordinary dream, which takes him on a life-changing journey. This has been specially written and composed by Daniel Whibley and has been commissioned by Carrot Productions for audiences to enjoy. To find out whether your nearest venue is showing 'The Bear and the Piano' or 'A Donkey's Tale', then you can visit the Carrot Productions website to obtain the most up to date information.

Tickets are expected to sell out fast, so for further information or tour details please visit: www.carrotproductions.com

If you would like to get a feeling of an evening with The Snowman, then please watch the video below:


Disclaimer: We are being given 4 complimentary tickets for the purpose of providing an honest review of the tour later this year. All opinions are my own. Details provided are believed to be correct at time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the companies own website to obtain the most up to date information. *This post contains an affiliate link.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Dick Whittington at the Manchester Opera House - A Review

I don't think there has ever been a year throughout my life, where I haven't been to see a pantomime. As a child my parents would take me every year and this is a tradition that continued when I had my own children. We were therefore very excited to attend the press night of Dick Whittington on Tuesday 12th December to see John Barrowman, The Krankies and a wonderful support cast, present their fabulous pantomime that has been produced by QDOS Entertainment.

The show is laden with fantastic special effects from the outset, when John Barrowman (Dick) is lowered down onto the stage by a jet pack. Whilst this of course, may not be in keeping with the traditional story of Dick Whittington, it was certainly visually spectacular. As the show continued, we found that the whole pantomime differed somewhat to the old folklore tale, but this didn't matter at all, as the stars of the show provided an outstanding and laughter filled story from the very start.

The opening song and dance sequence had all the audience clapping and singing along and we were gradually introduced to all the characters. These included the villainous King Rat (played by Phil Corbitt), the beautiful Spirit of Bow Bells (played by Jaqueline Hughes), Alice the Councillor's daughter (played by Lauren Hampton), Tommy the Cat (played by Ryan Kayode), The Councillor & Jimmy (played by Ian & Janette Tough) and of course the marvellous Dick Whittington (played by John Barrowman).

 Photo Credit: Phil Tragen
The sets were magnificent, adorned with sparkling and dazzling colours and lights, with bright and cheery costumes to match. Of course references to the lead characters name were made, along with the use of double entendres, which have always been part and parcel of any pantomime. There was a huge cheer when The Krankies made their way onto the stage, which only proved to show their immediate popularity with the audience. Considering their age, I was shocked at just how active and enthusiastic they remained throughout the whole two hour show and watched in disbelief as Wee Jimmy Krankie was flung & spun around the stage by both Dick Whittington and The Councillor in various scenes.

Wee Jimmy Krankies rendition of "Picking on Me" had both my son and I crying with laughter, to the point where I was struggling to breathe. My daughter liked the bedroom scene, in particular the parts that seemed to go wrong along with the set issues, though it was hard to tell whether these were scripted or actual errors. Either way it was extremely funny and John Barrowman's improvisation skills teamed up with the quick-witted Krankies, made for the perfect pairing. I believe the trio have worked together in panto for many years now, but whoever had the original idea to team them up, is quite literally a genius. The first half closed with some fantastic special effects, that saw Dick Whittington riding through the sky on a sleigh. A lot of thought and effort has clearly been made with this production and that was visible throughout.

The first half of the show flew by and it was the interval before we knew it. We had been handed some 3D glasses when we first entered the theatre and my children were becoming excited knowing that they would soon be able to use them. Sure enough as we headed into the second half, we were treated to a spectacular 3D scene that took us on an underwater exploration. Some parts were a little scary as it involved some frightening fish and an angry shark which were most probably not suitable for the much younger members of the audience, and there seemed to be an equal mix of screams and laughter throughout the mini adventure. If you are planning on taking young children, then I would recommend that they watch this scene without the glasses, so that they do not experience the full effect.

Photo Credit: Phil Tragen
The second half featured another highlight for us and this was when the cast performed their own version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" which was just extremely comical. My children's only complaint being that as we were seated upstairs, we didn't get wet from the super soakers! This coupled with the appearance of MacDonna singing 'Miniature Girl' made sure that the hilarity continued throughout the panto. The dancers in the production are definitely under used though and I did feel that the ensemble could have been included in a lot more of the scenes. This was especially apparent in the second half where I was slightly disappointed that there was not one big final sing song before the show closed.

We did also find that the pantomime was lacking in some audience participation, with the usual 'It's behind you' and 'Oh no it isn't' lines failing to appear. Admittedly though, I didn't actually notice during the show and only realised this on the train home, when I was getting feedback from the kids on what they thought. We also tried to pick our favourite scenes from the show on our journey home and soon found that there were simply too many to choose from, as we loved them all.

