Places To Go, Things To Do

A dozen eggs-ellent things to do in the Easter hols 2018 (part 2: the stuff that is Easter themed)

Easter trails, Easter egg hunts and Easter crafts are plentiful. Here are some egg-cellent places hosting their own Easter themed stuff:

  1. National Museum Cardiff
  2. Bute Park and Arboretum
  3. Dyffryn Gardens
  4. St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life
  5. Cardiff Castle
  6. Mountain View Ranch
  7. Amelia Trust Farm
  8. Cosmeston Lakes
  9. Porthkerry Park
  10. Techniquest
  11. Victoria Park, Cadoxton
  12. Barry Tourist Railway

 

1. St Fagans National Museum of History

 

St Fagans Easter Hunt 30th March – 2nd April (10am-3pm) £3.50 (age 4+)

Easter Holidays: Family Craft Activities 3rd – 6th and 9th – 13th April (12-4pm)

Always a favourite with us. If you’ve not checked out their new playground, go have a peak. Free to get in but £5 for parking and you have to pay for some of the extra activities. There’s so much to explore there. They’ve got some special Easter things going on. Animal Mask Making is £2 per child and Pop up wildlife scene making is free.

 

2. National Museum Cardiff

 

National Museum Cardiff Easter Hunt – 30th March – 2nd April (10am-3pm) £3.50 (age 4+)

Or as we call it “The Museum” is a go to free day out for us and my 6 year old’s favourite place in the world. He wants to be an archaeologist when he grows up so he might be biased. He’s also oddly obsessed with a guy who works in the gift shop who shares his name.

Wriggle! The wonderful world of worms – now – 3rd June – free

We’ve been to this a fair few times and it’s well worth checking out. As you’d expect there are lots of worm related things to do, see and explore. Perfect for curious kids.

Who decides? Now – 2nd September – free

This exhibition isn’t designed specifically for kids but it’s really family friendly. Expect weird and wonderful paintings, sculptures etc curated by people who have experienced homelessness in Wales. We filled out some bits of paper asking who picks what art we see and what art can do for the world. Big questions but great conversation starter with my kids. Plus it’s free.

 

3. Cardiff Castle

 

Easter Trail 30th March – 15th April £1 (on top of admission price)

http://www.cardiffcastle.com/whats-on/2018/03/30/easter-trail/

Easter Fun 31st March – 2nd April (included in admission price)

A weekend of traditional Easter japes including storytelling with Dylan Adams, egg rolling, The Warwick Warriors with their witty bants and dramatic fight sequences and egg and spoon races. http://www.cardiffcastle.com/whats-on/2018/03/31/easter-fun/

 

4. Bute Park and Arboretum           

Easter Egg Hunt 1st April (1pm-3pm) £2 age 3+

Egg-citing art and craft activities and an Easter egg hunt. Meet at the Bute Park Education Centre. http://bute-park.com/tribe_events/helfa-wyau-pasgeaster-egg-hunt-2/

Spring Stories 5th & 10th April (10.30am-12pm) free

http://bute-park.com/tribe_events/storiaur-gwanwynspring-stories/

If you don’t drive, this is a nice one to get to on the train or bus.

 

5. Dyffryn Gardens

 

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt 30th March – 2nd April (11am-3.30pm) £3 and normal admission

Lovely National Trust place in the Vale with a massive mansion and 55 acres of gardens to explore. You have to pay to get in at £4.95 for children and £9.90 for adults (or slightly more with gift aid) and from £25 for a family. Or you could join the National Trust and really get your money’s worth by returning regularly and heading to other sites like Tredegar House in Newport. We had a really special day at Dyffryn Gardens in the Christmas holidays on the 12 Days of Christmas trail so I’m sure the Easter activities will be great. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyffryn-gardens

Plant Hunter Expedition 24th March – 15th April (during opening hours) free but normal admission price applies

 

6. Mountain View Ranch

Easter Fun at The Ranch Friday 30th March – Sunday 15th April (9.30am-5pm) last entry & café closes at 4pm.

Under 2s free, family of 4 £23, family of 5 £28 or £6 per person.

