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Days Out Blog

Not only has Santa got his annual worldwide trip for everyone on his nice list, but he is visiting the UK for some exclusive appearances. It’s going to take a lot of Christmas magic to get him around the country, with a lot of same day appearances to attend. If you’re looking to bring your little ones along to meet Saint Nick, we’ve put together a list of where he’ll be and when.

  • West Dean Gardens

Santa’s first stop on his Great British tour is down in West Sussex, at West Den Gardens. Appearing on the 16th and 17th December between 10am – 4.30pm (last admittance is at 4). Kids will get the chance to meet Father Christmas and get a little pre-Christmas present from him. There’s mince pies and mulled win for the grownups, and a chance to make ornaments and Christmas cards too!

Booking to see Santa is a must, as he’s a very busy man and everyone wants to see if they’re on the nice list! Child entry is £5 and Adult entry is £5.50.

  • Sandcastle Waterpark

Santa returns on the 16th – 17th in his temporary grotto at Sandcastle Waterpark. Enjoy a day of waterpark fun whilst you wait to see the big man himself! Tickets are £7.50 and can be purchased online. Click HERE to see winter opening times for the waterpark.

  • Hornchurch Country Park and Ingrebourne Valley Visitor Centre

Appearing on the 16th,17th 21st and 22nd, Santa’s second stop is to the magical woods of Hornchurch, in Essex. He’ll be using some special Christmas magic to make his way between Essex and Sussex on the same day! Wrap up warm to visit Santa’s woodland grotto! You’ll receive a special Christmas present and a chance to have a photo with Father Christmas. Booking is essential, tickets are £7 per child.

  • ZSL London Zoo

Not only can little ones meet Santa, but they can enjoy a fun day out at ZSL London Zoo too. Santa will be in the centre of the zoo, along with all the other wonderful animals too. Santa will be using his festive magic again, as he’ll be in London again on the 17th right through to 24th, before he returns to the North Pole to get ready for his big Christmas delivery.

Money from the Santa experience goes to Zoological Society of London conservation charity, so it’s all for a good cause. Ticket prices can be found, HERE. Booking is essential.

  • LEGOLAND Windsor Resort

Santa is arriving to LEGOLAND, in the form of bricks. Yes, the park has made a full-scale model of Santa and his sleigh. Whilst you won’t be able to meet Saint Nick, it’s a perfect time to grab a picture with this impressive LEGO model. The LEGO Santa will be at LEGOLAND until late December.

More information and tickets are available by clicking HERE.

Expect Santa to have some mini breaks throughout the day, whilst he visits other attraction on the same day! He’s a busy man but wants to see all the smiling faces – so please be patient! The elves will be there to keep you entertained.

For all Christmas events, across the UK. Visit our events page by clicking HERE.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

What conversation is the topic of every office discussion and winter gathering before Christmas? You’ve seen the shops littered with décor and heard the tunes on the radio, but when, WHEN DOES CHRISTMAS ACTUALLY BEGIN? It drives families and friends apart, but when is it socially acceptable to start talking about Christmas and putting up decorations in your home? Well, we’re going to settle this, once and for all.

The general consensus in our office is when December begins, (although, one staff member casually suggested Christmas begins on the 25th…) But, the general vibe is that Christmas begins, in the month of December. And rightly so. Anything festive pre-late November is what you’ll see in shops. Like Selfridges opening their Christmas shop on September 4th

So, without further ado, here’s 5 reasons why Christmas doesn’t start until December.

  1. Christmas’ Date

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, what do they have in common? CHRISTMAS. And what dates are they on? 24th and 25th of DECEMBER. We shouldn’t need to show you our working out to prove that the Christmas period begins in the month CHRISTMAS IS IN. Even in America, where Christmas is commercialised at a huge scale, they respect the Christmas rule. November is for Thanksgiving. Don’t over shadow other important events in November like Remembrance Day and Bonfire Night with pre-emptive Christmas nonsense… (give Guy Fawkes some credit for the stupidest plot in history). Let the other months do their own thing!

  1. Our Christmas events don’t begin until December…

As you know, we love a day out at DOUK. And, in December, we love a Christmas day out. Christmas markets, meeting Santa, perusing winter wonderlands – we love it. BUT ONLY IN DECEMBER. Don’t let the events listed as Christmas ones in November fool you, the real Christmas magic begins in December and starts at DOUK. To see all our great Christmas events (in December) check out our events page, by clicking HERE.

  1. Michael Bublé needs to wake up

It’s not Christmas until Bublé is officially sighted.He emerges from his year long slumber to grace our ears with the finest Christmas CD of the 21st century (take that Justin Bieber, no one liked your Christmas album). The undisputed symbol of Christmas covers, once Bublé emerges the Christmas flood gates are opened. And, let’s be honest, Christmas music loses its charm pretty quickly, so let’s not exhaust the Christmas tunes before the big day, yeah?

  1. It’s a trap

Any celebrations of Christmas before December is a marketing trap! - don’t let it fool you! The decorations in the shops in October are subliminally signalling you to start buying your presents early, which is smart for them, but not for you. Don’t forget about all the sweet discounts and deals you get in December. Don’t let the Christmas marketing plan draw you in, it’s a clever tick – but you won’t fool us!

