Monday 2 December 2019

Spectacle of Light Sudeley Castle 2019 Review

Sudeley Castle becomes Neverland to Welcome Peter Pan

Sudeley Castle have come up with another winning theme this year: Peter Pan - I didn't think they could top the Alice in Wonderland of last year but they've pulled it off. The sheer delight of Sudeley castle is that you get the grounds, the architecture, the location and the beauty of the lights and installations all so beautifully exquisite. When they're combined it truly is spectacular hence the hashtag #SpectacleOfLight. We couldn't wait to enter. On that note the entrance is different to last year, even the route is different. You still enter next to the souvenir shop but a few feet to the right of last year's entrance. I think it's great they mix it up it stopped it feeling samey.

For the Whole Family

We attended as a party of 11 which was us 3 Mums and 8 kids and the whole group thoroughly enjoyed this Spectacle of Light, despite our vast range of ages. The kids are: 1 pre schooler, 5 Primary School and 2 Secondary School. This really is a festive night out suitable for the whole family. We saw lots of buggies and Grandparents. No kids needed it's a romantic setting for couples too.

Architecture and Grounds

The architecture and the grounds truly are spectacular. Upon entering, I feel a respectfulness like I'm on sacred ground. Add to that the fact that the place has turned into Neverland for Christmas and it really is both surreal and other worldly. Be prepared to enjoy the magic!

Peter Pan Greets you with a Sword Fight

Are you up to it? If not, the kids will love it. Early on in the tour Peter Pan stops you on your path (the Mad Hatter of yesteryear) making no mistake of what the theme is this year. We stayed here a long time as the kids engaged so beautifully with Moa Myerson in fact I made an IGTV video of our time with her see it here: The Kids play With Peter Pan at Sudeley Castle

Do Not Miss Peter Pan & Wendy on the Wall

When you go deeper into the trail there is a disco ball and it's easy to get so caught up in looking at that, that you don't notice that first to one side, and then the other, Peter Pan and Wendy are projected on to the wall - it truly is magical and made me quite emotional. I'm so glad my friend Zena pointed it out to me as otherwise I would have missed it.

The Star of the Show

Last year the photo opportunity of the night was a light installation in the shape of a heart, it was THE place to have a selfie, this year it comes in the form of a star.

Night Photography is a BEAST

If you want to get great photos of your night at Sudeley Castle practice night photography before you arrive. All of these photos were taken by my dear bestie Aleks - the best of friends and the best of photographers. In all of my star photos you can't see the star lights. Due to the limitations of both my camera and my photography the white light looks like just a glow. My phone is a couple of years old so that doesn't act as an adequate deputy to my camera either. I did manage to capture the 3rd pic of Peter Pan above though, so I came away with something. But if you have a DSLR, do practice night photography before you attend if you want to capture some great pics. You may already be a pro given you would have had experience at Fireworks night. Also, if you do stop at each photo opportunity and linger till you get the perfect photo, this will increase the time it takes for you to complete the trail, so do wrap up warm and allow time for this. There are plenty of places to stop for a warm drink :-)

Illuminate Your Face

Some of the light features provide the perfect prop to illuminate your features and Aleks didn't let this one go to waste. My camera did not do justice to the sheer detail on this feature. Exquisitely captured by my dear friend Aleks:

Discover the Den of the Lost Boys

One of my favourite aspects of the Spectacle of Light was the hidden Den of the Lost Boys. You climb through a secret hole and each and every boy has a nook that is decorated with their wooden makeshift bed and belongings. It's so tender you feel like you're intruding. I will save the secrets for you to discover but this is the entrance you need to spot:

Find Captain Hook and Play with his Many Swords

Captain Hook is a dastardly devilish rascal, a comedic bad guy and so so very brilliant with the kids, until we declared ourselves Pan People and then clearly he thought we might help get him eaten by a crocodile as he then couldn't get rid of us fast enough with a big GO AWAY. We turned from friends to foe! Hey Ho! You can see the fun we had in this IGTV video here: The Kids and Captain Hook.

Don't whizz on by, it might be here you get your best pic of the night - I've seen some incredible ones on Instagram as the round light back drop acts as the perfect drop for silhouette photography. Captain Hook is fabulous at positioning his weapons for this so take your steer (of the photo ship) ahoy Captain, from him!

