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We stay at Columbia Beach Resort – a beautiful five-star hotel in Cyprus

We stay at Columbia Beach Resort – a beautiful five-star hotel in Cyprus

Our review and all you need to know about Columbia Beach Resort in Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Name

Columbia Beach Resort

Where is it?

Pissouri Bay on the south coast of Cyprus.

What is it?

It is a five-star resort with 169 suites, two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, spa, gourmet restaurants and beach front location.

The beach at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The beach in front of the hotel

Is it family friendly?

Yes, there were lots of families when we went.

There’s a lovely kids’ club offering a range of activities each day.

The restaurants have a separate children’s menu including pizza, different pastas, fish and chips, burgers etc.

A pizza from the children's menu at Apollo Tavern restaurant at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

A pizza from the children’s menu at Apollo Tavern.

There are two tennis courts plus the hotel is on a pebbly beach with sunbeds.

The rooms

The 169 suites are spread out over this sprawling complex in different areas.

We had a family suite in the main hotel building – it was one of the nicest rooms we had stayed in – big with a fabulous layout and two bathrooms.

The lounge area at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The lounge in our family suite

The children’s room with large twin beds could be closed off with sliding doors, which they loved.

The children's room with twin beds in a family suite at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Children’s room

There were kitchen facilities too including a sink and fridge and a lounge area, plus desks/dressing tables.

The main bedroom in the family suite at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The main bedroom

I’ve never seen so many lights and lamps – we spent a while searching for some of the switches, eventually asking at reception to discover the room had its own lighting control panel!

A light control panel at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Lighting control panel

From the balcony we could see both the pool, the sea and the hills that surround the site.

View from a balcont=y at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The view from our balcony

Food and drink

The food was divine and beautifully cooked and presented. There are a choice of restaurants and we tried all three.

A crab salad starter

A crab salad starter

We were half-board and had breakfast in – and on the terrace of – the Bacchus restaurant. The restaurant is a nice size and never felt overly busy or with the cafeteria feel of some breakfast areas in larger hotels. It was buffet style but you can order freshly prepared pancakes, waffles and eggs etc.

We tried this restaurant for dinner one night too and it was the most elegant of all. We asked for a table outside where we could relax with the children while still enjoying the first-class food and service.

The other two restaurants we tried were the Apollo Taverna which offers a traditional Cypriot dining experience.

And the stunning Cape Aspro with a fabulous terrace overlooking the sea.

Cape Aspro restaurant at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Cape Aspro restaurant

All of the adult menus were different with the children’s menu the same at Cape Aspro and Apollo Taverna. Prices were around 10 euros for children’s main courses, 20-30 euros for adults mains depending on what you ordered. The portions were very generous, sometimes our starters would have been enough.

For dessert there is a special menu with lots of ice cream sundaes and other children’s favourites.

A sea view from a restaurant T Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Dinner with.a view

Our highlights

*The outdoor pool nearest to the main hotel is beautiful and a fabulous size.

An outdoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Our favourite outdoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort

*The indoor pool is slightly warmer as it’s heated so we had a lot of fun in it.

The indoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The indoor pool

*The food – I had some fabulous meals including a delicious prawn risotto and a gorgeous crab salad plus some fantastic desserts.

*The layout of the resort is pleasing and the views on to the sea are gorgeous.

Sunbeds next to the beach at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

A sunbathing area next to the beach

*Its location on the beach.

Top tips

*While we were there, children could only use the indoor pool until 2pm.

*I am rubbish at getting into cold water – so acclimatized in the indoor pool first before plunging into the outdoor pool and it’s really worth it.

Another outdoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The other outdoor pool

*There is live music in some restaurants some of the time which really adds to the atmosphere, so you can ask when booking to secure the evenings when this is on – or not on if you prefer. We enjoyed a saxophonist on one night and a guitar duo on another.

*If you walk one way from the hotel, you can do the Cape Aspro hiking trail, be careful of the steep drops though with children – the other way leads to the village with restaurants, bars and a small store.

More information

Address: Columbia Beach Resort
P.O. Box 54042
Limassol 3779
CyprusHow to book: https://www.columbiaresort.com

The Masked Singer Live UK tour 2022 – review and guide

The Masked Singer Live UK tour 2022 – review and guide

The very first Masked Singer Live UK tour has begun

The Masked Singer is the surprise television hit that is part singing competition and part guessing game which sees celebrities dress up in crazy costumes.

Clues are given about each celebrity so you can try and guess ‘who is behind the mask’.

In our house we are avid viewers – the children love it – so we were thrilled when it was announced that a stage version was to tour the UK.

We bought tickets to the first night in Liverpool, so here is our review plus all you need to know.

Name

The Masked Singer Live

Venue

We saw it at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool for the very first live show.

It will also be in London, Birmingham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham.

Who is in it?

*The host – as in the ITV show – is comedian and presenter Joel Dommett.

He got a great reception from the audience.

Joel Dommett on stage in Liverpool at The Masked Singer Live

Joel Dommett on stage in Liverpool

*The panel is made up of singer and tv personality Denise Van Outen (Fox in Series one) and JLS star Aston Merrygold (Robin in series two), plus a different third celebrity judge in each city. Ours in Liverpool was Samia Longchambon from Coronation Street.

*Five of the favourite characters sing and dance – at ours were Panda, Badger, Dragon, Unicorn and Traffic Cone.

Sadly it is not the original celebrities inside the costumes, but other great singers. They don’t take their masks off so younger children may not realise.

*Then there are two new celebrities to sing and be unveiled at each venue in new costumes – Space Pug and Baby Dino.

Who was behind the mask?

In Liverpool we had Simon Gregson (Steve McDonald, Coronation Street), who performed as Space Pug.

Simon Gregson (Steve McDonald, Coronation Street) performs as Space Pug at the Masked Singer Live in Liverpool

Simon Gregson as Space Pug

And singer and friend of Simon Cowell, Sinitta, as Baby Dino, voted best by the audience clapometer.

Best bits

*Solos, duets and group numbers from the favourite characters.

Badger, Dragon and Panda at the Masked Singer Live

Badger, Dragon and Panda, plus Unicorn heading out on stage

*Most of the audience and all of the judges (including his Coronation Street colleague) guessing Simon Gregson to be Space Pug. The clues are much easier to guess than the television series thankfully.

*Joel going into the audience to ask people who they thought the masked stars were.

When is it?

April 2, 2022: M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool

April 3, 2022: The O2, London

April 5, 2022: Utilita Arena Birmingham

April 8, 2000: Utilita Arena Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne

April 9, 2022: OVO Hydro, Glasgow

April 10, 2022: AO Arena, Manchester

April 13, 2022: First Direct Arena, Leeds

April 15, 2022: Utilita Arena Sheffield

April 16, 2022: Motorpoint Arena Nottingham

April 18, 2022: OVO Arena, Wembley, London

Who are the guest judges at each venue

The third judge at each venue to sit alongside Denise Van Outen and Aston Merrygold will be:

O2, London: Jonathan Ross

Birmingham: Mo Gilligan

Newcastle: Scarlett Moffatt

Glasgow: Sanjeev Kohli

Manchester and Leeds: Nicola Roberts

Sheffield: Martine McCutcheon

Nottingham: Natalie Imbruglia

OVO Arena Wembley: Davina McCall

Tickets

Tickets are available here.

Conclusion

A great family night out for fans of the show.

 

 

Why Cornwall is the perfect place for a sea-view or beach cottage

Why Cornwall is the perfect place for a sea-view or beach cottage

How to pick the best cottage near the beach in Cornwall

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Classic Cottages – all words and opinions are my own!

If you are dreaming of a family holiday near a world-renowned beach making happy memories with your children, look no further than Cornwall.

Its striking coastline and golden sands are among the reasons why it is one of the leading holiday destinations in the UK.

And if you want to wake up just a stone’s throw from one of its glorious beaches, there are a lots of holiday cottages you can stay in.

They make the ideal base for a family, allowing you more space and freedom plus the ability to prepare your own meals, picnic on the beach or dine out when you choose. Cornwall has fabulous restaurants and delicious produce, not forgetting of course Cornish pasties and cream teas.

Some cottages have spectacular sea views and many also welcome dogs, so you don’t have to leave your pooch behind. Classic Cottages offers beach-side retreats of all sizes from cosy through to big properties for large groups.

They are all handpicked, inspected, regularly maintained and equipped with everything from bed linen through to coffee pots.

So, all you need to decide is which part of this beautiful county do you want to visit.

Where to stay in Cornwall

The Far West

If you are drawn to the turquoise waters of the unspoilt Far West, there is lots to do, including a trip to the island of St Michael’s Mount.

You can see this jewel in Cornwall’s crown from the village of Perranuthnoe, where you can stay at Classic Cottages’ The Hideaway.

This intriguing ‘Hobbit-style’ glamping retreat is on the edge of the village with a beach, pub and cafe on the doorstep.

The Hideaway in Cornwall, Classic Cottages

The Hideaway

The North

The waves of the North offer famously good surfing conditions.

The area is great for all types of extreme sports including scuba diving and rock climbing. If you fancy staying here in a beach hut by the sea, you’ll love the accommodation known as Krowji.

Krowji cottage in Cornwall with sea view

Krowji

It’s in the popular seaside resort of Polzeath and has wonderful sea views and even a conservatory.

The South Coast

A holiday home on the south coast of Cornwall is perfect for a family-friendly getaway, with fabulous beaches at Mevagissey, Falmouth, Looe and St Mawes. And if it’s sea views you are after, 4 The Beach has got them in abundance through floor to ceiling bi-fold doors.

4 The Beach cottage in Cornwall

4 The Beach

The apartment, north of Cadgwith, has board games to keep everyone entertained, plus a lawn and patio.

It’s a short stroll down the hill to Kennack Sands, which has a lifeguard in the main season and a beach cafe selling drinks, snacks and ice cream.

Further east on the south coast you’ll find Mimosa Cottage in the heart of St Mawes with views over the Percuil River.

Mimosa Cottage in Cornwall

Mimosa Cottage

It’s just a two-minute walk to the waterfront with restaurants, cafes and shops to explore and boats offering fishing trips, sunset cruises and regular ferry services to Falmouth.

Whether you want a cottage with sea view or a beach cottage, there is somewhere for you.

And when you fancy a day exploring inland, you will find beautiful Cornish countryside, a fascinating history, fabulous walks and legends plus family attractions.

Our children love the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Tintagel Castle and Lappa Valley.

Wherever you stay, have a fantastic holiday.

A surprise to wake to in Mallorca at a hotel full of swimming pools

A surprise to wake to in Mallorca at a hotel full of swimming pools

We take a family holiday to Mallorca and stay at the five-star Zafiro Palace Alcudia

To land at night is to preserve the mystery of your surroundings until morning – and we were in for a pleasant surprise on our break to the Balearic island of Mallorca.

Early signs are good – we land at Palma and are out of the plane, the airport and into our hire car in a record-breaking 20 minutes.

Safely at the hotel a little later, we love our big, open-plan, ground floor room despite the partially see-through frosted toilet door!

Zafiro Palace Alcudia aerial view of the pools

Zafiro Palace Hotel

The huge comfortable bed and sofa which converts into two singles mean it’s easy to sleep.

And when we pull back the curtains the following morning, we are greeted with a sight befitting this five-star hotel, Zafiro Palace Alcudia.

Our room at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Our room

A big terrace awaits us, furnished with a table and chairs and comfy sun loungers.

But there’s also a gate. A gate which leads on to a swim-up pool. Bliss.

Swim-up pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Swim-up pool

In fact, most ground floor rooms here have this luxurious option while top floor suites benefit from a hot tub.

Water is a common theme, perfect for a Mediterranean island known for the aqua sea surrounding it – I count at least 12 swimming pools.

For children, there’s a pirate-themed pool with water slides and another with a ‘wet bubble’ in the middle to climb and bounce off which opens out into the biggest pool here, with a swim-up bar.

Water slides in a pirate-themed children's pool at Zafiro Palace Hotel, Mallorca

Water slides in a pirate-themed children’s pool

But as it’s October and the water is a little chilly, the warmest pool here is the busiest, with one lane sectioned off for serious swimming and double sun beds over the water on the other side for those who’d rather watch.

