– YOUR GUIDE TO THE BEST FAMILY AND ‘DAD ONLY’ DAYS OUT –
Welcome to another Dad Days Out. This week I review ‘In the Night Garden Live!’ It’s like having a fever dream, but you wake up smiling. Check out the trailer below then read the official Yikes review.
To some, the phrases Pinky Ponk and Ninky Nonk sound like racial slurs, but to parents everywhere they will recognise them as the colourful modes of transport featured in hit CBeebies show, ‘In the Night Garden.’
Despite not filming any new episodes since 2009, the show is on every night at 6.20pm and still enjoys phenomenal success. It is this very reason that you too can now visit the magical garden, complete with its menagerie of colourful characters, as part of ‘In the Night Garden Live!’
The Live Show takes place in its own purpose-built Showdome. There are three domes altogether, which are a colossal 65m long, 35m wide and 14m high! The largest dome hosts the theatre and has just 13 rows of seats, which ensures you are close to the action wherever you sit! The other two domes house the various facilities you might require, such as buggy parking, microwaves, toilets (with toddler steps and seat inserts) and baby-changing facilities.
The stage show features every character, from fan favourite Makka Pakka, to the clearly Catholic family, the Pontipines. Even the inflatable Haahoos make an appearance. I was however slightly disappointed that the Haahoos in the show weren’t actually giant bouncy inflatables, with the production team deciding to go down the projection route instead. All the puppets and suits are incredibly high quality and look as if they have just jumped out of the TV screen in to the real world.
The story is traditional ‘In the Night Garden’ fare, proving simple enough for little ones to follow. And just like the TV show, there is an accidental smattering of innuendo for adults. Grown up fans of the series may remember the infamous episode where Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy got cosy, which inexplicably resulted in a mucky patch on Upsy Daisy’s skirt. This is bested only by the time the Pontipines enjoyed a party in the Tombliboo’s pants. Fortunately the Tombliboos were not wearing them at the time.
Considering that my 10 month son has just learnt to crawl at breakneck speed, he remained glued to his seat with his eyes transfixed on the stage for the approximate 1 hour running time. Enthralled by the set, the colours and the recognisable characters, the massive smile on his face told the whole story.
I too found myself quickly becoming riveted – who’s face would Makka Pakka wash next, where was the bouncy ball rolling to, will Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy finally declare their undying love for each other?!?
Each ticket will cost you between £14.50 or £17.50, depending on whether you attend in the week or at the weekend. This means the show can prove slightly pricey if you are a family of four or more. Each ticket includes a free souvenir programme which is advertised as being worth £7. It is a nice little programme in the style of a storybook, but I would argue that it’s value is a little overstated.
When you book tickets you get to choose whether you want to travel to the garden by Ninky Nonk or Pinky Ponk. For the uninitiated – the Ninky Nonk is a train with a mind of its own, and the Pinky Ponk is an airship, that has a whiff of the Hindenburg about it. Both shows are different, sneakily encouraging families to consider repeat visits. I caught the Ninky Nonk show, but I spoke to others who had previously watched the Pinky Ponk and they were very complimentary.
When booking, you can choose to add various extras. The first is a goody bag of merchandise which costs £29. The complete contents of which can be seen below. It is actually very good value and will end up costing you £39 if bought on the actual day and not in advance. A standard merchandise shop selling all manner of themed games and toys is also on site, but you can get everything cheaper on Amazon and there didn’t appear to be any exclusive items.
More excitingly, you can also book to have a photo with either Iggle Piggle or Upsy Daisy. This was a great idea – the photographer takes 4 photos on the day and you can choose the best. They were a little quick to take the pictures though – I was accidently covering half of Iggle Piggle’s face on every photo, so on our pic he ended up looking like a cyclops with just one eye. The queuing system for the photos is excellent though – you download an app on your phone and it displays a timer that shows when they are ready for you. This means you can wander freely and enjoy the other activities instead of simply standing in a boring queue with an ancy little one.
Overall, we had a wonderful family day out. Tickets are a little on the pricey side, but the facilities are excellent and the show is truly sublime!
Rating – 4/5
Following sold out shows in London, In the Night Garden Live is currently at The Trafford Centre in Manchester until 21 August.
Don’t delay, book Manchester tickets now before it’s too late.
And if you do not live in Manchester, do not fear – it is an annual show – sign up here to get the latest updates and find out when it is coming to a venue/place near you.