Now I do know that there has recently been a lot of debate regarding this pantomime and its 'lewd' content. I am not about to totally weigh into that, as I respect the fact that people may have different views on this, however I did want to share my opinion. Personally I found this to be the best Christmas panto I have been to. Yes there is adult humour, indeed a lot of it, however this goes over the children's heads and simply provides a good laugh for the parents. After all we deserve a good giggle too don't we? There are plenty of family friendly jokes packed in there too and in my opinion this only makes it a show that provides entertainment for all. We had an absolutely fantastic evening, so much so, that my children have asked to see it again during the Christmas holidays. A request that I am more than happy to go along with. In the words of my nine year old son "It was EPIC!".

Listing Details

Show - Dick Whittington with John Barrowman and The Krankies
Dates - Saturday 9th December 2017 to Sunday 7th January 2018
Times - Performance times vary, so please visit the ATG Tickets website for the most up to date information.
Ticket prices - From £12 (booking/transaction fee will also apply)
Address - Opera House Manchester, 3 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3HP
Box Office - 0844 871 3018 or for group bookings 0333 009 5390
Website - www.atgtickets.com/Manchester


Disclaimer: We were invited to the press night, for the purpose of providing an honest review of our experience. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains an affiliate link.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Christmas at Dunham Massey - A Review

Last night we had the absolute pleasure of attending the opening night of Christmas at Dunham Massey and what a spectacular evening it was. Leading events producers Raymond Gubbay have teamed up with the National Trust to transform Dunham Massey into a beautiful winter wonderland, with a magical, after-dark illuminated trail.

Our evening began with a short introduction into why the Christmas event had been created and how hard the two teams had worked together, in order to help their vision become a reality over the last six months. Dunham Massey is such a beautiful venue, but it is a location that is normally closed to guests in the evening, so what better way to welcome families to a night of festive fun, than with a beautiful display of lights, that lead you through the stunning grounds.


The trail has been specially designed to appeal to visitors of all ages and there is definitely something for everyone along the sparkling one mile path. Accompanied by the sights and sounds of Christmas, you can follow the winding path through the woodland whilst adoring the marvellous illuminated canopies, trees and oversized snowflakes, reindeer and baubles.

Although it was very cold outside, our family wrapped up warm in our hats, gloves and scarves and made our way out to the trail. As we entered the main courtyard, we were welcomed by a selection of food and drink stalls, as well as some traditional fairground rides including swings and a carousel. Riley absolutely loves carousels, so we purchased a token for him to have a ride at a cost of £2.


Once Riley had finished his carousel ride, we enjoyed a bite to eat, before continuing on the trail. Our adventure began by being welcomed by Father Christmas himself, who saw us on our way through the sparkling hedgerows. There were also plenty of staff on standby to help guests and provide a friendly hello. The huge building looked absolutely magnificent, lit up with stunning snowflakes.


We spent a short while simply admiring the amazing mansion, which looked extremely impressive, before embarking on our journey through the festive twinkling trail. We were fortunate that the last couple of days had been dry and so the path was very clear without a hint of mud in sight. However, we had come prepared with wellies in the car just in case, as I can imagine that with a bit of rain and a lot of footfall, it could get quite muddy throughout December.


Riley was immediately captivated by the tress and branches adorned with sparkling lights. It would be extremely hard to not be impressed by the beauty of seeing the woodland lit up so spectacularly and even as an adult, I could not help but say 'Wow' numerous times whilst walking down the path. Staff members continued to be a visible presence throughout the walk, always happy to help and guide you in the right direction. Several of the staff also interacted with the kids, engaging in conversation and asking them about what they had seen so far.


In addition to the lights, there were numerous benches and wooden huts, selling a selection of mulled wine and cider. These were placed at regular intervals along the path, so that you could treat yourself to a nice warm tipple whilst taking in the sights.


The giant baubles and Christmas decorations were stunning to see, but my children's personal favourite was the fascinating giant reindeer, who I believe has been named Cranberry Sparklesnaps, through a competition held by Dunham Massey on their facebook page. A wonderful name to go with what is truly a remarkable reindeer.


Mid way into our walk, we came across a fire lit wonder, which looked fantastic. This led us to the fire pit, where you could purchase a wide range of weird and wonderful flavoured marshmallows and toast them over the pit.  The marshmallows cost £1.50 and were extremely popular amongst guests with a short queue to purchase these delightful treats. This really added to the experience and it was lovely to see so many families enjoying themselves together.


The finale of the Christmas trail, was an astonishing water spectacular, that saw brightly coloured water jets, dancing in time to some music classics. There were benches placed along the walkway here and it was a delightful place to have a sit down and watch the display. My photo of this really doesn't do it justice and is something that really needs to be seen, in order to appreciate it's enchanting performance.


