Hull mum’s top tips on how to visit London with kids on a BUDGET

It was my children’s first ever visit to London – so I was determined to show them all the sights and fit as much in as possible.

But at the forefront of my mind was the cost of visiting the capital. There’s no way of getting away from some of the expense, but by planning ahead, being organised and visiting a lot of free attractions – I was able to visit on a shoestring – here’s how.

Travelling to London

We decided to save the hassle of driving and avoid high parking fees by travelling direct from Hull to London Kings Cross on train.

The best deal I could find was with Hull Trains, by booking in advance. Click here to sign up for cheap tickets alerts. You can book 12 weeks before travel when the deals are released. The cheapest fares usually sell out quickly though.

Oliver and Jasmine Lovell at Kings Cross

Hull Trains also offers 2for1 entry to over 150 London attractions, restaurants, theatres, exhibitions and more, when you travel by train to the capital. Click here for more information about the offer.

The kids loved travelling on the train, we don’t do it often so it was a treat. They had their iPads to keep them amused and I was able to relax with a drink – and before we knew it, we had arrived in the capital!

Accommodation

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Travelodge London Central Kings Cross

I would highly recommend staying at Kings Cross so you don’t need to cart your suitcases on the underground.

We stayed at the Travelodge London Central Kings Cross on Grays Inn Rd – which was only a five or six minute walk from the station.

We were able to drop our bags as soon as we arrived in London, and on the day we left we were able to leave them in the hotel and didn’t have to go right out of our way to collect them as we were travelling home from Kings Cross anyway.

The hotel was perfect for us. There’s family rooms which are spacious and comofortbale. Although the hotel is on a main road it was very quiet inside. The staff were welcoming and friendly and it was a really good base.

The Travelodge was the best value hotel I could find because you can get rooms for as little as £49 per night in London (£29 per night in all other cities.)

Top tips for getting a £49 room:

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1) The best value rooms are snapped up early. Rooms can be booked up to 325 days in advance, so the earlier you book, the more likely you’ll get a £49 room.

2) Book direct on the Travelodge website

3) Stay midweek. £49 rooms tend to be available Sunday to Thursday. You can find some £49 rooms on Friday and Saturday nights, they’re very popular and tend to get booked quickly, so remember to book early.

4) Sign up to the Travelodge newsletter to be the first to receive great value offers and seasonal promotions.

At the Travelodge I was also given a map of London which had 20 per cent off vouchers for loads of restaurants and attractions.

Getting around London

Kids go free on the London Underground so we used the tube to get about. There is no need to buy tickets anymore. Simply scan your debit card at the barriers when you enter and leave the stations to pay contactless. This saves time and money and is just so easy.

I also downloaded the Tube Map app before I set off and so instead of having to work out the quickest route, you simply put the station you’re travelling from and the station you’re travelling to and it gives you the exact route to take.

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I also took the kids scooters to get about. According to my iPhone we were averaging 16,000 steps per day and that would be a lot for my seven and five-year-olds to walk.

Taking the scooters were a godsend. It was a bit of a hassle holding them on the tube station escalators, but totally worth it for the miles of scooting they did, which prevented them from walking.

Free places to visit

The best thing about London is the amount of free places there are to vist, here’s just a few of them…

Buckingham Palace

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High up on my list was watching the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and I’m so glad we did because the kids thought it was brilliant. This every-other day event is the ceremony where The Queen’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the New Guard.

Most people head for Buckingham Palace to see Changing the Guard, but the ceremony actually takes place between three locations – Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks.

We got the tube to Green Park and strolled through the park towards the palace. It’s a must-visit place, even if you don’t got at 11am for the ceremony.

If you want the best view you will need to get there before 9.30am to stand up against the railings to see the the old and new guards present arms before the Captains of the Guard ceremoniously hand over the Palace keys.

However, the guards do march along the streets, followed by the military band, so there are many vantage points if you get there later.

Click here for more changing of the guards information, dates and times.

Big Ben

From Buckingham Palace you can walk along Birdcage Walk to see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside this tower, but nowadays, the entire tower is commonly referred to as Big Ben. Although it is is undergoing restoration work at the moment it’s still a landmark worth pointing out to the kids.

Jubilee Gardens

From Big Ben you can walk across Westminster Bridge over the River Thames and take a stroll along the South Bank, and you will eventually find Jubilee Gardens. This is a free playground in the shadow of the London Eye.

Don’t get caught out by the three cup and ball con artists working on this bridge. They are good to watch, but do not place a bet because no one ever wins.

St. James’s Park

This is a beautiful and picturesque royal park and a good spot for a picnic. You can also see the pelicans being fresh fish between 2:30pm and 3pm every day, next to Duck Island Cottage.

Museums

There are a number of London museums which are free to enter. Kids will love the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.

Covent Garden

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Oliver Lovell with a street entertainer at Covent Garden

The kids will love watching the street entertainers at Covent Garden where you can sit on the pavement or stand to watch.

Hyde Park

The Hyde Park lido is a fabulous place to take children on a warm day. There is a sun bathing and picnic area near the lido itself and a separate children’s area with a paddling pool, sand pit, climbing frame and bouncy toys. The lido is £1 per child, children under the age of three are free.

Also in Hyde Park is the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain where children can paddle.

Hamleys Toy Shop

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Hamleys Toy Shop

This is Britain’s most famous toy shop and well worth a visit. Kids can play with toys and meet charactars.

Coram’s Fields, Bloomsbury

Coram’s Field is a seven acre, open access playground in the heart of London. There’s grassy areas,several climbing frames, sand boxes with climbing apparatus, swings, animals in pens, sports fields and an adventure playground for older children. In the middle of the park is an enormous paddling pool for hot summer days.

The Sky Garden

This is London’s highest public garden. It’s free to enter, but a ticket to visit must be booked online well in advance. There are only a limited number of tickets available per day. It gives fabulous views across London. Click here to book.

Other must-visit attractions

A West End Show

Oliver and Jasmine at the Prince Edward Theatre
Oliver and Jasmine Lovell at the Prince Edward Theatre

I honestly don’t think any visit to London is complete without going to see a show in the West End. There’s no budget option for this, but if you can afford it, taking the kids to see a show will be a magical and unforgettable experience.

We went to see Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre. I’d kept it a surprise from the kids as a special treat. We got the tube to Leicester Square and as soon as we walked around the corner on Old Compton Street the kids saw the huge lit up Aladdin sign and asked if we could go and see it. It was such a lovely moment when I was able to tell them we had tickets.

Seeing their faces whilst watching the singing and dancing was a moment I won’t forget. The genie was absolutely hilarious, the costumes were amazing and the magic carpet scene was simply magical. Both my children thought the carpet really was flying itself.
We sat in the dress circle and had amazing seats and the bar gave us access to the balcony overlooking the street which was a lovely place to enjoy the interval.

