Showing posts with label whatson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label whatson. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

St Helens Theatre Royal Announce An Online Extension of their 5-Star Christmas Pantomime Beauty and the Beast Until the End of January

St Helens Theatre Royal have today announced they will extend the online version of their 5-star socially distanced production of Beauty and the Beast until the end of January and is available to purchase and watch now.

Beauty and the Beast recently ran for the festive period from Friday 11th December and was due to finish on Sunday 3rd January, unfortunately due to a change in Tiers by the government, the show was forced to close on Wednesday 30th December.

Audiences who missed the show at Christmas had the option to enjoy the critically acclaimed production from the comfort of their own homes, a link to purchase tickets was available until the 10th January, this was a specially filmed version of the Christmas Eve performance.

Now the theatre has extended the online run to allow parents to treat their family throughout the month of January to beat those lockdown and January blues.

Image Credit: David Munn

St Helens Theatre Royal were one of the few venues across the UK who opened their doors for a Christmas pantomime after being closed for 9 months, due to the current Covid pandemic. The highly anticipated show proved to be a popular choice during the festive season and was praised by audience members and critics alike.

Theatre Royal manager Chantelle Nolan commented: "We are thrilled to be able to extend the online version of our popular Christmas production until the end of the month, January is normally such a dead month and even more so due to the strict lockdown restrictions and being told to stay at home. To watch theatre online from the comfort of your own home could be a lovely treat to children, giving them something to look forward to after doing their schoolwork or at a weekend and it also supports the theatre through the lockdown period.

"We are proud to say that during our 36-show Christmas run, we didn't have a single positive case and no cases reported to us via the public or track and trace. Our staff and full company were tested on a regular basis and we were delighted to receive constant feedback from customers saying how safe they felt in the theatre. We are really looking forward to bringing back audiences into the theatre for live performances and our Easter Pantomime, Goldilocks and the Three Bears which is now on sale."

Image Credit: David Munn

The full cast of Beauty and the Beast is Jamie Greer as Potty Polly; Abigail Middleton as Madame Botox; Scott Gallagher as French Frank' Olivia Sloyan as Belle; Andrew Geater as The Beast; Tim Lucas as Gaston; and Jenna Sian O'Hara as Fairy Rose.

The show is directed by Chantelle Nolan, written by Liam Mellor, with choreography by Nazene Langfield, and Callum Clarke is musical supervisor.

Get ready to go on a family adventure with the fabulous family friendly pantomime, Beauty and the Beast. This is the timeless story of Belle, a beautiful young woman who falls in love with the most unexpected of princes, who has been cursed to look like a hideous beast. Will the beast learn to love and be loved? Will the spell be broken in time for all to live happily ever after?

For more information, please visit www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

Follow St Helens Theatre Royal on the following social media channels:

Facebook: St Helens Theatre Royal

Twitter: @TheatreRoyalStH

Instagram: @TheatreRoyalStH

Listing Information

Beauty and the Beast  - Online Version - Tickets: £20 per device

Available via the website www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

Image Credit: David Munn

*Disclaimer - This post is written based on a press release kindly provided by BEA. All details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, however I would always recommend visiting the venues own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.


Wednesday, 21 October 2020

St Helens Theatre Royal Announce Full Cast for Beauty & The Beast

St Helens Theatre Royal is thrilled to announce the full cast for its Covid-secure Christmas pantomime for 2020, the enchanting tale of Beauty and the Beast.

Producers Regal Entertainments recently announced that the panto would still go ahead in St Helens this Christmas time, despite a change to the previously announced show. 

Beauty and the Beast will now run at St Helens Theatre Royal from Friday 11th December 2020 through to Sunday 3rd January 2021. Tickets are on sale now.

The countdown is now on to bring Beauty and the Beast to life on stage at St Helens, with all the high production values and comedy that audiences have come to enjoy. The highly anticipated show is sure to be a popular choice this festive season, especially given the lack of theatre productions over the last six months and audiences craving live entertainment.

Audiences are reassured that St Helens Theatre Royal and the team behind Beauty and the Beast will be fully adhering to social distancing measures and Government guidelines to ensure the safety of theatregoers, venue staff, cast and crew.

St Helens Theatre Royal also reopened it's telephone booking line last week, so tickets can be bought over the phone between 10am and 2pm from Monday to Thursday. Tickets can also be purchased online, however the theatre will remain closed for in-person bookings.

The full cast of Beauty and the Beast was announced on Tuesday 15th September as Jamie Greer as Potty Polly; Abigail Middleton as Madame Botox; Scott Gallagher as French Frank; Olivia Sloyan as Belle; Andrew Geater as The Beast; Tim Lucas as Gaston; and Jenna Sian O'Hara as Fairy Rose.

The show will be directed by Chantelle Nolan, written by Liam Mellor, with choreography by Nazene Langfield, and Callum Clarke as musical supervisor.

Get ready to go on a family adventure this Christmas with the fabulous family friendly pantomime, Beauty and the Beast. This is the timeless story of Belle, a beautiful young woman who falls in love with the most unexpected of princes, who has been cursed to look like a hideous beast. Will the beast learn to be loved? Will the spell be broken in time for all to live happily ever after?

Theatre Manager Chantelle Nolan commented: "It's been a very challenging time for theatres nationwide and everyone who works behind the scenes, and St Helens Theatre Royal is no different. But we're absolutely thrilled we can now announce a stellar cast of familiar faces and St Helens favourites who will take to our stage this Christmas to ensure the panto does go on, alongside our incredible front of house teams and production crews.

"Beauty and the Beast is a stunning tale full of friendship, faith, love and escapism - something we can all resonate with right now. Once again, we'd like to thank the community for their ongoing support, and we look forward to welcoming audiences to a special and safe festive family experience."

Beauty and the Beast replaces the previously announced festive show Cinderella which should have featured Birds of a Feather star and Loose Women panellist Linda Robson in the lead role. Government-enforced restrictions on theatres sadly made it unviable financially as the fairytale is one of the biggest and most costly pantomime productions to stage. 

