Disney on Ice ~ Arena Birmingham

Star rating *****

Disney is one of my families absolute passions, we are all nuts about Mickey and Minnie Mouse, couldn’t wait for Toy Story 4 to be released earlier this year and our home is filled to the brim with Disneyana. Disney on Ice remains one of our top highlights of the year, it’s always a must-see and this autumn’s magical spectacular at Arena Birmingham has proved to be no exception. Celebrating 100 years of magic in wondrous style.

As usual, Mickey and Minnie were at the helm, together with Goofy and Donald they led a packed and excitable arena through every glorious setting and Disney movie. There were short excerpts and longer pieces which gave a good all-round showcase of the classic and more modern day films.

Forky’s brilliant performance in the Toy Story section was our son’s favourite. If I had to choose I would pick out the beautiful dances performed by the various Princes and Princesses. My husband loved the Aladdin scene where the ever-effervescent Genie took the lead and multiplied!

All of the dancers are magnificent skaters and it can be no mean feat to skate and perform in some of those costumes. The attention to detail is always on point and the fact that these popular characters are gracing the ice for all their fans, be they kids or big kids is the most wonderful sight.

Disney on Ice is a fabulous pre-Christmas treat for all the family so get your tickets now and enjoy the magic: Disney on Ice Tickets

Coventry Comic Con (Covcon)

Our favourite convention of the calendar year took place on Saturday 28th September and it was yet another triumph for the fantastic organisers.

Coventry Comic Con or Covcon as it has recently been rebranded is one of the best comic cons for first timers with its well considered spacing, good number of famous faces and panels plus plenty of merchandise too. This year saw an incredible Quadrophenia cast reunion, two recognisable faces from the original Dad’s Army (don’t tell them Pike!) and the ever-popular Gladiators amongst many other much-loved faces from small and large screen.

Davros Skaro

If you need a reason to book your tickets to the next event in 2020 here are my highlights from a top day out:

– The venue ~ Sports Connexion in Ryton offers space for the perfect comic con layout. It’s an easily accessible venue too with plenty of parking and the overflow was handled brilliantly. We always enjoy the food from the upstairs cafe bar too and this time was no exception. The cheeky half didn’t go amiss in the bar, either!

– Guests ~ there was a fantastic array of famous faces to meet, get a selfie with, book a photo opportunity for or who’s autograph you could take home (for a few). What was noticeable was the number of guests happy to chat if their queues weren’t over-flowing.

– Heather Ripley ~ she is instantly recognisable to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fans as Jemima. Even though she’s no longer a child! A very pleasant woman to chat to and my five year old son was keen to have a photo with her until his nerves got the better of him. She was so understanding though and we are hoping to get that selfie one day.

– Merchandise ~ there was a great mixture of merchandise for enthusiasts of all genre of movies and tv. My boy came away with a bag full of Disney figures and we could easily have spent a fortune on all the appealing merch on offer. From handmade to official, it was all there and easy to look at too.

Props ~ the scenes set up with famous movie props went down a storm and immediately attracted all of us. The youngest member of the party got in on the Star Wars and Monsters University sets and was quite overwhelmed.

Photo opps ~ not something we took advantage of this time, however the queuing system worked well and was kept well out of the way of the rest of the fun too. Some though had obviously gone into it and it looked like a problem free system. The appearance of it has tempted us to get some photos opps next year.

Cosplay ~ the cosplay costumes were quite something, the sheer effort that these talented individuals put into every detail of their costume does not go unnoticed by me. Davros Skaro was a hit with my son!

Family fun ~ it’s fun for all the family and you can make of it what you will. Depending on your interests it can be a full day’s worth of entertainment or a few hours. Seasonal germs meant we didn’t stay the full day but we had an enjoyable and memorable time and can’t wait for next year!

Visit the website to book for 2020: Covcon tickets

Gwyn Williams Bursary Concert ~ Royal Birmingham Conservatoire ~ 5th May 2019

This event is not to be missed and I can’t wait to review the concert on behalf of Entertainment Views, it’s fantastic that the Gwyn Williams Bursary exists to support young violists at Birmingham Conservatoire. The details sourced from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire website, are below – try to get hold of a ticket if you can! Tickets are free of charge with a suggested donation of £30.