  1. We did a vote

Finally, we asked everyone in the office and it was confirmed that it is OFFICIALLY CHRISTMAS IN DECEMBER. So, don’t exhaust Mariah Carrey and fall into marketing traps before the 1st, Christmas begins when we say so (we’ve carried out the polls after all, so…) But of course, December is only a few days away… sooooooooo it’s nearly time!

To talk about Christma…

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Guess what? As you know, we love a day out at DOUK – and today, we went out for one! Well, sort of. We were invited to an exclusive unveiling of the brand-new spring exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London. The Future Starts Here is the museum’s new, and experimental, exhibition opening in May of 2018. Featuring over one hundred objects and gadgets that are set to enhance the human experience in the future – or in the not so distance future.

Curated by Rory Hyde, Mariana Pestana and the Design, Architecture and Digital Department, supported by the Volkswagen Group, this exhibition is truly an original experience, and an experimental first for the V&A.

All of the items in the collection are either on the market, in development or at the prototype stage. Not only does the exhibition showcase the tech and design of the future, but it asks questions of where our world is heading. Is this technology set to enhance our experience, or will it be a detriment to our lives? How is smart design shaping our future cities? Through the exhibition future technology and design are interrogated and explored on an unprecedented scale.

What we saw

Although we only saw the exhibition in part, it gave a fascinating insight and left us wanting more. From a 3D printed rendering of Chelsea Manning’s face made entirely from DNA, to a portable lab, from Bento Labs - the size of a keyboard with the power to analyse, manipulate and explore DNA on a scale that was only available to scientists and experts up till now. The Future Starts Here outlines the limitless potential of the future, through real futuristic tech – things you couldn’t imagine but are in development and tangible.

Huge tech giants have invested in new creations as well, with Facebook rolling out a light aircraft that brings the internet to the two thirds of the world, that don’t have it. The Aquila transmits internet to parts of the world without it, and the aircraft is light, hovering and solar powered. Mark Zuckerberg believes that connection is a basic human right. A look at Apple’s newest headquarters and a Crowd Funded pedestrian walkway in Rotterdam, shed a light on the architectural design of the future.

Other features include a drone sailing ship, Protei, that collects rubbish and oil spills in the ocean. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault preserves seeds in the event of large scale crisis– this tech is shaping the future but set to save and preserve it as well. The tech on display dances a fine line between the good technology can do, but also the harm it can inflict.

The Future Starts Here aims to not only help you envision the future to come, but question what this tech and design can do. To inspire a wide audience with design and tech that seems impossible to imagine but is here, now. For the visitor, ethical and speculative questions are asked to engage you in the future, with tech that inspires and innovates – there’s a robot that does all the laundry for you, who wouldn’t want that? We could go on and on about all the fascinating design and tech we saw, but instead we’ll tell you what’s in it for you.

Why YOU should go

This daring and experimental exhibition is nothing like we’ve seen before. A first for the V&A, it features so much to see and engage with. It explores tech in 4 large main scales. The self, public spaces, the planet and finally the vast cosmos above. This exhibition can teach, both adults and children, so much about the future and engage an interest in technology and design. The Future Starts Here can educate and engage everyone. From a curious child who is inquisitive about what their adult lives will be like, to the sceptic grandma/parent anxious of where the world is heading. This exhibition has something for everyone. The ‘wow’ factor for everything on display can’t be measured. The Future Starts Here is a truly fascinating exhibition.

Opening on 12th May 2018 and running until 4th November, this exhibition is not one to be missed. A year in the making, The Future Starts Here is an informative and engaging insight as to where our world is heading. Advanced tickets are £15 and V&A members go for free. You can book your tickets by either calling 0800 912 6961 or visiting the V&A’s website, by clicking HERE. Supported by Volkswagen Group, the exhibition will be held in the Sainsbury Gallery for the duration of Spring and Autumn. The future has arrived to our world and truly, #TheFutureStartsHere at the V&A, Spring 2018.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

It’s official, we can now start talking about Christmas! Yes, we’ve held in our excitement for long enough, but with the passing of Bonfire Night, Christmas feels a whole lot closer! The lights are going up in all the towns and villages across the UK and the decorations are out in full force in shops and homes. So, what better way to get you in the festive mood than with some fun Christmas facts! Stuff to wow your colleagues, friends and family with before the festivities commence.

We’ve created a list of our favourite and most obscure Christmas facts, for you to show off with.

  1. Best Film and Song

It’s a matter of taste, but everyone has their own favourite Christmas song and film. But, if we’re talking about the highest grossing and bestselling, we can confirm that there is one song and film, that take the Christmas cake.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Starring Jim Carrey, this film is the highest grossing Christmas film to date. Released back in 2000, this film is a titan of the Christmas film industry and has not been surpassed by the likes of Elf or any other festive favourite.

White Christmas – To much surprise, the bestselling tune of all time is White Christmas by Bing Crosby, with an estimated excess of 50 million copies sold worldwide. (personally, my favourite is from another Carey – All I want for Christmas)

  1. Christmas Creations

Some of the most famous staples of Christmas were created as parts of marketing campaigns and dreams, from the early 1900s and even further back. Santa Claus was originally depicted in green clothing until Coca-Cola swapped the forest green for a vibrant red in the early 20th century.

Whilst Rudolph, Santa’s little red nosed friend, was created to promote Montgomery Ward’s holiday colouring books in 1939. His original name was going to be Reginald and his nose was never supposed to be red – as a red nose emulated the nose of an alcoholic.

