Thursday 10 December 2015

Where to Find the Real Father Christmas

On the last Sunday in November, we were invited to attend a Eureka blogging event. Eureka is a children’s museum in Halifax and it is amazing. It opened when I was little and I visited quite a few times as a child. It’s a museum focused on play. Every display is interactive, engaging and fun. We used to go to museums every Sunday when I was a child and Eureka was always a favourite because it just didn’t feel like a museum. So, obviously when we were asked if we wanted to spend the day there, I said yeah.

Eureka has a Santa’s grotto over the festive period, which I wasn’t aware of before. Our first job was to go and check it out. As we queued up outside the grotto, Ebony got chatting to Sparkles the Elf (disclaimer: names have been changed to protect elf identities). Ebony can sometimes take a while to warm up to new people but Sparkles the Elf did not give up. She kept chatting away until she had convinced Ebony to start chatting too. Sparkles (every time I type this, a bit of my soul dies) asked Ebony what she wanted for Christmas. Ebony answered immediately, “A santa torch.” She has been talking about it for months, it’s the only thing on her Christmas list.

She had one last year and it broke, so she wants a new one. After waiting a few minutes, it was our turn to enter the grotto. The grotto was white, sparkly and a little bit magical. Santa was amazing. He was friendly and warm, chatty and engaging. Ebony was a little bit hesitant at first, and hung back with Laurie listening to Santa chat away. Slowly, she edged her way forwards, and eventually told him that what she really wanted for Christmas was a torch. Santa gave her a paper bag with a pre-Christmas present in, Ebony thanked him and then we left. When we got outside the grotto, Ebony opened her paper bag to reveal A Santa Torch. Like, really. Amazing. No future Santa will ever live up to that, ever. So, I can’t say for sure that the Father Christmas at Eureka is the real one, but I’m almost certain he is.

After the grotto, we made our way down to see the Christmas show, Night Lights. It was a short, interactive show about two brothers who went to the moon and got home in time for Christmas. All of the children watching seemed to really enjoy it, and Ebony got into the audience participation. After that, it was time for lunch. We made our way through All The Rain (seriously, Yorkshire, what’s with that?) to what I assume is the party room. There was a party table setup with food for the children. They’d organised a vegan lunch for Ebony complete with hummus wraps which were delicious. I might have eaten a few, yeah, what of it?

Then it was time to try out some party activities, the kids could choose between a science one and a fairytale one. I was really hoping that my years of feminist parenting would pay off here, and they did for a second as she sat on the front row of the science audience, before quickly changing her mind and running off to find the fairytales. The session leader was great with all the kids and quickly got them engaged in helping him to tell the story. There were fun games and activities throughout, including a short (and very glittery) craft activity at the end. I can imagine Eureka is the perfect place for a birthday party, if only it was closer!

After the party session, we were free to explore the museum. We visited Eureka for Ebony’s first and second birthdays, so it was nice to go back now she’s a bit older. It has different things for all ages and Ebony has enjoyed it each time we’ve been, but I definitely think she’s at an age to enjoy more of the displays now. She loved the shop and bank, and spent a long time trying to steal gold from the safe. The museum was quite busy but not too busy considering it was a (very) rainy Sunday afternoon.

One of her favourite bits this time was the stage upstairs. She kept opening the curtains, performing a short piece of interpretive dance, then giving us a very serious bow before closing the curtain again. She also loved the body section which was the bit I was most excited about. It’s been revamped since I was little and I think Ebony is at a better age to appreciate it now. She spent most of the time pretending to change a doll’s bottom, and said to me yesterday, “I hope we go to Eureka again so I can change more nappies.” Living the dream.

It was a really lovely day out and, even better, we won an annual family pass so now we can go back again for free. We will definitely be going back soon, there’s still so much of the museum to explore.

The Eureka Santa's Grotto is open all day every weekend until Sunday 21 December, then on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 December. And from 2-3:30pm on weekdays until 19 December. It costs an additional £3 and, in my opinion, is well worth the money.

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