The warmest swimming pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

The warmest pool

All that swimming builds up appetites and the food here is fantastic. Thankfully the main buffet restaurant has enough pancakes, pizza and pasta to keep even our daughter happy.
Plus a good variety of Spanish favourites like Paella and fish and other international cuisine to satisfy all palates.

There are several a la carte restaurants too – an Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean and Bistro/Grill. All of them offer high quality food in a relaxed atmosphere which caters to children.

And the younger ones are also well-served by a playground, entertainment such as mini discos in the afternoons, a mini golf course and a basketball court/football pitch.

The hotel is in Puerto de Alcudia, in the north of this popular island.

It’s surrounded by mountainous scenery and is within walking distance of Playa de Alcudia, a long sandy beach with shallow waters and playground equipment.

Play equipment for children on Playa de Alcudia beach

Playa de Alcudia beach

We also spend time on other stunning beaches and explore Port de Pollensa, which inspired Agatha Christie’s story Problem at Pollensa Bay.

The beach at Pollensa

The beach at Pollensa

Alcudia Old Town is also worth a look as are the fabulous Caves of Drach with its stalagmites and stalactites and stunning musical experience.

One day we take the twisty mountain road up to a clifftop vantage point at Es Colomer, with fabulous sweeping views of this wonderful island.

Es Colomer - walking up to a view

Es Colomer – walking up to a view

We admire the keen cyclists cruising up the steep slopes – they didn’t appear to have overindulged in a hotel buffet like I had.

We may have arrived at night but we departed in the morning – just time for a final trip to the breakfast buffet.

*For more details of the hotel, read our full review and guide next – Zafiro Palace Alcudia.

(We were guests of Zafiro Palace Alcudia, all views are my own).

Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2022 – our tips and advice

Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2022 – our tips and advice

We investigate some of the popular annual passes for 2022 including Merlin, National Trust, English Heritage and Chester Zoo

There are so many amazing places to take children across the UK but the cost can really add up, especially over the holidays.

So is it worth splurging on an annual pass so you can visit your favourite places as often as you want? We investigate the most popular options for 2022.

This year sadly you will have to factor in whether these attractions will be open and accessible for you to visit.

Merlin Pass

The Octonauts ride at Alton Towers

Alton Towers

What is it?

The UK’s biggest annual pass offering entry to 32 Merlin attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland and more.

What do you get?

Entry to 32 attractions – London Eye, Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park, Alton Towers, Warwick Castle, Sea Life Centres, LEGOLAND Windsor, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Madam Tussauds sites, Blackpool Tower, five Dungeon sites around the UK, Shrek’s Adventure.

You also get free car parking at theme parks and Warwick Castle (with a Premium Pass), 20 per cent off food and drink inside and discounted entry for family and friends.

How much is it?

The Standard Pass is £179 per person, £139 per person for a family pass for 3 or more people (maximum three over-12s).

The Premium Pass is £229 per person. £189 each for a family pass.

If you renew the pass after 12 months, the family price drops to £109 (standard) and £149 (premium).

Can I pay monthly?

Yes you can, with a new monthly membership option.

For the Standard Pass it costs £29.99 per person joining fee and then £8.99 per month per person.

The total cost over a year would be – £137.87 per person, similar to a family pass cost.

For the Premium Pass the cost is £34.99 joining fee and then £11.99 per month. The total cost is £178.87 per person, similar to an annual family pass.

Note: you have to sign up for a minimum of 12 months.

What about the small print?

The Premium Pass gives you entry to all attractions at all times plus priority entry to venues, a fast track pass voucher and free parking.

With the Standard Pass, you ARE restricted on which days you can use it at certain attractions.

In August and all UK Bank Holidays: No entry to any central London attractions including London Eye, Sea Life, Shrek’s Adventure, the London Dungeon and Madame Tussauds London.

Valentine’s Day: No London Eye entry.

October half-term weekends around Halloween: No entry to London Dungeon.

Friday, Saturday or Sunday in August and September 1: No entry to Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington, LEGOLAND Windsor, Warwick Castle.

No free parking at any attraction with a Standard pass.

How much could you save?

The standard pass costs £46 per month for a family of four (2 adults, 2 children).

If you visited one attraction a month, Merlin’s website claims you will save £684 over a year compared with on-the-day entry.

You can use the Merlin Pass official calculator here.

However there are lots of 2 for 1 offers available online and via cereal packets and newspapers for most of these attractions, so nobody should be paying full price.

That makes the pass roughly the same price as a monthly visit to a Merlin attraction.

Verdict

In order to save money with this pass you need to visit more than 12 attractions in the year. If you are going to manage that then it could be good value.

Top tip

Look out for Merlin pass discounts – this usually happens in January and June. You can save between £20 and £50.

(For our reviews, tips and advice on LEGOLAND Windsor, click here).

National Trust membership

deer outside Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey

What is it?

An annual pass giving free entry to more than 500 National Trust parks, gardens and houses.

What do you get?

Free entry to National Trust sites, free parking at most car parks, a handbook and a National Trust magazine three times per year.

How much is it?

A family pass for 2 adults and up to 10 children (living at the same address) costs £126 per year.

For 1 adult and up to 10 children it is £78 per year.

Children under 5 go free anyway, so take that into account. You can pay by monthly direct debit if you prefer.

What about the small print?

It is relatively simple but there are some car parks not included for free. Sites like Stonehenge and Tatton Park, which aren’t exclusively run by the National Trust, can incur some charges.

You have to sign up for a year at a time and can only cancel when your renewal is due. Be sure to mark your renewal date in your diary so you don’t miss it.

How much could you save?

Average entry price to a large National Trust place is around £30 for a family of four so you can save a lot.

Car parking can be costly too, from £3 to £7 at a lot of places.

Membership costs £10.50 per month for a family with two adults and £6.50 for a family with one adult, so if you go to a NT site once a month or more, you canstart to save money.

Verdict

Good value for the sheer number of sites and car parks you can use, especially if you have a good selection near to you, as we do.

(We have lots of National Trust articles on this site, including reviews of Dunham MasseyQuarry Bank MillTatton Park, and our Famous Five trail in Dorset).

English Heritage membership

A visitor does a handstand in front of the stones at Stonehenge

Stonehenge

What is it?

A pass allowing access to 400 historic places including Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel Castle and more.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to 400 sites, free car parking, free entry for up to 6 children, a handbook, children’s activity pack and members’ magazine four times per year.

How much is it?

A family membership for 2 adults and up to 12 children costs £105 per year. For 1 adult and up to 6 children, it is £60.

What about the small print?

Not all events at English Heritage sites are free for members. They do get a reduced rate though.

You will get a reminder  letter one month before membership renewal. You must cancel at that time or pay for another year in full.

How much could you save?

Entry to each site varies in price. There are some for less than £20 for a family of four, but others come to £50.

You need to visit at least five English Heritage sites per year to start saving money.

If you need ideas then this is a good page on their website here.

Verdict

Lots of properties but if you also have National Trust membership as well, do you really need both?

(For our review of Stonehenge, click here).

Chester Zoo membership

An orangutan and a baby orangutan in a hammock at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo

What is it?

Annual membership to the most popular tourist attraction outside London.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to Chester Zoo, Fast track entry, 10 per cent discount in the zoo’s shops and cafes, a quarterly magazine, access to junior members’ events, one free entry annually at several other UK zoos (Bristol Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo, Newquay Zoo, Living Coasts, Marwell Zoo, Paignton Zoo and Twycross Zoo).

How much is it?

Individual adult membership is £95 and it is £53 per child, if paying by direct debit and £105 and £59 if not.

So family membership for 2 adults and 2 children is £245 per year by direct debit.

What about the small print?

Fairly straightforward, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. You can go anytime. If you are using your free visit to another zoo you must take your membership card and membership letter.

How much could you save?

A day visit to Chester Zoo is up to £85 for a family of four booked in advance. There are rarely offers and discounts available.

You must all visit the zoo at least four times per year to start saving money.

Verdict

If you live close enough to visit regularly and have children who enjoy it, a Chester Zoo pass is a great family treat. Plus if you are members, you don’t feel you have to see every single animal and area each time and spend a whole day there for every visit, which is far more relaxed.

Top tip

If you are planning to visit, don’t miss our popular article Chester Zoo – our top tips to save you time and money.

Lightopia 2021: A Christmas Fantasy at Heaton Park, Manchester

Lightopia 2021: A Christmas Fantasy at Heaton Park, Manchester

We take our children on a family trip to a Christmas light festival in Manchester

We return for a second year to Lightopia, here is our full guide.

What is it

The Lightopia Festival – A Christmas Fantasy – is an award-winning and socially-distanced lantern and light festival, which also runs in London and at Alton Towers.

It takes place around a series of lit art installations and laser beams, which have been set up at the park in Manchester.

Snowman and lights at Lightopia Heaton Park, Manchester, 2021

When is it

Lightopia at Heaton Park runs from November 5, 2021 to January 3, 2022.

Gates Open at 5pm, last entry is 8.30pm and it closes at 10pm.

How much are tickets

Tickets booked in advance are £20 online for adults (or £22 on the day), £13 for children (or £15 on the day) and £60 for families of two adults and two children (£68 on the day). Children under three can go free.

Essential carers of disabled visitors can attend for free, the disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee.

A girl enjoys Lightopia Heaton Park Manchester

Food and drink

There are stalls and bars dotted selling food like hot dogs, carvery baps, chips, donuts, malled wine and hot chocolate.

There are also Dine in the Light experiences, a formal and a less formal.

The Dome dining experience is a three-course meal in one of 10 illuminated Dining Domes which seat up to six or twelve people, before or after the light trail. This must be pre-booked.

Also new for Lightopia Manchester 2021 is a more casual dining experience at The Stables Courtyard Bar and Dining.

Tables are under a heated canopy and guests choose from a variety of food and drink outlets serving things like tacos, pizza, roasted chestnuts and festive beverages. You can reserve a seat or walk in on the evening.

Top Tips

*Prepare for a bit of a walk from the car park and a queue at the start.

*It’s quite a spaced out route, you will walk a bit further than some other light shows, so take a buggy if you have young children.

*It is all outdoors so dress for the weather and ensure children are wrapped up warm and wearing sensible footwear. You will always be on a path but look out for the occasional bit of uneven ground as it is dark.

*We have tried both car parks and the walk from the North, St Margaret’s Road, car park is slightly easier and quicker than walking from the South, Sheepfoot Lane, car park.

A fairy and pile of books at Lightopia Heatonn Park, Manchester

Other questions

Is everything included in the price?

All the displays are included in the ticket price. You pay extra for fairground rides, food and drink and those flashing hand-held contraptions that our daughter loves.

How long will it take?

It takes about an hour and a half but that depends on how fast you walk and whether you buy food and drink. Take your time walking around, to take it all in, you certainly don’t need to rush.

Unicorn at Lightopia Manchester

Where to park

There are car parks on site and it is best to book in advance, then follow the directions on your email confirmation.

North – St Margaret’s Road, M25 2GT

South – Lake Car Park, Sheepfoot Lane, M25 0DL

Buy a parking ticket here – the same page you book your event tickets and scroll down – the parking is below event tickets.

How to book

To book tickets, visit www.lightopiafestival.com

Address:

Heaton Park, Sheepfoot Lane, Manchester, M25 0BP.

Social media

Follow on Instagram and Facebook @lightopiafestival #Lightopia

Now enjoy our video from last year:

(We received free entry for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

Harry Potter: The Forbidden Forest Experience – guide, review, video and top tips

Harry Potter: The Forbidden Forest Experience – guide, review, video and top tips

We follow Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione into the Forbidden Forest and test our nerve among the creatures who live there

Name

Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience.

What is it?

A night-time trail through the ‘Forbidden Forest’, known from being in the grounds of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books and films.

You walk at your own pace around an illuminated route, seeing and hearing some of the iconic forest scenes as well as magical creatures from Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts such as Hippogriffs, centaurs and spiders.