Santa’s famous sleigh was created by Washington Irving as early as 1819, in a series of short stories. Irving described a dream where he saw good ol’ St. Nick flying across the sky, in a wagon of sorts. Dicken’s may have even been inspired by Irving when he penned his classic, A Christmas Carol.

  1. Some Stats

An estimated 6.8 million IOS and other mobile and tablet devices are activated on Christmas Day. Whilst, 4.25 million of us Brits will travel abroad for Christmas. 6 million rolls of Sellotape are estimated to be sold in Britain in the lead up to Christmas. One more for the millions, 60 million Christmas trees are gown in Europe, each year.

On to the percentages; 13% of families will attend church on Christmas day and a mere 27% will watch her Majesty’s speech on the telly.

Finally, during the 20th century, there have only been 7 recorded white Christmases in the UK. For a Christmas to be declared as a ‘White Christmas’, officially, a single snow flake must be seen from the roof of the Met office within 24hours.

  1. Historical Facts

Over the years, Christmas has come with some rather odd traditions which we all just accept because, well, they’re Christmas traditions… When you find a tangerine in your stocking, it actually originates from French Nuns leaving socks filled with fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor, in the 12th century.

The act of hanging stockings from the fire place comes from Dutch traditions, where food would be left out for St. Nicholas’ donkeys and in exchange, he would leave small gifts. Eating mince pies on Christmas? You could be breaking the law. In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas pudding and mince pies from being consumed on Christmas day. To this day, the law has never been retracted.

  1. Let’s get global

Whilst we have strange traditions here in Britain, the most popular food of choice in Japan on Christmas day is KFC. Yes, orders for the festive season must be put in 2 months in advance, in order to deal with the increased demand. Whilst in Sweden, it is extremely popular to watch cartoons on Christmas Eve. But, not just any cartoons – specifically, Donald Duck ones. This tradition dates back as early as 1960.

In Norway, families will hide their brooms to avoid them being stolen by witches and evil spirits. One of the stranger traditions, in Norway, it was believed that evil spirits and witches returned on Christmas eve, to find a broom to ride. The most terrifying tradition we’ve heard comes from Australia. Where Krampus, Saint Nick’s evil counterpart, comes out to punish the naughty children and taking them away. Young Australian men dress up as Krampus, running through the streets at night in December with chains and bells – Halloween’s supposed to be over right?

 

And there you have it! Some fun Christmas facts you can show off this festive season. For upcoming Christmas events, stay tuned to our Blog or visit our events page by clicking HERE.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Next Tuesday is Halloween, and yes, you’ve guessed it, your home is about to be burdened with children asking you for food (wouldn’t really fly on any other day of the year, but let’s get into the spirit of it). The third most anticipated day of the year (next to Christmas and Birthdays) for children and adults with a sweet addiction.

Normally, those houses that don’t want to accept trick or treaters will forgo the Halloween decorations and turn of the lights and electric (don’t want anyone thinking you’re home do you). Alternative to sitting at home in the dark in hushed silence, you could head out on one of our amazing days out for Halloween.

We’ve selected our Top 3 Events to keep you entertained on Halloween and all without having to hand out apples to see the confused look on trick or treaters’ faces.

  1. Halloween Dine and Stay – Hever Castle, Kent

Kicking off our spookily selective list is a unique and interesting event – and a good mini midweek break. Guests to Hever Castle on October 31st can enjoy an evening of food, ghosts and paranormal activity, all under one castle roof.

Starting the evening with a full course meal, visitors will then have the chance to hunt for ghosts and explore the paranormal goings on in the castle and its grounds, all hosted by Ciaran O’Keefe from Most Haunted. After an evening of chasing ghosts, you can enjoy a stay in one of the castles fiver star bedrooms, located in the Astor Wing – including breakfast the next morning.

There’s an option to just go along and enjoy the dinner and paranormal, with cheaper packages available. For more information and ticket prices, click HERE.

  1. Talk Tuesday: Henry VIII – Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside

For the history buffs amongst you, you’ll know all about the origins of Halloween and how ‘American’ it has become. So how about some history that hasn’t been claimed across the pond? Some good ol’ fashioned British history – about everyone’s favourite, larger than life Tudor, King Henry VIII.

‘But, what’s it got to do with Halloween?’ I hear you cry! Well, the history is fairly gruesome, so we’re including that under the Halloween umbrella… At this exclusive one-off event at the Walker Art Gallery on October 31st, you can learn all about the infamous king and his exploits in Tudor England. This FREE, yes FREE, event will educate you about the life of Henry VIII, and you can test your ability to name all his ex-wives and what fates they met at the hands of the big king himself. Just remember DBDDBS…

For more information on the event, click HERE.

  1. The Luna Cinema Presents – Hampton Court Palace, Surrey

Luna Cinema’s has ventured to our favourite Tudor King’s Palace, to show an exclusive outdoor screening of one of the world’s best horror films. Yes, on October 31st, sit, relax and enjoy the outdoor experience. Make the most of the still mild weather before we hit the peak of winter, watch a scary film outside a Henry VIII’s palace. In true Halloween spirit, terrify yourself by watching the critically acclaimed classic, The Silence of the Lambs.

Films and food go hand in hand, so stuff your face and feast your eyes upon this classic film. Reverse roles with the kids, enjoy sweets and other treats, without the hassle of trick or treating. Put your feet up and watch the horror unfold before your eyes. (Obviously not suitable for Under 18s)

For more information on this event and to book tickets, click HERE.