A fresh air fuelled family fun day out. On top of all the usual things to do at Mountain View Ranch there will also be a an Easter Egg Trail, Funny Goat Walks, Campfire & Marshmallows, Archery and the Gruffalo Trail. The High Ropes course will also be open but you’re advised to book in advance.

We’ve had some really lovely days out here.

 

7. Amelia Trust Farm

30th March- 15th April (10am-4pm) Entrance free for under 2s, children £1.50, £3 adults, £5 family. Tractor Rides £1, Lamb Feeding £5 per person, Easter Egg Eggstraveganza Hunt £2.50 each with pencil and prize)

Have a go at feeding the farm’s adorable baby lambs, take a ride on a tractor and cart and have a go at their Easter Egg Eggstraveganza Hunt with a prize at the end!

Lamb feeding is very popular so book ahead.

https://www.ameliatrust.org.uk/

 

8. Cosmeston Lakes

Easter Egg Trail 30th March-1st April (10am-3.30pm) £3 per person

Collect your map from reception, find the Easter egg posts and answer the 10 questions. Once you’ve completed the Easter egg trail return to check your answers and claim your bag of goodies. All kids need an adult with them. Obvs.

 

9. Porthkerry Park

Easter Egg Trail 30th March-1st April (10am-3.30pm) £3 per person

Pretty much the same as above but at Porthkerry!

Collect your map from the Golf Hut, find the Easter egg posts and answer the 10 questions. Once you’ve completed the Easter egg trail return to check your answers and claim your bag of goodies. All kids need an adult with them. Obvs.

 

10. Techniquest

Amazing Eggsperiments 28th March-15th April (10am-5pm)

Families £28, under 4s free, child £6.50, adult £8. (did you know there’s a special £3.30 price if you go in after 3pm?)

Who doesn’t love a bit of Techniquest? This Easter hols one of their Science Theatre Shows is dedicated to the egg.

How strong is an egg? Why do they turn solid when heated? Go and check out this eggsciting show created especially for Easter, full of science and bad yolks!

https://www.techniquest.org/events/amazing-eggsperiments-2-2018-03-28/

 

11. Victoria Park, Barry

Free Easter Family Fun Day Friday 30th March (11am-2pm)

There’ll be a colouring competition, cake decorating, face painting and lots more. Free Easter Egg for each child who takes part.

Children under 16 must be with an adult. Raffle tickets with a draw at 2pm and proceeds going to charity.

 

12. Barry Tourist Railway

Vintage Train Rides 30th March-2nd April (11.35am, 1.10pm, 2.10pm and 3.10pm)

£25 family of 2 adults & up to 3 children, under 3s are free. Adult £9.50, child £5.50.

Vintage Train Rides at Barry Island over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Friday 30th March-Monday 2nd April. Every child travelling on the vintage train gets a free Lindt chocolate Easter bunny or a soft toy. The military museum and café will be open too.

Barry Tourist Railway will be running a 40 minute out-and-back journey from Barry Island Station at 11.35am, 1.10pm, 2.10pm and 3.10pm each day including a guided tour of the railway depot where the vintage trains live. They’re dog friendly. No steam over Easter, but the diesel railcar’s lovely.

https://www.facebook.com/Barry-Tourist-Railway-196540117115590/?hc_ref=ARROoB-d8X0yET3RBFTGk9EntzbdBq6H6c-_jVJvUpQ2fsKkjVY1na9OV547IBjV8Lg&fref=nf

 

I know, I know it’s a lot to take in. It’s been a tad overwhelming just typing it all up.

Places To Go, Things To Do

A dozen egg-cellent things to do in the Easter hols 2018 (part 1: the stuff that’s not Easter themed)

I’ve tried to herd together some stuff to do over the Easter school hols in the Vale of Glamorgan and beyond (within a reasonable drive time).

This is not a list of all of the stuff ever. There’s a mix of free stuff, cheap stuff, treat stuff, outdoors, indoors, puppets, castles, shows, workshops, all sorts. I’ll save the Easter themed stuff for another post.