The Grounds Reign Supreme

As superb as the actors are, this is not just any stage, this is not just any old backdrop. No matter their amazing method acting skills. The backdrop, the "set" for the stage is the real star of this show:

This beautiful elephant is early on in the trail before Peter Pan don't miss it - oh and there is a dog near the Castle too

Recreating a famous meme

Fairy Guardian of the Fairy Garden

Just when you think you've seen it all you then stumble upon a Guardian of the Fairy Garden, who takes the time to tell you the names of all of her fairies. So in character and again so brilliant with all of the children. Last year this Actress was Queen of Hearts and we recognised her and the boys loved telling her that we saw her last year too. 

The Guardian of the Fairies told us that we would recognise their names from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In Shakespeare's popular comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream, the four fairies who attend to Queen Titania represent Shakespeare's interpretation of what fairy folk might be. He made his fairies: Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed
Of course we had to get a photo with her. Unfortunately I was stood in the way when Aleks took this pic so I am blocking her view of two of our boys.


There are several spots to grab snacks and hot drinks as you go round most notably on the terrace but there the queues were too long. All was not lost as later in the trail about three quarters of the way round was an Air-stream caravan doubling up as a cafe. Here I got hot chocolate for the kids, a sneaky Spiced Mulled Wine for myself and a skewer of fruit covered in warm delicious melted chocolate. Aleks even got a pic of me whilst I was none the wiser. It was nice to see the kids having a round of drinks - hot chocolate for all and Aaron adored the marshmallows. Luckily he couldn't finish it as Lottie then decided she wanted some. Ask for it to be colder if it's for children. Oh and take cash as the castle was blocking their signal for WiFi to take card payments

Bring your Charged Camera and your Memory Card

This is a night where you'll want to have your camera(s) with you. Go early doors in the season and you could even make your perfect pic into a Christmas Card.

The Wishing Tree to End the Trail

At the end of the Spectacle of Light there is a table where you can write a wish to tie to a magical Wishing Tree.

Spectacle of Light Sudeley Castle 30th November to 30th December

You can book tickets here. Sessions start from 1645 every half hour till 1915. Book soon as some slots are already sold out. You have to be at the venue at your allocated slot time, as this is a Spectacle that attracts numbers in their thousands. In order to enjoy the trail in comfort the attendance is staggered in time slots. If you are attending 2 adults 2 children a family ticket provides the best value.

Disclosure: our tickets were complimentary in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday 27 November 2019

The Snowman London Peacock Theatre Review 2019

To the kids London was The Snowman and The Snowman was London

We hopped on the bus straight from school Friday night ready to get our Snap Travel coach from Bristol to London to see the press performance of The Snowman at The Peacock Theatre London the next day, Saturday morning.

Soon after arriving at London's Kings Cross, Daddy's eagle eye meant we had this fab photo opportunity down in the Underground with the official The Snowman billboard poster. Once spotted the kids couldn't pose in front of it quick enough - we've been talking about seeing The Snowman since September and it's become an annual Christmas tradition. Lottie's holding her ears as she didn't like the loud noise of tubes pulling in to the platforms.
London Undergound The Snowman poster 2019

Once you have the excitement of posing in front of one poster you want to collect a photo of them all :-) By this time we're with the kids' favourite cousin and all dressed up for the theatre.
The Peacock Theatre The Snowman official poster and the kids
Face paint courtesy of Shrek's Adventure earlier than morning but by this point the cloud at the end of the rainbow is now of course SNOW!
Of course no photos or videos are allowed during the performance so I took this opportunity to get a pic of the excited kids just before the curtain went up.
We went to Shrek's Adventure in the morning before The Snowman (yep it was a REALLY early start) during which time Lottie did not wear this dress as I was saving it for The Snowman. Cookie laughed at my ambitious plans to do a costume change on arrival at The Peacock Theatre but whilst I was settling the buggy in the buggy park and neatly storing all of our jackets within, my niece ran to the toilets and facilitated the required on-theme snowman dress wardrobe change :-) My Mum bought Lottie this dress a few weeks ago and once I told her about our imminent trip to The Snowman she couldn't post it over from Ireland quick enough - thanks Mum :-) 

BEST bit about it is it has real snow glitter balls in the skirt that freely move throughout the skirt, so much fun!

Absolutely riveted during the show despite their mix of ages - Lottie 3 Aaron 9 and cousin 11.  All of us adults were riveted too. I don't travel from Bristol to London for just anything and nope, we weren't there anyway for the weekend and we didn't even stay that night as Aaron had to attend the birthday party of a VERY close friend the next day.