Kidzania

Oliver Lovell playing shopkeeper at KidZania
Fun at Kidzania

This was one of the best days out we’ve had in ages, the kids absolutely loved it at Kidzania. It’s basically an indoor town run by kids – so they can become dentists, vets, chocolate makers, mechanics, shop-keepers, dancers, theatre performers, police, firemen – to name a few.

It’s designed for children aged 4 to 14 and kids can choose from 60 real-life activities and test their skills in a variety of professions.

Only children are allowed in each activity base, so they become independent in choosing what to do and play with other children and parents can watch from outside. There’s adult helpers in each one.

Kids are even given Kidzania money and can earn a salary after doing each job. At the end they can use this money to spend in the gift shop!

My five-year-old daughter loved playing nurse in the special care baby unit and my son loved being a pilot for British Airways. Click here to book tickets.

The Coca Cola London Eye

Oliver and Jasmine at the Coca Cola London Eye
The London Eye is a must

This is a must-do attraction. Not only do you get amazing panoramic views of central London, but it’s also a ride too!
At 135m, Coca-Cola London Eye is the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel. It’s easy to see why it has become the UK’s most popular paid for visitor attraction.
The kids were amazed to see the Eye from a distance, and then actually go on it, to the top! It stands on the South bank of the River Thames and from it you can see most of London’s landmarks.
In easy view is the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Shard, Buckingham Palace, The Tower and The Tower Bridge, St.Paul’s Cathedral, London parks and gardens and so much more.

It’s actually a good idea to go on the Eye on your first day so you can point out the landmarks to the kids and then go and visit them on foot.

Included in the price of your ticket is the 4D cinema, don’t forget to do this, and it’s better if you watch it before you go on the Eye as it gives the kids a good idea of what they will see whilst on the Eye.

Book online here and save 10 per cent, prices from £22.95. I’d recommend getting the fast-track tickets as queues can get really long at peak times.

Planet Hollywood

Oliver and Jasmine at Planet Hollywood

I remember going to Planet Hollywood as a child, so I was keen to take my children back. It’s moved location, but is on the same street on Haymarket.

The Hollywood-inspired American restaurant with cinema memorabilia is a really good fun restuarant. The burgers are epic and the atmosphere is brilliant.

The menu is varied with everything from ribs, fajitas and singapore noodles to salads, pizzas and meatballs. The quality was very high and there’s also a good kids menu.

You can also get your kids names on the big screen if you request it in advance.

Currently Planet Hollywood is giving diners a free child’s ticket to Shrek’s Adventure. Two children can go free with one paying adult.

I’d recommend getting off the tube at Trafalgar Square and watching the street entertainers before making your way to the restaurant.

Click here for Planet Hollywood promotions.

The London Transport Museum

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Kids can “drive” the buses at the London Transport museum

Kids go free at the London Transport Museum. My kids enjoyed sitting in the drivers seat on a red London bus and it was really interesting to see how the tubes have evolved over the years.

The kids were also given a stamp trail to follow and really enjoyed finding all the stamps.

You need to stay for at least two nights the first time you take the kids to London – although the longer you can go for the better. However, one thing I’ve learned is that it’s impossible to fit everything you want to do in on one visit!

 

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Let Loose, Beverley: Times and prices

When your four children are aged between five and 11 it gets increasingly difficult to find a day out to suit them all.

But whatever the age of your children, there is something for everyone – including adults – at Let Loose in Beverley.

Let Loose is an adventure park with indoor and outdoor play. Obviously it’s still new so it’s all modern play equipment.


Babies and toddlers will love the soft play and sand and water play area, younger children will enjoy the low ropes and climbing wall and older children and teenagers will most enjoy the high ropes, zip wire, archery and driving the tanks.

Park entry includes access to the outdoor adventure playground, indoor baby/toddler soft play and indoor inflatable assault course. You can then pay additional fees for extra activities of your choice. You can stay all day.

Prices at Let Loose

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To get into Let Loose, children aged a year and under go free.

  • Children aged 2-4: £5
  • Children aged 5-17: £7
  • Adults: £3
  • Seniors: £2.

Activities are extra.

Due to the fact there’s a lot of different things to do across all ages and height restrictions, the prices can seem confusing. There’s no “one price fits all” scenario.

There are online prices, add-ons, upgrades and downgrades (if someone has booked online and realise they are too small or too scared) and combo offers.

One member of staff told me the best way to do it is to pay for park entry, have a look around at what there is to decide what activities to do, and then if you want to do anything you can “upgrade” and the price of entry will be knocked off the activity price. For example, if you pay £7 to get in, then your child wants to try the low ropes which are £15, you would pay another £8.

The activities at Let Loose

High Ropes, ages 10+, must be 1.4m tall £25

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These are the first things you notice as you arrive. As the name suggests, they’re high, and there’s 22 challenges to complete and sessions last an hour and half. The course runs outdoor and indoor.

First you’re given a safety briefing, then you’re shown how to use the safety rail system, and then you’re off. My 11-year-old absolutely loved this.

You can pay for high ropes and get unlimited drop and slide included for free.

If you wish to add Climbing Wall, Big Leap and Super Slide or Zip Wires to your High or Low Ropes or Archery Booking, it’s just £5 each activity when booked onsite.

Low ropes, age 7+ (or age 5+ with an adult) £15

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This is indoor. I did this with my five, seven and nine year olds. My nine-year-old was off like a pro and my seven-year-old got stuck a couple of times. My five-year-old was quite nervous, but Kieran the instructor soon noticed and came to help. She wanted to turn back but with his help every step of the way she managed to complete the course.

Pay for low ropes and get unlimited drop and slide included.

Unlimited Big Leap and super slide £10

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If doing the high or low ropes you get unlimited slide and leap included and there’s no need to book a time slot. Whizz down the slide onto a crash mat and leap off a platform as many times as you dare!

Climbing wall – age 5+ £7.50

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There’s both indoor and outdoor climbing walls. The instructors belay participants and sessions last half an hour.

Zip wire £10

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There are three giant zip wires now in action, and at 150m they are thought to be the longest in the region. Participants climb to the top of the tire and launch themselves over the car park and end up in the field opposite. Participants are given two goes.

Archery – ages 7+ 1.5 hour session: Ages 7-15 £10, age 16+ £15

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The outdoor target range gives children a chance to get real hands-on training and guidance. My three children were put in a group with two other boys.

They’re taught to use bows and arrows to match their strength, size and age.

Tank Heroes

We didn’t get to try the Tank Heroes as they’re not available every day. Check website for operating days.