The Vale of Glamorgan school holiday for the Easter break this year starts on 30th March (Good Friday) and they’re back to school on Monday 16th April. So here goes…

Stuff to do in the Easter holidays that’s not Easter themed (times and prices below so just keep on scrolling):

  1. Man Engine Cymru: Forging a Nation / 8 – 12 April
  2. Caerphilly Castle 750th Medieval Birthday Bash / 30 March – 2 April
  3. Amazing Beasts – Find them at Margam Park / 2 April
  4. Family Dance Festival 2018 / 4 April in Barry (more details below)
  5. RHS Flower Show Cardiff / 13 – 15 April
  6. Sherman Theatre for The Flying Bedroom / 6 – 7 April or Brainiac Live! / 10 April
  7. Wales Millennium Centre for The Girl with Incredibly Long Hair / 10 – 15 April or Almost Always Muddy / 1 – 4 & 7 April
  8. Memo Arts Centre for There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly / 13 April or Welsh Wrestling Live / 7 April
  9. National Dance Company Wales: Dance Days / 9 – 10 April
  10. The Talent Shack Drama Workshops / 3 – 6 & 9 – 13 April
  11. Barry Library for Minecraft Club, crafting sessions and more / date details below
  12. Barry Island’s Eastern Shelter / 6 April

 

1. Man Engine Cymru: Forging a Nation 8th – 12th April

This looks truly awesome and I cannot wait to see it. A 11.2m tall puppet steams across some of the UK’s most significant mining heritage sites. Animated by a team of more than a dozen miners, the colossal puppet will begin his grand tour of Wales on 8th April with an opening ceremony at the Big Pit and a parade down to Blaenavon Ironworks. https://www.themanengine.co.uk/cymru There’s a lot of information to take in below but do follow the links to find out what’s happening at each place, there are choirs and all sorts.

8th April – Blaenavon: (Big Pit (gates open 11am, ceremony starts 12.30, event ends 1pm) – unticketed and FREE, Gilchrist Thomas Industrial Estate (procession starts 1pm, ends 2pm) – unticketed, 2pm Blaenavon Ironworks (ceremony starts at 3pm, event ends at 5pm) – tickets £3 https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/452961

9th April – Parc Bryn Bach (gates open 9am, ceremony starts 2pm, event ends 4pm) https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/460890

10th April – Cyfarthfa Park and Castle (gates open 12, ceremony starts 2pm, event ends 4pm) https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/450071

11th April – Ynysangharad War Memorial Park (gates open 12, ceremony starts 2pm, event ends 4pm) Tickets are FREE but you need to book: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/449950

12th April – National Waterfront Museum Swansea (gates open 11am, ceremony starts 12.30, event ends 4pm) – unticketed and free, a parade in Swansea City Centre (procession starts 2.15pm, procession ends at 3pm) – unticketed and free and an evening finale at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks (gates re-open 6.30pm, ceremony starts 7.30pm, event ends 10pm) – tickets from £2.50. https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/448982

caerphilly castle

2. Caerphilly Castle

Medieval Birthday Bash 30th March – 2nd April (11am-4pm) Adult £8.50, Children £5.10, Family (2+3) £24.60, Seniors £6.80

Celebrate 750 years (!) of Caerphilly Castle with a monster medieval birthday bash! Join Historia Normannis for combat displays, stunt teams and all sorts. I went to the castle last year for the first time since I was a kid and we flipping loved it, even just touching the walls and imagining how much change they’ve seen over the years. Contrary to what a certain demoralising A level teacher would have me believe I bloody loves history I does.

http://cadw.gov.wales/events/allevents/medieval-birthday-bash-caerphilly-2018/?lang=en

margam

3. Margam Park

Amazing Beasts – Find them at Margam Park! Easter Monday Adults £7.70, Children £5.50, Family (2+2) £25.28, 3s and under free.

Head to Margam Park in your favourite animal costume for what sounds like an utterly barmy day of family entertainment in the sprawling grounds. I love Margam Park on an average day (the fairytale village, the massive wooden fort playground, the train thing, the sneaky farm at the end of the walk) but this day takes it to another level with giant puppet beasts. Click the link for all the details. https://npttheatres.co.uk/princessroyal/events/amazing-beasts/

 

family dance festival 14. Family Dance Festival 2018

I went on about last year’s version a fair bit but only because it was brilliant and I wanted more people to go see it and it’s FREE. It’s back. The hour is jam packed with short performances and a chance to dance with a workshop at the end. Bombastic is quirky and interactive. Gary and Pel mix dance and slapstick. Jukebox Collective brings world class Hip Hop. Local dance groups will be bringing something extra to the mix.