That’s it! Our top 3 things to do this Halloween to avoid Trick or Treaters! For more events up and down the country, click HERE.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

It's Chocolate Week

Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 |Category: Tips, Features

This week marks arguably the best week of the year, that’s right – its chocolate week. As if you needed a better excuse to stuff your face full of chocolatey treats, there’s an actual week dedicated to eating and celebrating it. Dark, White, Milk, Truffle, Praline, Caramel, Toffee, the list is mouth-wateringly long and is making me really hungry just talking about it…

Yes, if there’s one thing we love just as much as Days Out in the UK, it’s chocolate.

So, if you’re reading this, we’re going to combine two of your favourite things – Days Out and chocolate (because everybody loves chocolate). We’ll even chuck in a few chocolatey facts for you to wow your friends with.

Now for the religious chocolate lovers out there, there’s a few places you can worship. But, the Vatican of the chocolate world, is right here, in the UK. It’s only Cadbury World in Birmingham! Religious metaphors aside, Cadbury World is a must visit for chocolate lovers from near and far. You can tour the factory in true Willy Wonka style, and see the masterful process of how all Cadbury’s chocolate is made. Including the creation of white chocolate… which is a nice Segway into our first fact.

*FACT ALERT*

White Chocolate contains no cocoa at all. (hold for gasps) Yes, white chocolate is the product of fat and sugar… yum. White-sugar-fat bar doesn’t have quite the same ring to it though, does it?

For the chocolate connoisseurs amongst you, white and milk chocolate are merely low tier chocolate, not even present on your radar. You’ve been to a chocolate specialist in Switzerland, you’ve seen a professional chocolatier craft a seven-foot phoenix out of dark chocolate and a small funnel, forged with blood, sweat and tears, in a snowy blizzard… okay, we may be over exaggerating here, but some prefer dark to milk and white, for its high cocoa count.

And where I hear you ask can you get some top quality, high percentage, artisan dark chocolate in the UK? No, not Waitrose – farmer’s markets.

Some of the finest farmer’s markets across the UK, will almost definitely, have at least one stall selling beautiful, homemade chocolate/fudge/chocolatey treat. Markets like Holker Hall & Gardens in Cumbria and Swithens Farm in Leeds, stock some of the finest homemade treats to get your teeth into. From fancy fudge to high cocoa content chocolate, farmer’s markets are a fun and foody day out for everyone.

*FACT ALERT*

According to research, of the chocolatey kind, eating dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease by one-third, as long as you consume it daily – however, you may have a higher risk of contracting diabetes if you eat too much chocolate… everything in moderation – like constantly eating chocolate for only ONE week of the year. #chocolateweek

If you’ve ever wondered about the history of chocolate, we’ve got just the place for you. York’s Chocolate Story, located in York surprisingly, allows you to unwrap the secrets of chocolate. This fully interactive experience immerses you in the world of chocolate and allows you the fully explore the history of your favourite treats and learn the secrets of chocolatiers. York is the epicentre of the UK’s chocolate industry, and has been the home of chocolate in England for the past 300 years. With lots of sweet exhibitions, there’s so much to learn and taste at York’s Chocolate Story.

*FACT ALERT*

This next fact we consider more of a public service announcement than anything, it’s imperative for anyone partaking in chocolate week to read very carefully what comes next… A lethal dose of chocolate for a human is just under 10kg, yes chocolate can be lethal. So, in theory, you could eat around 50 bars of Dairy Milk Chocolate bars that weigh 200g – everything in moderation, right?

Whether you’re a Cadbury lover, cocoa historian or a chocolate connoisseur – it doesn’t have to be chocolate week to visit some sweet attractions.

Happy Chocolate Week everyone!

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Halloween Facts

Posted: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 |Category: Features

 

It’s official, October is here. And that can only mean one thing… Guy Fawkes Night is a month away! But also, Halloween is approaching. Yes, the age old pagan festival – more like painful, right? (hope that pun landed somewhere.) ‘Tis the season of pumpkins, sweets and ridiculous costumes, but Halloween is very much the marmite amongst all the holidays. Some love it, and others, well.

Depending where you fall, you may or may not know about the origins and traditions of Halloween. And because it’s a little early for us to tell you what you can do this Halloween, we’ve put together a list of Halloween facts, to quench your spooky thirst.

  1. Origins

Believed to date back over 2000 years to the ancient Celtic times, ‘Samhain’ or Halloween as it is now known, is the festival that signified the end of the harvest and the start of the new Celtic year. (November 1st) The ancient Celts would adorn costumes and light bonfires in order to frighten off spirits and ghosts. However, when Christianity first arrived in England and Europe, November 1st became All Saints Day, a day for the saints that didn’t have one of their own. The night before this, Christians would partake in a mass - ‘All hallows mass’, just a big ol’ mass which eventually became known as Halloween.

  1. Myths and Superstitions

Famed for being the holiday of magic and mystery, there are many myths that surround Halloween. Some believe that if you see a spider on Halloween, it may be a deceased loved one watching over you and black cats were believed to protect witches’ powers from ‘negative forces’. Whilst other myths state that if you met a witch, you should turn all your clothes inside out and walk away backwards. Also, that ringing a bell will frighten evil spirits away –we can only dream that this would work on unwanted trick or treaters.