However, to continue its tradition of offering one of the region's best festive family friendly shows, Regal Entertainments has worked tirelessly to ensure the show will go on to provide top entertainment to its community and regular attenders this Christmas.

Covid-secure safety measures being implemented include reduced capacity auditorium, temperature checks, the wearing of face masks, deep cleaning, and pre-order drinks and confectionary. Additional details will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Cinderella ticketholders are being contacted to ensure all patrons are rescheduled as close as possible to their original booking. 

Tickets for Beauty and the Beast are being sold as unreserved seats. Theatregoers will then be contacted to confirm seat allocation. 

Beauty and the Beast runs at St Helens Theatre Royal from Friday 11th December 2020 to Sunday 3rd January 2021. Tickets are on sale now. For more information you can visit the St Helens Theatre Royal website or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/sthelenstheatreroyal/
Twitter - @TheatreRoyalStH

Listing Details

Show - Beauty and the Beast
Venue - St Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ
Dates - Friday 11th December 2020 to Sunday 3rd January 2021
Times - Times vary, so please visit the website to obtain the most up to date information.
Tickets - Tickets start from £18*

*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.

Due to Coronavirus, St Helens Theatre Royal Box Office is closed for in-person bookings. Telephone bookings can be made by calling 01744 756000 between 10am and 2pm from Monday to Thursday. Online bookings are also available on the St Helens Theatre Royal website.

*This post is based on a press release kindly provided by BEA. Details are subject to change, so I would always recommend visiting the venues own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Beauty and the Beast at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool this Easter

*Please note that this show has now been postponed

Get ready to be swept off your feet this Easter as the timeless classic Beauty and the Beast brings magic and adventure to the Epstein Theatre.

This enchanting, family-friendly panto production will run from Friday 10th April until Sunday 19th April and Regal Entertainments Ltd have recently announced a fantastic line-up of stars.

Channel 5 Milkshake's Amy Thompson will appear as Belle opposite Timothy Lucas as the dashing but troubled Beast.

They will be joined by Philip McGuinness as dastardly Gaston and Lewis Devine as French Frank, along with James Lacey as the hilarious Potty Polly and Sarah Walker as Fairy Rose.

Amy Thompson is no stranger to Beauty and the Beast having previously played Belle for Regal Entertainments at St Helens Theatre Royal.

The TV and stage actress's other panto credits include Sleeping Beauty (Malvern Theatres, Pavilion Theatre, Mansfield Palace and Floral Pavilion, New Brighton), Aladdin (Blackpool Grand), Cinderella (Blackpool Grand and Sunderland Empire), Snow White (Rhyl Pavilion) and Little Red Riding Hood (Hull Truck Theatre).

Timothy Lucas takes on the role of the Beast, doomed to roam his castle in hideous form until true love frees him from a wicked curse.

The Liverpool Theatre School-trained actor has recently appeared as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at St Helens Theatre Royal. His other panto roles include the hilarious PC Noodle in Aladdin, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast and the notorious Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

Meanwhile Philip McGuinness returns to the role of the preening Gaston after playing it to acclaim at St Helens Theatre Royal. His other panto roles include Tin Man and the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, Captain Hook in Peter Pan and the villainous Abanazer in Aladdin at St Helens.


Lewis Devine makes a welcome return to the Epstein after winning the hearts of audiences playing the hapless Buttons in Cinderella at Christmas.

His career started at an early age when he first appeared on the first series of ITV's Kids Stars in Their Eyes, which he won with his impersonation of Donny Osmond. His panto credits include Muddles in Snow White and the title role of Peter Pan, both at St Helens Theatre Royal, and French Frank in Beauty and the Beast at Stockport Plaza.

Liverpool actor and producer James Lacey takes on Dame duties as Potty Polly. James has more than a decade of panto experience on his busy CV and in addition to that was the body double for Richard Madden in Sir Kenneth Branagh's big screen Cinderella.

And dancer and choreographer Sarah Walker will bring all-round sparkle as well as twinkle toes to the role of the goodhearted Fairy Rose.

Beauty and the Beast is directed by Andrew Geater and produced by Regal Entertainments Ltd.

Producer Chantelle Nolan said: "Beauty and the Beast is one of the most magical fairytales with its beautiful and kind-hearted heroine and a troubled hero to root for, all surrounded by a brilliantly colourful cast of larger-than-life characters and with an important message for theatregoers young and old.

"I'm delighted to be working with such a fantastic group of actors, and I can guarantee Epstein audiences are in for an egg-stra special treat this Easter."

Beauty and the Beast tells the timeless story of Belle - the beautiful young woman who falls in love with the most unexpected of princes.

Will the Beast learn to love and be loved? Will the spell be broken in time for all to live happily ever after? Come down to the Epstein Theatre this Easter and find out.

Listing Details

Show - Beauty and the Beast
Venue - Epstein Theatre, Hanover Street, Liverpool
Dates - 10th April until 19th April 2020
Times - Times vary, so please visit the website to obtain the most up to date information.
Tickets - Tickets start from £13

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

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

For more details please check out www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk to join their mailing list. Alternatively you can follow them on Facebook or on Twitter @EpsteinTheatre.

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

Friday, 7 February 2020

Hale Barns Carnival 2020 Announces Three Headline Concerts

Three headline acts have been announced for Hale Barns Carnival 2020 - and due to high demand, a third evening concert has been added to the increasingly popular community festival.

Last year organisers were thrilled with a record number of visitors to the event, which raised more than £100,000 for the local community.

This year's event takes place across the weekend of Friday 17th July, Saturday 18th July and Sunday 19th July 2020 - and this year's event boasts its biggest headliners yet, including Motown royalty.


Organisers are delighted to announce this year's headline live acts performing at Hale Barns Carnival 2020 are Motown Legend Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, opera vocalist Russell Watson, and Seventies pop rock band Bay City Rollers.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas are heading to Cheshire for an exclusive festival performance, they will entertain audiences with their vast Motown back catalogue on the Sunday evening (19th July), accompanied by a full band.