No Picnics

Let Loose does have a strict policy on picnics. They’re not allowed. I can see why this would put many families off visiting. By taking a picnic it does allow families to keep the cost down.

We take a picnic on all our days out. However, when you go to other places and see how people leave their rubbish for staff to clear up, you can see why the owners decided to operate this policy.

To avoid spending more in the café, I did see a few people going and having a picnic in their car, then re-entering the park once they had finished!

Café

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We ate in the café, which does have a wide selection of food. I got my two children the sandwich box which has a sandwich, crisps, muffin and a drink for £4.50. I had a jacket potato with tuna for £3.80.

What the kids said

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We did a lot of activities so it’s no surprise my children have not stopped talking about our visit. Lewis, 11 said his favourite activity was the high ropes, Emily, 9 preferred the zip wire, Oliver, 7 loved the archery and Jasmine, 5 enjoyed the climbing wall the most.

Worth a visit?

Let Loose is definitely worth a visit. Even if you don’t do any activities, on a nice day you can spend a few hours there, however there’s no doubt kids will want to try at least one activity while there.

All the staff are unbelievably friendly and encouraging too which makes a real difference.

Need to know

We booked our ropes sessions for 10am when the park opened and it was perfect as it was really quiet. My son was the only one on the high ropes so had the entire course to himself! It got busier as the day went on and then quietened off at around 4pm.

Kids can have their birthday parties at Let Loose. Parking is free. Sensible footwear is required!

Find Let Loose on Hull Rd, Woodmansey, Beverley HU17 0RS – it’s near Coletta and Tyson.

 

Alpamare waterpark Scarborough

Alpamare Scarborough is one of those places you can enjoy whatever the weather. On a hot day it’s gorgeous being in the outside pools in the sun, but it’s equally as amazing when it’s freezing and you’re outside in a pool heated to 35 degrees!

You can even swim into the main outdoor pool from the inside, so you don’t have to make a mad run for it in your costume the freezing cold!

William’s Den

Prices are based on a four-hour slot, but look out for special offers in quieter months where you can pay for four hours and stay all day.

What’s it like at Alpamare Scarborough?

Firstly, you’ll be given a wristband to wear on arrival. It’s also used to open and lock your locker and make cash-less payments in the restaurant, therefore you don’t need to worry about locker money. You then settle your bill before leaving.

The slides

For many, the main attractions at Alpamare Scarborough are the slides and there’s four to choose from. The rides reflect the alpine theme, with each water ride recreating the thrills of winter sports.

Each ride is rated according to skiing equivalents, from family-friendly blue runs to daring black runs Although they all go outside, you get on them from the inside and they all finish on the inside.

Olympic Run (The green one)

This one is my favourite. You take a double inflatable up to the top and ride it together. It’s one of the UK’s longest runs at 116.2m so you do get a long ride. It’s fast but there are no sudden drops or steep parts.

The Olympic Run is rated the ski slope equivalent of a blue run and children need to be aged six or over to have a go.

Cresta Run (The pink one)

This ride is based on the world-famous death-defying Cresta run in St Moritz.

It is a mat racer ride where you have to ride it on your front, on your own, holding onto the handles which are inbuilt into the mat. I really enjoyed this one as it was fairly gentle but fast, but I prefer the ones where you go on with others.

The Cresta Run has a ski slope equivalent of a black run, and shares an 11m drop with the Black Run. Children need to be aged six and over to have a go on this one, but I decided it was too fast for my six year old.

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Snow storm (The blue one)

Here you grab a four man boat and take it up the stairs – but be warned, it’s very heavy to carry.

It’s a gravity-defying ride created by a sudden, heart-bursting drop of 14.2m – the height of over three double-decker buses. I admit, I wasn’t expecting that and did scream at this point. It’s really good fun on this ride with three other people for company.

Black Run (The purple one)

I wasn’t sure if I could do this one because, as the name suggests, it’s dark so you don’t really know what you’re letting yourself in for when you set off.

However, my 11 year-old nephew dared me to go on, so I did! It’s the steepest and fastest ride with an 11 meter plunge.

I was pleasantly surprised though, because although you can’t see a lot, there are no harsh sudden drops and it’s over within a few seconds!

Indoors

Inside, as well as the access to the slides, there’s a giant wave pool and a splash and play area, plus sunbeds to relax on, and the restuarant.

Wave pool

The 480sqm wave pool sees the waves come on intermittently. My children, along with their cousins, aged 4 to 11 all loved riding the huge waves. This pool is good for children and adults of all ages.

Splash and play area

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The splash area

This is a large area where there’s toddler slides, and water play. It’s designed for the younger children who are too small for the slides, but even my 11 year old nephew had fun in this area squirting water at his cousins and waiting for the huge barrel of water at the top to fill up before standing underneath it to get drenched.

The restaurant

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Inside the restuarant

There’s a good choice of fresh and healthy choices including pasta, pizza and salad. For the kids there’s hot dogs, chicken nuggets and lunch boxes. The pizzas are delicious. You can eat here in your costumes but you can’t take your own food.

Alpamare is licenced and the beer is on tap for you to pour yourself. There’s also ice creams and puddings.

Outside

The Garden pool

This is the one you can swim to from the inside. It’s heated to 35 degrees and has bubbles and whirlpool recliners.

It’s a pool for all ages where you can swim, splash, jump and have fun. The kids loved this pool because you’re allowed to drink your drinks in it.

I’ve been asked if we were cold! The answer is no! It’s like a giant hot tub and really quite amazing to swim outdoors when it’s freezing cold in the air.

The Infinity pool

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This is outside next to the garden pool, and also heated to 35 degrees. You have to go outside to get into it, but you can jump out of the garden pool and be in the infinity pool in seconds.

It’s filled with a magic green coloured healing iodine water, which has special therapeutic properties, apparently giving noticeable results after 15 minutes.

Thorpe Park caravan park, Cleethorpes 

It is the perfect place to take in the views of the bay. Children are allowed in this pool, but it does have a more ‘adult’ feel to it and has always been calmer than the main pool when we’ve visited.

There’s sun loungers outside for warmer days and landscaped gardens to walk through too.

Are my children old enough?

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The splash area at Alpamare Scarborough

Children aged five and under get in for free and this is probably because children have to be six years old to ride the slides.

However they can enjoy the main indoor wave pool, the two pools outside and the splash and play area – so there’s still plenty for them to do.

Children aged six and over can go on the Cresta Run and the Olympic run slides and they need to be eight or over to go on the Black Run and Snowstorm.

Rooftop spa at Rudding Park

How much does it cost?

It costs £20 for adults, £16 for children (aged six to 15) and children under five years old go free. A family of four costs £64. You can get in for free on your birthday if you go with three paying guests. It’s valid for seven days before and seven days after your actual birthday.