Hagrid ad Fang at Harry Potter: A Forest Experience

Hagrid and Fang

Where is it?

At the gorgeous Arley Hall & Gardens, in Northwich, Cheshire, England.

What did we think?

This is a magical trail as befits a magical world. The experience is carried out on an impressive scale – it was created by Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment, in partnership with Thinkwell.

It is very atmospheric and spooky, with Harry Potter music, sound effects, characters talking and eyes watching you pass, which could be a bit too scary for some younger children.

It would make a great Halloween or pre-Christmas treat for fans of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts.

Ron's flying Ford Anglia at Harry Potter: A Forest Experience

The flying Ford Anglia

Highlights

*Conjure a Patronus – choose your wand, point it and utter the words ‘Expecto Patronum’ to cast this spell, which sees off Dementors.

The Patronus Charm at Harry Potter: A Forest Experience

Expecto Patronum!

*Bow to a hippogriff and it will bow back.

Hippogriff at Harry Potter: A Forest Experience

*Try some Butterbeer (it’s alcohol-free), the wizarding drink loved by Harry Ron and Hermione.

Buy a butter beer at Harry Potter: A Forest Experience

Buy a butterbeer

*The food is delicious.

*Try out a deluminator – to put out the lights like Dumbledore.

*Hear Harry and Ron crashing in the flying Ford Anglia and see the car lights sweeping through the forest.

*Catch a glimpse of a white unicorn slinking through the trees.

Top tips

*Spiders: Aragog and other big spiders lived in the Forbidden Forest and scare Ron in the Harry Potter books and films. They lurk in this forest too but those with arachnophobia don’t have to see them. You will walk through a section with ‘webs’ in the trees, then can choose to divert from the path if you DO want to see the spiders. Those who don’t, stay on the path. If you do divert, you will see large spiders drop down from overhead, stopping just above your heads.

*It is an outdoor trail in the dark so dress warmly with sensible shoes.

Light trail at Harry Potter: A Forest Experience

*You can buy Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts merchandise.

Access and restrictions

It is a woodland walk so can be uneven so is not the best terrain to push a wheelchair. Motorised wheelchairs can be hired.

Harry Potter: A Forest Experience

Age

All ages are welcome, younger children may be frightened in places.

Time taken

Allow about an hour and a half to do the trail and eat at the end.

Food

There are places to buy food along the way or you can stop at the magical village at the end where our highlights included big marshmallows on sticks you can toast and smother with chocolate sauce , fish and chips, Cornish pasties and a roast dinner in a Yorkshire pudding. My son also enjoyed an edible wand.

Enjoying toasted marshmallows with chocolate sauce at Harry Potter: A Forest Experience

When is it on?

It runs from Mondays to Sundays, from October 16 to December 15, 2021.

Opening hours:

Sessions start at 6.30pm (October 16 to 31), 5pm (November 1 to 9), 4.30pm (November 11 to 28) and 4pm (November 29 to December 15). All sessions finish at 10pm.

Cost

Ticket prices vary by date and time, starting from £19.

Children under five are free and from five to 15 are a reduced price.

Buy tickets here.

Address

Arley Hall & Gardens, Arley, Northwich, CW9 6NA.

Harry Potter: A Forest Experience

*We were given complimentary entry for the purposes of this review, all views are our own.

 

The 10 top family days out in Shropshire

The 10 top family days out in Shropshire

Read our guide to the best attractions for children in Shropshire

Shropshire is a fantastic country for children and families with lots of lovely outdoor space and attractions to explore.

Here are some of the best family days out, in no particular order. Have you tried any of them?

1. The Sabrina Boat (Shrewsbury)

The Sabrina Boat on the river in Shropshire

The Sabrina Boat

Take a relaxing boat trip along the River Severn in Shrewsbury.

This triple-decker modern passenger boat carries 60 people

Address: Sabrina Boat, Victoria Quay, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 1HH.

Website: https://sabrinaboat.co.uk

2. Hawkstone Park Follies (Shrewsbury)

Hawkstone Park Follies

Hawkstone Park Follies

Explore 100 acres of parkland with magical follies, bridges, towers and caves, to spark children’s imaginations.

Address: Hawkstone Park Follies, Weston-under-Redcastle, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 5JY.

Website: https://www.hawkstoneparkfollies.co.uk

3. Park Hall Farm (Oswestry)

Sheep at Park Hall Farm in Shropshire

Park Hall Farm

There’s lots to do at this award-winning farm park with hands-on animal activities, two indoor play barns, adventure courses, woodland walks and a lovely lake.

Children can drive electric cars, visit the Victorian School, Iron Age Roundhouse and Welsh Guards Museum.

Address: Park Hall, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY11 4AS.

Website: https://www.parkhallfarm.co.uk

4. British Ironwork Centre (Oswestry)

Statue at The British Ironwork Centre

Statue at The British Ironwork Centre

This is the biggest display of decorative metalwork in the UK from suits of armour to animal sculptures and lamps.

It also features live work from the some of the best artists and blacksmiths in the country.

There’s over 60 acres of land to explore, a cafe, ice cream parlour, shops, sculpture park and an outdoor children’s adventure play area.

Address: The British Ironwork Centre, Whitehall, Aston, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY11 4JH.

Website: https://www.britishironworkcentre.co.uk

5. Ludlow Castle (Ludlow)

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle

This ruined medieval fortification overlooking the River Teme, was one of the first stone castles to be built in England.

There are also shops, a tea room and a walk around the outside of the castle with lovely views.

Address: Ludlow Castle, Castle Square, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1AY.

Website: https://www.ludlowcastle.com

6. Severn Valley Railway (Bridgnorth)

Severn Valley Railway

Severn Valley Railway

This 16-mile railway in Shropshire and Worcestershire, runs along the Severn Valley from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster. It operates full-size, mainly steam-hauled passenger trains.

Most of the route follows the course of the River Severn.

Address: There are six stations https://www.svr.co.uk/Stations.aspx

Website: https://www.svr.co.uk

7. Blists Hill Victorian Town (Madeley, Telford)

Blists Hill Victorian Town

Blists Hill Victorian Town

This open-air museum recreates the sights, sounds and smells of a Victorian Shropshire town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Address: Blists Hill Victorian Town, Legges Way, Telford TF7 5UD.

Website: https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/explore/blists-hill-victorian-town/

8. Enginuity Ironbridge (Telford)

This interactive design and technology centre has lots of interactive exhibits great for children aged up to 12.

Address: 10 Wellington Rd, Coalbrookdale, Telford, TF8 7DX.

Website: https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/explore/enginuity/

9. Shewsbury Canoe Hire (Shrewsbury)

Explore the River Severn from a canoe, which can be hired from two locations – Shrewsbury Quarry Park and Attingham Park.

Website: https://www.shrewsburycanoehire.co.uk

10. Shrewsbury Prison (Shrewsbury)

Shrewsbury Prison

Shrewsbury Prison

Shrewsbury Prison was built in 1793 and has been home to thousands of criminals.

Now it is open to the public with guided tours, evening ghost tours, escape events, prison experience events and history days.

Address: Shrewsbury Prison, The Dana, SY1 2HR.

Website: https://www.shrewsburyprison.com

We stayed at a fabulous holiday park when we visited Shropshire read our review and see our exclusive video tour : Review: Love2Stay – a fantastic holiday park in the middle of Shropshire with loads for children to do (and dogs)!

For more ideas see the official tourism website for Shropshire Visit Shropshire.

Review: Love2Stay – a fantastic holiday park in the middle of Shropshire with loads for children to do (and dogs)!

Review: Love2Stay – a fantastic holiday park in the middle of Shropshire with loads for children to do (and dogs)!

We take our children and dog to Love2Stay in Shrewsbury where we make exciting finds at our lodge before we even start to explore the rest of the site

Name

Love2Stay, Shropshire

Where is it?

Love2Stay is in the countryside on the outskirts of Shrewsbury in the centre of Shropshire.

What is it?

This UK holiday park is a fresh, modern, 22-acre resort where you can stay in anything from your own caravan through to a luxury lodge.

Watch our video tour below and then read on for lots more information.

Is it family-friendly?

Yes, it’s very family-friendly with lots for children to do.

There are two outdoor pools, a sand/beach area, a huge play area/playground and somewhere to play football. There’s also a pizza restaurant and numerous activities ranging from paddle boarding and archery through to den making and tie dying t-shirts.

Accommodation

You can bring your own touring caravan or motorhome or stay in a glamping lodge (Safari Lodge) or luxury Woodland Lodge on the site.

Our woodland lodge at love2stay holiday-park in Shropshire

Our woodland lodge

We stayed in a lovely new Woodland Lodge in a spacious plot – the children were thrilled when we arrived to find we had our own hot tub, huge hammock, bean bags and fire pit in the garden!

They decided this was going to be the best holiday ever, before we even got through the door.

Inside the lodge at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

Inside the lodge

Inside was a modern open plan lounge/kitchen/dining area, two bedrooms (one with two small single beds and one with a double), a bathroom with shower and an en-suite without.

The twin room inside the lodge at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The twin room

The double bedroom inside the lodge at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The main bedroom

It’s fully equipped with a microwave, dishwasher, fridge/freezer, oven and hob. The appliances were of a high standard and it was extremely clean.

In the hot tub outside our wooden lodge at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

In the hot tub

If staying in your own caravan or motorhome, there are fully-serviced pitches, warm clean facilities with private showers and complimentary toiletries.

Food and drink

The lodges are self-catering and we cooked in the kitchen and on the fire pit at ours. Each lodge has firelighters, kindling and logs supplied to get your fire pit roaring.

Plus there is a communal outdoor kitchen area with a fire pit, barbecues and woodfired pizza oven you can use.

There is an on-site cafe and pizza restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, selling delicious pizzas, breakfast snacks and other sharing dishes like nachos.

A few items like eggs and milk are sold at reception. There are nearby supermarkets including Sainsbury’s Local, Co-op, M&S and Asda, all within a few minutes’ drive.

Facilities

*Two outdoor swimming pools and beach.

The natural swimming pool at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The natural pool

A BioTop natural swimming pool – free of chemicals and filtered through a reed water garden. This gets very cold, you may need to bring a wetsuit.

A shallow pool for children to splash about in with water sprays that come on every so often, alongside the beach.

The children's pool at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The children’s pool

*Small lake for kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing.

Paddle boarding on the lake at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

Paddle boarding on the lake

*Gym/fitness suite.

*Grassy sports field with two goals for playing your own games.

*A big playground/play area for climbing, swinging and sliding. It was an excellent play area mainly suited for slightly older children aged 6 and above.

The playground/play area at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The playground/play area

*An assault course for aged eight and over, which can be booked as an activity.

*A small cinema in a tent showing three films a day. All the films when we were there were family films.

*Spa treatments.

*Yoga and pilates sessions.

*Woodland School sessions with fun activities.

*A cafe and restaurant.

The restaurant and reception at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The cafe/restaurant and reception behind the outdoor pool

Is it dog-friendly?

Yes, our lodge was dog-friendly and our dog Charlie loved it here – there is a lovely fenced-in space where they can run around off the lead and play and a fantastic adjoining agility area.

They need to be kept on the lead around the rest of the site and are not allowed in some areas such as the pool areas.

A dog in the agility area at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

Charlie in the dog agility area

Nearby 

Love2Stay is in the heart of Shropshire, a county with lots for children to do.

There are open spaces, woods and hills plus it has a rich history. Read our  guide here for ideas: The 10 top family days out in Shropshire

*Shrewsbury

The holiday park is on the outskirts of the town of Shrewsbury.

We crossed over the River Severn and had a walk through its 29-acre park The Quarry.

In the centre of the park is a stunning sunken garden called the Dingle. This is a lovely area to explore and you can also enjoy the historic town centre.

Flowers intThe Dingle garden in the Quarry park, Shrewsbury

The Dingle garden in the Quarry park, Shrewsbury

There is loads more to do in Shrewsbury including Shrewsbury Prison, a canal ride, a boat ride and a visit to a fabulous park Hawkstone Follies, read about them here.

Love2Stay information

Address: Love2Stay, Emstrey, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY5 6QS.

