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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Hull Daily Mail is looking for child models to feature in a series of City of Culture photo shoots.
The paper wants children of all ages who will be photographed at different City of Culture events.
The winning children will be invited to one of several fun photo-shoots throughout the year.
The first photo-shoot will take place with the Blade in Hull’s city centre and will be used as the cover photo for the ‘Hull Daily Mail – Family News‘ page.
The photographs will be used to illustrate stories in print, and will also be used on social media, including on Twitter and Facebook.
It is a great opportunity for children who like having their photo taken and would like to see themselves in the paper. At the end of the year the paper will feature all children who have taken part in a celebratory feature in the paper.
How can I enter?
Entry is via Facebook only. To enter your child, you must first ‘like’ the new ‘Hull Daily Mail – Family News‘ Facebook page. Then like and share the child models post on that page and comment by posting a picture of your child or children.
The paper is only looking for a few families and winners will be chosen at random. The closing date is Tuesday, January 31, at 4pm.
It snows every day at Gulliver’s Kingdom in Matlock Bath during the festive season.
The children who had gathered for the little Gully show were asked to close their eyes and cross their fingers and make a wish for snow – then, as if by magic the white stuff fell from above and the music began to play.
As soon as that snow began to fall the children who had been mesmerised by the characters could not run over to it fast enough.
Obviously it was fake, but it was white and fluffy and they had the best time playing in it.
Seeing my children stood there wishing for snow then watching their faces as it began to fall was truly magical.
Straight after it was our turn to see Santa. Gulliver’s Kingdom – a theme park which is aimed at children aged three to 13 – is the only place we’ve seen him this year and not had to queue. We were able to walk straight through the lovely winter wonderland during our time slot and admire the displays, then were taken straight to Santa by his friendly elf.
It wasn’t the best grotto we’ve ever seen, or the most enthusiastic Santa – but the kids did love being invited into his workshop afterwards where they were able to choose their present themselves. They loved searching through the shop and it’s nice as a parent to say you can have anything you like – absolutely anything – and not have to worry about the price!
Seeing Santa is included with all tickets during the festive season and despite it not being in the height of summer, there was plenty of rides open, including the log flume!
The wide range of rides and attraction – from the Western World and pirates play area, to the log flume and Drop Tower – makes Gulliver’s Kingdom one of the best theme parks in the UK for children which is why we didn’t mind the 90 minute journey from Hull.
Children shorter than 90cm go free, yet can still go on 11 of 23 rides and enjoy all of the shows, play areas and interactive experiences.
The theme park is set on a stunning hillside which gives fabulous views over the main street in Matlock Bath. Make sure you’ve got your comfortable shoes on for walking up the hills though! However there is a travellator for one of the steepest hills you can hop onto and also a char lift to transport you from the bottom of the park to the top.
With that in mind I’d say it’s best to start at the top and work your way down to the bottom of the park.
If you want to keep the costs down, picnics are allowed in the park. I was really impressed there’s a warm indoor picnic area upstairs in the party house where adults can also get a hot drink.
But it’s downstairs where the real fun happens! The huge house has everything from a cinema room to rides, a massive sandpit, indoor soft play, ball pools, pedal tractors and interactive games. You could actually spend hours in the party house alone, I’ve not come across anything quite like it anywhere else.
Mrs Christmas’ Kitchen is also inside the party house where you will find a very welcoming Mrs Christmas. Due to it being so cold, we spent a long time in the party house and we still had to drag the kids out.
The entire park is decorated very festive and if like us you leave when it closes at 4.30pm it will be dark so you will be able to see all the twinkly lights which light the entire park up.
I loved the fact there wasn’t a teenage crowd at Gulliver’s Kingdom too. It’s very family orientated, there are no bars and no alcohol is permitted. Unlike other large theme parks, you won’t come across groups of teenagers, as not one guest who isn’t part of a family can enter.
My six year old son loved Western World, where you can explore little buildings, including a bank, a church and a jail. He also loved operating the diggers, which surprisingly didn’t need extra money to operate and my three year old daughter liked the outdoor play areas and the magic carpet.
There’s also Gulliver’s parks in Warrington and Milton Keynes so no doubt we will be trying them next!
My children’s eyes almost popped out of their heads when they were handed more chocolate than they could carry when we arrived at Cadbury World.
It really is a dream come true for youngsters to visit what my two affectionately called “chocolate land”.
We chose to go on the self-guided tour first. You are given a time slot and can do the other activities (panto, Santa show and park) either before or after your tour.
It starts in Bull Street – a full-scale replica of the original street where John Cadbury opened his shop in 1824. From there, live character actors set the scene and you learn the history of how Cadbury became so successful.
Once on the tour you’re free to discover the 13 different zones. I liked Advertising Avenue the best, where you could watch adverts from years gone by. I’d forgotten all about the themetune: ‘Thank you very much for feeding William, thank you very, very, very, very, very, very much!’
In manufacturing, you can find out how brands are made at interactive video stations.
The kids enjoyed the Cadabra ride, where you get to step into a beanmobile and enjoy a gentle ride through a chocolate wonderland full of characters.
The chocolate-making zone is really interesting as you get to see the talented Cadbury chocolatiers demonstrate traditional chocolate-making skills on handmade items sold in the shop. If you want something personalised you can pre-order before you go.
In this zone, you’ll also get to sample a pot of warm, melted Dairy Milk and choose your toppings.
My favourite part of the day was watching the 4D cinema. You get to ride the Crunchie rollercoaster and dive into liquid Cadbury Dairy Milk. There’s a whole host of Cadbury characters that come to life on the journey.
As well as the tour there’s also a huge outdoor adventure zone that is open all year round.
Throughout Christmas, there’s also the Santa show where every child gets a soft toy and a 25-minute Cinderella panto that really got the kids laughing.
We made a mini-break out of it and stayed at the Premier Inn in Stourbridge.