Martha, who was seen on Celebrity Masterchef on television screens in 2019, will be performing at Hale Barns on the weekend of her 79th Birthday. Fans can look forward to live performances of her smash hit songs including Nowhere to Run, Heat Wave, Jimmy Mack - and the best selling Motown single of all time, Dancing in the Street, which was later covered in the 1980's by Mick Jagger and the late David Bowie.

A very special Proms with Russell Watson officially opens Hale Barns Carnival 2020 on the Friday evening (17th July). Salford-born Russell Watson is the UK's best-selling classical artist, and this year marks the 20th anniversary since his debut solo album The Voice hit the number one chart spot and catapulted the singer into the music industry spotlight.

Russell will be joined by his band performing a specially curated set of full proms classics, including massive anthems, Jerusalem, Rule Britannia and Nessun Dorma. The Friday Night concert will be supporting local charity The Seashell Trust, with all profits from the evening being donated to the charity.


The following evening (Saturday 18th July), tartan pop rock sensations the Bay City Rollers will be shaking their shang-a-lang following an extensive tour of Japan and Canada.

The band will be flying back into the UK especially for the Saturday night concert. Fans of the tartan army are guaranteed a show-stopping evening as the band perform their back catalogue of greatest hits including Bye Bye Baby, Shang A Lang, Remember and Summerlove Sensation.

Gates open at 6pm for the live concerts on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the concerts starting at 7.30pm.

Tickets for the evening concerts are now on sale. All 100% of the evening concerts will be donated towards community projects and charities. One ongoing project supported by the event is to help fund a building project to create a new community hall in Hale Barns, which will provide a platform to showcase local talent and run adult learning and youth projects.

The live concerts are once again complemented by a two-day free Hale Barns Carnival family event on the Saturday and Sunday (18th and 19th of July).

The daytime programme will feature more than 100 attractions including falconry displays, pop-up theatre, craft activity tent, traditional fun fair rides, supercars, makers' market, food village and bars. Daytime entry is free from 12pm until 5pm.

Organiser Max Eden from Hale Barns Events commented: "Hale Barns Carnival is back bigger and better than ever before. Due to phenomenal demand and the incredible support of the local community, we are adding an extra date making the event three days for the first time ever.

"We're incredibly excited that the incredible queen of Motown Martha Reeves; operatic sensation and local lad Russell Watson; and Seventies tartan rockers the Bay City Rollers are joining us at the Hale Barns Carnival 2020. Each concert promises something completely different to enjoy and experience first-hand.

"With a bigger concert stage and even bigger acts, we want to make this the best Hale Barns Carnival we've ever had - and I still can't believe we've got a real Motown legend coming to Hale Barns, it's just wonderful. We're also looking forward to once again inviting visitors to enjoy the daytime festival atmosphere free of charge. Come and join us for a weekend of live music and family fun - it's the Summer event you won't want to miss."

Further announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

For further information you can visit the Hale Barns Carnival website, or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.halebarnscarnival.co.uk
Facebook - www.facebook.com/HaleBarnsCarnival
Twitter - @HaleBarnsEvents #HBCarnival

Listing Details

Hale Barns Carnival 2020
Friday 17th July 2020 - Proms with Russell Watson
Saturday 18th July 2020 - Bay City Rollers
Sunday 19th July 2020 - Martha Reeves and the Vandellas

Venue: St Ambrose Fields, Hale Road, Hale Barns, WA15 0HE

Free daytime activity on Saturday and Sunday (18th July and 19th July) from 12pm to 5pm
Evening concerts (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) - gates open 6pm / show starts 7.30pm

Weekend pass available to cover all three concerts for £75*
Solo concert tickets available at £30* per evening

Tickets can be booked online at www.halebarnscarnival.co.uk

*Subject to per ticket booking fee.

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

Thursday, 30 January 2020

The Wizard of Oz at St Helens' Theatre Royal this February Half Term

A wizardly February half term panto is coming to St Helens Theatre Royal and its producers are delighted to reveal its wonderful cast. Click your heels together and join Dorothy and Toto on the Yellow Brick Road in Regal Entertainments' The Wizard of Oz from Saturday 15th to Sunday 23rd February 2020.

Rising young star Mia Molloy, steps into the red slippers as she takes on the lead role of Dorothy. Mia has played the lead roles in both Sleeping Beauty and Snow White at St Helens Theatre Royal and was first cast as Amy Chandler in the original production of Our Day Out - The Musical at the Royal Court Theatre aged just 14.

Samantha Palin plays The Wicked Witch. Samantha is also no stranger to St Helens Theatre Royal as her recent theatre credits include the villainous fairy Carabosse in October's Sleeping Beauty and - by contrast - the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool.

Reece Sibbald plays The Scarecrow who wants a brain. County Durham born Reese has played the Scarecrow at Whitley Bay Playhouse in 2018, in 2013, 2016 and 2017 and his roles include Baby Bear in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Ratty in Wind in the Willows and Buttons in Cinderella.

Harry Moore is The Tin Man seeking a heart. No stranger to panto, Harry has played both The Wizard and Tin Man in previous productions of The Wizard of Oz and Dame Dotty Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk. His theatre credits include Yakov in The Seagull, Cridle in St Joan of the Stockyards and Father Bojovic in Pentecost.

Returning after his memorable role as PC Noodle in St Helens' 5 star panto Aladdin, Timothy Lucas plays the Cowardly Lion who wants some courage. Trained at Liverpool theatre school, Timothy has played Gaston in Beauty and the Beast in 2017 and the notorious Captain Hook in Peter Pan in 2018.

Another St Helens alumnus Abigail Middleton, returns in the role of the Good Fairy Glinda. Abigail has played Tiger Lily in Peter Pan at St Helens and her recent credits include Lucy in Pig, Sister Mary in Scouse Pacific and Nancy in Kiss Me Quickstep.

James Lusted completes the cast in the titular as The Wizard. James has worked as an actor and TV presenter for 10 years. His theatre work includes Follow Me for Theatre Brycheiniog and The Funfair at Home Theatre in Manchester, as well as several appearances in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Audiences are invited to join Dorothy and Toto as they follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, so Dorothy can ask the Wizard to help her return home. Along the way she meets the Scarecrow who wants a brain, the Tin Man who desires a heart and the Cowardly Lion who needs courage.

