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.

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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!

 

 

Thinking Out Loud

5 Ways to Stay Cool in Heatwave 2017

Yesterday was apparently the hottest day of the year in the UK and today it’s hotter here than in Ibiza or Hell or something.

I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a Negative Nancy. Maybe a Realistic Rita or a Cynical Cynthia at a push. However, when it comes to sunshine and the blink-and-you-miss-it British summer I am fighting the negativity. Real life and social media have joined forces to barrage me with moans about how bloody hot it is. Enjoy it! It won’t last forever.

I get that it’s a worry for people with little babies or other vulnerable family members so in the spirit of teaching my grandmother to suck eggs (that’s what blogs are, right?), here are a few of my common sense tips for the no doubt sadly short-lived heatwave:

 

Window
Shut Up: close those windows

1. Shut up

Keep your house windows, curtains and/or blinds closed in the day and it’ll be cooler inside than out for the evening because you’ve blocked the sun. Open the windows an hour before bedtime to circulate the air once it’s cooler. It’s counter intuitive but by Jove it works.

heatwave1
Drink Up: stay hydrated. duh.

2. Drink up

Stay hydrated. Just drink. Give your kids extra water. If they need reminding, remind them to drink. If you need reminding that you and your offspring need water when it’s hot then hang your head in shame. You plonker.

Cactus in the sun
Cream Up: don’t burn in that scorchio sun. The lobster look is not cool.

3. Cream up

In the words of Baz Luhrmann, wear sunscreen. Splodge and spray it on your kids, yourself and anyone else who needs it. Avoid squirting random passing strangers. That’s weird. My boys hate being creamed. We compromised on a spray one.

rollercoaster on sunny day
Strip Off: don’t layer up babies

4. Strip off

Strip off. Don’t wrap babies up in vests and babygrows and blankets. I was a baby and toddler in the Caribbean and I didn’t really wear clothes until we moved to the UK. Older kids don’t need duvets at bedtime, just a cotton sheet. For an extra treat keep your pillow case in the fridge.

choc ice at the park
Chill Out: enjoy it, treat yo’self!

5. Chill out

Stop moaning, stay positive, chill out (in the shade or a cool shower if you prefer).

Yesterday we had an outdoor event at school that lasted about an hour. Predictably I heard cries of “it’s too hot for them”, “it should’ve been moved”, “other schools cancelled sports days”. Did anyone actually melt or spontaneously combust? Quelle surprise, no they did not. Were we reminded to apply sun cream and provide a drink and a hat for our little darlings? Why, yes we were. Did everyone have a lovely time? Oh yes indeedy. Last year, the same event took place in the rain. It was (unsurprisingly) the same people saying “it’s too wet for them”, “it should’ve been moved”, “other schools cancelled sports days”. Did anyone actually dissolve or float away? Quelle surprise, no they did not. We are not made of sugar. We are not the Wicked Witch of the West. (Also, a sports day is a DAY, an hour is an hour. Don’t get me started.)

For a place like the Vale of Glamorgan where we can experience four seasons in a week, we can be a tad melodramatic about the weather.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy the weather in your paddling pools, your local beach, Ponty Lido, Barry Splashpark or from the cool comfort of your own bath.

Let me know your favourite ways to stay cool in the comments.

 

Places To Go, Things To Do

February Half Term

Half Term is almost upon us. Oh joy. I’ll be working for most of it *gets out tiny violin* but if I weren’t singing for my supper and palming my kids off on grandparents we’d be spoilt for choice with things to do and places to go.

Barry

Memo Arts Centre, Barry / Cinememo / £3 – £3.50

The Memo have family screenings all week including Moana and Sing. They’ve got a Relaxed screening on Thursday 23rd February at 11am. “Relaxed” means these are designed to welcome people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, sensory or communication disorders or learning disabilities.

Memo Arts Centre

Barry Library / Code Club / Ages 9-11 / Free

Friday 24th February. 4pm – 5pm.

As usual, our Vale libraries have plenty of things going on including Code Club. Booking is essential so drop in or give them a call on 01446 422425. If your child has an idea for a game or an app but doesn’t know where to start then get them to go along and learn to code. While they’re in there you could browse the shelves or check out the Holocaust Memorial Day Exhibition in the Art Central Gallery. Or if you’re feeling less cultured, escape the building, pick up a few bargains at the shops and maybe a cheeky steak bake.

Barry Library on Facebook

Communities First, Barry / Free

If you live in a Communities First area in Barry take a peak at their facebook page for details of activities going on.

Barry Communities First on Facebook

Penarth

Penarth Pier Pavilion / Space Day / Ages 4-11

A day of fascinating facts, brilliant experiments and out of this world activities for future astronauts and their families. The Planetarium and Mad Science Show sound awesome.

Penarth Pavilion

 

Cardiff

National Dance Company Wales at the Dance House, Wales Millennium Centre / Dance Days / Ages 7-18 / £15

Monday 20th February. 10am – 1pm (age 7-11) and 2pm – 6pm (12+)

My 8 year old has joined in with a couple of these and had a whale of a time. It’s basically a taster day for any level of dance experience.

NDCWales Dance Days

If you have a child doing Dance Days but spare children left over you can either blow away the cobwebs with a stroll across the barrage or head around the corner to…

Wales Millennium Centre in the Glanfa Foyer / Create a Paper Garden / All ages / FREE! (just turn up on the day)

Monday 20th – Saturday 25th February. 11am – 4pm.

Sounds similar to days we’ve spent building model houses, gardens and shops in the huge foyer space in Wales Millennium Centre. Go along and help transform the Centre into a beautiful garden made from paper. It’s free (huzzah!) and indoors.

Wales Millennium Centre – Paper Garden

St Fagans National History Museum / Childhood themed Half Term Activities / Free – £2

Saturday 18th – Sunday 26th February. 12noon – 4pm.

An obligatory half term day out for me when I was growing up, I take my tribe for school holiday adventures. It’s free to get in, £5 for parking and we usually take a picnic and a flask to keep the costs down. Their extra activities (Make a Toy Craft Sessions, Playtime Toy Sessions and Victorian Childhood Guided Tours) this half term range from free to £2. Check their website for details of what’s on which day.

St Fagans Half Term Activities

Bute Park Education Centre / Frog Themed Sessions / Age 3+ / Free

Tuesday 21st and Thursday 23rd February. 10:30am, 11:30am and 1:30pm

Remember Barry the Frog? He was one of the unusual animals on the Castle walls during City of the Unexpected in the summer. You can take a selfie with him in Bute Park this half term and do some frog related model making, crafting, games and stories. You’ll need to accompany your child and all wear wellies. What’s not to love?! It’s free and froggy.

Bute Park Fun with Barry the Frog

 

There are many parks and beaches in the Vale and beyond to explore for free but that’s a whole other post!

Let me know about anything I’ve missed out and I’ll try to shoehorn it in somehow.

My young humans would quite happily while away the whole week playing minecraft, building lego masterpieces or “decorating” everything in washi tape but I will drag them out by hook or by crook (when I’m not bringing home the bacon).