Overall, we had an absolutely amazing time and we are even hoping to return again before Christmas with other members of our family as we loved it so much. Whilst we enjoyed our walk as a family, I feel that this event is also very suitable for both individuals and couples too. I would definitely return here for a lovely Christmas evening just my husband and I, to spend a couple of hours taking our time around the trail and enjoying the offerings available in the courtyard. All of the staff we came across were extremely courteous and we were made to feel welcome by everyone. We would like to say a huge thank you and also well done, to everyone at Dunham Massey & Raymond Gubbay for putting on such a wonderful event, that left us all feeling magical and ready for the festive season ahead.

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

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

Event Details

Attraction - Christmas at Dunham Massey, the magical after-dark illuminated trail.
Location - Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ
Dates - 1st December to 30th December (the event is not open on all dates so please check for availability).

Admission

Advance - Adult £16.00, Child (5-16) £10.00, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £48.00
On the day - Adult £18.00, Child (5-16) £12.00, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £56.00
National Trust Member - Adults £14.50, Child (5-16) £8.50, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £42.00

Disclaimer - We attended the opening night of Christmas at Dunham Massey as guests for the purpose of providing an honest review of the experience. Details are subject to change, so I would always recommend obtaining the most up to date information from the attractions own website.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Letterbox Cakes by bakerdays - A Review & Competition!

For the next 12 days we will be bringing you some fantastic competitions! Each giveaway will run for 7 days and you have a great chance to win some lovely prizes this December.

The first competition we are bringing to you, is thanks to the lovely people over at bakerdays, who have kindly offered my readers the chance to win one of their personalised letterbox cakes. If you haven't heard of bakerdays before, then read on and take a look at the beautiful cake that my children chose for our family.


The wonderful cake company bakerdays, create delicious and personalised cakes for all occasions. Their cakes are available in a range of sizes and not only do they look fantastic, but they are extremely tasty too! Our favourite product that they offer is the innovative letterbox cake, which is a fantastic and unique gift idea for friends, family or even work colleagues that you may want to surprise. Measuring at approximately 5 inches in diameter (12cm x 2.5cm), they fit nicely through your letterbox and can provide 3-4 nice sized portions.


The bakerdays website is really easy to use and features a huge selection of different cake designs to choose from. Everything is clearly displayed and you can navigate through the website, simply by selecting one of the categories at the top of the page. Once you have found a design that you like, then you simply select the size you want, decide on the flavour and then add a special message of your choice. Some cakes can even feature one of your very own photographs, for that added personalised touch!


Due to the process being so simple, I decided to let Emma and Ben choose which cake they would like. After much deliberation they chose a fun festive reindeer design and wrote a personalised message to their little brother Riley. My children thought that the reindeer was really funny with its big wooly socks and they knew that Riley would love it! For the flavour they chose rich chocolate chip, which sounded delicious.


We completed our order and Emma and Ben were very excited to wait for it to arrive in the post. Fortunately they didn't need to wait for too long, as our cake came in the post the very next day, which I thought was extremely efficient.


The website offers a range of delivery options and bakerdays assures customers that your cake will arrive fresh and in perfect condition. They have created special packaging to protect the cake which makes the product suitable for both national and even international delivery. Our cake arrived in a sturdy box, along with a lovely card and mini cracker. It was carefully wrapped and enclosed within a mini cake tin, which made the product look really presentable, which is exactly what you want when purchasing as a gift for someone.


There was a sticker on the inside of the lid which provided a full list of the ingredients, so you know exactly what has gone into your cake and I also really liked the fact that I would be able to re-use the tin again in the future. Even though we had seen a preview of the cake when ordering on the website, we were surprised by just how fantastic it looked when it arrived and the kids couldn't wait to get tucked in.

The image on the cake was very clear, as was the text and the whole presentation of the product was lovely. The cake tasted just as good as it looked too and despite the guide being for 3-4 portions, we managed to have a nice slice each between the five of us. The cake was excellent quality, with delicious chocolate chip sponge and icing.

Overall, we were thoroughly impressed with the bakerdays service. The ordering process was extremely simple and I loved the wide range of designs on offer. There really is something to suit everyone and I saw so many designs that I know my family members would love, so I will definitely be purchasing more in the future.

To find out more about the great range of cakes that bakerdays offer, then you can visit their website or social media channels on the links below:

Website - www.bakerdays.com/
Facebook - facebook.com/bakerdays/
Twitter -  @bakerdays
Instagram - @bakerdays

If you would like the chance to win your very own Letterbox Cake from bakerdays, then please read the terms and conditions and enter our competition using the gleam form below. Good Luck!