Phone: 01743 583124

Website: www.love2stay.co.uk

Book a touring pitch.

Book a lodge.

RELATED CONTENT: The eight best places for children on and around the Llangollen Canal

RELATED CONTENT: We review an Anglo Welsh canal boat with our children – is it family friendly?

(We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

The Buxton Crescent REVIEW and GUIDE – we discover if this luxurious spa hotel is popular with children

The Buxton Crescent REVIEW and GUIDE – we discover if this luxurious spa hotel is popular with children

Buxton’s historical Georgian centrepiece wows on a trip to the Peak District

The Buxton Crescent is a beautiful hotel in the heart of a Peak District town which for centuries has been famed for the healing properties of its spa waters.

This iconic, curved, Georgian building, started out as two grand hotels. And now, a 17-year project has restored it to this luxurious hotel and contemporary spa which sources the natural spring water from beneath it.

Visitors are travelling from all over to stay here, but is it suitable for children? We take our two, to find out what it can offer for youngsters.

Name

Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel

Where is it?

It is in lovely Buxton in the Derbyshire Peak District, in a brilliant, central position opposite the Pavilion Gardens.

What is it

The Buxton Crescent is a five-star spa hotel which opened in 2020 following a £70 million restoration.

It has 81 rooms and a big thermal spa and is run by Ensana Hotels.

The history

Buxton first became a spa resort when the Romans discovered warm, bubbling springs underneath what is now the hotel and settled in the area in around 78AD.

In 1789, the Crescent was built by the Fifth Duke of Devonshire to establish Buxton as a Georgian spa town.

It was originally two hotels, vsited by spa seekers who travelled from all over to bathe in Buxton’s thermal waters.

The building was later used for other purposes but by 1992 was derelict.

It was reborn following a huge renovation and the Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel opened in October, 2020.

The indoor to outdoor rooftop swimming pool at the Buxton Crescent Hotel.

The indoor to outdoor rooftop swimming pool.

Is it family friendly?

The hotel’s main market is adults including couples, older families and friends but it is surprisingly child-friendly and our two absolutely loved it.

They adored our suite (see accommodation below), the food and especially the indoor to outdoor rooftop swimming pool.

Plus, the location opposite the park was a huge bonus with its two play areas, boating lake, ice creams and mini train.

And there are so many amazing things to do in the surrounding area (more below).

Accommodation

We stayed in a junior suite which can hold two adults and two children. We parents slept in the main bedroom in a sumptuously comfortable four-poster bed beneath a magnificent chandelier.

Bedroom in the junior suite at Buxton Crescent Hotel

Our bedroom in a junior suite

The children were in the lounge area where a sofa bed had been converted into a small double. They loved having their own room (and tv opposite the bed)!

The lounge/children's bedroom in a junior suite at the Buxton Crescent Hotel

The lounge became the children’s room

There was a separate bathroom with the biggest overhead shower head I’ve ever seen and a freestanding bath outside the bathroom within the area between the two bedrooms.

The bath in a Junior Suite at the Buxton Crescent Hotel

Food and drink

The restaurant is lovely, it’s elegant and serene so keep your fingers crossed for well-behaved children but it’s big enough to be able to relax.

There is a children’s menu with a great choice of food for younger diners. The pasta and meatballs went down well with our two as did waiter Joe’s napkin tricks.

The restaurant at the Buxton Crescent Hotel

The restaurant

Our meals were so tasty and there was a great choice of wine.

Breakfast was equally delicious, there was a good choice of cereals and lovely pastries, plus pancakes and cooked breakfasts.

There is also a Spa Cafe serving lighter meals and desserts with indoor and outdoor seating.

Highlights

The main swimming pool

The rooftop swimming pool was the best I have ever been in, thanks to its warm temperature, which meant that for the first time ever I was able to get straight in instead of very slowly, while shivering. There was also the novelty of being able to swim from inside to outside and vice versa.

Children aren’t allowed in the spa or its two smaller pools but they are thankfully allowed in this one.

The drinking water

I know it’s just water, but the water here tastes so nice, we all drank a lot more than we usually would in the restaurant.

The town’s drinking well, St Ann’s Well, is opposite the hotel and you can fill up your own bottles here but the hotel is supplied directly.

Buxton Mineral Water is still bottled here and sold around the world.

The spa

Buxton is one of only two Roman spa towns in England – the other being Bath.

Famous faces who have travelled here include Mary Queen of Scots who came to ‘take the water’ in Buxton to treat her rheumatism.

Visitors to the hotel spa now find a relaxing, contemporary space where they can also bathe in the town’s water – it flows chemically untreated into a thermal pool surrounded by wall tiles dating back to 1924 and covered with a stained glass canopy.

Use of the spa is included with all stays and also includes a relaxation pool, spa baths, three saunas, two steam rooms, a gym, a salt cave, two relaxation pools and an ice fountain.

The spa is not for children so we parents took turns individually to enjoy it.

Treatments from the spa menu cost extra and include traditional beauty therapies along with wellness and holistic treatments.

The building

The grade one-listed crescent-shaped building was designed by architect Sir John Carr.

Modelled on the Royal Crescent in Bath, this fine example of Georgian architecture feels wonderfully impressive as you arrive.

The staff

The staff were so friendly and helpful and went out of their way to assist and chat and make our stay extra special.

Nearby

The Peak District is the country’s oldest National Park and there are loads of great family walks to enjoy among its rolling hills.

There are also lots of attractions that children will love. We visited:

*Poole’s Cavern and Buxton Country Park

A two million-year-old limestone cave with fabulous formations, read our review and guide to it here.

A tour at Poole's Cavern

Poole’s Cavern

*Peak Wildlife Park

A lovely zoo where you can walk among some of the animals. It also has play areas, read our review and guide here.

A girl interacts with a penguin at Peak Wildlife Park

Peak Wildlife Park

*We also climbed Shutlingsloe Hill, known as the Matterhorn of Cheshire.

The third highest peak in the county has a distinctive profile. It’s very steep and rocky towards the top.

Climbing Shutlingsloe Hill - the Matterhorn of Cheshire

Climbing Shutlingsloe Hill – the Matterhorn of Cheshire

Conclusion

We had an amazing time at the Buxton Crescent Hotel and we all would love to return, it’s a perfect destination for all ages to relax and enjoy the luxurious surroundings and beautiful Peak District.

Buxton Crescent hotel information

To book: https://www.ensanahotels.com/buxton/en

Address: The Crescent, Buxton, SK17 6BH, United Kingdom

Email: reception.buxtoncrescent@ensanahotels.com

Phone: 01298 808 999.

More of our Peak District content

Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park – REVIEW, GUIDE and top TIPS

Peak Wildlife Park – REVIEW, GUIDE and TIPS for this Staffordshire Peak District zoo

(We received a complimentary stay at the hotel for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park – REVIEW, GUIDE and top TIPS

Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park – REVIEW, GUIDE and top TIPS

We take our children to explore spectacular caves on a family day out in the Peak District

Name

Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park

What is it?

Poole’s Cavern is a two milion-year-old limestone cave. It is one of the best show caves in England – there are vast illuminated galleries to explore, filled with fantastic formations like crystal stalactites and stalagmites.

From the car park here is an entrance to Buxton Country Park – an uphill stroll though woodland to a hilltop viewpoint where you can look out across the Peak District.

Where is it?

It is on the edge of Buxton in the Peak District, in Derbyshire.

What did we think?

Poole’s Cavern is a fascinating all-weather attraction. The ancient, natural limestone caves are exciting with fascinating formations and an interesting history, which the guide explains. (All tours are guided).

Visitors explore Poole's Cavern

Visitors explore the cavern (Credit: Visit Peak District & Derbyshire)

To be able to follow our time below ground with a walk high above in the country park, with great views, is brilliant.

Highlights

*Austin, our fantastic guide around the caves, really kept the children (and us) interested with tales including what happened to the cavern’s biggest stalagmite and pointing out graffitti on a cave wall left by the Victorians. He also told us about the geology behind how the caves and formations were created.

*I had a secret chuckle at the prominent shape of the ‘poached egg’ stalagmites – you’ll see why when you get there!

*Solomon’s Temple – a tower at the top of the hill in Buxton Country Park – climb it to appreciate the Peak District views.

Top tips

*The temperature in the cave is always 7C, so don’t forget jumpers or coats, especially in summer when you may not think to bring them.

*Guided tours are every 20 minutes and leave from the visitor centre exhibition area. Tours last around 50 minutes.

*The caves are lit but are still quite dark. At the end of the tour, the guide will turn all the lights off for a few seconds so you can imagine what exploring the cave by candlelight used to be like. You may want to hold your child’s hand for this bit. If one of you would not like this darkness, you can let the guide know beforehand.

*Buxton Country Park – we took the yellow route up to the to Solomon’s Temple and the green route back down again. It is quite steep.

Solomon's Temple in Buxton Country Park, the Peak District

Solomon’s Temple

*Also here is one of Go Ape’s highest adventure courses, with zip wires and aerial walkways. This needs to be booked separately.

Where did we stay?

We stayed at a beautiful five-star, spa hotel, the Buxton Crescent, read our full review of it next.

Poole’s Cavern and Buxton Country Park information

Facilities: There is a visitor centre which shows archaeology found in the cave and is interesting to look around while you are waiting for your tour.

There is also a shop selling rocks and minerals, toys, gifts and books.

And there are accessible toilets with baby changing facilities.

Food: There are two picnic areas plus a cafe selling drinks, snacks and light meals.

Opening hours: First tour at 10am, last tour at 4.30pm, every day.

Cost: Adults (aged over 16) are £12.50, children (aged five to 16) are £6, students and seniors with valid ID are £10 and a family ticket for two adults and two children is £32.

Best for: Ages six and above.

Time needed: The cavern tour takes around 50 minutes. The walk to the top of the hill in the adjoining country park and back can be done in an hour.

Access and restrictions: There are walkways and handrails. The first main chamber is 100 metres long and is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. After that are 14 steps up and 14 back down again (you return the way you came).

Are dogs allowed at Poole’s Cavern? Dogs are allowed in the cafe and the visitor centre but not in the cavern, except for guide dogs.

Parking: There is a pay and display car park.

Address: Poole’s Cavern Visitor Centre, Green Lane, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 9DH.

Phone: 01298 26978

Email: info@poolescavern.co.uk

Website: www.poolescavern.co.uk

Book tickets: here.

*Our visit was organised with help from Visit Peak District and  Derbyshire, the official tourist information hub.

For more great ideas of family activites in the area, go to the VIsit Peak District and Derbyshire website.

BeWILDerwood Cheshire – review, guide and top tips on this family attraction

BeWILDerwood Cheshire – review, guide and top tips on this family attraction

The woodland adventure where adults can join in the fun as well as the children

Name

BeWILDerwood Cheshire.

What is it?

BeWILDerwood Cheshire is a family attraction based on the adventures of magical characters from children’s books written by Tom Blofeld.

BeWILDerwood author and creator Tom Blofeld at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

BeWILDerwood author and creator Tom Blofeld

It’s all in a wood and includes treehouses, slides, den building, storytelling and zip wires.

Where is it?

It’s north of Whitchurch on the A49 in south west Cheshire near the border with Shropshire.

Balancing on a beam at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

What did we think?

This is a lovely day out for families.

It’s a great size and laid out nicely in a circle so it’s easier to navigate.

The best bit for me was that adults are encouraged to join in all the fun!

A mum and daughter on the zip wires at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

Racing my daughter on the zip wire

Highlights

*The zip wires: There are three sets of two zip wires with staff helping people on and off them. They are longer and faster than the ones you get at play parks and exhilarating to do together.

*The slides: You grab a little bag to sit in to ride the ‘slippery slopes’.

*Parents included: the fact that children and grown-ups are all allowed on everything together is really fun.

*Toddlers: There are smaller sized versions of the equipment for really little ones to go on.

*The mazes: The mazes are all created from wood and go up and down steps and over little bridges.

Tree trails at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

Tree trails

Top tips

*Get there early: We were there at 10am when it opened on a Sunday and got straight on everything and nowhere was crowded. After lunch, we spotted queues for the zip wires.