Introduced by Nick Bailey

Yvonne Howard mezzo-soprano
Maria Jagusz mezzo-soprano
Peter O’Connor flute
Rebecca Stubbs viola
Chris Yates viola
John Wilson piano

The Behn Quartet
Kate Oswin and Alicia Berendse violin
Ana Teresa de Braga e Alves viola
Ghislaine McMullin cello

Programme to include:
Schubert Arpeggione Sonata, D.821
Brahms Two Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano
Smetana String Quartet No.1 in E minor (“From My Life”)
Bellini Casta Diva
Schubert Ave Maria
Briccialdi Carnevale di Venezia, Op.78

A special benefit concert to raise funds for the Gwyn Williams Bursary Fund, which supports talented young violists at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. The evening will be introduced by the first voice of Classic FM, Nick Bailey and feature performances by current students of the Conservatoire and professional musicians who knew and worked with Gwyn.

Spaces for this event are extremely limited so early booking is advised. Please contact Robin Leonard on 0121 331 5534 or at robin.leonard@bcu.ac.uk for all ticket enquiries.

Half-Term at the Hippodrome ~ Review

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s the school holidays! Yet another half term has presented itself and in our case, we have a 5 year old to entertain for just over 2 weeks. Easter holidays not only bring a fortnight’s worth of fun with your offspring, they also occasionally tag on a cheeky day or two for teacher training. Everything these days costs a pound or two, even a ‘free’ trip to the local park is likely to include requests for ice cream, and of course there’s always an ice cream van to hand, jingling away! One of our saviours came in the form Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre.

My boy, Connor, joining in the street dance workshop

It’s not difficult to entice my boy into a theatre, he’s been brought up going to shows that are age appropriate for most of his short life so far – of course he has! He’s my child after all! What helped to engage him with Birmingham Hippodrome’s week of fantastic activities was the Street Dance workshop offered for 5-7 year olds by the superb Dance Xchange. This hour long session offered on Good Friday showcased and demonstrated the quality of teaching from one of their talented teachers. The small group were taught a short dance which involved some moves which my little boy was familiar with as he already has street dance classes (as well as ballet and tap!).

The children were encouraged to warm up before they were put through their paces. The end result was several proud 5-7 year olds who could perform a street dance routine – and rather brilliantly too!

After that excitement the young ones were able to play with giant Lego bricks in the coffee bar area, that was a big hit. Also ideal for kids of all ages were the crafts that were on offer. From colouring an easter egg to making one to hang up at home or you could make a protest flag to wave. It was all good creative stuff designed to inspire the holidaying youngsters and my little boy hasn’t stopped talking about it.

The giant Lego was a hit!

The most amazing part of the activities offered is that they’re all free of charge. So unless you want to buy drinks or snacks in the coffee bar, your pennies can stay in your purse.

Birmingham Hippodrome offer these opportunities in the holidays regularly, so why not keep an eye on their website to find out what they have coming up soon: https://www.birminghamhippodrome.com/

The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice – Resorts World Arena, Birmingham

As a family we are self-confessed Disney-holics – we’ve been fortunate enough to attend a number of Disney On Ice productions as well as having travelled to Disneyland Paris for holidays on a few occasions. The Disney magic never waivers for us and this particular incarnation of the spectacular ice show featuring our favourite Mouse was exceptional – maybe my favourite to date.

All of my best loved Disney films were included as we were taken on a journey of mystery and wonder to seek out hidden treasures with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. Who better to go on an adventure with? The added treat is that every character who appears through the majestic red curtains are on ice skates and performing the most stunning moves and tricks across the pure white glittery surface.

The quality of the costumes for this first class display is quite indescribable – the attention to detail for each character brings them to life, it’s glorious viewing for young audience members and the big kids also get just as much entertainment and delight from the show. With popular hits (from the various movies we were treated to) accompanying the splendour and a packed arena singing along, it couldn’t have been a more joyful experience and what a wonderful window into Walt Disney’s imagination.