Chantelle Nolan, Theatre Manager, producer and director said: "We have a fantastic cast for The Wizard of Oz, featuring many familiar faces that our audiences know and love. The show is packed full of great jokes, brilliant songs, dazzling costumes and show-stopping choreography. It's a 'wonderful' show, with something for the whole family to enjoy. Tickets are already on sale so make sure you book yours now!"

The Wizard of Oz comes to St Helens Theatre Royal from Saturday 15th to Sunday 23rd February 2020. For more information you can visit the St Helens Theatre Royal website or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/sthelenstheatreroyal/
Twitter - @TheatreRoyalStH

Listing Details

Show - The Wizard of Oz
Venue - St Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ
Dates - Saturday 15th February to Sunday 23rd February 2020
Times - Times vary, so please visit the website to obtain the most up to date information.
Tickets - Tickets start from £12*

*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.

Tickets can be purchased online, in person at the box office, or alternatively you can call 01744 756000 if you would like to book over the phone.



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

The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show Returns to Birmingham's NEC - Competition

As a family, we love our camping and caravan holidays and over the years we have owned our own static and tourer caravans, along with a selection of family sized tents. We sold our last static caravan a couple of years ago to fund our desire to do some travelling, but have recently been looking to purchase another tourer or motorhome for our adventures in the UK and Europe.

I was therefore really excited to hear that The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show would be returning to Birmingham's NEC from the 18th to the 23rd February, where there will be a whole host of leisure vehicles, caravans, lodges and tents on display, as well as some fun family friendly activities that will ensure a fabulous fun day out.


Holidaymakers and Adventurers are sure to find plenty of inspiration in the UK's largest event of its kind, as The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show will be set across five halls of the NEC showcasing all the gear that you could possibly need for any upcoming escapades.

There will be a great selection of activities on offer for families that includes mini golf, celebrity guests and even a fun theatre programme from the hugely popular Freedom to Go Theatre, who will be returning with a host of live shows that will cover the many aspects of holidaying and adventuring.

The Freedom to Go Theatre will also host the adorable spaniel trio Max, Paddy and Harry....and while on the theme of dogs, 2020 also sees the return of the Top Dog Arena , where show-goers can take a break from their holiday planning to enjoy some spectacular canine agility demonstrations.

Celebrity guests will include TV Star Shane Richie; Caravan and Motorhome Club Member Matt Allwright, adventurer extraordinaire Darren Hardy; and Nadiya Hussain, who will be providing guests with some culinary inspiration.


Brand new for 2020 is Electric in Motion a brand-new area where visitors can ride in style on some of the most cutting-edge electric ride-ons, from bikes for kids and adults alike through to scooters, skateboards and even unicycles. Manufacturers such as Ride and Glide, RooDog and Ribble Cycles will provide demos before giving visitors the chance to take them for a spin on a special indoor course.

Tickets for the show are available for purchase online now and priced at just £8 for adults and £7 for seniors. Tickets on the door will also be available and cost £10 for adults and £9 seniors. Children aged 15 and under go free, making it both an enjoyable and affordable day out for the whole family!

For more information on The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, you can visit their website and social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://ccmshow.co.uk/caravan-camping-motorhome-show
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/NECCaravanShows
Twitter - @caravancampshow
Instagram - @neccaravanshows

However, if you are feeling lucky, then why not enter our fantastic competition below for the chance to win a family ticket to The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show. Please have a read through the terms and conditions and then simply enter using the gleam form below. Good Luck!


Win a Family Ticket to The Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show 2020

Terms and Conditions
  • There is 1 (one) prize of a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) to attend 1 (one) day of The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show taking place at the Birmingham N.E.C.
  • The winner can choose which specific single date that they would like to attend the show between the dates of the 18th to the 23rd February 2020.
  • The competition closes at midnight on the 10th February 2020 and the winner shall be notified by email within 2 working days of the closing date.
  • Due to this being a date restricted prize, the winner shall have 24 hours to respond to the winning email notification, before an alternative winner is drawn from the remaining eligible entries. 
  • Tickets are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.
  • Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 years or over.
  • No bulk or third party entries will be accepted.
  • The winners name and contact details shall be provided to the promoter for the purpose of prize fulfilment and permission shall be obtained from the winner prior to doing so.
  • There will be no contribution made towards travel costs, food or any other related expenses and the winner shall be responsible for any additional costs they occur.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

The Snowman Tour at Chester Cathedral - A Review

Throughout my school years I developed a love for music and learnt to play the harp, clarinet and the piano, with my childhood dream to be part of an orchestra or band. Unfortunately that dream wasn't meant to be, but my love of live music remains and in terms of entertainment, nothing quite beats a live orchestra. However, when you combine the outstanding skills of an orchestra, with the timeless classic animation of The Snowman, you get something even more exceptional and a show that provides the most magical of experiences for audiences of all ages.

Yesterday, my family and I were invited along to see The Snowman Tour, in the beautiful surroundings of Chester Cathedral. The Snowman Tour from Carrot Productions has been visiting venues all around the country this December and will continue to do so right up until the 30th of this month.  The show brings the magic of the animation alive, as the iconic short film is accompanied by a live orchestra and a young soloist who performs the song Walking in the Air.


Chester Cathedral itself is a stunning venue for such a beautiful show and as we took our seats we couldn't help but look around and gaze at the amazing architecture within. There was a small stage at the front, with seats placed for the members of the orchestra, along with a large screen situated directly above.  Everyone seemed so excited for the show to begin and as we patiently waited for 2pm to arrive, various musicians began to fill the stage, dressed in festive attire that was most impressive.

As the show began, we were treated to a festive overture and my youngest son loved singing along to the music and guessing the names of the songs. With there being so many children in the audience, it was quite a relaxed atmosphere which made Riley feel very comfortable. This also meant that I didn't need to worry about him whispering to me every now and again, like you do at some shows. He was able to recognise all of the songs played and it was the perfect way to start the performance.

Following this, we were introduced to the various members of the orchestra in a fun and amusing way. I really liked this as it helps children to identify the numerous instruments involved and Riley found it to be really interesting. He particularly liked hearing the strings and woodwind sections.