*Times: Make a note of the times for any events like the storytelling (every hour from 12noon) and get there early to get a seat.

*Crafts: There is a craft activity on every day so remember to leave time for this.

My daugher wears her craft creation at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

My daugher wears her creation

*Clothes and shoes: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes such as trainers. If the weather is wet, you may need a change of clothes.

*Other BeWILDerwood sites: This is the second Bewilderwood, the first is in Norfolk.

*How to pronounce BeWILDerwood: the WILD is not pronounced wild but willed – I asked as  I like to know these things.

BeWILDerwood information

Food: You can buy food and drink from two places – the Munch Bar and Cosy Cabin.

There are lots of places to eat a picnic.

Opening hours: 10am to 5pm, last entry at 4pm.

Cost: Prices are based on height and everything is included in the cost. Under 92cm are free, 92cm to 105cm are £17.50, those over 105cm are £19.50. Adults 65 and over are £12.50. Wheelchair users are free. Parking is free.

Best for: Children aged 2 – 12 but adults will enjoy it too.

Time needed: We stayed for four hours but you could stay longer.

Access and restrictions: There’s a path around the site which slopes in places. There is no access on the equipment for wheelchairs or pushchairs/buggies/prams but they can be taken in to the park.

Are dogs allowed at BEWILDerwood: No.

Address: BeWILDerwood Cheshire, Bickley Moss, Whitchurch, Cheshire, SY13 4JF.

Website: https://cheshire.bewilderwood.co.uk/

Review: The Valley in Cornwall – we take our children and dog to this five-star site near Truro

Review: The Valley in Cornwall – we take our children and dog to this five-star site near Truro

We have a family holiday at a complex of luxury self-catering cottages in the middle of Cornwall

Name

The Valley, Cornwall.

Where is it?

The Valley is in a fabulous location in the centre of Cornwall near to Truro and Falmouth – perfect for exploring in all directions.

What is it?

A 13-acre complex of 46 luxury self-catering cottages and exclusive leisure facilities including an indoor pool, outdoor pool and tennis court.

Cottages at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

Cottages at The Valley

Is it family-friendly?

Yes, it feels safe and secure and there are facilities for children including an outdoor play area, games room and swimming pools.

The Valley provides lots for free including highchairs, stair gates, bed guards and travel cots. There are toys and books to borrow from a room next to the reception too.

Plus, babysitters can be arranged if needed.

Accommodation

The 5-star two and three-bedroom cottages are spaced out across the site.

There are six types, we stayed in a Villa Gallery and absolutely loved it – we felt at home straight away.

Our Cottage at The Valley in Cornwall

Our cottage

It was modern and clean and spread over three levels as it is set on a hill.

Lounge of our cottage at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

The kitchen/dining room was on a mezzanine floor overlooking the lounge, all under a high ceiling with beams.

The kitchen of our cottage at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

The kitchen

Off the kitchen was a balcony overlooking the pool.

The beds were really comfortable – our double bedroom had a desk, television and en-suite. The children’s twin room also had a desk and there was a separate bathroom.

Bedroom of our cottage at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

There was a warm laundry room with washing machine and a third toilet in a cloakroom next to the front door.

It all felt really fresh and clean, with loads of room and storage.

Food and drink

The cottages are self-catering and our kitchen was well-equipped with everything we needed.

The on-site restaurant, called Azura, opens from March 30 until October half-term. It was closed when we visited but serves children’s meals and has an area where you can sit with your dog.

There are also restaurants and takeaway options in nearby Truro and Falmouth.

Facilities

*Swimming pools

The outdoor pool heated from mid-June to mid-September.

There is also a heated indoor pool, with a spa pool next to it.

Indoor pool at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

Indoor pool

*Gym

There is a small fitness suite in a room next to the pool.

*Tennis and squash courts

You can borrow rackets and balls from reception to enjoy games of tennis or squash or teach your children to play.

Tennis court at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

Tennis court

*Games room

The games room has a table tennis table, pool table and table football.

*Playground/play area

There is a lovely play park with equipment for different ages, including swings, slides and climbing walls.

Is it dog-friendly?

Yes, dogs are really welcome here, which we really appreciated, this being our first holiday with our puppy Charlie.

A box walking his dog at The Valley in Cornwall

Dog walks around The Valley

Ours was one of several dog-friendly cottages. Charlie received his own welcome letter, box of luxury food, ball and dog basket. Our cottage was near to an entrance to a dog footpath.

Lots of attractions and beaches nearby are dog-friendly so we could take him with us everywhere. The Valley can provide details of dog sitters if needed.

Nearby

As The Valley is in central Cornwall, it is easy to reach dozens of beaches, gardens, towns and attractions.

Both north and south coasts are easily accessible.

*Eden Project

This huge tropical garden and massively popular tourist attraction has been recognised by the British Travel Awards as the best UK Leisure Attraction for five years’ running.

*Beaches

Beaches – we were blown away by the spectacular beaches and beautiful blue sea. We visited during the Easter holidays and they weren’t too busy.

Holywell Bay beach in Cornwall

Cartwheels on Holywell Bay, where Poldark was filmed

Nearby beaches include Perranporth on the North coast, Holywell Bay near Newquay (which features in Poldark), Gwithian near Hayle and Gyllyngvase (Gylly Beach) in Falmouth.

We also visited Carne Beach on the south coast and Porthmeor Beach in St Ives.

Carne Beach in Cornwall

Carne Beach

*St Mawes

We caught the King Harry car ferry to visit this small, pretty fishing village on the south coast.

St Mawes Castle

St Mawes Castle

Our children enjoyed exploring St Mawes Castle, one of Henry VIII’s coastal fortresses, now run by English Heritage.

*Trellisick Gardens

This National Trust garden on its own peninsula has stunning views over the Fal estuary as well as woodland walks. There is also an art gallery, cafe and gift shop.

*Truro

A few minutes’ drive away from The Valley is the cathedral city of Truro, with shops, restaurants, parks, streams, a theatre and museum.

*Falmouth

The port of Falmouth is a 15-minute drive from The Valley.

*Walks

There are walks you can take from and around The Valley – itineraries are available from reception.

Tintagel Castle

A girl enjoys the view at Tintagel Castle

Enjoying the view at Tintagel Castle

Further afield but worth the trip, we visited these ruins of a 13th century Cornish castle with links to the stories of King Arthur set high on the coast in north Cornwall with fabulous views, read about it here.

Lappa Valley

A tourist attraction for families with younger children – with visitors catching a steam train from the car park to the site, filled with outdoor play areas. Read our report on it here.

The Valley information

To book: The Valley

Address: The Valley, Bissoe Road, Carnon Downs, Truro, Cornwall, TR3 6LQ.

Email: info@valleycottages.net

Phone: 01872 862194

More Cornwall content

Can’t get enough of Cornwall? Don’t miss our other stories, including reviews of Tintagel CastleThe Lost Gardens of Heligan and Lappa Valley.

And read about our whole holiday here: We take our children and new dog on a family holiday to Cornwall – find out how we get on

(We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

*Our trip was supported by www.visitcornwall.com – the number one website for visitors to Cornwall, helping visitors find everything they need for a great time in Cornwall.

Tintagel Castle in Cornwall – review, guide and top tips for your visit to the King Arthur attraction

Tintagel Castle in Cornwall – review, guide and top tips for your visit to the King Arthur attraction

We take our children and dog to explore the historical Tintagel Castle in north Cornwall

What is Tintagel Castle?

The ruins of a 13th century Cornish castle with links to the stories of King Arthur and Merlin the magician.

Where is Tintagel Castle?

This English heritage site is in north Cornwall (south-west England), set high on the coast next to the village of Tintagel with stunning views over the Atlantic.

It lies half on the mainland, half on a peninsula in the sea, known as Tintagel Island.

What did we think?

This was a memorable trip, the link to the myth of King Arthur captured the imagination of my son. He also enjoyed reading all the historical information dotted around.

But it is the stunning views from these clifftop ruins that will stay with me (along with the memory of all the steps)!

We all thought our picnic spot was our best ever – we found a little private bit away from the path with the most incredible views over the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Picnic at Tintagel Castle

Best picnic spot

Our children’s verdict: amazing.

Highlights

The history

Tintagel is thought to have been where Cornish kings lived between the 5th and 7th century.

Then the 12th-century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth named it in his History of the Kings of Britain as the place where King Arthur was conceived.

These legends are said to have inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to build the castle here in the 1230s.

Tintagel Castle Bridge

This stunning footbridge, finished in August 2019, links the two halves of the castle for the first time in over 500 years since an original crossing was lost.

A family cross the Tintagel Castle bridge

We cross the bridge

Before this, visitors had to climb steps and queue for a small bridge at the base of the cliff.

If you fear heights look away now – the bridge travels over a 58-metre drop.

Tintagel Castle bridge

Tintagel Castle bridge

Gallos

This bronze statue of an ancient king stands high on the cliff – popular with photographers, not so much with our dog who didn’t know what to make of it!

Gallos bronze statue at Tintagel Castle

Gallos

The beach and Merlin’s Cave

Below the castle is a secluded beach known as Tintagel Haven with rocks and a waterfall.

Tintagel Castle beach

Best of all, it is where you can explore Merlin’s Cave .

This large cave in the cliffs under the castle is said to have been home to Merlin, the wizard of Arthurian legend. (See our top tips for information about access to the beach).

Tintagel Castle top tips

Mobility and fear of height

This site is not suitable for anyone with mobility issues or a big fear of heights – there are steep paths and sheer drops.

Steep drops and the bridge at Tintagel Castle

When we went, a one-way system was in place due to Coronavirus restrictions and the route included a LOT of steep steps.

The path from the village to the castle and back is steep – so make use of the Land Rover service if you need to, particularly on the way back up. There is a small charge for people and dogs.

Steep road at Tintagel Castle

Beach

Check the tide times and visit when the tide is out. That way you can get to the beach and go into Merlin’s Cave.

The beach is accessed via steep steps and when we went, we also had to clamber over rocks.

Weather

Try to visit on a fine day – the ruins are all outdoors and the area is exposed.

The castle sometimes closes due to bad weather or high winds, so check before you travel, via the website, Facebook or by calling 01870 770328.

Dogs

Dogs are welcome – we took ours – but they need to be kept on leads due to the steps, cliff edges and nesting birds. Water is available for dogs at the cafe.

Tintagel Castle information

Food: There is a cafe at the bottom of the hill (Castle Road) near to the beach. You can also take picnics.

Opening hours: From 10am to 4, 5 or 6pm, depending on the time of year.

Cost: English Heritage members are free. Adults are £15.70 (off-peak £14.50. Children are from £9.40 (£8.70 off-peak). Concessions are £14.10 (£13.10 off-peak)

A family of two adults and up to three children costs £40.80 (£37.70 off-peak) and a family of one adult and up to three children is £25.10 (£23.20 off-peak).

Best for: Children who can cope with the hilly site.

Time needed: We spent three hours here including the beach.

Toilets: At the bottom of Castle Road near to the beach are toilets. And there are others in the village.

Other facilities: A small shop and an exhibition exploring the stories linking Tintagel to King Arthur which includes a 3D model of the site showing how it has changed over the centuries.

Parking: There are pay and display car parks in Tintagel Village, 600 metres away from the site.

Access and restrictions: This site is set on a steep hill and there are uneven surfaces, drops and slopes. A Land Rover service is available along the road – Castle Road – down to the cafe and exhibition and back,. There is a charge and there may be queues. It doesn’t run during winter.

Address: Tintagel Castle, Bossiney Road, Tintagel, Cornwall, PL34 0HE.

Telephone: 01870 770328.

Website: Tintagel Castle

How to book tickets

Advance booking is essential for all visitors, including English Heritage Members who can visit for free. Tickets are timed but once there you can stay as long as you want.

More Cornwall content

Can’t get enough of Cornwall? Don’t miss our other stories, including reviews of The Lost Gardens of Heligan and Lappa Valley.

Find out all about the amazing cottage we stayed in at The Valley in Cornwall.

And read about our whole holiday here: We take our children and new dog on a family holiday to Cornwall – find out how we get on.