Overall rating?

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Beer tap at Alpamare Scarborough

I love this place. It’s very clean for a swimming centre, it’s never cold inside. OK so it’s not cheap, but show me a day out that is.

We had a lot of fun, there’s nothing else like it locally and if you’ve got an under five it’s amazing value.

My only grumble is that you have to pay £4.50 for parking.

Also, if you could send the four man craft up an elevator so you didn’t have to carry it up endless flights of stairs, that would be a big help!!

Need to know

Alpamare Scarborough, Burniston Rd, Scarborough YO12 6PH is about a 90 minute drive from Hull. It is open . There’s a pay and display car park.

Why the Royal London Lancaster Hotel needs to be on your list for 2018

There can’t be many hotels in London which guarantee a “far-reaching” view across the capital from every bedroom, but at The Royal London Lancaster that comes as standard.

Due to the fact there aren’t any guest rooms or suites lower than the first floor, and with its perfect central location overlooking Hyde Park, the bedroom views are spectacular.

The 18-storey hotel, which opened as one of the most chic hotels in London in 1967, reopened 50 years later, last November, following a massive £80m renovation to once again be one of the most stylish hotels in the capital.

Rooms with a view

2. Park Suite View - Royal Lancaster London

All 411 charming rooms and suites have been renovated and there are different types to suit all needs, from the classic double room at £219 per night to suites with their own living and dining areas.

Every room has bath robes, slippers, The White Company toiletries, waterfall showers and underfloor heating in the bathrooms.

We got the chance to look around the hotel and I was amazed by the views, and how quite it is once in your room, looking out over a busy, noisy capital city.

Stylish and finest Hyde Park hotel

Royal Lancaster London - Exterior

As soon as you step into the opulent lobby you know you’ve entered somewhere a little bit special. The showpiece is a palatial sweeping staircase, made of white Carrara marble, which wraps around to the first floor.

The hotel was built in the swinging Sixties so, externally – apart from its new stunning entrance façade – the hotel remains a Sixties tower block.

But that retro feel has somehow been captured inside in style with luxury golds and sumptuous browns.

Every part of the renovation has been thoroughly thought out. Even the carpets with their subtle Sixties design.

Our room, on the fifth floor had extensive views out over the city in all its glory. At night we didn’t want to close our blinds because it was such an amazing sight.

I was really impressed to find a “handy phone” in our room, which guests can take out into London with them and enjoy free calls.

Spoilt for choice with food

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There are three options for dining, including The Park Restaurant, Island Grill or Nipa Thai. Knowing the hotel’s owner is Thai, it felt an obvious choice to try authentic cuisine.

The restaurant has an all-female kitchen team to keep in tune with Thai dining tradition and provides a sophisticated Thai ambience. The welcome was warm and the menu is extensive.

The staff were kind and attentive and open to making little changes to take your meal from delicious, to perfection.

The place to be seen

Hyde Lobby Bar at Royal Lancaster London 1

One of my favourite areas of the hotel is the elegant Hyde Lobby Bar, which serves cocktails, coffee and light cuisine throughout the day.

The cocktail menu has been meticulously created and includes signature cocktails to reflect the hotel. The Italian Job cocktail is made with Beefeater 24 gin, Martini Rosso, Campari and Aperol and is a salute to the original 1968 Italian Job film, which included scenes filmed in front of the hotel.

For a touch of extra indulgence, the hotel has created its own aromatic Royal Lancaster gin, which is served in the bar’s speciality gin martini.

As we relaxed with our delicious nibbles and tasty gins we felt a world away from the buzzing reception area we overlooked. It definitely feels like a prime spot to “see and be seen” in London and is worth a visit even if you aren’t staying at the hotel.

Breakfast in bed

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The next morning our breakfast was wheeled into our room on a lovely round table, allowing us to eat casually in our robes, overlooking Hyde Park. It really doesn’t get much better.

If you’re looking for somewhere special, this hotel should be on your list of places to visit in 2018.

The Royal London Lancaster Hotel is located right next to the Lancaster Gate tube station.

Visit the website here for more information and to book.

Rudding Park rooftop spa garden is possibly the UK’s best new place to relax

You can even have your very own bath butler serving you prosecco and strawberries during your treatment

This could just possibly be the best spa I’ve ever been to – and I’ve visited more than my fair share over the years.

There is so much to tell you about this lavish spa which has been in the making for ten years and cost a mind-blowing £9.5m to create.

If the price tag doesn’t give you an idea of how palatial the spa at the highly regarded privately-owned Rudding Park Hotel is, let me try and set the scene….

As my best friend and I lazed in the sun on the rooftop spa garden beside the spa bath, while being served prosecco direct to our light-up loungers, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

We were in Harrogate, north Yorkshire, but felt a world away in sheer luxury in the newly opened, world-class spa.

Spread across three floors you will get lost (several times) as you wander around the different areas of this spa, yet you can’t escape the luxury.

Why Strictly fans will love this day out 

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The rooftop spa garden at the Rudding Park Hotel

The rooftop spa garden

Allow me to start with the unique area which truly sets this spa apart from any other I’ve been to. The rooftop spa garden is an absolute haven of peace and tranquility.

It’s a UK first and features an stunning indoor-outdoor infinity pool (which means you can swim into it from the inside), several steam rooms and saunas, panoramic experience showers and a relaxing foot spa to enhance the spa journey.

Scattered with sun loungers and chic white sofas, the garden is a gorgeous place to relax, especially when the sun is shining.

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Joanna Lovell in the spa bath on the rooftop spa garden at Rudding Park Hotel

The area was designed by horticulturist Matthew Wilson, who won the People’s Choice award for his 2016 Chelsea Flower Show offering.

Outside the herbal spa bath and cabin sauna complete the experience and drinks will be served even if you’re in the water.

Its owners really have created a world-class experience which is a destination in its own right which has an edge over anywhere else I’ve been to.

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I loved the atmospheric “experience” showers, where at the push of a button you can choose between “Caribbean rain” or a North Sea squall, with appropriate birdsong, lighting, and water temperature to match.

Step outside of these wonderful showers and you can sit and gaze outside as you enjoy a relaxing foot spa, alternating between hot and cold water to improve circulation.

The spa

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A relaxation area at Rudding Park Hotel

From the exterior, it’s obvious that the spa is a much newer building compared to the rest of the hotel. It’s floor to ceiling glass windows make it look like a creation from Grand Designs.

The theme of the spa is to reflect the beauty of Rudding Park’s natural surroundings, bringing the outdoors inside. This is why the spa is so light, airy and incredibly spacious.

As you might expect there’s a beautiful indoor pool where you can take a dip or simply laze the day away besides. It opens onto a courtyard with outdoor loungers too.

