Family Activities in Nottingham

My family and I live in Nottingham and sometimes I search for activities for us to do together, especially during the school holidays. More often than not though it takes a long time to find anything and by the time I've found something we might find interesting we've all lost enthusiasm for going out.

There's always the soft-play centres but I think it's better to be able to spend time together rather than the boys rushing off to spend a couple of hours on their own.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Check out my awesome write up on the arts and culture venues in Nottingham.

I have lived in Nottinghamshire most of my life and for some reason I've never done or seen all the things there are to see. That's why I was so pleased to be invited along to a Blogger Press Tour organised by the Nottingham Family Arts Network to celebrate the launch of the Get Creative Family Arts Festival

We were set to take a tour around the arts and culture venues Nottingham has to offer and I was excited to see what activities this wonderful city had in store for us. 

Nottingham Theatre Royal and Concert Hall

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Nottingham Theatre Royal, old photograph in black and white. The theatre is actually 150 years old this year!
A picture of the Theatre Royal in Victorian times.

Our first stop was the Nottingham Theatre Royal, a place I've visited many times. I've seen pantomimes with a young BP, I've seen Patrick Stewart in Hamlet, and I've seen Sienna Miller in All Ado About Nothing, to name a few. I love going to the theatre, especially to see plays, but on the tour we got to go backstage - a whole different view this time!

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Inside Nottingham Theatre Royal, the view from on stage.

Standing on the stage and looking out at the seats gave me stage fright but made me realise how small the actors must feel when on stage. All those seats would be filled with people watching them perform, just the thought of that sends a shiver down my spine. Okay, maybe the actors deal with it better than I would but being on stage certainly gave me a different perspective. Thinking about the hundreds of lights, the set, trying to remember all their lines, I have a new-found respect for actors.

Going backstage at the theatre was amazing and I learned a lot too.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Backstage at Nottingham Theatre Royal, sloped stage and lots of storage.
Can you tell the floor is slightly sloped?

There was a table of props behind the stage, all neatly labelled, and carpet laid on the floor. This is to ensure that you don't hear the actor coming before he/she walks onto the stage! How's that for interesting? 

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: A table of props sits behind the stage, labelled, waiting for the actors to pick them up.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: A huge chandelier hangs from the ceiling, it has to be winched down for it to be cleaned.

I've always wondered how they clean the huge chandelier at the theatre and asked the question. I was told that someone has to climb up into the loft of the theatre, where there's a small crawl space, and has to use a winch to lower the chandelier so that someone else can clean it and change lightbulbs. These days they use the long-life LED lights but can you imagine how difficult that would've been back when it was candles?

When we visited the theatre there was already a set on stage, we found out that it can take up to 3 days to put a set together, and when the show has finished and is due to move on the crew will spend 5-6 hours taking it down.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: How long does a set take to assemble? Find out in my post.
Part of the set

I don't know about you but whenever I visit the theatre now not only will I enjoy the acting but I'll also be impressed with the lighting, the set, and the chandelier. 

Nottingham Theatre Royal is 150 years old, millions of people have visited over the years and it has gone through a few changes. Some of the original building is still visible, like this wall...

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: A 150 year old wall, it's black now but it used to have sets painted on it.

The Hubby and I really enjoyed walking around backstage at Nottingham Theatre Royal and learning all about what goes on behind the scenes. I picked up a leaflet too, An Inspector Calls is showing in November and I'd love to go and see it, I just need to organise some babysitting first!

After walking around the theatre we got a quick look at the Concert Hall. Unfortunately the crew were setting up ready for The Bodyguard starting so we couldn't walk around as much as we did in the theatre. 

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Men working hard to transform Nottingham Concert Hall into a theatre for The Bodyguard.

Again I've been to the Concert Hall a few times and have always enjoyed myself. The Hubby spent some time chatting to a crew member who told him that they were using the Concert Hall because a) the theatre was already in use and b) because the Concert Hall had a larger capacity. They essentially turn the Concert Hall into a theatre for the duration of The Bodyguard. 

The Concert Hall has a flat stage, unlike the theatre's sloped stage, and seats around 2,500 people. The shape of the building is very different to the theatre but it is just as impressive. I would've loved to go backstage in the concert hall to have a proper look around.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Backstage passes stuck onto equipment backstage in the Concert Hall.
All the backstage passes from people who have performed at the Concert Hall. The AAA stands for Access All Areas.

Nottingham Central Library

From the theatre we headed for Nottingham Central Library on Angel Row. If I'm honest I didn't even know it was there, I must've passed it a hundred times without noticing. 

When we walked inside we were offered refreshments, which the boys were very pleased with - juice and biscuits, what's not to like? The children sat down to enjoy a story before being given the chance to create their own super-hero mask or write their own comic.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Nottingham Central Library, kids area. Loads of books to enjoy, crafts too. We even found a great joke book for LP.