*Our trip was supported by www.visitcornwall.com – the number one website for visitors to Cornwall, helping visitors find everything they need for a great time in Cornwall.

New Cheshire family attraction BeWILDerwood has opened

New Cheshire family attraction BeWILDerwood has opened

A 70-acre adventure park has opened in South Cheshire a year later than planned

Tickets are now on sale for a new family day out, which opened its doors for the first time on April 12 (2021).

BeWILDerwood Cheshire – the Curious Treehouse Adventure – was meant to open last May (2020) but this was delayed due to the Covid pandemic.

The park encourages children and their families to enjoy traditional, imaginative, and healthy outdoor play.

We’ve already been and our children loved it, read our full review, guide and top tips here.

The multimillon-pound woodland adventure park is based on the BeWILDerwood book series by Tom Blofeld and follows the success of a first site in Norfolk.

BeWILDerwood author and creator Tom Blofeld at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

BeWILDerwood author and creator Tom Blofeld

Tom said: “We can’t wait to finally open the gates to the people of Cheshire and beyond.

“When thinking about opening a second park and after looking at a few options, I just knew Cheshire was the right choice.

“The woodland is the perfect setting for the Boggles and Twiggles and all the other curious characters from the books.

“I hope our visitors love the wonky world of BeWILDerwood just as much as the Norfolk folk. The key is to use your imagination and simply have fun together as a family”.

The woodland adventure park is located next to Cholmondeley Castle, in South Cheshire.

Tree trails at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

Tree trails

It is in a forest setting where children can ‘run wild’ and promises ‘no noisy rides, no technology and no junk food’.

It includes big wonky wooden play structures and treehouses in the trees, a massive maze to get lost in, wobbly zip wires and giant slippery slides.

Slides at Tree trails at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

Park manager Hannah Monteverde said: “We’d originally planned on opening last year, but due to the pandemic, we’ve had to push it back.

“It’s given us even more time for our team to ensure everything is extra WILD before our visitors enter through our wonky gates.”

Swings at Tree trails at Swings at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

Face painting and activities like interactive storytelling shows and crafting sessions are included in the ticket price and parking is free.

It is aimed at children aged two to 12 but teenagers and adults can enjoy the equipment too as the focus is on family fun.

Grandparents having fun at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

Fun for all the family

Toddlers and children who are too small to go on the bigger bits have their own areas, Toddlewood on the Hill and Tiptoe Valley.

A todder at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

Food can be bought at the Cosy Cabin and Munch Bar and picnics are welcome.

Tickets are based on height rather than ages and can be bought online.

Grandparents having fun at Tree houses at BeWILDerwood Cheshire

Books from the BeWILDerwood series including A Boggle at BeWILDerwood, The BeWILDerbats and A BeWILDermuddle are also available to buy online.

Gate admission prices for 2021 are:

Born to BeWILD (Under 92cm): Free

Almost WILD (92-105cm): £17.50

BeWILD Now (over 105cm): £19.50

Still WILD (65 years+): £12.50

Address: BeWILDerwood Cheshire, Whitchurch Road, Bickley, Malpas, Cheshire, SY13 4JF.

We’ll be visiting to review soon and will report back!

The 8 BEST beaches in and around Abersoch in north Wales

The 8 BEST beaches in and around Abersoch in north Wales

The best beaches for children and families around Abersoch on the Llŷn Peninsula

Families staying in Abersoch on the Llŷn Peninsula are spoilt for choice when it comes to fabulous beaches.

It’s one of the reasons that people with children return to the area year after year.

Our two children adore the beaches around the area – here are our favourites.

Abersoch main beach

The main beach in Abersoch is the busiest, easiest to reach and most user-friendly in the area.

Barbecue on Abersoch Main Beach

Beach hut barbecue on Abersoch’s main beach

It stretches about a mile and a half with plenty of golden sand, a steep hill up to beach huts and sand dunes to explore.

At the far left end (if facing the sea), near the South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club/SCYC, there are some rock pools at low tide.

At the other end of the beach towards the lifeboat station, there is less soft sand but it tends to be quieter and dogs are allowed.

The beach is sheltered and safe for swimming under normal conditions, with a motor boat exclusion zone. It is also popular for water sports like sailing and wind surfing.

There are great views – it faces St Tudwal’s islands and behind that, west Wales mountans.

Where is it?

The beach is a short walk from the centre of Abersoch and and can be accessed from two car parks detailed below.

Parking

*The main car park is Beach Car Park, Golf Road, Abersoch. You have to pay to park all year round. A very short walk brings you past a shop/cafe and out on to the slipway in the middle of the beach.

There is another, smaller, pay car park at the SCYC (yacht club) end of the beach and there is also a cafe there. Access to the beach is via a short, steep slope.

Abersoch main beach facilities

*Three cafes along the beach serving ice creams, sandwiches and burgers plus beach equipment.

*Toilets in the main car park.

*Some of the beach huts are available to hire.

Dogs

*Dogs are allowed on the right side of the slipway all year and the rest of the beach except between April 1 and September 30.

The Warren beach

This long sandy beach is mostly used by people with chalets at the upmarket Warren Holiday Park.

 

The Warren Beach in Abersoch

The Warren Beach

However it is still a public beach and one of our favourites. It’s a good beach for bathing and there are several streams to play in.

You can also explore the rocks around Llandbedrog Head. The wide expanse of wet sand at low tide means plenty of space.

It’s usually pretty quiet as it can be harder to access unless you are staying at the Warren.

Where is it?

This one and a half mile long beach is in front of the Warren Holiday Park and stretches from Abersoch harbour to the headland of Mynydd Tir-y-Cwmwd.

The Abersoch end is known as Traeth Tywyn y Fach while the headland side is called Quarry Beach.

Parking

*Abersoch end: Park along the A499, then walk through the National Trust’s Tywyn y Fach property.

*Quarry Beach end: There is a car park behind the beach which can be reached via narrow lanes off the main Abersoch to Pwllheli road by the red postbox.

*Via The Warren holiday park: Park in a layby on the main road and walk through the holiday park along a public footpath.

The Warren beach facilities

There are no toilets apart from at the holiday park for people staying there.

There is no cafe or shop, so take supplies!

Dogs

Dogs are allowed at all times.

Hell’s Mouth (Porth Neigwl)

Porth Neigwl, better known as Hell’s Mouth, is a windswept beach which gets its name from the amount of shipwrecks which washed up here.

Hell's Mouth beach

Hell’s Mouth beach

This is the area’s premier surfing beach and often sees big waves.

The beach is mostly stony with some sandy areas and – at four miles long – has plenty of quiet spots.

Take care when swimming as there are strong currents and undertows – it is only suitable for strong swimmers.

There are low sand dunes with some World War Two concrete training structures to discover but stay away from the crusty cliff edges.

We love it for a wild and windy walk as it’s only a short drive from Abersoch.

Where is it?

It is on the south-west side of the Llŷn Peninsula in Llanengan, near Pwllheli, LL53 7LG.

Parking

There’s a free car park with about 15 spaces and then a five-minute walk down a sandy path to the beach.

Facilities

There are no toilets or catering.

Whistling Sands (Porth Oer)

Porth Oer is better known as Whistling Sands for the noise the sand makes if you step on it. A noise and an idea which children love.

Sand castles at Whistling Sands beach

Whistling Sands beach

This beautiful golden beach is a perfect size for families.

There is plenty of soft sand, a nice gentle bay for swimming and rock pools at either end to mess about in.

The beach is in one of the more remote parts of the Llŷn Peninsula and a 25 minute drive from Abersoch but is well worth it.

Explore the small caves at the right hand end of the beach, and climb up the footpath there for spectacular views (hold on to small children).

Where is it?

It is in Aberdaron, Pwllheli, LL53 8LH. (Not to be mistaken for Aberdaron Beach).

Parking

There is a National Trust car park on the road above the beach. It is a very steep three-minute walk down (and a slower walk back up)!

Facilities

*Toilets

*A cafe on the beach serving hot and cold food and drinks including pizza and ice-cream which you can eat there or take on to the beach. The pizza is delicious.

Pizza at Whistling Sands

Pizza at Whistling Sands

Wishing I was there now and eating this pizza instead of just writing about it!

Llanbedrog Beach

This beach is an easy stop-off with children as there’s a car park, toilets and a cafe.

Beach huts at Llanbedrogg Beach

Llanbedrog Beach

It’s a good place for children to swim, plus there are streams and pools to play in.

Intrepid families can walk from the beach up the steep steps to the top of Llandbedrog headland Mynydd Tir y Cwmwd, but keep hold of children.

hildren play in the stream on Llanbedrog Beach

Llanbedrog Beach

Half way up is the Tin Man sculpture.

You can also walk to Oriel Plas Glyn y Weddw art gallery and cafe.

But there’s a restaurant right on the beach plus as it’s a sheltered spot, you could try a beach barbecue.

Where is it

In Llanbedrog, between Abersoch and Pwllheli on the south side of the Llŷn Peninsula.

Parking

There is a National Trust car park a two-minute walk from the beach (up a hill and steps). Address: Llanbedrog, Pwllheli, LL53 7TT.

Facilities

*Toilets near the beach.

*Restaurant on the beach serving alcohol, hot meals and ice creams Aqua Beach Bar.

Porth Iago Beach

This small horseshoe-shaped bay is spectacular but tricky to reach.

Porth Lago Beach

Porth Lago Beach

To get there you must drive through a private farm and pay an entrance/car park fee to reach a grassy parking area.

From there you walk down narrow and steep tracks to reach the remote beach.

It is a sheltered cove with some excellent rock pools and makes a good swimming spot.

The sand is soft and there are amazing views to be had by following the Wales Coastal Path in either direction from the cliffs above the beach.

Where is it?

Port Iago beach faces south-west on the Llŷn Peninsula in Aberdaron, between the headlands Graig Ddu and Dinas.

Parking

The car park above the beach is accessed through Ty Mawr farm which has a pay and display parking machine so take some £1 coins.

Address: Rhoshirwaun, Wales, LL53 8LP, United Kingdom.

You can also reach the beach on foot from the Wales Coastal Path via sand dunes.

Facilities

None.

Dogs

Dogs are allowed but have to be in vehicles when going through the farm.

Porth Colmon Beach/Penllech Beach

This large beach is a tricky one to get to but is a rewarding find once you get there, at low tide.

Porth Colman Beach

Porth Colmon Beach

It can be muddy as the route from a car park follows a stream. Once you reach the beach, there is a steep walk down to the sand.

The beach itself is wide with dramatic rocks, lots of rock pools and in the middle there is a channel which you can paddle and play in.

There can be strong currents so swimming is not advisable.

Aerial view of Porth Colman

Porth Colmon

Where is it?

Penllech Beach is a mile north of Llangwnnadl on the northern tip of the Llŷn Peninsula.

Parking

You can park at a small car park on Afon Fawr and then follow the beach path for about 10 minutes across a field.

Facilities

None, there is a cafe at a near by campsite about a ten minute walk from one end of the beach.

Dogs

Dogs are allowed.

Morfa Nefyn Beach/Nefyn Beach (Porth Nefyn)

This is a lovely, sandy, two-mile beach but the most memorable part of it is the pub at one end, the Ty Coch.

Nefyn beach with Morfa Nefyn and a heart written in the sand

Picture available to buy as a greetings card or picture at Sand-Writing

There are a few beach huts and some great views as well as rock pools at low tide near the headland.

We like to walk from the car park down on the beach, along to the next section, Traeth Porthdinllaen, where the pub invitingly waits and then back along the road through the golf course.

Where is it?

Between the village of Nefyn and the fishing hamlet of Porthdinllaen on the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsula.

Parking

There is a National Trust car park above the beach – address Morfa Nefyn, Pwllheli , L53 6DA.

Nefyn Beach Facilities

Pub Ty Coch selling lovely food and drink, hailed amongst the best beach bars in the world!

Toilets: at the National Trust car park.

Dogs

Dogs are allowed on one side of the beach all year but are banned for the other side between April and September.

*Main picture available to buy as a canvas, print or greetings card from sand-writing.com.