Win a Letterbox Cake from bakerdays
Terms and Conditions
  • There is 1 (one) prize of a bakerdays Letterbox Cake
  • The approximate prize value is £14.99 & no cash alternative is available.
  • Whilst every effort will be made to have your prize with you before Christmas, this cannot be guaranteed, so please allow up to 28 days for delivery.
  • Competition is open to UK entrants aged 18 or over.
  • No bulk or third party entries.
  • Competition closes 8th December 2017 & the winner shall be drawn at random and contacted within 2 working days.
  • The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the winning email to confirm their acceptance of the prize, before an alternative winner is drawn from the remaining eligible entrants.
  • The winners details will be shared with bakerdays, for the purpose of prize fulfilment.
Disclaimer: We were provided with a complimentary letterbox cake for the purpose of providing an honest review of our experience. All opinions and photographs are my own, unless stated otherwise.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Dates for your Diary - The Bear at Waterside Arts, Sale - 5th December to 6th January 2018

With Christmas only weeks away, I have recently been bringing you details of some fantastic family-friendly festive events. From the 5th December 2017 to the 6th January 2018, The Bear will be strolling into Sale to provide audiences with a heart-warming and humerous wintry tale.

Based on the much-loved children's book 'The Bear' by Raymond Briggs, this beautiful theatrical adaptation is brought to you by Pins & Needles Productions. The team was also behind the hugely successful Father Christmas show and they are delighted to be bringing to life, another of Raymond Briggs stories.


The Bear offers an unforgettable experience for the whole family, as well as being the perfect introduction to theatre, with its dazzling puppetry, delicious music, dreamy storytelling and dozens of laughs.

Ever wondered what it would be like to sit on a polar bears lap? Or ride on its back? Have you ever tried to give a bear a bath? Or clear up its poo?! Looking after a bear is exhausting stuff.

One night when she's fast asleep, an enormous snowy white bear, climbs into Tilly's bedroom. It has a big black tongue and a yawn as big as your head. But Tilly's not scared.

So come and join Tilly and her great big white friend on a wild and magical adventure.

The production is recommended for children aged between 3 and 11 and there are also a number of Slumber Shows taking place. At the 6pm shows, PJ's are encouraged to be worn and cookies and milk will also be available to buy for little ones.

The Bear previews on Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th December and officially opens from Thursday 7th December until Saturday 6th January 2018. There are both schools and public performances available and show times vary. For further information please visit thebearlive.com

Listing Details

Show - The Bear
Venue - Waterside, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, Trafford, M33 7ZF
Dates - 5th December 2017 to 6th January 2018, with preview, relaxed and BSL performances also available on selected dates. 
Times - Show times vary, so please see thebearlive.com for the most up to date information.
Box Office - 0161 912 5616
Ticket prices - £16.50/ £14.50/ £12.50
School tickets - £10 - 1 teacher goes free with every 9 students booked.
Running time - Approximately 55 minutes with no interval.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Dates for your Diary - Peter Pan at the Epstein Theatre

The swashbuckling adventure of LHK Productions' panto Peter Pan, comes to the Epstein Theatre this Christmas from Friday 8th December to Monday 1st January 2018.

Children and adults alike will be whisked away on a sensational journey to Neverland this Christmas. With a sprinkle of fairy dust from Tinkerbell, join Peter, Wendy and The Lost Boys on an adventure full of Pirates, Mermaids, Indians and a devious tick-tocking croc, in this enchanting story of the boy who never grew up.

Headlining Peter Pan is Another Level's Dane Bowers, who will have audiences hooked this festive season as Captain Hook. Dane began his career as a member of Another Level, one of the most successful boy bands of the 90's - achieving several platinum selling albums and singles. He has also made appearances on Celebrity Big Brother, Celebrity Come Dine with Me and ITV's The Big Reunion, which saw him form a supergroup boy band with the likes of Gareth Gates.

Photo credit: David Munn Photography

Set to take audiences by storm is Liverpool's own Lewis Pryor who will be playing the lead role of Peter Pan. Lewis appeared in the 2016 series of Britain's Got Talent, finishing 3rd place in the Live Finals as a member of dance troupe Boogie Storm. Supporting Peter Pan will be Radio City 2's Claire Simmo, starring as the lovable Tinkerbell.

No LHK Production would be complete without everyone's favourite dame, Michael Chapman, who returns for 2017 as the Darling Family Cook and is guaranteed to bring his usual hysterical capers and comedy antics. New cast additions also include the incredibly talented Joanne Harper as Wendy Darling and local performer Georgia Austin as Tiger Lily.