We were then treated to a lovely orchestral performance of The Nutcracker Suite with a specially commissioned film by Tom Scott. This delightful animation was enchanting as the musicians performed the well known Tchaikovsky festive favourites, such as The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, The March of the Toy Soldiers and Waltz of the Flowers. Riley has recently been learning dance as part of his P.E lessons in school and they have been creating movements using this music, so he was very familiar with them all and excited to see them performed live.  It is important to note that not all venues will be showing The Nutcracker Suite as the animations do vary dependent on location, but you can check prior to booking which one will be shown. Other animations include The Bear and the Piano and A Donkey's Tale that are both heartwarming and beautiful stories to be entertained by.

Shortly afterwards, there was a wonderful atmosphere as a snowman character ran around the Cathedral giving high fives to the children. Riley loved this and enjoyed watching him as he made his way amongst the audience. This led to the moment that we had all been waiting for on the big screen......The Snowman!

Image credit: ©Tom Bangbala

Riley was captivated as it began and despite the fact that I have seen this animation a countless number of times, I became fascinated and transfixed on the stage.  I tried to choose moments to glance between both the screen and the orchestra, as I was keen to observe the talented musicians. They all seemed to be in their element whilst performing, which was so enchanting to watch.

When the moment arrived for 'Walking in the Air', a young soloist took to the stage and provided the most beautiful rendition of the song with their exceptional voice. Watching this song being sang live with the orchestra was incredible and certainly a highlight for us.

My favourite scene in the animation is the Dance of the Snowmen, so I was really looking forward to this part of the show and it did not disappoint. The orchestra were amazing and it enabled me to fully appreciate their abilities as the combination of music and dance was brought to life on the screen.

Overall I absolutely loved The Snowman Tour from start to finish and honestly cannot recommend it enough. We had such a fabulous time and it truly is the perfect show for the whole family to enjoy this December. With a running time of just over one hour, it was the ideal length of time to keep younger children's attention and we loved the additional performances that took place prior to the start of The Snowman animation. There was an enjoyable atmosphere and it was lovely to be able to watch the show in such beautiful surroundings. The orchestra were all extremely talented and we found it quite mesmerising watching them perform. Ultimately this is a wonderful experience for audiences of all ages, so don't miss out on your chance to book tickets for the remaining shows.

For more information on The Snowman Tour or to check remaining availability, then you can visit the Carrot Productions website or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://www.carrotproductions.com/snowman
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/carrotproductions
Twitter - @carrotprod
Instagram - @carrot_productions

*Disclaimer - We were provided with a complimentary family ticket, for the purpose of writing an honest review of the show and our experience. Thoughts and opinions 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 shows own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Aladdin at St. Helens Theatre Royal - A Review

Regal Entertainments' pantomimes at St. Helens Theatre Royal are renowned for their fantastic productions and this years Christmas offering of Aladdin is certainly no exception. From start to finish the show is packed full of comedy, stunning vocals and plenty of dance moves that are strictly fabulous.

This pantomime tells the story of Aladdin, his quest for the magical lamp and his love for the beautiful Princess Jasmine. However, the evil Abanazar wants the lamp and its powers all to himself and sets up a cunning plan to become its owner. The Genie of the Lamp is on hand to grant three wishes to its bearer, whilst the Slave of the Ring is full of helpful wisdom and advice. Aladdins family Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee ensure that Aladdin gets all the help he needs and together this creates a fun re-telling of this age long story.

St. Helens is one of our favourite theatres and as we took our seats in the circle, we could feel the excitement throughout the building with a lovely atmosphere that continued throughout the show. There was plenty of audience participation and children (plus adults) loved joining in with the traditional 'It's Behind You' and 'Oh Yes He Did' scenes.

Image credit: David Munn Photography

Robin Windsor stars in the lead role of Aladdin and suits the role perfectly with his charm, wit and exceptional dancing ability. I thought his on stage partnership with Princess Jasmine (Olivia Sloyan) worked well and we really enjoyed her exceptional vocals, which really make her shine like the star she is, when performing on stage.

Resident Dame Si Foster plays the glamourous Widow Twankey and we loved his character and cheeky personality. His humour was complimented well by Scott Gallagher, who starred as Wishee Washee who delivered his scenes with perfect comical timing. We also thought that his interaction with the children in the second half of the show during the 'Floss Like a Boss' competition was brilliant. Friendly and hilarious, which was perfect!

One of our panto favourites Philip McGuinness gives an amusing portrayal of the wicked Abanazar. We have seen him in numerous pantomimes previously and he never disappoints. He is great at providing is own interpretation of a character which is very enjoyable to watch.

Image credit: David Munn Photography

Kai Jolley stars as the Genie of the Lamp and we thought that he was great, with a very clear and strong voice, along with the enthusiasm and warmth that you would expect from the genie. We really enjoyed his moments on stage, along with The Slave of the Ring played by Jenna O'Hara who suited the supporting role well. A special mention also has to go to both the senior and juvenile dancers who exhibited their wonderful skills superbly throughout the whole show.

The stand out character for us though, was the wonderful Timothy Lucas, starring as PC Noodle, who we found to be highly entertaining and we felt he was the perfect addition to a stellar cast. He delivers countless comical performances which provides families with plenty of laughter. His vocals are strong, which were evident during a particular scene with Abanazar, where a musical mash-up of well known songs is delivered flawlessly.

Image credit: David Munn Photography

The scenery was bright and eye-catching, whilst the costumes were glamorous and extravagant, ensuring that the cast most definitely looked the part. The clever and witty script was delivered with excellence and the comedy scenes were hilarious, especially a funny sketch that took place in the laundry, as well as the moment that the audience were soaked with water guns. We thought we may have been safe from this being seated upstairs, but the cast ensured that we didn't miss out on the fun, much to my children's delight.

The inclusion of a 3D scene was wonderful and the audience were taken on a magical carpet ride. I found the quality of this scene to be superb and despite knowing that it wasn't real, I will happily admit jumping a couple of times as creatures came flying towards me.