Lightopia REVIEW: Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester 2020

Lightopia REVIEW: Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester 2020

We take our children on a family trip to an award-winning Christmas light festival

Family festive opportunities are in short supply this year so our trip to Lightopia at Heaton Park in Manchester was eagerly awaited.

Organisers promise a safe and socially distanced event.

We took our children after school for a 5.20pm start, here is our full guide to the Christmas festival.

What is it

The Lightopia Festival – Christmas at Heaton Park – is an award-winning and socially-distanced lantern and light festival.

It takes place around a series of lit art installations and laser beams, which have been set up at the park in Manchester.

Heaton Hall

Heaton Hall

When it it

Lightopia at Heaton Park runs from November 20, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

The event is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except during school holidays and closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Gates Open at 5pm, last entry is 8.30pm and it closes at 10pm.

How much are tickets

Tickets are booked in advance, they are £20 online for adults (or £22 on the day), £13 for children (or £15 on the day) and £60 for families of two adults and two children (£68 on the day). Children under three can go free.

Essential carers of disabled visitors can attend for free, the disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee.

A peacock at Lightopia, Heaton Park, Manchester

Our highlights

*What we called the Rainbow Tree

Children stand on a circle and their moving feet sends different coloured lights shooting up the tree, creating a beautiful display.

Rainbow Tree

Rainbow Tree

*The laser show on the lake.

Visitors are directed to stand in socially distanced spaces to watch this lovely show towards the end of the trail.

*Food and drink

There are stalls and bars dotted around the trail selling food like hot dogs, carvery baps, chips, donuts, malled wine and hot chocolate.

Tunnel of light at Lightopia, Heaton Park, Manchester

Top Tips

*Prepare to queue at the start, entry is in 20-minute time slots and we did have to wait when we arrived, but it is organised very well so that you are spaced out from the groups in front and behind.

*It’s quite a spaced out route, you will walk a bit further than some other light shows, so take a buggy if you have young children.

Tinkerbell/a fairy at Lightopia

*It is all outdoors so dress for the weather and ensure children are wrapped up warm and wearing sensible footwear. You will always be on a path but look out for the occasional bit of uneven ground as it is dark.

Other questions

Is everything included in the price?

All the displays are included in the ticket price. There are stalls selling food, drink and those flashing hand-held contraptions that our daughter loves. It was card only for payment.

How long will it take?

It takes about an hour and a half but that depends on how fast you walk and whether you buy food and drink. Take your time walking around, to take it all in, you certainly don’t need to rush.

Where to park

There are car parks on site and it is best to book in advance, then follow the directions on your email confirmation.

How to book

To book tickets, visit www.lightopiafestival.com

Address:

Heaton Park, Sheepfoot Lane, Manchester, M25 0BP.

Social media

Follow on Instagram and Facebook @lightopiafestival #Lightopia

Animals at Lightopia

(We received free entry for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

Big, family, all-inclusive hotel with water park opens in Dubai

Big, family, all-inclusive hotel with water park opens in Dubai

A first for Dubai with four-star beachfront hotel from Riu

The first four-star, all-inclusive, beachfront hotel has opened in Dubai.

Hotel Riu Dubai is a large family hotel with children’s pools and a water park.

Splash Water Park at Hotel Riu Dubai

Splash Water Park at Riu Dubai

It is Riu’s 100th hotel in the world and the chain’s first in the Middle East.

The modern hotel has 800 rooms, two children’s pools (one with slides), three large pools for adults, a children’s park and club and a broad terrace with direct access to a large beach.

The hotel has a ‘Splash’ water park, with slides and other attractions for adults and children over 1.2 metres tall.

A restaurant at Hotel Riu Dubai

A restaurant at Hotel Riu Dubai

There are four restaurants and six bars including swim-up bars at the hotel which is located 11km from the airport on the Deira Islands beachfront.

Riu is a Spanish chain with 100 in 20 countries around the world.

Its 24-hour all-inclusive concept includes all meals, snacks and drinks at all the hotel’s bars and restaurants, without limits or schedules.

A Riu Dubai suite

A Riu Dubai suite

It also includes enjoyment of all the facilities and services such as the water parks, day and nighttime entertainment and access to the gym and spa, where only the beauty and wellbeing treatments carry a charge.

Luis Riu, chief executive officer of RIU Hotels & Resorts, said: “The opening of the hotel Riu Dubai is a major milestone in our hotel chain’s international expansion, because this is our first hotel in the Middle East.

“This is a unique opportunity to offer all our experience with the 24-hour all-inclusive product, which is so popular among our European and American customers, but this time in a completely new destination.”

The lobby at Hotel Riu Dubai

The lobby

Riu partnered with developer Nakheel to build the hotel, creator of world-famous developments including The Palm Jumeirah and Dubai’s new coastal city, Deira Island.

*For more information on Riu hotels, read some of our reviews from our family stays in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.
And link to those stories by clicking on Fuerteventura and Lanzarote individually, but the button just doesn’t work any more.
Children can meet Santa live from Lapland over video call this Christmas

Children can meet Santa live from Lapland over video call this Christmas

It’s a Digital Christmas 2020 with the new Santa’s Lapland video call experience

Taking your children to meet Santa may not be possible this year due to lockdown restrictions.

So holiday company Santa’s Lapland is bringing Father Christmas into children’s homes using the magic of video calls.

It will give families a taste of the festive excitement that comes from meeting Santa.

The new scheme follows the announcement that the company has had to suspend their December 2020 trips to Lapland.

The 10-minute video call will prove its Lapland credentials, as an Elf leads the family through the snow and gets up-close with a reindeer, before going live to Santa’s cabin for a personalised meeting with Santa himself.

Paul Carter, CEO of Santa’s Lapland, said: “With restrictions increasing throughout the UK, many of us have been wondering how we will keep the magic of Christmas 2020 alive.

“We intend to help make it one to remember, by offering families the chance to meet Santa from the comfort and safety of their own home.

“While no Christmas can compare to the sheer excitement of travelling to Lapland to visit Santa in his snowy cabin, where the reindeer are real and the Northern Lights dance across the night sky, families will now still be able to enjoy a taste of the real Lapland magic this Christmas.”

Santa Live video calls from Lapland

Santa Live video calls from Lapland

A personalised ‘Santa, Live from Lapland’ video call experience for up to four children costs from £85 per family from Santa Live.

The company cancelled its December 2020 trips to visit Santa in Lapland following concerns that increasing COVID-19 safety measures and travel restrictions would take too much away from the magic of the experience.

Many customers have postponed their trip to next year and others have taken refunds.

Santa’s Lapland three and four-night trips for 2021 are available to reserve now with departures from November 26 to December 24 from 13 regional airports.

The breaks include snow fun, husky sledding and reindeer sleigh rides, a search for Santa and other activities.

For more information, visit www.santaslapland.com

Illuminated trails light up famous sites around the UK for families this Christmas 2020

Illuminated trails light up famous sites around the UK for families this Christmas 2020

Christmas fun for all the family at seven light installations around the country

Tickets are on sale for fantastic festive trails at seven famous sites across the country.

World-renowned artists and designers have got together to create the illuminated events at historic and iconic venues including Kew Gardens, Blenheim Palace and Dunham Massey.

The outdoor experiences are designed for all ages to enjoy and celebrate the festive season.

Additional facilities and significantly increased hygiene procedures will be made available for trail visitors.

The events have been organised by promoter Raymond Gubbay Limited, Culture Creative and the individual venues.

Christmas at Kew

When: November 18, 2020 to January 3, 2021

What: Now in its eighth year, Christmas at Kew returns with a new trail to illuminate the fabulous gardens with more than one million lights.

Address: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, TW9 3AE.

More details: kew.org/christmas #christmasatkew

Christmas at Bedgebury

Christmas at Bedgebury

Christmas at Bedgebury

When: November 20 to December 31, 2020.

What: This family-friendly one-mile magical festive trail is in the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty countryside.

Address: Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest, Kent.

More details: christmasatbedgebury.co.uk   #christmasatbedgebury

Christmas at Blenheim Palace

Christmas at Blenheim Palace

Christmas at Blenheim Palace

When: November 20, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

What: The Illuminated trail returns to Blenheim Palace transforming it with a bright and magical winter walk inspired by the landscape itself, featuring lasers and light projections.

Address: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP.

More details: blenheimpalace.com/christmas  #christmasatblenheimpalace

Christmas at Dunham Massey

Christmas at Dunham Massey

Christmas at Dunham Massey

When: November 20 to December 30, 2020.

What: The sell-out trail returns for a fourth year to this historic National Trust property in Cheshire.

See our review and guide from last year’s exravaganza Dunham Massey Christmas Lights 2019 plus exclusive video.

Address: Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire. WA14 4SJ.

More details: nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey #christmasatdunhammassey

Christmas at The Botanics

When: November 26, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

What: The new trail at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh will feature bouncing lines of light in the laser garden and giant luminescent sculptures rising high into the night sky.

Inverleith House will be it by a new festive projection across its historic façade.

Address: Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ.

More details: rbge.org.uk/christmas  #christmasatthebotanics

Christmas at Belton

When: November 27, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

What: Christmas at Belton will once again light up the historic tree canopies of this magnificent country-house estate.

There will be giant luminescent candles, glowing flowers and snowflakes, plus children can look out for Father Christmas.

Address: Belton House, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG32 2LS.

More details: nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house #christmasatbelton

Christmas at Stourhead

Christmas at Stourhead

Christmas at Stourhead

When: November 27, 2020 to January 3, 2021

What: The after-dark trail lights up the beautiful National Trust gardens at Stourhead, Wiltshire for a second year.

Address: Stourhead, Mere, Wiltshire, BA12 6QD.

More details: nationaltrust.org.uk/Stourhead  #christmasatstourhead

For more details on the trails or to book tickets, go to mychristmastrails.co.uk

Lightopia 2020: Spectacular lantern and light festival returns to Manchester

Lightopia 2020: Spectacular lantern and light festival returns to Manchester

Family fun awaits at award-winning Christmas light festival

While many Christmas events are being cancelled, an award-winning and socially-distanced light festival in Manchester is set to go ahead.

Lightopia returns to the city with this year’s Christmas at Heaton Park event.

The festive family festival runs from November 20, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

There will be new themes and creations but changes have also been made in light of Covid restrictions, to keep visitors safe including wider footpaths and three entry points to reduce queueing.

There will be a magical illuminated trail, designed so that people can maintain a social distance from each other and two car parks.

Lightopia 2020 will also pay tribute to Coronavirus frontline workers with a Local Heroes Area, featuring the words ‘thank you’ and a colourful rainbow display.

Lightopia creative director Ian Xiang said organisers are “excited” to bring Lightopia back to Manchester.

“We have once again created a world in which light, sculpture and art combine with traditional, Chinese lantern-making techniques to create an immersive experience, full of light and stories,” he said.

“We want our guests to become part of the Lightopia story, helping to create new forms of art as they interact and engage with the luminescent sculptures that trail through Heaton Park.”

Lightopia 2020 Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester

Lightopia

Among the new additions will be a Christmas showcase using the Grade I-listed Heaton Hall as its sparkling backdrop.

There will also be Santa’s sleigh, a giant interactive walking piano, an astronomy display and interactive Zodiac sign installation.

Children will love robotic controlled pads on the floor, which create light shows when stepped on.

Another area is dedicated to the Manchester skyline and an immersive Musical City area, will encourage visitors to dance their way through the lights.

Returning attractions include the Woodland Fairytale area, the Animals attraction and the Discovery space.

Lightopia 2020 Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester

A Lakeside water show includes a state-of-the-art projection while dragon sculptures will lead the way to Lightopia’s food stalls and licensed bars.

The event from November 20 to January 3 runs between 5pm and 10pm and last entry is 8.30pm daily.

The event is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except during school holidays and closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Tickets are £20 online for adults (or £22 on the day), £13 for children (or £15 on the day) and £60 for families of two adults and two children (£68 on the day). Children under three can go free.

Essential carers of disabled visitors can attend for free, the disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee.