As ever, audiences can expect a huge production from LHK Productions with dazzling sets, sparkling costumes, laugh-a-minute scripts, brilliant songs and exquisite trade-mark choreography that everyone has come to know and love from Liverpool's acclaimed panto production company!

Listing Details

Dates - Friday 8th December 2017 to Monday 1st January 2018
Venue - The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ
Times - Times vary, please visit www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk for more information.

Tickets
Opening night ticket offer: Friday 8th December all tickets £13
Special Offer: Tuesday 26th December 5pm & Sunday 31st December 5:30pm all tickets £15
Sat & Sun performances and Monday 1st January (excluding 31/12 5:30pm performance): Adult £19/ Concession £17/ Family £63
All other performances: Adult £18/ Concession £16/ Family £59
Limited number of £11 tickets available on all performances (except Fri 8th Dec 7pm, Tue 26th Dec 5pm and Sun 31st Dec 5:30pm).

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

How to Book

Call 0844 888 4411, visit www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk or book in person at the theatre box office (open 2pm-6pm Mon-Thu & 12pm-6pm Fri-Sat).

Alternatively you can book via ticketquarter on 0844 8000 410 or visit www.ticketquarter.co.uk

Disclaimer: Information correct at time of writing, but can be subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own website to obtain the most up to date information.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Dates for your Diary - Manchester's Biggest Indoor Christmas Attraction is Back!

One of our favourite annual events on the festive calendar has to be Winter Wonderland, which is a wonderful indoor attraction, held at EventCity, next to the Intu Trafford Centre Manchester. This fabulous family event will be returning for it's fifth consecutive year and looks set to be the very best yet.

The giant 22,000sqm exhibition space at EventCity will be transformed into an unbelievable wonderland extravaganza, featuring over 50 family rides and attractions all under one roof.  As well as the rides and the bright lights, there will be a dazzling array of colourful shows and this year, Winter Wonderland is delighted to welcome the nation's favourite children's TV characters Zippy and George from Rainbow, who will no doubt bring lots of magic, mayhem and comedy capers!

The spectacular Christmas Circus will also be making a welcome return and is sure to have audiences marvelled and amazed with their daily performances.

Santa Claus and his reindeer will also be taking time out from their busy schedule for meet and greets with all the children, every day up to and including Christmas Eve. In addition to all of this, there will also be fairies and elves on hand to chat and play with the children, a host of games stalls and an array of food and drinks stalls where you can purchase hot snacks or sweet treats.


Winter Wonderland operates on a session basis to ensure that visitors can enjoy the experience without overcrowding, offering families four hours of non-stop fun and entertainment. Organisers Kingpin Events are urging families to book now to make sure that they don't miss out on this magical festive family adventure and to ensure they secure tickets for their preferred date. Last years event saw record ticket sales of 100,000, so it is sure to be popular once more for 2017!

Group, family and individual tickets are on sale now for this wonderful Winter Wonderland event, which is guaranteed to create that enchanting Christmas spirit and spread joy across the whole of Manchester.

You can book your tickets now at www.winterwonderlandmanchester.com

Listing Details

Event - Winter Wonderland Manchester
Venue - EventCity (next to Intu Trafford Centre), Phoenix Way, Off Barton Dock Road, Urmston, Manchester, M41 7TB. Free Parking Available.

Ticket Prices - 
Adult £20.50 (plus £1.50 Quaytickets booking fee)
Child (3-16) £20.50 (plus £1.50 Quaytickets booking fee)
Family of 4 (2 ad + 2 ch or 1 ad + 3ch) £70 (plus £1.50 Quaytickets booking fee per person so total fee of £6)
OAP £15.00 (plus £1.50 Quaytickets booking fee)
Under 3's are Free (Ticket not required).
Groups 10% discount (when booking 15+ tickets)
School rate: £9.50 per child (under 12's) with some teachers free from Tuesday 13th to Friday 16th December (morning session only).

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

Session Times - 

December     
Sat 9th & Sun 10th: 11am-3pm and 4:30pm-8:30pm
Tue 12th, Wed 13th & Thurs 14th: 10:30am-2:30pm
Fri 15th: 10:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-9pm
Sat 16th & Sun 17th: 11am-3pm and 4:30pm-8:30pm
Mon 18th & Tue 19th: 10:30am-2:30pm
Wed 20th: 10:30am-2:30pm and 4:30pm-8:30pm
Thurs 21st, Fri 22nd & Sat 23rd: 11am-3pm and 4:30pm-8:30pm
Tue 26th: 1pm-5pm
Wed 27th, Thurs 28th, Fri 29th & Sat 30th: 11am-3pm and 4:30pm-8:30pm
Sun 31st: 11am-3pm

January
Mon 1st: 1pm-5pm

To book please visit www.winterwonderlandmanchester.com or alternatively you can make a booking by telephone on 0843 208 1842. For group bookings please call 0843 208 6003.