  1. Pumpkins

Before American traditions were shipped over, the famous ‘Jack O’lantern’ pumpkin was a turnip (not quite as colourful). The original turnip carving tradition comes from Irish folklore, where a man named Jack, tried to trick the devil and was forced to wander the Earth with nothing but a poorly lit turnip, for eternity. Jack O’lanterns are lit to scare off Jack and other roaming spirits around the spooky season.

Adopting the carving tradition, Americans in the 19th Century chose to carve pumpkins instead of turnips. This is because pumpkins grow in a greater supply and are easier to carve than turnips. And they sent it right back to us, along with trick or treating… Unfortunately, Jack O’lanterns don’t ward off trick or treaters the same way they do evil spirits. Most homes use the lantern to signify they welcome trick or treaters. (seems daft to me) Speaking of which…

  1. Trick or Treat

Whilst trick or treating has been imported from America, the true origins of the traditions remain unknown. Some suggest that the ‘delightful’ activity could date back to the Celtic Samhain tradition. When ancient Celts dressed up as ghosts and exchanging food around a bonfire. By 1000 AD, the tradition had changed. The poor would go to the houses of the rich, and exchange prayers for deceased rich family members, for food. Now, it’s children in spooky costumes and a few teenagers that probably should have stopped a few years prior.

For all the latest updates on Halloween events and attractions near you, make sure you keep an eye out for listings on our Events page and our next blog post. It’s going to be a spooky one…

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags: halloween

Escape the Kids - Adults Only Activities

Posted: Wednesday, September 6, 2017 |Category: Great Days Out, Features

Parents across the country are breathing a sigh of relief, for this Monday was the first day back at school. Time to turn over your ‘little angels’ to the hands of the educational system for another six weeks, before they are returned just in time for half term. Although it was a delight having them around every day, seven days a week, for the entire school holiday, an air of calm has arrived in your home. Until 3pm at least…

It’s good to spend time together but detachment is just as healthy as attachment, and lord knows you need/deserve some time apart. So, kick back, call a baby-sitter or nan and run for the door. You owe yourself an outing after enduring an entire summer with your kids.

To narrow your search, although I’m pretty sure you’d take anything to get away for just one day, we’ve compiled a list of Adults Only days out across the country, to celebrate the return to school.

‘Get me a drink’

The best secret a parent can tell you about how to handle children in summer, is to soothe yourself with a drink or five after a ‘fun’ packed day. The loose term ‘fun’ applies to your children’s amusement as opposed to your own, although I’m sure we all love crawling on our knees and touching sticky surfaces, no? There’s lots of things to do revolving around drinking in a more social setting than your home. If you fancy a bit of problem solving accompanied with a gin, I’ve got just the thing for you. And no, I’m not talking about having a drink whilst you help with your kids’ Maths homework.

LockedIn The Distillery – Pickering Gin Distillery

In this exclusive experience unlike any other, team up with a group of up to five friends to foil the plot against the distillery, as someone is planning to destroy it, along with the gin! (oh god, not the gin). The Edinburgh based experience is unique and is perfect way to enjoy a gin and act like the children you’ve worked so hard to get away from. For more information, click HERE.

Wine Tour - Yorkshire Heart Vineyard & Brewery

‘This? This is grown-up grace juice, you can’t have any.’ If you’ve always wanted to know how your favourite ‘parenting aid’ is made, head to Yorkshire Heart Vineyard & Brewery. For a mere £15 a head, in a group of 6 or more, you can enjoy a tour round the vineyard and even an accompanied wine tasting. The vast countryside, beautiful scenery and remote location makes this vineyard an ideal get away from home and/or your children (and a good excuse to drink huge quantities of wine). Click HERE for prices and more info.

‘A bit of relaxation and culture’

Now, remember that time you had to leave that quiet place or gallery because you’re precious one was crying due to the fact he/she was tired, hungry, wet or all three? The beauty of having children is that as they become older, you can pass the responsibility to nurseries/relatives/schools/babysitters, so you can unwind and soak in some culture. Meaning, that museum or gallery you’ve wanted to wander around without the nagging ‘can we leave?’ in your ear is finally possible. That spa trip you need can be taken whilst the kids are at school, is now possible. All thanks to Mr or Mrs. *insert teacher name*.

Modern & Contemporary Art - Halcyon Gallery

Halcyon is defined by the Oxford dictionary – ‘a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful’ i.e. a pre-child filled summer. The Halcyon Gallery allows you, however temporarily, to enjoy that peace once more, while you look at some of the finest works of modern and contemporary art from around the globe. Founded in 1982 and located in Mayfair, you can take in some world renown artists’ work as well as viewing the works of emerging artists. It might give you a new perspective on the finger painting on the fridge (oh, it’s a butterfly? I thought it was an unrecognisable blob...). For more information on exhibitions and the venue, click HERE.

Pampering Days – Oceana Day Spa

When it’s all too much and can’t quite get rid of the feeling of ice cream stuck to your skin and hair, you need to be cleansed of the summer. You need a spa day and a long one at that. Luckily, the Oceana Day Spa, located in Bournemouth, has every treatment you need to ease your tension. Bring balance to your mind and body, with a wide array of treatments to soothe the soul in a relaxing setting. For a list of treatments and additional information about the spa, click HERE.

‘Sing and Laugh it off’

Laughter is the best medicine, and let’s face it, probably better than drinking Night Nurse just to get some sleep… They say that laughing once a day could make your life span longer, so that you can live to see your little ones become successes, then cash in on that sweet nursing home, reminding them of all the times you looked after/paid for them.