The films were recreated on ice through beautiful and precise choreography and spellbinding movement as well as nail-biting headbangers and other amazing spins, turns and jumps. We saw The Lion King, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Aladdin (one of my personal favourites, look out for the elephant!), Tangled, Toy Story, Frozen and if you could have seen the Disney Princes and Princesses all in one glorious scene – if you’re a Disney fan you couldn’t fail to be moved and over-awed. There was a lovely surprise in the form of excerpts from the Finding Dory movie too which was transfixing in the extreme.

You’re never too old for Disney and definitely never too old for Disney On Ice, book your tickets now and enjoy a magical experience you’ll never forget:www.disneyonice.com

CheeseFest ~ Press Release

CheeseFest celebrating 30 Years of Wallace & Gromit is coming to Worcester.

Saturday 13th April 2019 Three Counties Showground, Malvern, WR13 6NW

We are very excited to announce that CheeseFest UK is back for 2019, celebrating 30 cracking years of Wallace & Gromit.

Join us on our grand UK tour with over 15 live dates, celebrating all that’s great in the world of cheese. Expect the most incredible melted delights and delicious cheese-based cuisine presented for your culinary pleasure by the finest fromagers from across the land.

Experience some of the greatest cheeses in the world with melted raclette, gooey mozzarella sticks, top notch toasties, and a whole host of unique slices and cheese innovations from the UK’s best traders.

CheeseFest promises to be a grand day out for all the family with a jam packed programme of feasting and entertainment hosted by the world’s most famous cheese ambassadors Wallace & Gromit. Kids can enjoy model making, life-size vehicles, film screenings of popular Wallace & Gromit movies, and a meet & greet with Wallace and Gromit themselves. Young and old, all are welcome, so don’t be sheepish – get involved! If you would like more information about CheeseFest please contact Info@cheesefestuk.com or visit our website www.cheesefestuk.com

BBC Good Food Show ~ NEC, Birmingham

The BBC Good Food Show has been on my radar for years so to be able to experience the Winter Good Food Show has been a dream come true. With top Chefs like Mary Berry, James Martin and Michael Roux Jr. displaying their culinary talents in the Big Kitchen and a whole host of action on the smaller stages, combined with the opportunity to attend workshops – it couldn’t have been a better way to begin rounding off my reviewing calendar. Plenty of food and drink too, samples at every turn and bargains galore which is a perfect Christmas shopping option too.

Television Presenter; Chris Bavin was on hand on the Seasonal Kitchen stage to talk us through the various recipes that might be useful during the festive season.

The Winter Kitchen was also a fun place to be, seating capacity was just right for the numbers in attendance and the well placed screens

There was a Pop up restaurant for anyone wishing to wine and dine in style – it was set up beautifully, looked exceptionally inviting and might be on my wish list of things to do next year!

Book signings from a few of the culinary guests were a particular feature occurring frequently throughout the show. Any of those fabulous books would have been an ideal Christmas gift.

Skills School places need to be booked as soon as possible as they sell out but they look well worth attending. Sourdough Masterclass with Denise Tollyfield and Knife Skills were on offer.

The Good Food Show offers a unique shopping experience with sweet and savoury food as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments all available to sample and purchase. A big shout out must go to the gluten free sponge cakes from Sponge – they were like a drop of heaven, so delicious and spectacularly presented in gorgeous boxes. We also enjoyed gingerbread mallows, massive crisps (the chilli flavour were a particular favourite) and fudge.

My team and I can hardly wait for the summer edition of the show, my 4 year old son got as much out of it as we did – he especially loved the Haribo from Chris Bavin!

 

 

 

 

MCM Comic Con ~ Birmingham, NEC

Tis the season! Autumn geek heaven for my family and I…

Which basically means photographs with awesome cosplays, hearing amazing panel talks with stars of the small and big screen, plenty of gaming opportunities and of course that all important C word… Crimes of Griswald? No, CHRISTMAS. If Santa should be directed anywhere to fulfill my Christmas wish list, it’s Comic Con. Mission completed!