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th March (12pm, 2pm, 4pm) https://www.chapter.org/cy/family-dance-festival-2018 

Memo Arts Centre, Barry Wednesday 4th April (12pm, 2pm, 4pm) free https://www.memoartscentre.co.uk/events/familydancefestival/

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay Wednesday 11th & Friday 13th April (10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm) & Thursday 12th & Saturday 14th April (10.30am, 12.30pm, 4pm) free

It’s also going to Galeri in Caernarfon, Hafren in Newtown, Ffwrnes in Llanelli, Torch Theatre in Milford Haven and Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon. There are Touch Tours and Audio Description at all venues but not at each showing. Full tour details including Audio Description information and a film trailer on Arts Scene in Wales: https://www.asiw.co.uk/news/family-dance-festival-fun-funky-and-fabulous-for-your-festive-feet

5. RHS Flower Show Cardiff

Friday 13th – Saturday 14th April (10am-5.30pm) & Sunday 15th April (10am-4.30pm) Children free (2 per paying adult. Adult tickets £11 advance and £14 on the day.)

Botanical family day out with glasshouse mini labs, a family trail, ferris wheel, flower arranging and headdress craft workshops and roaming entertainers. https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-flower-show-cardiff/news/2018/family-activities

6. Sherman Theatre

If you live in a Communities First area, I thoroughly recommend that you join Sherman 5. It’s a fab membership scheme. Details on the Sherman’s website.

The Flying Bedroom – Friday 6th (4.30pm) and Saturday 7th April (10.30am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm) £9

A lovely show with dance theatre and projection following Elinor and her bedroom on an adventure. There are dance workshops at the shows on 7th April at 11.30 and 2.30pm where you can learn to dance part of the show. http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/children/flying-bedroom/

Brainiac Live! – Tuesday 10th April (2pm) Adults: £16. Children: £8

Based on the telly show, this is a live Science show with plenty of experiments and explosions. http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/children/brainiac-live/

wales millennium centre (2)

7. Wales Millennium Centre

As well as the huge musicals like Shrek, the Centre have smaller and more affordable family shows, workshops and activities. Good toilets too.

Almost Always Muddy (outside the Centre) 1st – 4th April (11am & 3pm) & 7th April (11am) £7 age 7+

An outside interactive, improvised family show with you as the Story Builders. Perfect for imaginative and adventurous families. https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2018-2019/WestonStudio/AlmostAlwaysMuddy/

Almost Always Muddy Workshop Saturday (in the David Morgan room at the Centre) 7th April (3pm) free

Games, chats and interrogation of the cast. https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2018-2019/375204/AlmostAlwaysMuddy/

The Girl with Incredibly Long Hair Tuesday 10th April – Sunday 15th April (11am & 3pm) £7 age 4+

A delightful hour long play reimagines the Rapunzel story for our times in the Weston Studio at the Centre.   https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2018-2019/WestonStudio/TheGirlWithIncrediblyLongHair/

8. Memo Arts Centre, Barry

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly Friday 13th April (2.30pm) £8.50 (group of 4 only £30)

A feast of sing along songs, colourful animal characters and heart-warming family fun, this show brings one of my favourite nursery rhymes to life in celebration of Pam Adams’ bestselling book turning 45. https://www.memoartscentre.co.uk/events/there-was-an-old-lady-who-swallowed-a-fly/

Welsh Wrestling Live! Saturday 7th April (7pm) children £9, adults £12

Exactly what it says on the tin. Wrestling entertainment. Live. https://www.memoartscentre.co.uk/events/welsh-wrestling-live-2/

9. National Dance Company Wales

Dance Days 9th and 10th April (10am-1pm for ages 7-11 and 2pm-5pm for ages 12-18) £15 for one day or £25 for both