The Juniper Log Sauna also provides calming views through a glass-fronted wall, while the the herbal bath steam room uses freshly-picked rosemary to add to scents of lavender and menthol.

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The Rudding Park Hotel

There’s a circular luxury steam room with a mosaic dome and comfy seats. There are also four mind and sense zones which are relaxation areas with a twist. You can nod off in the dark sleep zone under a starlit sky, or try the audio room with personal headsets to listen to music or meditation.

For the mind, a ‘literary wall’ offers books on art, well-being and even mandala colouring-in therapy. The visual zone projects images of lapping waves, wildflower meadows and majestic mountains on the ‘video mood wall’.

You also must try the Rasul room. Here you rub thick mud all over your body before washing it off and applying a salt scrub, leaving you feeling baby-soft.

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The indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy pool at the Rudding Park Hotel

Treatments

There’s 11 treatment rooms, including a couple’s room where partners can enjoy a glass of champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries in a bubble-jet copper bath, waited on by their own personal bath butler.

If that doesn’t get the tastebuds going, nothing will!

As you would expect there are a number and variety of treatments to choose from including signature treatments, facials, massages, pregnancy treatments, treatments for two, sports rehabilitation and beauty treatments.

I opted for the Flow Wellbeing massage which is designed to release any resistance or stress in the body. I was massaged from head to toe and the experience was completed with a facial.

My therapist was incredibly professional and made me feel very at ease. It was a truly amazing 50 minutes I never wanted to end.

The hotel bedrooms

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Rudding Park Hotel is one of the most highly regarded hotels in the UK, which offers luxury accommodation in a Grade-I listed regency house.

Despite the hotel being a traditional country house, the hotel interior is contemporary with high-spec furnishings.

All rooms have a 40 inch flat screen tv, a media hub, free wifi and Molton Brown toiletries. There are also eight luxury self catering lodges in the grounds.

Our ground-floor room, with its own private terrace, was complete with whirlpool bath big enough for two, or three, and a walk-in rain shower.

Next to our beds I found a pillow menu and a little card informing me of the weather forecast for the next day.

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The bath in our room at the Rudding Pak Hotel

The restaurants

Horto

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We also had the pleasure of dining in the new Horto restuarant which opened in May at around the same time as the spa.

The three AA Rosettes eatery uses seasonal ingredients from the hotel’s kitchen garden, offering à la carte dining, plus seven and eight-course tasting menus with a twist – diners are encouraged to eat each dish without seeing the menu first.

I’m not a fussy eater so I went with the “don’t look” concept and realised eating blind is something I’ve never done before, but an experience I’d recommend and like to try again.

Will my kids like the new £3m adventure park William’s Den?

The menu is ever changing, but on our visit it included Whitby crab, Yorkshire Grouse, North Sea Hallibut, Shetland Scallops, a garden carrot salad a onion tart with halzenut.

I opted for the accompanying wine flight and each glass was perfectly explained to me before it was poured.

Whilst I enjoyed the experience and could not fault the food, I could not help thinking the setting wasn’t quite right.

For a fine dining experience like this I want white table cloths and a feel of luxury. Instead this restaurant (as lovely as it is) is accessed via the spa.

The Clocktower

This is the main restaurant in the hotel where you will find modern British food with a relaxed ambience.

Guests can dine in the restaurant with its striking pink glass chandelier, or the bright and airy conservatory alongside the 400 year-old olive tree.

Here you can choose from a set menu or dine a la carte. Dishes include everything from burgers, steaks and monfish to lamp chops and fish and chips.

Our break was perfectly finished in here with a delicious breakfast, before we had to return to reality.

Perfect for…

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A romantic mini-break, special occassions, a girlie weekend or a stylish hen do.

Need to know

Where: Rudding Park is located near the former spa town of Harrogate. It’s a 13-minute drive from the station. Use postcode HG3 1JH.

Prices: The sleeping Beauty spa break including dinner, bed and breakfast, access to the spa and a 50 minute treatment each costs £177 per person.

Call: 01423 871350

Visit: http://www.ruddingpark.co.uk

 

Will my kids enjoy the new £3m adventure park William’s Den?

If you take the kids to the new William’s Den you must remember to take them a change of clothes and a towel!

Whatever the weather, kids are drawn to the rainmaker shower in the indoor area like a moth to a flame and can’t help but get drenched!

The new £3m adventure park – which is designed to give kids an open space to climb trees, paddle, build dens and explore with their friends – opened in North Cave in early July.

And with sandpits, little rivers and water play there’s no way kids can escape a visit without getting wet and dirty!

I took my six and four-year-old children with my eight and ten-year-old niece and nephew to try it out.

READ MORE: Why a Haven family holiday is the easiest break you will take

We chose a hot day during the summer holidays and I must admit it was packed. It’s new so that’s to be expected. It started to ease off at about 4pm and I found it much better once it got quieter!

It’s best to book online because it’s reached capacity a few times and they do turn people away once it’s full.

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Oliver and Jasmine enjoy the outdoor water and sand play

Indoor play

The Den is a 475 square meter indoor play barn and is a world away from the usual soft play centres you may have found yourselves in over the years.

From the Tree House to the Forest Glade and the Eagles Nest, The Den is is made of wood and full of sand, water, nets, bridges, and there’s even a pole to slide down.

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Oliver and Lewis play indoors

There’s plenty to keep children amused in here and adults can watch from seats around the edges. If they want a rest there’s even a hideout relax zone. It just looks nicer and has an overall more natural feel to it than a typical indoor play area.

Outdoor adventure play

Outside you will find find a huge sandpit (we took our own buckets and spades), where my kids spent ages pumping water, digging in the sand and splashing in the little river.

The rest of the outdoors, which is surrounded by beautiful countryside is comparable to a huge park. My daughter loved crawling through tunnels in the mole hills and climbing on slabs of stone. There’s also a long zip wire, nets and a huge spiders web.

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Jasmine on the zip wire

There’s also plenty of large sticks to make a den with. There was a bit of push and shoving between two groups of children during our visit, but I’m pleased to say there were staff on hand to sort their disagreements out!

There’s also a dedicated toddler area called the Fort Yard which has little ride ons for them to enjoy.

READ MORE: What National Holidays coach trips with two kids are like

The entire place has a free-range and natural feel about it and it also feels safe for children to explore – although adult supervision is mandatory. If you kids like climbing, splashing, running, digging, getting stuck in and building, they will enjoy this place.

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Lewis and Emily climb to the top

The facilities

The Kitchen Table restaurant – which you can visit without paying to get into the actual attraction – does a range of food, including pizzas made by the chefs in wood fired ovens as you wait, and watch! There’s also the Snack Box for buns and cakes and an ice cream counter.