This time we mixed it up a bit, spending Saturday being led by our 4 year old, doing what he wanted to do and the Sunday enjoying the convention the way we wanted to – as much as the 4 year old would allow!

MCM know how to do a large-scale Comic Con and the Cosplayers were out in force, we felt under-dressed for not being in costume. So many fandoms represented by attendees, the atmosphere was buzzing and footfall appeared to be on the up.

Here are 4 year old Connor’s highlights of the Saturday:

  • The Grinch ~ The Grinch is on trend again this festive season with the new animated movie having landed on the big screen. I was already a fan of the original film starring the incomparable Jim Carrey, however the smallest member of our family is now taking an active interest in the character. You can imagine his excitement when early in his comic con experience he was confronted with a giant snow globe featuring the miserly green creature! The queues were never too long for this festive treat which meant we were clambering in beside the Grinch and getting covered in snowflake-like paper on both days of the con. Great fun!
  • SPIDERMAN! ~ suspended from the ceiling and hanging upside down. Not the real thing but close enough and a feature which held Connor’s interest and helped him to know where about in the hall he was too.
  • Storm Troopers ~ we always have to make a beeline for UK Garrison if their members are not already marching towards us. Connor’s main request of the weekend was that he saw and high fived the Storm Troopers and located Chewbacca. His wishes were granted and the traditions of MCM Comic Con were upheld!
  • Super Mario ~ Nintendo were a prominent feature in the gaming areas and extremely attractive to our young lad, especially given that he’s newly discovered the Wii.
  • TOYS ~ the temptation to pick up everything in sight and within reach at the numerous stalls was almost too much for a 4 year old convention attendee to cope with! Overwhelmed sums it up and had we not already got Christmas covered, we could have easily done ALL the Christmas shopping in that hall and had a very happy believer on Christmas morning after Santa had done his job.

Here are the highlights from a 39 year old and 46 year old who are old enough to know better but would rather not(!):

  • Talks/Panels ~ so many to choose from and plenty of different stages with something going on over the weekend. We particularly enjoyed listening to and learning from the talented artist, Mark Kistler who taught us how to draw a cartoon fish. On the main stage there was a Star Wars panel and the wonderful Mary McDonnell was also a star feature.
  • Cosplay ~ there seemed to be an increased number of costumed attendees and the sheer attention to detail that goes in to some of the cosplays is nothing short of incredible. There are some super-talented super-fans out there.
  • Props ~ props from our favourite movies and television shows are always a winner and you can always rely on UK Garrison to recreate memories from Star Wars. The Cybermen were also fascinating to look at, that’s the closest I’ll ever be getting to one at any rate!
  • Christmas Shopping ~ my husband pretty much got Christmas wrapped up for me – everything on my wish list was on display at the wide range of stalls and all budgets were catered for too. From commercial to rarer items, if you have a Christmas list from a geek, Comic Con is the place to shop at.

Do you want to see what all the buzz is about? Then why not check out MCM’s website and book tickets for one of their many awesome events next year: MCM Comic Con

 

 

 

Press Release: BRICKLIVE ~ NEC, Birmingham

BRICKLIVE comes to NEC Birmingham from 1st – 4th November…

BRICKLIVE is Built by LEGO® fans and is a celebration of everything in the LEGO® universe! New for 2018 we have Mythical Beasts with over fifty models and interactive experiences, bringing the fascinating world of creatures from mythology to life using LEGO® bricks.

Returning favourites are: Warrior Bots, a Star Wars themed Build Zone, Stage Shows, Dance Parties, Minecraft, Fairy Bricks, Duplo® Build Zone, BRICK Pits, Chill Out Zone, BRICK Lane and so much more! BRICKLIVE is the ultimate day out for all to enjoy.

Buy your tickets and find out more about this extraordinary event here: https://bricklive.co.uk/

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