Stand Up Comedy – The Stand

Now whilst some people may enjoy the simplistic humour behind CBeebies, I’m afraid it’s not for everyone. I mean, when was the last time you heard a good dirty joke without having to cover a little person’s ears? Sometimes, you just need to just be in the company of adults, hearing another adult tell adult jokes that aren’t suitable for non-adults (I don’t think I said adult enough times).

Situated in Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Stand has a whole host of comedy events on every night. The Newcastle venue, being the newest addition to the family opened in 2011. The club promises to have you in stitches and not the kind of pain you get post ‘running after a rogue toddler’. The Stand promises not to disappoint, providing all visitors with an evening full of fun and laughs in high supply. For more information, click HERE.

Karaoke – Lucky Voice

When you feel close to chucking that ‘Now That’s What I Call Kids Music’ CD out the window (and then remember the music is downloaded to your phone, damn technology). While wishing that you could reverse roles and scream your favourite song at the top your lungs, well now you can. By no means a new invention, karaoke is a great way to sing away your summer blues and have a drink or two whilst doing it (Dutch courage and all). Lucky Voice is a swanky karaoke/cocktail bar with many locations up and down the UK. With over 8000 songs to choose from, you can sing the night away in the company of friends in a private room or go full Rockstar and imitate the last concert you saw (The Wiggles: Live at O2 arena), singing in front of a crowd. The choice is yours. For more information, click HERE.

Whatever the weather, no matter the time – there’s always a child free day out waiting for you! There is the small matter of passing your kids off to someone else to be looked after, but hey, that’s what school and relatives are for, right? I say we vote for a longer school day/week and shorter school holidays but that’s just me.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags: adults, drink, food

Easter Holidays- Put a spring in your step!

Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 |Category: Tips, Great Days Out, Features

It’s hard to believe how fast the year is going! It seems like barely a week ago I was shaking off the memories of New Year’s fireworks and writing my huge list of resolutions that I was totally, definitely going to get done this year, regardless of my previous year’s track record. Yet here we are: Spring has sprung, blossom coats the trees and the next major break for the kids is coming up fast, the Easter Holidays. Cue the panic!!!

We at Days Out UK pride ourselves on bringing you the best events to do alone or with your family, and around Easter-time there are a plethora of activities to experience throughout the UK, so I couldn’t possibly list them all, but I can try to give you a few suggestions and also point you in the direction of our EVENTS page for all the fun happening over the coming weeks.

So Easter… the season of chocolate, rebirth, chocolate, baby animals, relaxing, family and of course… chocolate. There is a lot to cover so let’s get started (Read to the end for some fun facts about Easter and let's see how many terrible egg puns I can fit in).

Egg-celent Egg Hunts!

Let’s begin with the most classic of Easter past-times, (besides feeling violently ill after overdosing on chocolate), the classic Egg hunt! 

There are ones popping up all over the country soon, bringing some sugary magic to some already amazing sites. Between the 14th-17th April, the National Trust has partnered up with the titan of sweetness: Cadbury, and is putting on their ever-popular Chocolate Egg Hunt at a number of properties throughout the UK. From Knole, to Quebec House, to Sissinghurst, you and your family can track clues around some beautiful historic properties and claim a delicious Cadbury Treat! Make sure to check out https://easter.cadbury.co.uk/find-an-egg-hunt to find the nearest egg hunt to you.

(Hunts cost £2-£3 per person to participate dependant on the venue)

For something a little different and magical, why not try a special glow in the dark Easter Egg hunt at the Cheddar Caves? Running from the 1st-23rd of April, take a trek through the beautiful caverns and see if you can find all the luminescent eggs that have been carefully hidden throughout the world famous Gough's Cave. There's a chocolately treat that await all who hand in a completed challenge form. For those looking for a real task, or for egg-stra fun, then take on the 'Hard Boiled' challenge, taking note of ALL the different colours and locations to really prove that you've got the challenge cracked! 

For a number of other egg-citing hunts and trails, make sure to check out Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace for their own activities as well as the Hever Castle Bunny Hunt and the Easter Eggstravaganza at Chatsworth Houseall running throughout April just to name a few!

 

Animals Antics 

Easter is the time to celebrate rebirth, so why not take advantage of some great Easter Holiday offers to visit all the fluffy, scaly, or feathered friends you could imagine? Knowsley Safari Park has a great offer on from 1st-23rd April, offering 20% off all online bookings so you can enjoy the vast expanse of the safari park and all the amazing animals within for an even better rate! Home to free romaing lions, giraffes, tigers, zebras, monkeys: why not take a trip this Easter and take advantage of this great offer! 

At the same time, the  ZSL London Zoo is launching it's Dear Zoo trail based on the popular children's book of the same name! Kids can explore the zoo following the beloved story's characters and take part in a number of themed activities, collecting stamps and listening to the tale at the Storytelling hub! Definitely an event not to be missed!!

April sees the launch of Willows Activity Farm's Easter Event giving the whole family the oppurtunity to get up close and personal with a number of adorable farm animals as well as some amazing themed activites like the ever popualar Pig Racing! So make sure you hop to it and don't miss out!