Being the good girl I am I didn't photograph or video any of the show but wanted to capture the kids with the BEAUTIFUL stage as a backdrop. Such butter fingers am I, by the time I did so, the curtain was half down and the rows below were starting to leave, but we'd just enjoyed the finale which is those lower rows getting covered in snow at the end which is SO SO very magical. Ruth include's videos of it in her carousel of pics on Instagram here: SNOW VIDEOS on Instagram swipe to 3rd and 4th

TIP: you get covered in snow if you are in the Stalls (which Ruth and Cookie were) but we were up in the Gods in the Dress Circle - front row though mind. From the Dress Circle you look down on all the snow falling fun. I was cool (forgive the pun) with that and so were the older 2 only Lottie wished she was down there but thankfully she didn't make a fuss.

My most detailed review of the Snowman is from our visit in 2015 when I was heavily pregnant with Lottie - that time Aaron and his cousin did very much stand in the snow as below:

In their younger days during our 2015 visit, when 2 cousins came and Lottie was a bump:

The theatre has a couple of snowmen which we couldn't wait to have photos with, there's also a "shop" selling The Snowman merchandise, which make for fab Xmas presents.

Cookie very kindly took the below photo for us:

And then Lottie photobombed hers ooops but what a pose!

Raymond Briggs’ picture book The Snowman was printed in 1978. Being a girl of the 70s myself I would only have been 5 years of age and I certainly do feel I have grown up with this firm festive favourite which:
has whisked generations of children off to a Wintry wonderland for a festive adventure year on year. Now the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s magical live stage show journeys back to The Peacock Theatre to charm both young and old for its 22nd consecutive year! Based on the much-loved film and book, the enchanting stage adaptation features exquisite dancing, magic and live music, including the unforgettable classic Walking in the Air:
(complete with aerial dancing) 

The  young boy of the story, James, befriends the Snowman when he comes to life on Christmas Eve. They have many adventures including riding a motorbike (below), dancing with fruit, penguins, a beautiful (ballerina) Snow Princess (and her wicked beau Jack Frost the show's baddie) and getting up to mischief with a cat. The cat scene was for some reason Lottie's FAVOURITE and she hasn't stopped talking about that scene since.

The first half of the show ends with the aerial Walking in the Air scene which is so very moving. After the interval you come back to what feels like a different show with a different pace and tempo featuring none other than Father Christmas himself AND lots of international Snowmen.

The Scottish snowman above makes me laugh so very much as a couple of times he head butts Jack Frost as both he and THE Snowman are trying to rescue the Snow Princess from Jack Frost - every Christmas Show needs a baddie right.

Inspired by the film directed by Dianne Jackson and produced by John Coates, The Snowman has become a must-do Christmas activity, “guaranteed to melt the heart of even the most cynical Scrooge” (The Guardian). Featuring choreography by Robert North, direction by Bill Alexander, design by Ruari Murchison, lighting by Tim Mitchell and timeless music and lyrics by Howard Blake, the performance has been seen by audiences of over half a million at The Peacock. 
The Snowman is visiting The Peacock as part of a UK and international Tour. 
The cast at The Peacock includes Emanuela Atzeni, Cameron Ball, Ruben De Monte, Anthony Edwards, Martin Fenton, Kane Hoad, Tomoyo Tanimoto Jequier, Katrina Kelly, Clare Lander, Kimberly Lawrie, Owen McHugh, Rowan Parker, Elisha Sherma and Ami Tollin.  
Suitable for all ages

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Production of The Snowman
The Peacock, LONDON WC2A 2HT
Thursday 21 November 2019 - Sunday 5 January 2020
Performances: 11am, 2.30pm & 7pm. See for full schedule
Tickets: £18 - £55
Family Tickets available
Ticket Office: 020 7863 8222 or  

Additional Tour Dates:
Thursday 7 November – Sunday10 November
Manchester Opera House

Wednesday 13 November – Sunday 17 November
Theatre Royal Glasgow

Thursday 21 November – Sunday 5 January
Peacock Theatre, London

Friday 29 November – Sunday 1 December
Lyric Theatre, Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong

Thursday 12 – Sunday 15 December
Esplanade Theatre, Singapore

Sunday 15 – Thursday 19 January
Milton Keynes Theatre

Cookie reviews The Snowman here:

and Ruth reviews The Snowman here:

Our tickets were complimentary in exchange for an honest review