As the UK's first purpose-built theatre for children, the Unicorn is special because of its award-winning plays, its ensemble of talented actors, its great learning and participation programme,its pioneering work for children with disabilities, and its high-quality visiting companies programme.
The Unicorn presents work which challenges, excites and informs a generation of new audiences in a fabulous, award-winning space.
Challenge your world weary kids with the sly, funny and Surreal performances of The Whalley Range All Stars. You’ll need to be on the move around the UK to catch them, as they don’t work from a permanent theatre. Watch out for them at festivals, in foyers, libraries, theatre rooftops, the street, anywhere really.
In ‘Bedcases’ get into bed with four strangers and pull the duvet up under your chins to watch a Magritte inspired, gentle, snoozy dream. One actor, five audience members and three flying ducks. Suckle up to a lactating, pink sow the size of an elephant and enter her body to experience a short theatre piece. Or Pop your head into a box to see ‘Headcase’ a theatre where there’s room for you only. You can’t get any more intimate than this.
But the Allstars don’t always work to such a small scale, their lastest show, ‘Brainwave’ is designed for audiences of two or three hundred with gigantic puppets, animators and a stage within a giant head within a garden shed. The summer seems to be their busy time so keep your eyes peeled and check their website for future sightings.
The Whalley Range All Stars.
Venues vary check the website
Since 1980 there has been a puppet theatre in a converted medieval church in the centre of Norwich. It’s a unique venue dedicated to puppetry, with an auditorium, a studio, workshops, an exhibition gallery, shop and licensed bar. It's the only theatre in the region with a year-round programme of family-centred entertainment. As well as hosting a variety of touring puppetry companies from Britain and overseas, they run craft based workshops for children with special sessions for adults. They also work with schools in Norfolk and Suffolk to offer workshops and talks at the Theatre and by visiting the schools concerned.
We spent a lovely afternoon in Cup yesterday. Cool sounds and delicious freshly made food. Soup and toasted sandwiches, great for a chilly autumn day. The Aretha Franklin smoothy was fantastic. Went there for lunch and then returned for a pot of tea and cake. The carrot cake was yummy but the flourless chocolate cake was amazing. Found out lots of interesting stuff about tea, we'll be going back next time we're in Manchester.
53-55 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Greater Manchester M4 1NA
Google map: tinyurl.com/yga2fby
It's not one theatre venue, but it is a fantastic way of introducing children to live performance. In their local hall they feel confident, the space is intimate, the performance is close, they feel safe and are able to enjoy themselves. What's more the tickets are cheap and the quality isn't compromised. Kids can talk to the performers afterwards and see sets, props and costumes.
They make easy family holidays as they pretty much always cater to kids as well.
In the South West, you'll normally find them in close proximity to beaches or other attractions too.
Ranges of accommodation types and prices mean you can customise your stay better.
Best of all, you don't have to go to the events they have on, as some can be a bit dire.
The company’s work is aimed specifically at family audiences (children over three and adults). I help at our local arts centre and every time this theatre group perform I enjoy watching the faces of the children in the audience as much as the theatre. The children (small and large) love it!
You will find more information and current touring dates at:
In among the steep, tangled streets of Great Malvern lies a Victorian lavatory. This may not be the first destination in mind for a child’s day out but ‘The Theatre of Small Convenience’ is the world's smallest theatre. It houses a variety of exceptional and quirky performances such as puppetry, storytelling, poetry and music. The shows are performed on demand every 5-10 minutes and with a seating area for the audience and each production is made very personal and memorable. This is guaranteed to excite and amaze young children.
Nearest Train Station is 15 min walk away.
A second-hand bookshop hidden in the basement of Brunswick shopping centre in Russell Square - Skoob has an expanse of books from all corners of the earth, on all topics, and arguably the best Everyman's and Penguin collection I have seen in London to date. Friendly staff and impromptu piano recitals to boot!
The Chicken Shed Theatre is a theatre company working to use an inclusive creative process which means everyone is welcome, and everyone is valued. Chickenshed runs Children's and Youth Theatre workshops for 600 people, education courses for over 100 students, community outreach projects and a network of satellite 'Sheds' across the country (and two in Russia) so even more can benefit. Every extraordinary piece of theatre created at Chickenshed shouts out the same thing: anyone can thrive in an environment where everyone is welcome.
I recommend the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, London. This theatre only does shows for children. I can still remember the excitement of school trips there. Coming from a family that did not do things like go the the theatre, it opened up a new world to me.
This is a theatre designed specifically for and partly by children. The program ranges from 0-18 and has some world class companies performing like the recent brilliant Theatre Alibi show 'High Muck-a-Muck'. The staff are very welcoming, very friendly and there is always a buzz when you walk in. It's also a great place to meet friends and family as the cafe operates throughout the day.