For a full list of fun wildlife activities occuring throughout the Easter Holidays click HERE

Magical Miscellany

Why not try some historic-themed Easter fun? While many people hear the word "history" and want to go straight to sleep, fear not, as the Canterbury Tales in Kent is running it’s own fun Easter Event from the 3rd-14th April and it promises to be an fantastic time! Be transported back to the days of Chuacer and enjoy a plethora of  activities including: Maypole Dancing, a Knight’s School, finding out all about medieval medicine and (of course) classic storytelling. The perfect way to enjoy the sunshine and partake in some of the weird and wonderful fun of yesteryear.

 

For more storytelling action, why not visit the Horniman Museum and Gardens for their Alice in Wonderland themed Easter fair over the Easter Weekend? Hop along themed trails, get creative with crafting workshops or really throw yourself down the rabbit hole with all a special Alice in Wonderland storytelling performance suitable for the whole family! 

For those looking for a more EGG-STREME activity, then make sure to take advantage of Aerial Extreme's special Easter offers. Defy gravity at these death-defying High Ropes Courses located throughout the country as you jump, climb and zip past obstacles. Best of all, during the Easter period, there's 25% off sessions at all locations when you book online.  Plus, on the 14th April, you have the chance to take on their special Easter event. All you have to do is take on the perils of the course whilst carrying a raw egg around! Simple right? For those who try it , there's plenty of chocolate up for grabs so why not see if you have what it takes? It's the perfect oppurtunity to experience a bunbelievable adventure!

If you're looking for something that's more nautical, then there are TONNES of events during the Easter holidays over at the National Maritime Museum of London and the Cutty Sark that'll make you egg-static!! From meeting famous characters from history, to sessions aimed specifically for your youngest ones, to discovering the museums through arts, music and dance as well as a number of sessions talking about culture and fun from all over the world, there is certianly not a lack of things to do either location! Clcik HERE and HERE for a full list of what's going on!

 

So whatever you feel like doing around this time, whether it's something highflying, crafty, or if you just want to stuff yourself silly with chocolate eggs for days, just make sure you're doing something you enjoy while we all pray for good weather. And from all of us at Days Out UK, have a very Happy Easter!!! 

 

 

Eggs-tremely Fun Facts!

So how about some fun facts about the most chocolatey of holidays?

  1. The world's tallest Easter Egg was 10 meters and weighed over 7,000 kg!! That’s the equivalent of over 70,000 regular chocolate eggs! Thank you, Italy!
  2. The amount of money spent on chocolate during the Easter period makes up 10 per cent of UK chocolate spending for the entire year!
  3. When do you think the first Easter Egg was made? Take second to have a guess.... It was first made in 1873 by Fry’s of Bristol and dentists everywhere I’m sure are forever thankful.
  4. The classic past time of this holiday is that of the good ol’ Easter Egg Hunt and the world’s largest Easter Egg hunt ever recorded took place in Florida where almost 10,000 children went on the hunt for over 500,000 eggs! (And that's no yolk!)

(Did you spot all 10 puns?)

 

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Mama Mia! Mother's Day Ideas for 2017

Posted: Friday, February 24, 2017 |Category: Tips, Great Days Out, Features

Ah Mother’s Day. Undoubtedly mums are some of the hardest working people around, doing so much without respite or holiday to the point where having merely one day per year dedicated to their efforts seems a little frugal of the calendar! With this day now rapidly approaching, (after we’ve gorged ourselves on pancakes but before we gorge ourselves more on chocolate eggs), I have compiled a few suggestions of things you and your mum (or other special lady in your life) might like to try on this day. I’ve tried my best to come up with a few ways to personalise this day which, like so many other holidays has become awash with commercialism so that the individuality of the day can be lost. Mothers are all individuals, so while I’m going to do my best to give you some awesome suggestions on what to do on this special day, ultimately, it’s what you think she'll enjoy the most.

From gardens, to cakes, to castles and more, there is not a lack of Mother’s day events being held throughout the UK and make sure to check out our Events Page for a full list of goings on!

 

 

Floriography and Gardens

 

A bouquet is a classic gift idea for any mother (unless they happen to have a pollen allergy in which case maybe not) but can seem a little cliché. A gift of flowers is always appreciated, so why not personalise them? After all, flowers are a unique language within themselves, so if you can, try and craft your own message! For your aid (and because I spend too much time on google) please take a gander at these suggestions for combinations. For a Mother’s Day flowers I’d suggest one or several of these:


Pink carnations or Lilies (A Mother’s Love). Both these flowers are symbolic of motherhood, so using these is always a good place to start! (Moss and wood are also symbols of maternal love, but that a big pile of moss and wood might not make your ma so pleased)
Lavender (Devotion). Besides looking really pretty and having been used to scent everything from soap to dog shampoo, the smell is also great for relaxation and I know that mothers can be more than a tad stressed at points.
Lily of the Valley (Returning Happiness) A more specific meaning, but a really lovely sentiment if you’d like to express the reciprocation of all the happiness your mam has given you over the years.
Dark Pink Rose (Gratitude). Different coloured roses have a variety of different meanings but I think those of a dark pink colour have the most appropriate meaning for this day.
Violets (Love, Faithfulness) Yet another flower with the meaning of love, but I think in a bouquet for your mum, you can’t have too many!
Pomegranate Flower (Mature elegance) … If you want to have a laugh or get slapped, I think it depends on your mum’s sense of humour.
The flower dictionary is huuuuuuuuuuge, so make sure to look up a few different meanings yourself if you want to get really specific and/or weird (e.g. Milkvetch: Your presence softens my pains)

 


Since this is a Days Out website, of course I’m going to mention some places to visit on this day as well. If a bouquet isn’t enough, how about acres of flowers by taking a trip to one of the UK’s many beautiful gardens, plenty of which are offering special events on Mother’s Day itself. From the restored West Dean Gardens in Chichester, well known for their stunning features and large variety of flora, to the acres of greenery and plant life surrounding Highclere Castle in Berkshire, or the greenery and waters Ripley Castle and Gardens and so many more! (All previous mentions have Mother’s Day events). While perhaps a clichéd suggestion, it’s a cliché for reason, because they are some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking places in the country.