Disclaimer: Details can be subject to change, so I would always recommend visiting the events own website to obtain the most up to date information.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Dates for your Diary - Christmas at Dunham Massey

My family and I absolutely love attending Christmas events and we are always on the look out for something new and exciting to visit. Like most families, Christmas is a really magical time for us, so we try and enjoy as many festive activities as we can together, in the run up to Christmas Day.

We were therefore really excited to find out about a brand new Christmas Light trail, which will be at Dunham Massey in Cheshire, from the 1st to 30th December 2017. This magical, after-dark illuminated trail, will be brought to you by leading events producers Raymond Gubbay, in partnership with the National Trust and will see Dunham Massey transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland.

The trail has been specially designed to appeal to visitors of all ages and there is something for everyone at this festive time of year, as the one mile sparkling path winds its way through the historic Dunham Massey woodland. Greeted by the sights and sounds of Christmas, visitors will wander beneath tree canopies that will be illuminated in seasonal shards of light and larger-than-life snowflakes and baubles.


Father Christmas sees you on your way through twinkling tunnels and a swaying lawn of colour reflected in the water. Duck between sparkling hedgerows, discover the Singing Trees rising high into the night sky and experience Pealight Heaven, a canopy of over 100,000 fairy lights. Once you reach the festive finale, you can take a moment to pause and enjoy the brightly coloured water jets dancing in time to some much loved Christmas classics.

Complete your stroll under the stars with a hot drink or some mulled wine, enjoy a ride on the vintage carousel* , toast your own marshmallows at one of the fire pits, or even take the opportunity to do a spot of Christmas shopping in Dunham Massey's shop.

*Separate charges apply.

For further details please visit: National Trust - Dunham Massey

Listing Details

Event - Christmas at Dunham Massey, the magical, after-dark, illuminated trail

Location - Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ

Dates - 1st December to 30th December

Admission

Advance - Adult £16.00, Child (5-16) £10.00, Family £48.00
On the day - Adult £18.00, Child (5-16) £12.00, Family £56.00
National Trust Member - Adults £14.50, Child (5-16) £8.50, Family £42.00


Disclaimer: Details correct at time of writing, but can be subject to change. Therefore please always check the events own website for the most up to date information.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Winter Wonderland Manchester - A Review

My family and I have really been getting into the festive spirit lately, and so when we were given the opportunity to attend the official launch night of Winter Wonderland Manchester at EventCity, we literally jumped at the chance!


The mammoth 22,000 sq m exhibition space at EventCity has been transformed into an unbelieveable wonderland extravaganza, featuring over 50 family rides and attractions all under one roof - including new rides for 2016 featuring a giant carousel, and all included in one ticket price. (Excluding games and food stalls.)

We headed out there on a wet and windy Monday night, dressed warm and ready in our Christmas jumpers keen to find out more and experience the Winter Wonderland magic. We didn't need to wait long however as the attraction worked its magical wonders on us right from the very beginning, with the children delighted to be entering the event under a cascade of snow. My three year old son Riley has never experienced snowfall before, as the last heavy snow we had in our area was just before he was born, and so to see his little face light up as we walked through was amazing.


Upon entering we were immediately faced with a whole host of fairground attractions and my kids couldn't wait to jump on a ride and have some fun. They each chose a ride near the entrance to get started, and then we decided to have a good look around and find out where each attraction could be found.

In addition to the vast array of rides, there were numerous other festive treats to enjoy including a mini pantomime of Cinderella, a Christmas Circus, a fun family show featuring the fabulous Basil Brush and Mr Matt, and if that was not enough, there was of course the chance to meet Santa himself and his real reindeer too!


Having had a wander around and seen what was on offer, we immediately felt that the attraction offered excellent value for money. We had visited numerous fairgrounds over the summer which would charge around £3 a ride, which for 3 children can quickly mount up to an excessive amount of money, but there was no need to worry about that here, and my children went on some of their favourite rides three or four times. My youngest son Riley, absolutely loved the traditional carousel which is situated towards the rear of the building. It looked so grand and majestic, and he loved pretending that he was riding a real horse. One thing I would note though, is that the steps on the side are quite steep so make sure you are ready to give your children a helping hand to get on and off, and I would recommend riding on the horse with your child if they are quite young just to be on the safe side.


There was also a lovely minature version of a carousel a short distance away for toddlers too which my son also really enjoyed. I thought that this was a great idea.


