Last year I took The Bear to see In The Night Garden Live. He had just turned 2 and I still maintain that watching him dance and the amazement on his face when he got to cuddle Iggle Piggle are some of my favourite memories.
This year it was Bollie’s turn so we packed our cuddly Upsy Daisy, a huge picnic and a rather reluctant Bear (who thinks he is too old now for In The Night Garden (ITNG)) and we headed over to Richmond. We left early so we could drive through Richmond Park on the way to see the deer (another post coming on this but if you ever get the chance to detour it is well worth it) and we parked up in the centre (ITNG has a car park but they charge and many of the residential roads are free on Sunday so we used them instead).
It was a ten minute walk to the Old Deer Park which is playing temporary host to a huge pop up showdome where the production is held (the showdome tours the country so check out their website for its nearest stop near you).
From the second you see it you know you are in the right place with huge billboards of the characters (perfect for a photo shoot – we literally had to drag Bollie away – I think she thought this was the main event!)
As with last year I was very impressed with the level of thought that had gone into the facilities. They try to keep queuing to a minimum (and do a good job) and there is lots of space for little ones to roam pre and post performance as well as colouring in etc to keep them busy while they wait their turn to meet a character at the end. There is also a huge buggy park, plenty of baby change and even a microwave in case you wanted to heat up bottles or lunch.
Once you are in the theatre area itself it is magical. Rather than seats there are huge steps so little ones have room to dance and fidget around and because of the circular nature of the showdome you really feel you are in the production.
The whole thing lasts about 45 minutes and from start to finish both Bollie and The Bear (and even LSH if he was honest) were mesmerised. The puppetry is amazing (with a mix of full size costumes to hand held puppets) and the set itself is fabulous. The storyline follows exactly what would happen on the TV show so little ones know exactly what to expect.
I remember last year being nervous that The Bear would shout or cry but the layout erases those fears as it is so easy to pop in and out and frankly everyone is in the same boat (with very little ones) so it is really very easy. Both this year and last though my kids were so enthralled that all they did was get up to dance and shout in excitement when their favourite characters arrived onstage!
After the show there are opportunities (for an extra £15) to meet the character of your choice for a one on one family session and have a free (inc in the £15) memorabilia picture taken with them. This year we met Upsy Daisy and Bollie loved it (she has cried every other time she has been approached by someone in costume but this time she just ran over and gave her a hug!).
The event isn’t cheap (we were very lucky to have won our tickets in a competition hosted by Rascals Magazine) but I can honestly say it is worth every penny and if you are In The Night Garden fans and aged anywhere from 1 to about 4 (or a grown up fan!) then you will love it!
After the event we took our Yumboxes (www.yumbox-uk.co.uk) and headed to the riverside in Richmond for a picnic (there is a lovely grassy hill by the bridge) and an ice cream.
All in all it was a perfect day and The Terrorists are still talking about it now (2 weeks later!)
Time to visit – the whole experience is a couple of hours long – give yourself lots of time for photos etc
Top Tips –there are premium tickets available which get you closer to the stage. Personally I would say that you (and the kids) can see so well with standard tickets they probably aren’t worth it.
Highlights – the show itself and meeting Upsy Daisy (it is well worth the extra £15 to do this)
Getting there – there is a car park for the event but it is also easy to get the train and walk from the station
Pushchair access – with a secure buggy park it is very easy to be there with a pushchair
Price – it is expensive (my one criticism) at circa £20 per person (see their website for individual show prices) but I honestly believe it is worth every penny
Food and Drink – they don’t sell much there so definitely take a picnic or head into Richmond afterwards
Other attractions nearby – Richmond, Richmond Park (and its deer) and the river for boating etc
Baby facilities – the whole place is well geared to babies – they have thought of everything!