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.