A chance for your kids to get involved and create some of the moves performed by NDCWales. They welcome complete beginners or regular dancers. My 9 year old has been to a few in the past and really enjoyed them even though he’d never think of himself as a dancer. His 11 year old sister did a few in the past and also had a good time. They get to do a warm up, learn about the themes of the show, learn and create their own moves and get to do it all in the Dance House in Wales Millennium Centre, the base of our national dance company. You need to book ahead, details in the link. http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/get-involved/dance/dance-days/ 

10. The Talent Shack

Easter Drama Workshops Week 1 3rd – 6th April £80 Week 2 9th – 13th April £100 or single days for £25 a day (10am-4pm) ages 4-7 and 8+

Open to everyone, you don’t have to be a regular at the Talent Shack. Sounds like a great chance for kids to do some Drama workshops in the holidays. Advanced bookings only.

https://www.facebook.com/events/594801730854616/

barry library11. Barry Library

Libraries often have great value holiday activities going on (as well as all those books you can borrow for free), here’s what’s on in Barry this Easter.

Flower Power Tuesday 3rd April (10.30am-12) age 3+ £1 / drop in to make some flowers

Create & Craft Theme Boxes Wednesday 4th April (10.30am-12) age 3+ 50p / book at library counter

Unicorns & Dragons Crafty Workshop / Monday 9th Wednesday (2.30pm-4pm) age 3+ £1 / book at library counter

Minute to Win It / Tuesday 10th April (2.30pm-3.30pm) age 7+ 50p / book at library counter

Minecraft Club / Thursday 12th April (2pm-4pm) £8 per session / book online www.milittlepad.com

barry island12. Barry Island

Whatever the weather, head to the beach. Blow away the cobwebs and grab a hot chocolate in a café or bask in the unlikely spring sunshine with an ice cream and chippies. There’s also this:

Easter Under the Eastern Shelter Friday 6th April (11am-3pm) FREE

Vale Family Information Service present a free fully inclusive event for the whole family featuring interactive performance by Almost Always Muddy, dance performance and warm up workshop by Motion Control Dance, V-Pod interactive bus by Vale Youth Service mini sports workshops by the Leisure Centre, pedal powered bubbles by Pedal Emporium, music by Bro Radio, arts, crafts, games, all sorts. Plus it’s at the seaside so you can make a real day of it.

 

As I said, I will post again with more ideas for places to go and things to do but this time with more of an Easter flavour. Think Easter trails and crafts.

theatre, Things To Do

Review: Discover Dance

Last night (Friday 9th February 5pm) we had an after school theatrical treat, discovering dance with National Dance Company Wales at Sherman Theatre. I was accompanied (as ever) by my 11 year old stepdaughter and 9 and 5 year old sons. None of them go to dance classes but they all enjoyed the event. Even surly Nine who didn’t want to join in the first half “no way”.

NDCWales’s Discover Dance production is a game of two halves. We kick off with an introduction from the effervescent Lee Johnston, the company’s Rehearsal Director which she explains is like being the coach. We’re taken through the dancers’ warm up routines with a chance for everyone who’s up for it  to join the dancers on stage.

It’s a credit to the team and the welcoming, open tone they set that so many of the children in the audience were keen to have a go. Eleven and Five threw themselves into the opportunity. As Five said:

“It was really fun to go on stage. I’ve never been on a big stage like that. Sometimes I get nervous but the dancer made me feel happy because they showed me the moves. I think all the other children enjoyed it too.”

We swiftly move on to some exercises and sections of Folk, the production we’re treated to in the second half. Again, we’ve got the chance to join in and one of the exercises in particular fired up my boys:

Nine: “It was really satisfying when they did the crackling out of the ice. That’s the kind of movement game I’d like to play at home or school.”

Five: “Also Mum I liked the bit when they were doing hurricane bits. I liked the bits where he finished one of them, he keeped quiet for a little bit then he said loudly “Crazy crazy! There’s a tornado! Then you can just feel the snow melting and the ice in the water.””

We get to wave at the techies at the back of the seats as Lee tells us about the lights and sound that play their parts in a show. It’s a great way to highlight the whole range of skills and roles that are needed to pull a production together.

Nine: Charlie was the boss of the music and Adam was in charge of the lights.

Five: They did a really good job.

Half time comes and we break for an ice cream from the mid-refurb Sherman foyer, wees and a chance for the dancers to get changed and ready for their performance.