The boys really enjoyed this, LP liked listening to the music and loved being able to create a mask all on his own. BP took the opportunity to do what he does best, draw. He didn't want to use a ready-made mask so he drew his own, coloured it in and added detail. BP enjoyed impressing people with his skills and couldn't stop smiling. LP was very impressed with his mask when he'd finished and still wears it now.

During half term Nottingham libraries will be hosting Nick Toczek's Million Miles an Hour Show. 

Nick chats, jokes and performs his snappy poems, does brilliantly baffling magic tricks, tells and acts out fantastic tales, and introduces you to some of his wild and wilful puppets...

Visit the library Friday 23rd October to see Nick.

You can also visit Nottingham libraries to hear special Robin Hood stories and take part in activities to celebrate Robin Hood Week taking place up to the end of October.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Cake and sandwiches on our day around Nottingham
I was forced... really.
This is a building that I have passed hundreds of times, never ventured inside, but always wondered what it was. 

We were led downstairs where we were all fed sandwiches and cake (I reluctantly ate a huge slice of carrot cake). This was our opportunity to chat to one another and meet some of the lovely people involved in the Nottingham Family Arts Networks and find out about the venues.

I spent some time chatting about Kindles to someone from the library (not sure I won her over though), and I had a lovely chat with Cara from Nottingham Castle about the events they'll be holding over the next few months. I learned a lot, I didn't realise so much happened in this fabulous city and I'll be keeping my on things over the coming months.

After we'd all eaten we headed upstairs into a gallery where we could paint or draw on the walls. The theme was "Yellow", the walls were covered in yellow and we were encouraged to draw something on their Alien theme too.

BP got straight to it and began creating his alien.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: BP spends time creating an alien at Nottingham Contemporary for their Alien theme.

The Hubby couldn't resist a nostalgic nod to Space Invaders.

And LP spent some time drawing an alien with electric powers, unfortunately he didn't want me to take a photo because he didn't finish it.

It was interesting to find out that Nottingham Contemporary has Family Weekends every Saturday and Sunday during exhibitions. It is free to and runs 11am to 3pm, just pop by and be inspired!

From the family room we headed into another "Yellow" room and listened to music while drawing. It was interesting (or confusing?) and we weren't quite sure of the point, but it was fun. The Hubby was amused and decided to draw lots of question marks. 

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Music to listen to, draw while in the yellow room too. Check out the Nottingham Contemporary theme.

Both BP and LP enjoyed having the headphones on and were disappointed to leave, I think they found it interesting because it's not something we've ever done before.

Be sure to pop in to see the "psychedelic sci-fi fun" over October Half Term. Again free running from 17th October to 1st November.

After Nottingham Contemporary we headed for the tram stop where we caught the tram with complimentary tickets provided by Tramlink Nottingham.

Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Small cakes for adults, while the kids create bugs.
More cake!

As we stepped off the tram and began walking towards the Lakeside Arts Centre the first thing LP spotted was the huge playground and asked if he could go and play. He was disappointed when we told him we had to do something else instead. 

By this point in the day my boys were getting tired, so when they were told there would still be more to do there was lots of complaining. Luckily the lovely Family Arts Network people weren't in earshot! 

Once we'd been welcomed we got a chance to look at an installation called Swarm by Anna Colette Hunt. The bugs 'swarmed' the wall and LP and BP spent some time looking at all the bugs and pointing out their favourites. Given the chance to draw again BP picked up a pencil at lightening speed and began creating. LP needed a little encouragement, and even then drew an elephant rather than a bug!

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: LP and BP looking at Swarm at Nottingham Lakeside Art Centre.
BP and LP inspecting 'Swarm'

After spending a little time drawing the bugs for inspiration we were taken into a room, handed lumps of clay and shown how to create our very own bugs.

When LP saw that he'd get a chance to make a bug he was very happy and wanted to get straight onto it. The Hubby helped him create his first bug while I took a few photos, chatted with other bloggers, and watched BP. With the Hubby's help LP made a centipede and then wanted to try and make something on his own. He was very pleased with his results and we came home with a swarm of our own.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: LP and the Hubby create a swarm of our own.

From there, once the bugs had been wrapped up, we walked across the road to the museum where we saw some artefacts in glass cases. All the artefacts had been dug up somewhere in Nottingham, it was all very interesting. If the boys had been less tired, or I had been on my own, I might've spent more time looking around. As it was the boys had had enough, it had been a long day.

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: Artefacts dug up around Nottingham on show at Nottingham Lakeside.
Some of the interesting artefacts

The lovely Family Arts Network people thanked us and we headed home pretty quickly. The boys were ready for a rest and the Hubby and I were ready for a bourbon.

Although we were tired we all had a wonderful day learning about the family activities in Nottingham. 

Family Activities in Nottingham | Morgan's Milieu: A part of Swarm, on show at Nottingham Lakeside.
A small part of 'Swarm'

I never knew there was so much to do in Nottingham aside from the soft-play centres. I'll definitely keep local things in mind in the future. Our city is filled with interesting locations (lots of cake) and fun activities, especially during school holidays.

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