My daughter Emma who is 10, is starting to show an interest in the more scarier and faster rides now, and so I really loved the fact that there were rides available for all age groups, so that none of my children felt left out or bored having to watch their siblings have fun instead of them.


Santa's grotto is fantastic, with friendly elves ready to welcome you and help make the experience all the more magical for children. Again this is included in the ticket price, but there is also the option of purchasing a gift for your child for only £3.50, but of course this is not compulsory. Real reindeer to meet and greet also assists in making this a marvellous grotto for families to enjoy. On the night we attended the queues varied in length throughout the evening, but on weekends I could imagine this being very busy, so would perhaps like to see the introduction of ticketed slots to reduce waiting times in the future.

The friendly elves can also be found throughout the attraction ready to make your children smile, pose for an "elfie" or quite simply answer any questions you may have. I thought that this was a great idea, as not only did the children love to see the elves walking round, but it also gave us parents an easily identifable person to recognise as staff should we have a query.

If however, winter is not your thing, and you would much rather the fun of the seaside, then make sure you head over to Salty Cove, where you can have a relaxing chill in a deckchair, whilst your children build sandcastles and meet the wonderful Pip Ahoy! I did find it slightly strange having a beach within Winter Wonderland, however Riley really enjoyed it, and it also gave the younger children somewhere to play, away from the more busier attractions.


I do feel as though the organisers have also really taken on board comments from previous years and have tried to cater for everyones needs. There is ample space for prams and wheelchairs, a cloakroom should you want to leave your coat or bag in a safe area, a quiet zone outside the main attraction zone and away from the hustle and bustle, and also a toddler soft play area. I found both the toddler soft play area and Salty Cove really quiet during our visit, so it was nice to take Riley away from the crowds for some quieter fun in between rides.

In order to prevent overcrowding, the organisers operate this event on a session basis to help ensure that vistors can experience all that Winter Wonderland has to offer. This is a great idea, as it helps to minimise the queuing and makes sure that you get excellent value for money by being able to visit each part of the attraction. Each session lasts for four hours, which was just about right for us, as the kids were starting to get tired, however we could quite happily return again and enjoy it for another session. If I was therefore going to make any suggestion it would be perhaps to offer the option of a 2 day ticket.


In terms of food and drink outlets, there was the usual fast food available, as well as coffee, bavarian beer, slushies and sweets. I have seen a few comments asking for more choice and healthier options, but with the Trafford Centre only over the road, there is an ample choice of restaurants right on the doorstep to suit everyones tastes, so you could always enjoy a meal there before or after the session. .

I would suggest taking some cash with you, as you will need additional money for any purchases such as gifts or merchandise, or for the games stalls and arcade area. I personally didn't spend any additional money at the attraction, but I knew my children would want to, so I set them a budget of £5 each to use on the games so that it saved any arguing or demands for money inside. They each knew how much they had to spend and this worked well for us. Fortunately they were more interested in the rides, than the fairground games, so they even came home with some change!


Overall, we had a fantastic time at Winter Wonderland, and my children couldn't wait to tell all their school friends about it the following day. I believe that it offers excellent value for money, and I think it is great that under 3's are free, even though there is plenty for them to do there. There was a huge amount to see and do, and hopefully we can fit in another visit before the 1st January to return again.

Winter Wonderland Manchester is open from Saturday 10th December through to the 1st January 2017. It is based at EventCity which is just next to the Trafford Centre and offers FREE parking. It is also easy to get there using public transport, which I did earlier in the year when attending the Digital Kids Show, and we caught the train into Manchester Piccadilly from North Wales and then the X50 bus from Piccadilly Gardens bus station which runs at regular intervals.

Group, family and individual tickets are on sale now and the event is also offering VIP corporate packages for companies who are looking to treat staff and their families to an extra special Christmas day out.

If you would like to book tickets then please visit www.winterwonderlandmanchester.com 

Alternatively you can make a booking by telephone on 0843 208 1842 or for group bookings please call 0843 208 6003. However, don't delay as some dates are already fully booked!

Full ticket information is as follows:

Adult and child (3-16): £19.50 (plus £1.50 Quaytickets booking fee)
Family: £64* (plus £1.50 Quaytickets booking fee)
OAP: £14 (plus £1.50 Quaytickets booking fee)
Child (under 3): Free
Groups: 10% discount (when booking 15+ tickets).
* (2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children).
School rate: £9.50 per child

Session times are:

Fri 16 Dec – 10:30am – 2.30pm and 5pm – 9pm
Sat 17 – Fri 23 Dec – 11am – 3pm and 4:30pm – 8.30pm
Sat 24 Dec – 10:30am – 2.30pm
(No Afternoon session on 24 Dec and closed Christmas Day)
Mon 26 Dec – 1pm – 5pm
Tues 27 – Fri 30 Dec – 11am – 3pm and 4:30pm – 8:30pm
Sat 31 Dec – 11am – 3pm
Sun 1 Jan 2017 – 1pm – 5pm

Please note that the Santa meet and greet is only available until the 24th December.