The second half is a half hour dance piece called Folk which absolutely flew by. Choreographed by Caroline Finn, it’s a perfect choice for a family audience with characters that feel both otherworldly and recognisable and a beautifully striking set designed by Joe Fletcher.

Nine: “Folk was quite cool because the tree was hung from the roof. This woman was randomly speaking Italian and it was quite funny. It was quite witch-like when they were doing the witch circle.”

Five: “It was spectacular! I liked the show when it was nearly at the end because I like imagination. And I liked the other bit when there was a teensy bit left to the end because it was just like a made up language and it was really funny.

It was great because I like puppet shows, they were making them look like puppets because they were copying. (*Nine demonstrates the moves we learnt in our seats during the first part of the show*).

The whole thing used up lots of funny imaginations. Whoever’s imaginations they were, I like their imaginations.

The music, it was good because I liked the one where it was sort of harmony like sort of calm. The beginning sounded like they were definitely in France and then there was some music that made me feel in the jungle and then Tokyo, is that the capital of Japan?”

Eleven: “It was really fun. I thought the show was really good and I loved the music.”

After Folk, the dancers return to the stage to answer questions from a buzzing audience. “Where are you from?” “When did you start dancing?” “What’s your favourite type of dance?”

Nine: “It was great because you could ask questions at the end so we could find out where they came from and how they started dancing. They were from lots of different countries, even America.”

Watching dance is a fabulous way to inspire keen dancers but it’s also brilliant for kids in general. There’s room for imagination, the chance to weave your own story, to laugh at something because it tickles your funny bone without words or slapstick.

Wales should be very proud of their dance company. They’re presenting beautiful work and stirring a love of dance. Discover Dance is an ideally relaxed way to introduced new audiences to contemporary dance and gives young people a chance to interact with the professionals.

Five: “I’d like to watch more dance because it’s funny sometimes and you get to do lots of different moves and when you dance it’s kind of like doing exercise and it’s good for you because it helps you stay healthy.”

Nine: “I’d like to watch more dance because it can be strange in certain ways and funny. It was very weird because usually you’d have a tree on the ground and you wouldn’t use a brush to sweep leaves, you’d use a rake.”

We were also intrigued to get a sneaky peak at the developments in Sherman Theatre’s foyer, which got a thumbs up from hard to please Eleven: “I LOVED the redecorating, it feels cosy but big too.” We’re big fans of the venue, their range of family friendly productions and the utterly awesome Sherman 5 scheme that has genuinely opened up the doors to so many people.

Discover Dance is touring the UK this spring, heading to Huddersfield, Brecon, Shrewsbury, Aberystwyth, Newtown, Mold, Newport, Swansea and Derby. Full tour dates on www.ndcwales.co.uk.

theatre, Things To Do

Christmas Show Overload

A trip to the theatre is a real festive treat. I know I go to a heck of a lot of live shows all year long because of work but there really is something magical in dragging the entire family to watch a classic children’s story or fairy tale come to life. It feels decadent and wholesome, charming and silly. It doesn’t have to mean panto and it doesn’t have to mean spending shedloads of money.

Family Friendly Shows in Cardiff and the Vale this Christmas

Sherman Theatre

Wind in the Willows / 1 – 30 December

£16 – £26 Range of prices. Previews (1 – 3 December) are cheaper so worth checking out. Under 25s are half price.

We’ve loved the annual Sherman Christmas show for many years and this sounds like it’ll hit the spot again. The classic Wind in the Willows story by Kenneth Graham will be brought to life with live music. There’s a lovely option to have a letter from Father Christmas for your child on their seat when you arrive. There are also accessible performances including Relaxed Performances.

The Magic Porridge Pot / 3 November – 30 December

£9. Recommended for ages 3-6.

Perfect for under 7s this show is overflowing with songs, music and fun. It’s a classic fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm, retold by the very funny Alun Saunders.

Chapter

The Giant Who Had No Heart in his Body / 22 – 23 December

£5. £17 family ticket. Aimed at ages 7+ but a comedy show for all ages. (Wins the CHEAPEST TICKETS award from me.)