For the parents it’s licenced too, so you can enjoy a glass of wine whilst the kids play nicely (that’s the dream anyway!)

The owners have no problem with you taking your own food in, so you can enjoy a picnic on the benches there or on the grass, you just can’t eat your own inside.

The toilets are clean and spacious and there’s even double cubicles for you and your little one. There’s baby changing facilities and the kids soap is brightly coloured which encourages them to actually touch it!

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Emily with a den she helped build

It’s a place you can visit whatever the weather. I can imagine us going on colder days with wellies. Of the four to ten year old children I visited with, I’d say the younger three got the most of out it. My ten-year-old nephew did enjoy it but there might not be enough to entice him to keep going back.

That said, there’s plenty of land around it, so I’ll be interested to see what, if anything else is added to make it even better over the years.

A few people I know have already bought a season pass which is great if you live locally. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Hull city centre, but it’s open late nights on a Thursday and Friday so even if you pop after school you will soon get your money’s worth.

Parking is free and they also do birthday parties for groups of ten children or more. So, is it worth the money? It’s £35 for a family of four. It’s not bad, but personally I prefer if they charge more for a child and less for an adult. £8 for an adult isn’t cheap.

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Emily relaxes at William’s Den
  • Reviewed August 2017

NEED TO KNOW:

WHERE: Wold Hill, North Cave, HU15 2LS
PRICES:Adult £8, Child £9.50, Under 3’s £3, Concession £6. There is no charge for babies under the age of 12 months. If booked online a 10 per cent discount is applied.

VISIT: http://www.williamsden.co.uk

Devon Cliffs holiday park with Haven – the easiest family holiday you will take

Waking up to the view of the waves crashing into the beach from the comfort of my bed made me realise the long drive to the south coast had been utterly worth it.

This year we chose Exmouth in Devon for our family staycation, where we arrived to sunshine after leaving behind a rainy Hull.

Whilst Sandy Bay would make a dreamy picture-postcard setting for a relaxing lazy holiday, we were actually there for an “all-action” holiday with the kids.

We were staying at the Devon Cliffs Holiday Park – one of the region’s finest all-action resorts. And with such stunning views, it was hard believe it was a caravan site we were staying on.

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The view of Sandy Bay from Devon Cliffs holiday park

Haven Holidays

As a family we love our static caravan holidays and find Haven holiday parks by far the best. As soon as you drive in you instantly get that holiday feeling.

Haven has everything covered. The breaks are all about spending quality time with your family, which is exactly what we did, making memories.

I’ve stayed on numerous caravan parks up and down the country with various companies, but none seem to do it as well as Haven Holidays.

Whether you want to camp or take your own caravan, or stay in a static home, Haven have something for everyone. There are 36 parks in seaside locations around the UK to choose from and they’re all rated so you can choose from a quiet secluded site to an all-action adventure park and everything in-between.

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#myhavendays

The best thing about Haven is that there’s plenty included in your break too so you don’t have to spend a fortune searching for activities to keep the kids amused. Everything is on your doorstep, available on site.

On arrival you will be given a welcome park complete with park map and a what’s on guide which outlines everything which is going on during your stay. It couldn’t be easier.

Access to the pools is included so you can swim as many times as you like, and at Devon cliffs the indoor pool has three slides and a designated toddler play area and there’s also two outdoor pools newly refurbished for 2017.

Being in the outdoor pools in the sunshine was like being abroad – without the stress of airports and delayed flights. The kids loved splashing around and the adults even got a bit of time to laze on the sun loungers.

 

All the Haven parks have Nature Rockz activities, which aim to teach survival skills. These include shelter building, bug hunting, bird food making, fire lighting and building bird boxes and are all included free of charge.

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The pools at Haven’s Devon Cliffs holiday park

There are some really great shows including wrestling, the pantomime and creepy crawly shows which are all free.

There’s also dedicated theatre company performers who get the kids involved and host the entertainment with everything from tots discos to karaoke, bingo, game shows and later in the evening there’s live music, bands, artists and comedians.

Activities

If you still want more after paddling in the sea, building sandcastles, skimming stones, kite flying, playing in the amusements and taking part in all the free activities and entertainment, there’s also plenty of paid-for activities you can choose from.

The highlight at Devon Cliffs is the aerial adventure course – an incredible rope course high up in the treetops.

My six-year-old son loved the climbing wall and my ten-year-old nephew loved taking part in the aqua jets class in the indoor pool.

 

All four children enjoyed the inflatable pool party and there’s also everything from fencing, archery and segways to football, target shooting and adventure golf.

All ages are catered for and many activities have different sessions for each age group. As all parents know, if the kids are happy, we are happy.

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The inflatable pool party and climbing wall at Devon Cliffs holiday park

Devon cliffs is also one of only a few Haven sites in the UK that can offer watersports training and hire. From its Beach Club you can learn to windsurf, paddle board, kayak or body board in the sea.

I recommend buying an activity bundle before you go and using the Haven app to pre-book your activities. You can do this seven days in advance of check in. That way you can have a bit of an itinerary and also, you may find if you leave it until you arrive that all the activities, especially the free ones, are all fully booked.

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The beach at the Devon Cliffs holiday park

The caravan site

Devon cliffs is by far the best Haven park we’ve been to and it’s easy to see why it’s award winning. There’s round-the-clock entertainment, plenty of activities, the pools are brilliant and the location is superb.

A particular highlight this park has to offer is the dining experience you’ll get at the South Beach Café, which offers a stunning view from its location high atop the cliffs.

With fresh ingredients and produce delivered straight from local suppliers, it’s not average pub-grub you might expect from a caravan park eatery. We ate there on our last night and the meal was superb, comparable to any top restuarant.

And with it being on the park, you can enjoy a drink or three and walk or stumble back to your caravan at your leisure without the need to move the car. Everything is on your doorstep.

The caravans

There’s a wide range of choice of caravan to suit every budget at each park in the UK. We stayed in a three-bedroom “platinum” caravan which can sleep up to eight people.

The caravan was superb and luxurious. The cozy, roomy lounge with sofa and two chairs was seperate to the kitchen and dining area and there was plenty of room for myself, my parents, my two children and my niece and nephew.

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Our caravan lounge – look through the windows and you can see the sea and the bay in the background!

The location was perfect, we had private parking and our balcony overlooked the sea giving us simply stunning views.

Inside it was extremely modern throughout with attractive furnishings making it home from home and had everything you could need, including a TV in the master bedroom and a full size fridge/freezer.

Our beds were made up for arrival so there was no work to be done on arrival and we also had towels waiting for us.