Historically, there was a panel of young children along with the board who contributed to the design of the theatre so it has children at the very heart of its program. Simply a brilliant place and deserves to be celebrated.
Islay in the Scottish Hebrides has a number of working whisky distilleries that can be visited on a short tour. The island is beautiful and there are some lovely places to stay on the shores of a loch. Plenty of opportunities for tastings, too.
If the weather's good there is plenty to do and it's beautiful. Might want to avoid festival periods as they can make some places very crowded.
Great holiday providing it's sunny. Nice hotels, B&Bs and cottages to stay at.
A theatre company for children that actually does what it says. No clever remarks/jokes aimed at the adults, but instead a clearly understandable story with songs, audience involvement and lots and lots of fun!
East Lothian EH21 6AA
The ten-acre Clinton-Baker Pinetum near Hertford is particularly lovely at this time of year. A pinetum is essentially a collection of conifers; but this one is planted within a mixed woodland. As the beech and larches turn golden-brown, field maples and dawn redwoods turn yellow and burnished gold, it’s a symphony of colour in autumn sunlight. Early evening, your shadow leads as you walk past the red-leaved and berried spindle tree, down to the entrance stile, the University of Hertfordshire’s white astronomy domes behind you, gulls following red tractor to the right; and lofty cedars, hemlocks and redwoods enticing you on.
Under the expert guidance of Dr Edward Eastwood, Curator, the Pinetum is gradually being restored to its full Victorian splendour, complete with fern-filled grotto and a tally of over 150 species of conifer. Join in a fungal foray, stroll down paths which Edward insists on keeping raked to “a crinoline width,” and admire the monkey puzzle dell and “stumpery.”
It’s not all about trees: you’ll be unlucky not to see - or at least hear - a jay or green woodpecker; and right now there are red and orange berries on yew, hawthorn and holly. The particularly succulent looking black ones are best avoided - it’s deadly nightshade.
Being in such a hidden spot, it was ten years before I realised this extraordinarily magical place existed, a mere fifteen minutes walk from where I live. Now I go for a restorative dose of therapeutic serenity. I’m gradually learning to identify the trees - though Edward says I’d still be clueless if they all swapped places in the night.
Extend your walk through the hornbeams and oaks of Bayford woods and hunt out the sailor’s grave, a monument erected to a scion of the Clinton-Baker family who lost his life on the Jamaican high seas in 1804, when as commander of HM Sloop Pelican he led a party which perished while saving a foundering Spanish schooner.
The Pinetum has regular work parties sawing, hacking brambles and nettles, and piling up bonfires. There are snowdrop and bluebell walks in spring.
The Pinetum is owned by the University of Hertfordshire. To arrange a visit, become a member or find out about the next work party, contact Dr Eastwood on 01992 517622 or email@example.com. Members only have access to the private site by prior arrangement.
A modern twist on a tea-house that is also a restaurant. So far I have had brunch, afternoon tea and dinner there! I love it because it's a relaxed environment with great food and you can people watch everyone going past on Whiteladies Road. The staff are very friendly and helpful when trying to choose a tea which is a bit overwhelming at first.
Papaji's House of Teas
109 Whiteladies Road
opposite Clifton Down train station
The Lake District is at its most colourful in autumn, but the view is often obscured by rain clouds. Arnside, just south of the Lakes, often escapes the worst of the bad weather and has some lovely, gentle woodland walks. For a great view of the rich and varied autumn colours, walk through the native woodlands to the summit of Arnside Knott where you can look down on the foliage from above when you get to the top. On a clear day you get a view right across Morecombe Bay to see the magnificent outline of the Lake District fells stretching as far north as Skiddaw. There's a leaflet that contains the walk at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-arnside_knott-wildlife_walk.pdf And there's even a great cafe stop when you get back down to Arnisde Promenade; perfect!
Google map: tinyurl.com/yj2m2us
The walk is a total of 36 miles through the amazing Somerset countryside of Quantock Hills, Brendon Hills and Exmoor. You walk through a variety of landscapes such as heathland, moorland, deciduous and coniferous woodland (excellent for witnessing the ever changing colours), farmland, deeply wooded valleys and historic villages with expansive views over to the North Somerset Coast and Wales.
This walk can be completed over three or four consecutive days making it ideal for a short break. The Yarn Market Hotel in Dunster offers a special break in conjunction with the Coleridge Way. They provide excellent service including daily transport to and from the walks, packed lunches, free route map and directions and rucksack hire if needed.
The Yarn Market Hotel
25-33 High Street
nearest train station is Taunton
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