Overall we had an absolutely wonderful time watching Aladdin and feel that it truly offers something for the whole family to enjoy. With jokes for the kids, some cheeky innuendos for the adults, stunning vocals, creative choreography and plenty of fun for audiences of all ages. We would absolutely recommend this show to everyone, so don't miss your chance to see this fabulous pantomime and be sure to book your tickets very soon!

Listing Details

Show - Aladdin
Venue - St. Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St Helens, WA10 1LQ
Dates - Saturday 7th December 2019 to Sunday 12th January 2020
Times - Times vary so please visit the St. Helens Theatre Royal website here to obtain this information.
Tickets - Prices start from £13*

*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.

Bookings - Book in person at the Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St Helens, WA10 1LQ (Mon-Sat 10am to 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756000, or log on to www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com.

Image credit: David Munn Photography

*Disclaimer - We were provided with press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the production. All opinions are my own unless stated otherwise. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Winter Funland at EventCity, Manchester - A Review

On Thursday evening my family and I were invited along to experience Winter Funland 2019, which is being held at EventCity Manchester right through the festive period and up until the 5th January 2020. This Christmas extravaganza follows on from last years highly successful event, which saw a fantastic attendance of over 85,000 people, who all came along to enjoy the festivities. Prior to the attraction opening, Winter Funland event director, Andy Windmill, said: "Last years event was a phenomenal success and this year promises to be bigger, brighter and full of even more festive fun. We have pulled out all of the stops to ease queues for Santa, quicker service for food and of course - brought in even more exciting funfair rides."

Tickets for Winter Funland include access to a whole host of attractions such as the giant indoor funfair, a fantastic Christmas pantomime, a magical festival circus, Santa's grotto and a wonderful ice-skating rink for guests to enjoy. With the expectations set of a Winter Funland even better than before, my children and I couldn't wait to visit and find out exactly what was on offer for families to experience.


On arrival we made our way straight to the food court and with three hungry children to feed, I was hoping that there would be something that they liked. I needn't have been worried as there was a fantastic variety of food available for sale, ranging from children's meal favourites to curries, hot filled baps to yorkshire wraps and tasty burgers and hotdogs. The prices were slightly high, but in line with other attractions and the portion sizes were fair for the cost. We purchased two large Bratwurst sausage hot dogs, one kids meal of chicken nuggets and chips with a chocolate milk drink, a bacon cheeseburger, a beefburger and a portion of chips which all came to £32. As well as the main food court, there was also a pick and mix stall, a bar area serving alcohol and a slush factory.


Once we had enjoyed something to eat, my children excitedly ran to some of the fairground rides. They were pleased to see some of their favourites, with Riley being very happy to spot the flying elephants. There was plenty to choose from and we loved wandering around from ride to ride in such a family friendly atmosphere. Sociable elves could also be spotted regularly saying hello to the children and making them feel really welcome.


We really liked the variety of rides available and that there was something to suit all ages. I was also pleased to see that there was a good mix of both traditional and modern rides, with popular favourites such as the dodgems and a carousel also in attendance. All of the ride operators we met were really friendly, particularly the gentleman running the planes who was great with my children, along with a lady running the car ride near the entrance, who made sure that all the children got off the ride safely. A welcoming smile can make all the difference, so it was great to see staff being so helpful and polite.


In addition to the rides, there is a wonderful ice skating rink for visitors aged 4 and above, where you can glide gracefully across the ice. However if you are a bit unsteady on your skates, then there are staff on standby to give you advice, as well as useful skating aids to give you a helping hand.

For those who enjoy some added excitement, then there is a thrilling festive circus to enjoy, which is sure to mesmerise the whole family. Featuring hilarious clowns and a host of talented performers, a trip to the circus is sure to entertain.


Visits to Santa's Grotto are also included in the ticket price, however for an additional cost, you can also purchase a gift or photograph. With the grotto being very popular with families, the event organisers have listened to feedback from last year and implemented some changes to improve the experience. I think it is great when companies listen to their customers and I think the displaying of queue times, the option to purchase fast passes (at the time of booking tickets), as well as the grotto being opened 30 minutes prior to the session start times, will all be of benefit to guests.

The grotto has been well planned out for those important memory making moments with Father Christmas, making it a truly magical experience for children. Visits to Santa's Grotto will only be available up until Christmas Eve so please bear this in mind when booking tickets. The queue for the grotto will close one hour before the session ends.


If all this wasn't enough, then there is also a Christmas Panto, providing entertainment to audiences young and old. Telling the story of an Arctic Adventure, this fabulous festive treat offers something for everyone to enjoy and is a fantastic addition to Winter Funland 2019!

Overall we had a great time at Winter Funland and found there to be a huge range of rides, shows and activities to choose from. The staff on the rides were really friendly, as were the excitable elves who could be found wandering around the event. There was a good amount of security who had a very visible presence throughout the evening, which I think is very important at present, especially at large events such as this. Everything is well laid out and despite being busy, it didn't feel crowded at any point and my children rarely had to wait more than a couple of minutes to go on a ride. The atmosphere was fun and festive, making it a great place to enjoy some family fun together this Christmas.


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

Website: www.winterfunland.com
Facebook: facebook.com/winterfunland
Twitter: @winterfunland
Instagram: @winterfunland

Event Details

Event - Winter Funland
Venue - EventCity (opposite Intu Trafford Centre), Phoenix Way, Off Barton Dock Road, Trafford City, Manchester
Dates - Various dates from 6th December 2019 to 5th January 2020
Times - Times vary, so please visit their website for the most up to date information.
Tickets - Tickets are priced at £23.50 per person with under 3's admitted free of charge. Fastpass tickets to visit Father Christmas at the Santa's Grotto are also available from the website.
Parking - There are over 3000 free parking spaces available


*Disclaimer - My family and I were provided with complimentary wristbands for the VIP night, for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience at the event. All opinions and photographs are my own. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, however I would always recommend visiting the attractions own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Blackpool Tower Circus Pantomime Review - Pinocchio

Last weekend we were invited along to visit Blackpool Tower Circus and review their 2019 pantomime production of Pinocchio. My family and I are regular visitors to pantomimes throughout the North West and often review quite a few during the year, but this one was of particular interest to me for a couple of reasons, so we happily accepted the invitation.

