run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Monday 28 November 2016

Review: Enchanted Christmas House, Islington

So, *that* time of the year is approaching... and there are so many fun festive days out for the kids. There are grottos, but visits don't last long, and there are Christmas shows, but my toddler wouldn't sit still for a whole one. Then I heard about Enchanted House, Islington - an "interactive show" with lots of activities and characters, music and noise. This weekend, we (tiny man, his parents, and his eight-year-old niece) headed over to the Sunday afternoon session to check it out.

My main question was: is it worth the money? Because the Enchanted Christmas House an expensive place - from £129 for an adult and one child, up to £195 for two adults and two kids, or if you've five kids it's a whopping £270! 

So what do you get for the cost? A lovely venue, for starters: it's in the London Art House, a 10-minute Christmas-decoration-packed walk from Angel station, with gorgeously painted walls and setting. There are free drinks (including mulled wine for us oldies), mince pies, tangerines, biscuits and chocolate laid out, and these are restocked all afternoon so you can have as much as you like. 

There were around 30 children attending on the same afternoon as us, and lots of staff (all dressed up as characters or elves) so lots of individual attention. The afternoon kicked off with a show called Santa's Pink Pigeon and Glitter Snatchers, with the plot being that the latter were planning on stealing the colour from Christmas. It was a cute show, with lots of props and singing (although
more kid-friendly songs might have been wise: they looked a bit lost at 'It's Raining Men'), and kept the kids' attention. What was nice, too, is that the setting is more casual than a traditional theatre show - kids sit in the middle, parents behind them, any noisy babies were rocked towards the back, and there are lots of big snowmen and other games around the room so toddlers who get bored can happily entertain themselves.

Parts of the show were a bit amateur, but it set the scene for the afternoon of activities: we were led to a beautifully-decorated arts and crafts room, with Art Attack levels of equipment to make our own pink pigeons and Playdoh islands; everyone was given a big bag to put the day's creations inside. 

During the afternoon, kids and their parents were taken individually to Santa's grotto: again, this was beautifully decorated, with the kids loving the 'sensory room' en route (fibre optic lights, cubes changing colour, lit-up snowmen) and the Father Christmas (who'd learnt his parent-prepared crib notes very well: the eight-year-old was wowed that he knew her interests so well..). They each received a gift: a small stuffed zebra for tiny man, and a modelling and paint set for my niece.

Other sessions included a gingerbread man-decorating room (with marshmallows, jelly sweets, icing sugars, and - parent-touch: aprons all laid out). There was a useful bag to pop the creation home in too - it was well thought-through. Throughout the sessions, the theme of the play came through, and lots of characters popped in and out (the kids had to sing a song to keep the villains away), and there were many photo opportunities. Mrs Claus often got her guitar out and sang the likes of Jingle Bells too, to excited kids. 

The penultimate session was a magic-style show with more songs, marracas, drums and story-telling. It was in an Arabia Nights-style tented room, and again the kids were rapt for the whole half hour (especially the Christmas chocolate egg hunt at the end!) . The last session was the best for smaller kids - a huge play area with loads of well-stocked stations, including a sand pit, water play, jungle animals area, puppets, stacked Jenga-style icicles, snowmen and a light tent, a play shop with trolleys, a snow-filled box with penguins popped throughout, and a slime box. Tiny man could have happily stayed here for two hours. 

But the afternoon concluded with the last part of the show - this time with a snow machine and kids dancing and singing - plus the drinks, tangerines and mince pies were still available to stock up for the Tube journey home. 

My overall verdict? There's no getting away that Enchanted Christmas House is expensive - and there could be some improvements: more array of food, more kid-friendly songs in the show. 

But if you're after a really treat of an afternoon, with brilliant decorations, very enthusiastic actors and rapt kids, it is that - and more.

* Run Out of Womb received complimentary tickets to Enchanted Christmas House, but rest assured we're seriously mouthy and only rave about what we love.

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