Remember things like tea towels, bin liners, a bath mat, dish cloth and washing-up liquid. That’s the stuff I usually forget on a self-catering holiday. However there is a convenience shop on site and a Tesco just down the road, so you’re not far away if you need to buy anything.

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Lewis on our caravan decking overlooking the sea

The surrounding area

We could have spent our entire stay on the caravan site because there is so much to do, but you can’t travel all that way and not explore the local area. You won’t be stuck for things to do because the list is endless.

We had a great day at Crealy Adventure Park which is about a 40 minute drive from Devon Cliffs. It’s great value because a day ticket is valid for seven days so you can go as many times as you like.

We also had a day out with Stuart Line Cruises sailing from Exmouth on an hours’ trip to Topsham. Once there we looked around, visited riverside pubs and our round-robin ticket included a return trip via train. We then got the open-top bus back from Exmouth which drives through the caravan park.

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Me and my son Oliver on the boat trip with Stuart Line Cruises

World of Country Life – an indoor and outdoor adventure farm park is also worth a visit and is right next door to the caravan site. There’s plenty for kids to do come rain or shine.

There’s also The Donkey Sanctury, Exmoor zoo and Powderham Castle nearby.

Also, you can’t go to Devon without having a cream tea either and we found a beautiful thatched cottage just outside the caravan park for ours.

How do I book?

To find out more about Haven Holidays, or to book visit www.haven.com or call 0333 202 5305.

If you want to enjoy that holiday feeling all year round you can become and owner at any Haven park. We used to be owners at Thorpe Park in Cleethorpes and there were so many benefits, including an owners only lounge and owners only changing rooms. At Devon Cliffs the owners even got their own pool, gym and spa! #myhavendays

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Oliver and Jasmine at the indoor pool at Devon Cliffs holiday park

 

This is what the new James ride at Thomas Land is like

Just when you think Drayton Manor Theme Park can’t get any better, a new ride is unveiled for the 2017 season. James is now the latest train to get his own themed ride on the island of Sodor inside the much-loved Thomas Land.

The Fat Controller officially opened James and the Red Balloon to a packed crowd of families at the beginning of the month.

My six-year-old son, three-year-old daughter and I were lucky enough to attend the launch event and were among the first to try out the new ride, which sees families fly up and away in their own hot air balloon.

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IN A SPIN: The New James ride at Drayton Manor

The £250,000 ride has a spinning wheel inside, so if that’s left alone you can enjoy a gentle flight that goes up and down while going around in a big circle. But if, like my two, your kids want more excitement, you can make the ride spin, too.

The new attraction is the 20th ride in Thomas Land and proudly sits alongside the likes of the Troublesome Trucks runaway train, Terence’s Driving School and Jeremy Jet’s Flying Academy. The new ride is part of the huge expansion completed in 2015.

Thomas Land – which is free to enter once in the Drayton Manor theme park – really is a dream come true if your little ones are fans of the programme, but even if they’re not they will love the variety of rides.

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Thomas Land

Outside the Thomas Land gates, there’s also the rest of the Drayton Manor theme park to explore.
It’s easy to see why it is one of the UK’s most popular family attractions with more than a million visitors per year.

The rides are for children of all ages and include everything from the carousel, dodgems and pirate ship to the G Force rollercoaster, splash canyon and the Apocalypse drop tower. There are lots of other attractions, too, including a 4D cinema, dino trail and crazy golf. Animal lovers can also get up close and personal with the park’s furry friends in the 15-acre zoo.

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FUN: Oliver and Jasmine Lovell at Thomas Land

Can you stay over?

But Drayton Manor is more than a day out. At the end of a great day you don’t have to make tracks home because the theme park has its own hotel. The four-star 150 bedroom Drayton Manor Hotel features executive rooms, presidential suites and 15 Thomas-themed rooms, as well as two bars, two restaurants plus The Grill Inn, next to the hotel.

I’d thoroughly recommend staying over. The hotel is lovely, contemporary and stylish, and obviously caters well for children. Our family room had a very comfortable king bed and a lovely sofa bed for the kids.

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HAPPY: Jasmine Lovell at Thomas Land

In the hotel’s restaurant, my children enjoyed playing with the train tables with other children, which kept them amused while we waited for our food.

While it’s not cheep and cheerful, the food is of a high standard, with duck and steak on the menu, to name just a couple of choices.

We went for the buffet, which seemed easier for the kids, and they loved helping themselves. After eating, we headed to the children’s entertainment, which runs from 6.30pm to 8.30pm and really makes you feel like you’re on holiday.

The children’s entertainers were great with the kids, who loved the Punch and Judy show, juggling and party tricks, which was followed by a disco. The entertainment is all included in the price of your stay.

The kids were so excited to stay at the theme park and could see the rides from our bedroom window. Staying over turned a day out into a mini-break and if you’re having a second day in the park, or stay over the night before, you can get in nice and early without any travelling.

Where is it?

Drayton Manor Theme Park is near Tamworth, Staffordshire. Use postcode B78 3TW

How much is it?

It’s always cheaper to book in advance online instead of paying on the gate on the day. Aged 12-59: on the day £39, pre-booked £25. Aged 4-11/ 60+: on the day £29, pre-booked £20. Aged 2-3: £7 on the day and pre-booked. Under 2’s: free. Other discounts are available. For tickets visit the website or call 0844 472 1950.

The 2017 Drayton Manor Park season runs until Thursday, October 26. The award- winning Magical Christmas event will be on selected dates from November 18 to December 31.

  • Reviewed April 2017

UPDATED: How and when to get tickets for Radio 1s BIG WEEKEND 2017: HULL

UPDATE:  Radio 1 has revealed the date thousands of tickets for Big Weekend Hull on May 27 and 28 will be released.

Fifty thousand free tickets will be released on the BBC Radio 1 website at 9.10am on Monday, April 10. 

They will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Once booking opens, a link will appear to a secure site hosted by Ticketmaster. Tickets are limited to two per transaction.

Katy Perry, Little Mix, Kings of Leon and Stormzy have already confirmed their attendance at the event at Burton Constable Hall in Skirlaugh (A superb stately home with immense grounds), which is just east of the city of HULL. It’s part of the Hull City of Culture 2017 events.

Radio 1 say 70 per cent of the tickets will be exclusive to people living in Hull and East Riding postcode areas. A further 25 per cent will be available to people in the LN, DN, and YO postcodes.

There is no ticket charge for the event itself, but a non-refundable event admin fee of £8.50 per ticket will be applied to cover ticket handling, postage and other event administration costs. You do not need to register in advance.

Those without internet access can call 0844 453 9012 to book tickets, with calls costing 7p a minute plus standard network charges. Calls to this number before 9.10am on Monday 10 April will not be answered but will still be charged.