Disclaimer: I was provided with complimentary tickets to the launch night event for the purpose of providing an honest review of the attraction. All opinions are my own.





Friday, 9 December 2016

Our visit to the DreamWorks Lights Lantern Experience in Liverpool

You may have seen several posts from me lately on events in Liverpool, having recently visited Disney On Ice presents Frozen, and Santa's Magical Grotto. Well it would seem that Liverpool is definitely the place to be at the moment for festive fun, and having recently learnt about the new DreamWorks Lights Lantern Experience in St George's Hall, we decided to take a look a find out what it was all about.


The DreamWorks Lights event is a first for the UK and is part of One Magical City, which is a programme of festive activity that is taking place throughout Liverpool. DreamWorks are responsible for the feature films Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar, which are all popular family movies, and this makes it a great experience for the whole family to enjoy. Described as a "Shrektacular" event, we couldn't wait to visit!

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool said "Bringing this event to the city is a major coup for Liverpool and is sure to pave the way for more experiences of this stature".


The venue of St George's Hall, is located directly across from Lime Street Station, which makes it easily accessible by public transport. You will have no problem finding it as even if you somehow manage to miss the big banners directing you there, you definitely couldn't miss the giant Shrek located on the roof!


Our time slot was for 11:30am til 12pm, and we arrived at 11:40am to find that there was no queue to get in. I presented my mobile tickets on my phone to the lady on the till which she scanned and welcomed us to the event. Immediately we noticed the huge 40ft dragon from Shrek suspended from the ceiling of the Great Hall which was amazing.

Although it was busy, it wasn't overcrowded which suggests that the organisers have planned it just right with assigning allocated time slots for arrival. There were larger crowds around some displays more than others, but we didn't struggle to get pictures of any of the lanterns.


Each display was set out nicely, and the lights were lovely and bright. The first few sets were all Kung Fu Panda themed, and looked fantastic. There are clear signs directing you which way to go, which helps to make it run in a one way system, however if you do want to go back to look a particular display, you are able to do so.


After all the Kung Fu Panda themed lights, we came across the Shrek displays which were my favourite. Shrek is one of our favourite family films, and so my kids were really excited to see all the characters.


My daughter's favourite is Donkey, and so she couldn't resist asking for a picture beside him.


Following on from Shrek, came the Madagascar displays. I love the characters from Madagascar as they are so funny, and the lights looked absolutely brilliant, whilst still displaying the humour that each one represents in the film.

Some of the larger displays throughout the attraction also had the added bonus of large projector screens showing excerpts from the movies.


At the end of the attraction, you can have your photo taken on a green screen, and then choose from a selection of backgrounds. The pictures I saw on the screen looked great, however I found that because of where it was located, it did make it slightly difficult for guests with prams to exit, as the queue was large and therefore partially blocked the way out. The photos were £6 each which I think is reasonable for a fun and unique family photo.

As with most attractions, there is a gift shop on your way out that sells a nice selection of goods and memorabilia. The products weren't cheap, but they also weren't overpriced so there was something to suit most budgets.


In total we spent just over an hour here, and really enjoyed it. For 2 adults and 2 children it costs £36 which may seem slightly expensive for an experience that isn't a full day out, however it is something unique and enjoyable and I feel that the cost is reasonable for what it is. There is also so much to do in Liverpool at the moment, so if you wanted to make it a full day out, you could easily combine it with Santa's Magical Grotto, a pantomime, or even the World Museum which is great fun and also offers free entry. There is also a small Christmas market just outside the Dreamworks Lights Lantern Experience, selling a lovely selection of goods to get you in the festive mood.

The Dreamworks Lights Lantern Experience is open daily between 10am and 7pm until Sunday 15th January. (Exceptions to this are early closing 2pm on Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve, and full day closures on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year's Day).

Entry is via allocated time slots which begin every 30 minutes, and online booking is advised to guarantee your preferred entry time and date.

Tickets cost £10 for adults and £8 for children. Babies under 12 months are free of charge. Some pay on arrival tickets will be available, but will be subject to demand.

If you would like to book your tickets, you can do so here - Dreamworks Lights Lantern Experience

Disclaimer - I was provided with complimentary access to this event in order to provide an honest review and opinion of the attraction. All opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.