Firstly, we have never seen a pantomime version of Pinocchio before and secondly I was very intrigued as to how a circus could combine with a festive show and make it enjoyable. I therefore told the children that we were off to watch a pantomime with a difference and we excitedly made our way to Blackpool.

There was plenty of parking nearby and the Blackpool Tower Circus is very easy to find. We had tickets booked for the 1pm show, so I collected these from the ticket desk approximately 20 minutes before the show was due to start. I was surprised to see that seats were not allocated, so as we made our way to the circus entrance, I was a little worried in case there were not five seats together. I needn't have worried however as there was plenty of seating and we had no problem whatsoever in finding somewhere with a good view.

The seats were comfortable and well raised, so even if a really tall person was to sit in front of you, then you would still be able to see all of the show very clearly. The circus cast were already in the ring when we arrived offering face painting or the chance to buy some plate spinners and flashing lights. We were told by the ringmaster that the show would start promptly so if you missed your chance to purchase goods before the show, then there would be a second chance during the interval.

The running time of the show is 2 hours with an interval, so we got comfy with our drinks and snacks and waited for the show to begin. We had no idea what to expect, so my husband and I were just as excited as the kids to see how the story would be interpreted and performed.


The show was a quite a loose retelling of the story, but featured all the main characteristics with an added modern twist. All the pantomime elements that you would expect featured throughout, whilst being cleverly combined with outstanding circus skills. From the very beginning we were fascinated and I loved watching Riley's reaction to some of the acts as they took to the ring.

The performers are all extremely talented and the show features the fabulous clowns Mooky and Mr Boo who did not disappoint. In the first half alone, we were treated to jaw dropping stunts, comedy antics, incredible fast paced dance routines and a stunning and innovative water scene that was simply spectacular.

Riley was mesmerised as we watched Pinocchio's adventures and he laughed continuously throughout the show. Mooky the Clown was marvellous as the little wooden puppet and we felt that the whole production was really clever.


During the interval we purchased some ice cream which was £3 per tub and waited patiently for the show to recommence. The second half brought even more acts of strength, skill and stamina, whilst Riley repeatedly kept saying WOW each time someone performed.

Our highlight though was the 12 Days of Christmas act, which is one of our favourite parts of any pantomime. We always love seeing which props are involved and this rendition was no exception. It was hilarious from start to finish and Riley screamed with excitement when he saw all the water guns!

Overall we absolutely loved Blackpool Tower Circus' version of Pinocchio. It was entertaining from start to finish and also had quite a few heart in mouth moments, when the performers were completing incredible acts high up in the air. We loved how different it was to other pantomimes we have visited and my children thought it was fantastic. There was a great range of variety during the show with some mesmerising performances, which provided a really enjoyable experience. I would happily recommend the Blackpool Tower Circus Pantomime to others and I have no doubt that we will definitely visit again in the future.

Listing Details

Show - Pinocchio
Address - Blackpool Tower, The Promenade, Blackpool, FY1 4BJ
Dates - Pinocchio is being performed on various dates up until the 19th January 2020. You can find out more about dates and show times here.
Website - https://www.theblackpooltower.com/attractions/blackpool-tower-circus/
Tickets - Ticket prices vary depending on age and seating preference, but you can find a full list of ticket prices here.


*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the show. Opinions 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.

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.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Mr Popper's Penguins at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale - A Review

For the past few years, it has become somewhat of a family tradition for us to visit Waterside Arts Centre and enjoy their wonderful Christmas performances. This year has been no exception and last night we attended the press night for the internationally acclaimed Mr Popper's Penguins which will be running at the theatre until the 31st December. My husband and I visited with our six year old son, who is the perfect age to enjoy this magical and heartwarming tale.

Mr Popper's Penguins is a Kenny Wax and TC Beech Production adapted for the stage by Pins and Needles Productions and is based on the much loved childrens book written by Richard and Florence Atwater. It tells the story of painter and decorater Mr Popper, who spends his days dreaming of Antarctic adventures. He is astounded when one day a packing crate arrives on his doorstep - and out of which waddles a penguin...

From the moment the show began, we knew we were in for a treat. The auditorium was filled with excitement as the cast took to the stage and introduced us to Mr and Mrs Popper, who live in the quiet town of Stillwater. When Mr Popper sends a letter to esteemed adventurer Admiral Drake, he receives quite a peculiar response, in the form of a large wooden crate that contains something very special inside.

Image Credit - Jason Lock

My son was so excited to see the Penguin waddle out of the box and for a moment, you could be forgiven for forgetting that there were even puppeteers in control. Riley's focus became drawn to the astounding Captain Cook as he caused all kinds of mischief and mayhem on the stage and he began to laugh at his antics. The movements were so realistic, but also comical, which when accompanied by the penguin squawks provided a great deal of entertainment.

Before long Captain Cook was joined by another penguin named Greta and the two struck up a loving friendship with plenty of fun and frolics. The introduction of eight penguin babies brought even more humour to the stage and we couldn't help but laugh at all their antics. We also loved the show tunes, which showcased the brilliant performance and vocal skills of the cast.

I will add that my son is very sensitive to sadness, so as well as laughing for the most part, he did also shed a few tears when he thought that Mr Popper would need to say bye to the penguins. Luckily this moment of sorrow was quickly replaced with a smile, when he realised that Mr Popper would in fact be joining them on their return to the South Pole. This led to a beautiful boat scene, which was fantastic to view.

Image Credit - Jason Lock

Overall, we absolutely loved this production and it touched every emotion possible during the sixty minute performance. Whilst the show is recommended for children aged 3 to 11, I found that I enjoyed it just as much as my son and feel that this heartwarming story is sure to delight audiences of all ages. The musical numbers were entertaining and were well suited to the thirties era in which the story is set. This action-packed children's musical had us captivated from start to finish and I would absolutely recommend this show to others, for a magical festive treat.