 

FOOD!!

 

What says love more than food? Well, probably a lot of things, but you can’t really go wrong with something tasty. For something that is a necessity, how food is prepared can really impact it’s meaning. From a nice breakfast, to a heart-warming dinner, to delicious (or even burnt) bakes, there are a number of ways to express feelings of love and gratitude to your mum through food on the Sunday. However, if you just plain can’t cook or want to treat her to something extra special then a number of attractions throughout the UK are offering a selection of lunches and afternoon teas perfect for treating your mum to something as sweet as she is (Feel free to use that genius line on actual Mother’s Day).

Hever Castle is offering a whole weekend of fun and food for mothers: from flower pot decorating a and biscuit decorating, as afternoon tea or pre booked lunch which can be enjoyed in the surrounding of this 13th century country house once the seat of Anne Boleyn. (Lunch: £29.50 pp, £12 per child/ Afternoon Tea: £19.50pp, £10 per child)

If you’re looking for something more nautically themed, then how about a tasty tea aboard the SS Great Britain- Also offering a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea, you can enjoy the lap of luxury in the First Class Dining Saloon aboard this former passenger steamship with scones, sandwiches, sponge cake and more! (Adult: £25/ Child: £15/ Family £70)

Perhaps you’d like to choo choo choose a nice railway lunch (shush I’m hilarious), and if that is the case the Kent & East Sussex Railway can provide. Every mum travelling on the railway on Sunday 26 March 2017 can choose from a delicious ploughman’s or cream tea including tea and coffee on either the 1.15 or 3.35 departures from Tenterden Station and will receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers to take home as a reminder of their special day! (£29.50)

 

FUN!!!

 

So what does your mam like? Animals? Crafts? Shows? Sky Diving? There are MANY special events happening throughout the UK to make this day special and luckily for you, many can be found by visiting our EVENTS PAGE, so make sure to take a gander for some inspiration. While it would be impossible for me to list them all here, I'll still give you a few suggestions of miscellaneous events to give you some ideas (plus I'm looking for some inspiration myself so it's helpful I work for a Days Out website.)

For the rustic touch, Mum’s can go free to the National Museum of Rural Life on Mothering Sunday. This venue is so much more than a museum with it also being a working farm and farmhouse with animals and attractions to enthrall all. March is the perfect time for a visit to this attraction with a tonne of new and cuddly baby animals to see and winter finally melting away to reveal the blooming of beautiful plants throughout the farm. This venue is also a perfect Mother’s Day out for you and your littlest ones with plenty of child-friendly activities and exhibits to explore.

Why not try a fun day of crafting and hands on activities at the Amberley Museum in Arundel? Set in 36 acres of the South Downs National Park, there isn't a lack of hieritage to disocver and on Mother's Day itself, there is a plethora of different things to try. From steam train trips, to pottery and craft activities, as well as birds of prey displays, there's something here for you, your ma and whoever else you bring with you to enjoy!

If you or your mam likes animals, why not try the Wild Mother’s Day weekend at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent? As per usual it has over 100 acres of amazing wild friends to discover: From gorillas, to rhinos, elephants and more as well as free animal talks to learn all about them, but in honour of Mother’s Day, there are also free crafts to try.  With wooded walkways, the tree top challenge and the chance to really be part of conservation to protect the animals found here, it's the perfect stop for any wildlife loving mother and family.

For a fun history lesson, why not discover how mothers have been represented in media throughout history with a special Mother's Day event at the Museum of Brands . in London. With trails and talks to enjoy on the Sunday, find out all about how the idea of the mother has been used to sell everything from chocolate to dish soap and how the evolution of womens rights changed the image of how women were used advertising. It also gives the perfect oppurtunity to feel nostalgic over all a number of old advertsing campaigns which is always fun... until you realise how old you really are...

 

 

So all in all, I do hope this post has been able to give you some inspiration for you and your ma/ other special woman in your life, for something to do for Mother's Day, but whatever you end up doing, no matter how big or small, doing anything to show you care can really leave a lasting impression throughout the year. But anyway... who want to hear some Mother's Day facts??

1. Mother's Day marks the day when more phone calls are made than any other day of the year... yet Father's Day has the highest volume of reverse charge calls. make of that what you will...

2. While our current Mothering Sunday celebrations are a fairly modern incarnation, celebrations of motherhood have existed throughout history. For example: the Romans and Greeks held celebratory festivals of their mother goddesses, Cybele and Rhea. 

3. In the U.K., our Mother’s Day is the Christian celebration of Mothering Sunday, though originally it wasn’t a celebration of mothering, rather a day when one must return to their “Mother Church” on the fourth Sunday of Lent for a celebratory service. While keeping the same date, it ended up becoming a much more secular celebration where children would give their mothers gifts before this custom merged with the values of American Mother’s Day founded in the early twentieth century.

 

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:
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