A warm, funny show with original music, puppetry and a sprinkling of magic. Likely Story Theatre bring their unique story telling style to this classic Norwegian fairy tale. A story of friendship, courage, adventure, an umbrella cow, a giant’s heart and a silly duck.

Wales Millennium Centre

The Bear / 12 – 31 December

£10. Babes in arms tickets £2. Recommended for age 3+.

Based on the Raymond Briggs storybook this is a really lovely theatre show for children and their families. It’s only 55 minutes long so perfect for younger kids. It’s in the Wales Millennium Centre’s smaller studio space, the Weston Studio rather than the huge auditorium. The Centre are holding free Christmas crafting activities too so you can spend longer in the building. I walked through the building this week and it’s looking amazing with all the decorations.

Second Star to the Right  / 30 November – 2 December

£9. Under 6s are £6 and under 2 year olds are FREE. Recommended for everyone, all babies welcome.

A cast of disabled and non-disabled performers from Odyssey and pupils from Woodlands High School restore hope to Neverland in this new production.

The Gate

Hansel and Gretel / 2 December – 16 December (Fridays and Saturdays only)

£8.50/£8 for adults and £6 children.

The classic Grimm fairy tale is brought to life with puppetry and music from Black RAT. We’ve seen a fair few of this company’s Christmas shows over the past 7 years and the songs and humour have been a hit with the children.

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

Cinderella / 3 – 5 December

£10. Under 16s are £8.

For something a bit different, try out this introduction to the orchestra for an age old fairy tale. Cinderella as you’ve maybe never experienced before with music, film and illustrations.

St David’s Hall

Tiddly Prom: Bert and Cherry’s Christmas Plum Pudding / 16 December – 19 December (10.30 and 12.30 each day)

£7.50

Ideal for under 5s, you can expect lots of silly songs to sing along to, a lively festive story and a large helping of musical plum pudding.

Ballet (3 different shows: The Nutcracker, Cinderella and Swan Lake) / Cinderella 19 – 20 December / The Nutcracker 21 – 24 December / Swan Lake 27 – 31 December

Ticket prices vary. Lowest is £8.25 for under 16s and £16.50 for adults at the 2pm matinees with a family ticket (2 adult and 2 children) for £46.50.

The Nutcracker, Cinderella and Swan Lake are also all at St David’s Hall in December. The Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia bring these 3 classic and enchanting ballets to Cardiff. There are lots of offers on including a multi-ballet saver. If your child is into ballet and has never seen a live performance, this could be a really special experience watching a popular ballet with recognisable music. The Nutcracker is set at nightfall on Christmas Eve and is perfect for this time of year.

*

If you’re really gagging for a full on Panto experience, here you go, these are for you. Oh no they aren’t. Oh yes they are.

New Theatre

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs / 9 December – 14 January

Cheapest standard ticket is £13. Family Offer 4 tickets for £79 (only some shows). There are about a billion different ticket price options so check with the box office what’s best for you.

It’s panto as you know it, big costumes, big sets and big names. This year’s includes Gareth Thomas, Mike Doyle, Samantha Womack and Chico!

Memo Arts Centre, Barry

Snow Queen “A Frozen Tale” / 14 – 17 December

£13. Children £11. Family group £45.

Barry’s amateur dramatic drama company BillBoard Ensemble are back at the Memo with panto. This year’s is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale of the Snow Queen featuring songs from Disney’s Frozen.

Paget Rooms, Penarth

Beauty and The Beast / 7 – 10 December

£10. Children £8.

Penarth Operatic and Dramatic Society return with their annual family pantomime.

Jack and the Beanstalk / 4 – 10 January

£14. Children £8. Family £42.

Owen Money heads up this panto from Rainbow Valley Productions. It will be in Penarth following a tour of South Wales.

 

Let me know what you think of these if you get to any of them and if I’ve left any out!

 

 

theatre, Things To Do

Sci-Fi Treasure Hunting in Blackwood – Project: Oggbots

Today, I went hunting for a professor and a crazy artist while dodging shady agents on the streets of Blackwood on a mission to save some aliens.

True story. I took my nine and five year olds to help with the mission. They flipping loved it. They’ve seen more theatre than most kids could shake a stick at but this interactive intergalactic family adventure made a huge impression on them.