To book tickets, visit www.lightopiafestival.com

Follow on Instagram and Facebook @lightopiafestival #Lightopia

Delight in Devon on a family holiday to Dawlish with our children

Delight in Devon on a family holiday to Dawlish with our children

We take our children to Cofton Holiday Park and explore the surrounding beaches and attractions

“This is amazing,” says our son and we all feel the same.

The sheer joy of a family swim makes the months of lockdown seem a distant memory.

This perfectly warm indoor pool is just one of the excellent facilities at Cofton Holiday Park near Dawlish in Devon.

The indoor pool at Cofton Holiday Park

Indoor pool

Swim sessions are pre-booked and limited to an hour to ensure the pool isn’t too crowded while Covid precautions are in place.

It is the same with Cofton’s large outdoor pool, which opens over the warmer months.

The pools are at the centre of the sprawling site along with restaurants and arcade and it’s all just a short walk from our static caravan.

We are in a Tamar model and it is a superb place to stay – modern, spotlessly clean, with two smart TVs, fast WiFi, two bathrooms, good kitchen facilities and plenty of space in the well laid out lounge/dining area.

Our static Caravan at Coftons Holidays

Our static caravan

There are also luxury lodges with hot tubs, holiday cottages or you can bring your own tent, caravan or motorhome.

The lounge area of our Tamar static caravan at Cofton Holiday Park

The lounge area

Children could spend their whole holiday at Cofton – there’s also a woodland adventure park with zip line, small playground, fishing lakes and woods to explore.

Woodland adventure playground at Cofton Holiday Park

It would also be pretty easy to eat here every night with three restaurants (one closed during our visit), serving good family food and drinks at reasonable prices. There is also an excellent fish and chip shop and a small store on site selling essential food and drinks.

The outdoor pool and restaurants at Cofton Holidays

The outdoor pool and restaurants

Plus there are children’s activities run by the entertainment team with daily activities like pond dipping, fishing lessons and pirate adventures, when we visit.

Our daughter gives you a tour of the site in this video! Plus read and see more details of our caravan and the site here: Cofton Holiday Park near Dawlish in Devon

Exploring the area

With beautiful Devon on our doorsteps we have to get out and about too.

The beaches are our main aim and the nearest is Dawlish Warren. You can walk from the site – up steep woodland, along a footpath to a walk which takes about half an hour.

Alternatively it is a 10-minute drive from Cofton to the beach’s large car park, past a popular funfair.

This child-friendly flat beach stretches along a sand spit at the mouth of the Exe estuary.

Dawlish Warren

Dawlish Warren

It’s good for games and sandcastle building, there are lifeguards patrolling during the summer and a cafe and ice cream shop.

We also spend time at Coryton Cove near Dawlish, a sheltered partly sandy spot with a cafe.

For an adventurous trip out, try Holcombe Beach. You can’t park there but have to leave your car in the village and negotiate the steep Smuggler’s Lane.

Once you walk under the railway line, which hugs the shore, you come out on a high sea wall path (beware, there’s a sheer, high drop) with steep, narrow steps leading down to the sand.

Holcombe Beach in Devon

Holcombe Beach

The beach is good for bodyboarding and offers great views with dramatic red sandstone cliffs at both ends. If you love train-spotting then you can stand inches from the main railway line as services whizz past.

For a more sedate pace of life, try Dawlish town with its gentle river running though the park and traditional seaside appeal.

The river and church at Dawlish in Devon

Dawlish

Devon clotted cream ice creams from Gaye’s Creamery, eaten beside the ducks floating along the weirs on the river makes for a relaxing afternoon.

You can also enjoy the crashing waves along the sea wall and games of mini-golf.

Cofton Holdays is only 20 minutes from Exeter and a similar drive to the hills of Dartmoor.

Haldon Forest Park with its range of bike and walking trails is another good option if you want to head inland.

Back at the park

Coftons Holiday Park - view from the hill

After one hearty dinner at the park’s Amelia’s Cafe, as the evening sun shines over the rolling hills, we set out to explore the area on foot.

We look down to the holiday park laid out before us. “This is amazing,” I say.

RELATED CONTENT: Cofton Holiday Park near Dawlish in Devon – Family Holiday Guide review

RELATED CONTENT: We discover all the best places and activities for children in Exeter, Devon

We discover all the best places and activities for children in Exeter, Devon

We discover all the best places and activities for children in Exeter, Devon

We take a trip down memory lane in Exeter and find out if it is family-friendly and good for children

A tatty white door, three overflowing bins and a weed-covered driveway isn’t the normal tourist photo opportunity.

But it’s the outside of this terraced house in Exeter which has inspired our visit.

It’s where my husband lived when he was at university in Devon – and now he’s come back with a wife and two children in tow.

Dad and children at Exeter University

His time as a student hadn’t resulted in much knowledge of whether the city was child-friendly.

But on our short break we discover there is plenty – apart from taking a trip with dad down memory lane – to entertain the little ones.

Exeter’s Quayside

This is the best place to start – the bustling waterfront has quirky shops, bars, restaurants and wide paths for cycling, scooting and strolling alongside the River Exe and Exeter Canal.

The exterior of Saddles & Paddles in Exeter

Saddles & Paddles

We take a different mode of transport by hopping into a canoe, hired from Saddles & Paddles on the Quayside. As the name suggests they hire bikes and boats from a waterside store.

After a cheery and comprehensive briefing, the four of us are paddling, occasionally even in unison, along the river and then canal.

Family canoe ride on the River Exe in Exeter

Family canoe ride on the River Exe in Exeter

We work as a team to travel the two miles or so to the Double Locks pub where you can moor up and grab a drink in the large garden, which has a playground and plenty of space.

We then turn round and head back to the Quay, returning via a super low bridge which you have to duck under.

The canal is very safe as no motorboats are on it, just canoeists, kayakers and paddleboarders. It is a peaceful and fun way to start our visit.

Where is child-friendly to eat in Exeter?

After working up an appetite, we tuck into giant pizzas at On The Waterfront, which is next to Saddles & Paddles. It has good outside seating and an atmospheric inside in an old customs house.

On the Waterfront pizza restaurant in Exeter

On the Waterfront restaurant

The children’s pizzas, only £6 each, disappear in a flash and even our large adult portions go down well. This is a good, friendly, relaxed family restaurant.

On the opposite side of the water, in a glass building, sits another excellent eatery.

Lobster at Rockfish in Exeter

Lobster at Rockfish

Rockfish is a chain with restaurants around the South West. It’s known for its fresh seafood and changes its dish of the day daily to reflect what’s come out of the waters around Devon.

I have a fabulous lobster and our children tuck into tasty fish and chips.

Child fish and chips at Rockfish in Exeter

The children’s menu, well priced at £7.95, includes an ice cream dessert and a great pack of goodies to keep them entertained.

It has a puzzle book, dolphin jigsaw, card games and colouring pencils.

The activities all carry a message about protecting the maritime environment.

Children's bag of goodies at Rockfish restaurant in Exeter

Exeter Cathedral

Once you’ve headed up the steep streets (Exeter is a fairly hilly city) into the city centre, the cathedral should be your first stop.

The Cathedral Green is a lovely space and inside the large cathedral (entrance £5 adults, children free) you can collect a free children’s activity booklet, guiding you around the building with questions and clues to answer about what’s inside. There is also brass rubbing sheets you can do at a cost of £2.

Mum and children outside Exeter Cathedral

Exeter Cathedral

Northernhay Gardens

Exeter is an historic city with links to the Romans, Normans and more. You can wander past Sir Francis Drake’s favourite pub – the half timbered Ship Inn, as you walk from the cathedral to the castle.

It is more castle walls really than traditional fortress but most of the walls sit in Northernhay Gardens, the oldest public open space in Britain, which dates back to the 1600s.

Northernhay Gardens in Exeter

Northernhay Gardens

Today the gardens are peaceful, picturesque and a good space for children to run around.

Gandy Street

If you exit the gardens via the war memorial and turn left you come to Exeter’s most colourful street, Gandy Street, with coffee shops and bars lining the cobbles. It is a good spot to stop for snack or drink.

The RAMM and Underground Passages

Two of the city’s other top attractions are closed when we visit.

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM) reveals the area’s rich history and global connections.

And we were sad to miss the city’s Underground Passages where guided tours have taken place since the 1930s. They were designed to bring clean drinking water from natural springs outside the walled city.

Underground Passages in Exeter

The Underground Passages (pic: Mike Alsford)

Haldon Forest Park

One place which wasn’t closed – and very much open to the elements as we discover on a wet walk – is Haldon Forest Park.

Stick man at Haldon Forest Park

Haldon Forest Park

About four miles outside the city, this large woodland area is packed with walkers, cyclists and Segway riders.

There is a Go Ape course, cafe, playground and lots of different length trails to tackle. As it’s pouring, we take the simple green route, which is a 1.5 mile circular walk with spectacular views out towards the sea.

You could easily spend most of the day at this large park, especially if you brought bikes with you.

Surrounding area

There are other attractions on the outskirts of Exeter like Crealy Theme Park and Darts Farm Shopping Village.

The city is only around half an hour from the seaside resorts of Exmouth and Dawlish, as well as the hills of Dartmoor.

If you wanted to you could base yourself in the city and explore all of those areas.

But our time in Exeter is up and we have created plenty of new family memories to add to the student stories from two decades ago.

For more ideas go to Visit Exeter.

RELATED CONTENT: Delight in Devon on a family holiday to Dawlish with our children

RELATED CONTENT: Cofton Holiday Park near Dawlish in Devon – Family Holiday Guide review

We were provided with complimentary meals and activities through Visit Exeter for this trip. All opinions are our own.

Harry Potter Studio Tour London to reopen with new safety measures in place

Harry Potter Studio Tour London to reopen with new safety measures in place

Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter gets ready to reopen to wizarding fans following Coronavirus closure

Harry Potter fans will not be waiting much longer for the reopening of the hugely successful Warner Bros Studio Tour in London.

The Making of Harry Potter – a look behind the scenes of the wizarding films – will reopen on Thursday, August 20.

It was forced to close earlier in 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The attraction is at the actual Warner Bros studios near London where a lot of the filming for the eight Harry Potter films took place.

It includes sets like the Gryffindor Common Room, Hogwarts Great Hall, Diagon Alley and Gringotts Bank alongside thousands of props and costumes.

The Great Hall in Harry Potter

The Great Hall (Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter)

And from the opening date, the Slytherin Common Room can be seen for the first time along with iconic costumes and props belonging to some of the house’s cunning characters.

The Slytherin common room in the Harry Potter movies

The Slytherin common room in the Harry Potter movies

So what will be different when Harry Potter Studio Tour London reopens?

There will be a number of Covid 19 safety measures in place.

The attraction has made some changes to manage social distancing and keep everything extra clean.

Do you have to wear face masks?

Visitors aged 11 and over must wear a face mask unless medically exempt. They can be taken off when the wearer is sitting down in a cafe.

How will social distancing be managed?

There will be less visitor numbers and there will be a one-way system around the studios.

The shops and cafés will only accept cashless or contactless payment options .

Cars will be parked with spaces in between.

What will not be open?

Hogwarts Express on plaform 9 and three quarters at the Harry Potter Studio Tour London

Hogwarts Express (Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter)

The Hogwarts Express train carriage

Inside Privet Drive

The cloakroom and left luggage facilities

The Studio Tour shuttle bus service to and from Watford Junction Station will not be available

Will the toilets be open?

Toilets will be open with extra hygiene measures in place.

Will the studios be cleaned more regularly?

Yes, there will be extra cleaning throughout the day, especially of touch-points such as door handles and barriers.

And hand sanitiser stations will be positioned throughout.

Gringotts Wizarding Bank

Gringotts (Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter)

Will the cafes be open?

The Hub cafes, Food Hall and Backlot Cafe will be open but there will be less menu choices.

Seating in the cafe will be spaced and visitors must not pay with cash.

We have loads of useful Harry Potter Studio tour information and tips for you

READ NOW: Harry Potter Studio Tour London – our full guide, review and must-read tips

READ NOW: Harry Potter Studio Tour London – EVERYTHING you need to know

The studio tour is still pre-book only, tickets are available now from the website.