Listing Details

A Kenny Wax & TC Beech Production adapted for the stage by Pins & Needles Productions: Mr Popper's Penguins
Venue - Waterside Arts Centre, Sale,
Dates - Tuesday 26th November to 31st December
Times - Times vary so please see the Waterside website to obtain the most up to date information.
Tickets - £16.50 / £14.50 / £12.50
Schools - £10 (1 free teacher with every 9 students booked)
Duration - 60 minutes with no interval
In the Robert Bolt Theatre


  

*Disclaimer - We were invited to the press night for the purpose of writing an honest review of the production. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.

Monday, 25 November 2019

A Family Visit to Christmas at Dunham Massey 2019 - A Review

On Thursday evening we were invited to the press night of Christmas at Dunham Massey. This was our third year attending and it just gets bigger and better every year. We love this event so much, that it has very quickly become a highlight for the whole family on our festive calendar and never fails to get us into the Christmas spirit.

The magical after-dark illuminated trail is truly spectacular and features the popular favourites that returning guests have come to know and love, such as the Giant Glittering Deer and the Cathedral of Light, in addition to some brand new installations that definitely have that added wow factor.

Our evening began with a welcome reception where we enjoyed some sweet treats and hot beverages in the cafe, before listening to a short welcoming speech about the trail and the huge amount of work involved, which takes place throughout the year. We could hear the Christmas music begin outside and my children couldn't wait to get to the trail and experience Christmas at Dunham Massey 2019.

We made our way to the courtyard and found that there was a new layout to previous years. As you enter through the archway there is a lovely selection of traditional fairground rides, which include a Helter Skelter, Boat Swings, a Carousel and a Merry Go Round. It costs £2.50 per ride if paying on the night, however when you book your tickets online, there is the option to add five rides for a discounted price of £10 when paying in advance.


The food stalls are now located to the right hand side of the courtyard and are placed either side of the walkway. There is a great selection of food and drinks available to buy from the various vendors, which included dirty fries and hot dogs from Diamond Dogs, cypriot cuisine from Cyprus Kouzina, mulled wine and luxury hot chocolate from the Winter Wunderbar and delicious smelling burgers from the Little Heath Farm Shop to name just a few. We also noticed that The Stables restaurant was open selling hot soup and scones, so there is definitely something to suit all tastes and ensure that no one goes home hungry. Prices vary per stall, but the costs seemed reasonable and the food smelt fantastic.

Once you have walked past the food stalls, this then leads the way to the brand new entrance to the start of the trail. This new walkway brings you in facing the magnificent house which is decorated with a festive projection display. I had read in the preview about this and was expecting a few lights going across the front of the building, however I was completely blown away by the highly entertaining display which was absolutely incredible. The quality was amazing and you could see everything really clearly and this immediately created a buzz of excitement amongst the guests.


At the start of the trail there are two giant sized glittering reindeer, along with some large picture frames to help you create the perfect family photo. The reindeer are stunning and have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. They glisten and twinkle beautifully, whilst standing bright and tall and they are the perfect welcome to the one mile long magical walk.

The Heart Walk installation also grabbed our attention as we strolled past a collection of large floating hearts that created all kinds of colours to admire. The cleverly designed artistic hearts, helped us to think about the love that surrounds Christmas and we thought that they were a great addition to the trail.


My son Ben really enjoyed the Firework Trees, which created a beautiful multi-sensory display. The lights would raise up and down whilst sounds would crackle and zoom as they mimicked a firework effect. My children questioned just how long it would have taken to have decorated the trees with so many bulbs and it made us realise how much hard work goes in to creating this mesmerising christmas trail.


The Sea of Light created a breathtaking moment and uses the combination of sound and light to create the most delightful scene. It was so calming and enjoyable just watching the lights flow in waves of colour, that we all found incredible. This feature could be enjoyed from the walkway, or you could take in the full effect by sitting on one of the bright blue benches and enjoy the immersive experience of the Sea of Light travelling towards you.

In addition to the various installations, we loved how trees would just be simply lit with an attractive glow along the way, creating a warm and inviting environment to be in.

 
As you make your way around the trail, there is also the option to toast some marshmallows on the fire pits. My children absolutely love doing this each year and there are always a great range of flavours to choose from. We chose Vanilla, Chocolate Orange and Candy Floss which were all delicious and cost £1.50 each. There was a lovely red glowing trail around the fire pits and Riley and I took a walk around these and through the tunnels, whilst everyone else finished eating their sweet treats.


Of course no Christmas Trail would be complete without an appearance from Santa himself. This isn't a grotto opportunity, but more a brief show that entertains children (and adults), so there is no meet and greet. Personally I prefer this as it means no queues and instead everyone can enjoy the experience. Santa had guests doing a fun warm up, whilst the rabbit told a little tale which everyone seemed to enjoy.


As we continued on our walk we came to the Light Cathedral. This has been one of the stand-out features of previous years and so I was really pleased that it had made a very welcome return. It really looks fantastic in person and my photos don't really do it justice, but there are quite literally thousands of small lights which create a fabulous effect as well as a stunning feature to walk through.


We all absolutely loved the Rings of Fire, which were located in the lake. Light beams filled the air, accompanied by a great selection of music, which was really stunning to watch. I really could have stood there for several hours just watching the spinning snowflakes and fire glow. My youngest son Riley thought that this was amazing and I would absolutely agree.


Overall we had a wonderful time and would absolutely recommend this event to all. The style and creativeness of this magical Christmas trail, really makes it suitable for visitors of all ages. Whilst it is great for families, it is also equally as good for couples, groups of friends or even solo visitors due to its lovely festive atmosphere. The new installations were superb and we particularly enjoyed the projection show on the front of the main house. Christmas at Dunham Massey is a wonderful experience from start to finish and we will definitely be returning again in the future.

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 - Selected dates from 22nd November to 30th December 2019.
Admission - From: Adult £17.50, Child (3-16) £11.00, Family £54.00
Website - For full details and pricing, please visit the Dunham Massey website Christmas at Dunham Massey

*Additional charges apply for vintage rides, food and drink.


*Disclaimer - We were given press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the event. All opinions and photographs are my own, unless stated otherwise. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the events own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.