There is no age restriction at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Hull; however under-16s will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult aged 18 or over. You may be asked for ID to verify your age.

Children under two years old do not need a ticket, but those two and over will need one. The BBC say, please bear in mind that this is an outdoor event, with loud music and large crowds expected – it is not an event designed for young children.

 

Nick Grimshaw from Radio One said: “I’m super excited for Big Weekend as it kicks off festival season and always has a mega line-up of the best live music. Roll on May – I can’t wait to party in Hull alongside Kings of Leon, Little Mix, Stormzy and loads more!”

Martin Green, Director Hull UK City of Culture 2017, said: “We are thrilled that BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend is coming to Hull for 2017. Bringing this major national event with some of the biggest names in the music industry is a massive coup for the city and confirms its growing international profile as THE place to be.

“As ever, events like this can only happen thanks to the different partners and other organisations working together, and we are delighted to be working closely with the National Heritage Memorial Fund appointed trustees and family at Burton Constable, as well as our colleagues at Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council to ensure a successful event. Natural England and Historic England have also been crucial in providing support to bring this event to the area. “

The two-day festival is not being held ‘IN’ the city of Hull due to safety and logistics.

The best Hull City of Culture events for kids

There’s no excuse not to visit Hull right now – there’s so much to during its year of having the City of Culture status.

We visited mainly to see Blade in the city centre. We then made a full afternoon of it by having a look around the newly re-opened Fernes Art gallery and the Maritime Museum (both free entry) before popping to Furley and Co for a freakshake. (This is a MUST, you have to see them to believe them, £5 each!)

There’s a great kids’ gallery at Ferens in Queen Victoria Square. My kids, six and three loved playing picnics in the little house, launching themselves on the giant pillows and writing on the wall.

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FUN: Oliver & Jasmine play in the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull

The City of Culture year has been split into seasons, the first of which is now underway and runs until the end of March. Here’s the best events to take the kids to:

Look up

A giant wind turbine blade has landed in the city centre. Blade is the first in a series of temporary artworks which will be displayed in public places and spaces to form the Look Up programme. Who knows what will come next after it’s moved on March 18?

Oliver and Jasmine loved seeing it and touching it and having their photos taken with it. Oliver then drew it as part of his homework when we got home.

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INSPIRATIONAL: Oliver and Jasmine post their Challenge Hull notes

Get creative

Every Monday, the City of Culture team are setting a new challenge to encourage people to get creative. Children can try writing, drawing, dancing, cooking, discovering, exploring, performing or photographing.

Check out the Facebook and Twitter pages or visit hull2017.com every Monday for your weekly challenge then post it online with #challengeHull.

We joined in with the ‘Write an inspirational message’ where people were challenged to write a note and then leave it for others to find. My two children LOVED doing this.

A moth for Amy trail

There are 59 giant colourful moths to find across Hull, East Riding and beyond. The art project is modelled on Hull’s highly successful Larkin with Toads project.

Each moth reflects the powerful inspiration of Amy Johnson and her amazing flying achievements. The Moths remain where they have settled until March 31, 2017.

Diverse Fest

Diverse Fest is a performance festival for those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to showcase. It is open for everybody of all ages to enjoy. Expect to find a café and stalls, as well as activities, karaoke, performances and a disco.

The event will be held on Saturday, January 14, at Bridlington Spa, between 12 noon and 8pm. Tickets which can be booked online are £3 for the day.

Re-made in Hull

A series of educational craft workshops set in a pretend factory. Families will be encouraged to work together to celebrate the culture of recycling in Hull and have fun making arts and crafts.

Workshops will take place from 11am to 1pm on Saturdays, from January 14 to April 22, at Hull Scrapstore, Dairycoates Avenue, Hull. Workshops will also take place during the February half-term school holidays and the school Easter holidays. See www.hull2017.co.uk for times and dates and to book.

Bowhead

Get up close and personal with a Bowhead – also known as a Greenland Right Whale – in a lifelike visual installation. Bowhead is at the Maritime Museum in Queen Victoria Square, Hull, which is open daily from 9am until 5pm until March 19.

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YUM: If you’re visiting Hull, pop to Furley & Co for a freakshake!

Creative Voice Dance

The next generation of performers from Creative Voice and Hull Dance take over the stage at Hull Truck Theatre. The evening will showcase a newly created piece by Hull Dance Youth Company.

The dance show is being held at Hull Truck Theatre on Sunday, January 29 at 7pm. Tickets are £3 each.

Back To Ours

The Back to Ours events include comedy, music, circus, theatre, cabaret, dance and film, including the following:

1) The Story of Mr B

A surprise-filled puppet show, set in a giant pop-up book, tells the story of Mr Bumblegrum. Suitable for children aged three and over.

This show will be held at the Sirius Academy West, on Wednesday, February 22, at 11am and 2pm, on Thursday, February 23 at 11am and 2pm at Winifred Holtby Academy and on Saturday, February 25 at 11am and 2pm at Archbishop Sentamu Academy. Tickets, available online are priced between £2.50 and £5.

2) Picture House: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

This film will be screened on Wednesday, February 22 at 10.30am at Archbishop Sentamu Academy, on Thursday, February 23 at 10.30am at Sirius Academy West and on Saturday, February 25 at 10.30am at Winifred Holtby Academy. Tickets are £2.50.

3) Picture House: Matilda

This film will be screened on Wednesday, February 22 at 1.30pm at Archbishop Sentamu Academy, on Thursday, February 23 at 1.30pm at Sirius Academy West and on Saturday, February 25 at 1.30pm at Winifred Holtby Academy. Tickets are £2.50 and can be booked online.

4) Picture House: Fantastic Mr Fox

This film will be screened on Wednesday, February 22 at 4pm at Archbishop Sentamu Academy, on Thursday, February 23 at 4pm at Sirius Academy West and on Saturday, February 25 at 4pm at Winifred Holtby Academy. Tickets are £2.50.

There will also be two more Back to Ours festivals planned for the half term school holidays in May and October – details to be announced.

Telling Tales

Actor Simon Callow narrates a family-friendly programme of classical music presented by the New London Chamber Ensemble. Featuring the musical stories of Opus Number Zoo, Peter and The Wolf and Martin Butler’s Dirty Beasts Tales

The show will be held on Friday, February 24 at 1pm in the Middleton Hall at the University of Hull. Tickets, available online are priced between £4 and £8.

Goldilocks and The Three Bears

Northern Ballet’s productions especially for children are not to be missed and have even been showed on CBeebies. This is the perfect opportunity for your little ones to enjoy live ballet, music and theatre for the first time.

Performances take place at 12pm and 2pm with a relaxed performance at 5pm on Friday, March 17 at the Bridlington Spa. Each performance lasts approximately 40 minutes.