Basingstoke at Christmas and Sleeping Beauty Pantomime Review
This weekend we were invited to visit Basingstoke and review it. It’s strange although we only live 45 minutes drive away and my husband has also recently taken a job working in Basingstoke, neither of us have actually been to the shopping centre before. Located off the M3 it was easy to find, there is also a mainline train station if you don’t drive.
When we visited there was a fab little Christmas market on with little stools with Christmas craft, toys and food for you to look at and purchase. Festival Place is their main shopping centre and it was enormous. I lost my bearings a couple of times and I would even say it was bigger than the Oracle shopping centre in Reading, which is where we usually go. It was also clean and modern which I think makes a big difference too.
As well as plenty of shop to choose from, there were lots of lovely restaurants. We had lunch at Pizza Express, I will tell you more about that tomorrow, but it was delicious!
The centre had lots of Christmassy things going on. From a Santa’s Grotto and train, a full size snow globe which you could go in and have some fun Christmas photos taken with yourself inside the snow globe. I also had to share with you some pictures of this amazing chocolatier stand they had in the shopping centre. No these are not tools… they’re chocolate!
If you would like to learn more about what activities are happening in Basingstoke at Christmas then you can check out the activities on the Basingstoke Together website.
Sleep Beauty Pantomime
We were also kindly invited to go and watch a Christmas panto production of Sleeping Beauty at the Anvil Theatre. The theatre itself is just a few minutes walk from the town centre and very easy to find.
The show is currently starring Sue Holderness as the Bad Fairy (Only Fools and Horses), Katrina Bryan (CBeebies’ Nina and the Neurons) as Sleeping Beauty and Sarah-Jane Buckley (Hollyoaks) as the Good Fairy. Although if I’m being really honest Silly Billy was without a doubt my son’s absolute favourite character. He didn’t really comprehend that it was Nina from Nina and the Neurons playing Sleeping Beauty when I tried to explain it to him.
This is the first time I have taken both of my children to the theatre, I found that they both needed booster seats, although I think more because my son has someone tall in front of him. Luckily they were easy to find at the side of the theatre. My son thought it was the best show ever and was laughing away at the jokes all the way through even to the ones he didn’t understand.
The show was quite long – 2.5 hours long – I cannot tell you if that’s normal or not as it’s a long time since I have been to the panto – years in fact. My daughter did struggle in the second half, but she is only 2.5 years old. In the interval we got the children some fun light-up toys which helped with the attention, and my son thought it was the best thing ever to be able to shoot the bad witch with his light-up gun. It’s worth saying that this might be one of the first times I’ve been to the theatre where there hasn’t been huge queues for the toilets or drinks in the interval which was refreshing with young children in tow.
The panto was funny and entertaining and great family fun. It was actually just so nice to have a day out together. It might have been slightly too long in my opinion, but I cannot say if this is normal for pantos or not. My son is still raving about it days later and I would definitely love to go to a panto again next Christmas.
Having never been to Basingstoke before we honestly had a great day. We didn’t do much shopping, because we simply didn’t have much time to with lunch out and a trip to the theatre. But as it is much closer than I thought and a vast shopping centre I am sure we will be back. Stop by tomorrow to read my restaurant review.
*Disclosure: We were invited to review Basingstoke and provided with theatre tickets for the purpose of this review. However, as always all opinions are my own.