We started in the library, getting the back story and some essential training in observation and evasion tactics. Over an hour later we were working on circuit boards in a secret location. The boys were thrilled with the extra-terrestrials and electronics..

“I hope we get to go to another one like that soon!” – the nine year old said at bedtime.

Project: Oggbots is a show for 7-11 year olds by Root Experience. It’s only on for one more day but with plenty of times to choose from. Book your tickets with Blackwood Miners’ Institute:  Blackwood Miners’ Institute website or go old school and phone the box office 01495 227 206.

theatre, Things To Do

Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare and circus skills

If your idea of taking your children to see a Shakespeare play is a hellish few hours of numb bums and boredom then let the latest offering from Omidaze Productions change your mind.

We all know the Romeo and Juliet story. I had a mild obsession with the Baz Luhrmann film in my teens (still my top soundtrack album), my kids are more familiar with Gnomeo and Juliet and if you’ve never seen West Side Story where’ve you been?! It’s the perfect gateway play into the world of the Bard.

With a young and diverse cast of actors, this version from director Yvonne Murphy goes a step further in shaking up Shakespeare. Aerial circus skills add excitement to the experience with Lady Capulet elegantly twisting on silks and Romeo’s mates throwing banter around on swinging hoops. The audience don’t sit behind an invisible fourth wall but walk, sit and perch amongst the action, getting up close and personal with each scene.

This show is recommended for ages 7 and up. My eight year old is really looking forward to it. I take him to a lot of theatre (the perks of a mum working in the arts) but he’s never seen anything quite like this before. Family friendly theatre doesn’t have to mean puppetry and slapstick (don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of both) so give it a go and take your tribe.

 

Romeo and Juliet has been co-produced by Omidaze Productions with Wales Millennium  Centre and after touring Mod, Llanelli and Brecon they’ll be back in Cardiff on 27th April – 14th May. Get your tickets sharpish because they’ve a tendency to sell out. Tickets and details: Romeo and Juliet

ACCESS INFO: There’s captioning at each show and BSL interpretation on Thursday 11th May at Wales Millennium Centre by Sami Thorpe. There’s also a tactile model and a touch tour for blind and visually impaired audience members as well as audio description on Thursday 11th May 7pm and Saturday 13th May 2pm at Wales Millennium Centre by Alistair Sill.

Photography by Kirsten McTernan

theatre, Things To Do

Jason and the Argonauts – the ultimate hero quest comes to Cardiff

If your children are anything like mine they’ll be superhero obsessed. Superhero birthday parties, superhero bedroom and errant superhero figures down the side of the sofa.

Centuries before the Marvel universe was even a glint in Stan Lee’s eye, the ancient Greeks were telling stories of heroes with superpowers that would make Iron Man turn as green as the Hulk with envy.

Remember the iconic 1963 film of Jason and the Argonauts? No, I’m not old enough to have seen it then but my dad was a fan so I’ve seen it a good few times. Jason is an ordinary man in an extraordinary world of gods and monsters. He and his mighty Argonauts set off on an epic quest for the Golden Fleece. Adventures follow.

A family friendly stage version of Jason and the Argonauts has been touring Wales and is in Cardiff at Wales Millennium Centre (in the Weston Studio) this Easter weekend on Friday 14th April 7:30pm and Saturday 15th April 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Book online: Jason and the Argonauts tickets

From what the writer of this production, Mark Williams says, it sounds right up my son’s (and my brothers’) street: “We’ve drawn together a range of influences, from 1980s animation theme tunes and the soundtracks of Wes Anderson, to the fantasy films of Jim Henson, by way of the deck of the USS Enterprise and the Doctor’s TARDIS.”

The Argo could as easily be a spaceship as a seafaring ship. Is it a long time ago? Is it a galaxy far, far away? Is this production based on all of my dad’s favourite things (I lie, it’s missing cowboys)?

There’s only one way to find out. I’ve booked my tickets, get a shifty on and book yours. To the quest!

Jason and the Argonauts is a Blackwood Miners’ Institute/RCT Theatres Co-Production on tour across Wales throughout April. A full tour schedule can be found at www.jasonandtheargonauts.co.uk.

Argo Image 006 portrait text