My son’s very first TV love affair was with Makka Pakka, that loveable little stone stacker from In The Night Garden. When he was 1, we bought him a cuddly Makka Pakka, and he still sleeps with him now, and is the chosen toy that comes on holiday with us every time, too. In The Night Garden holds a special place in his heart, and therefore mine, so I was keen to take him to see In The Night Garden Live at the weekend in Birmingham.
In the run up to going, we must have watched this trailer video so many times!
It does give you a feel for the whole experience, and it meant that as we were walking to the showdome, the kids were really excited when they spotted and recognised it.
There are two shows that you can select to go to, the Ninky Nonk show or the Pinky Ponk show, each with different story-lines. We opted for the Pinky Ponk show, as it’s about Makka Pakka washing everyone’s faces, and Little Man’s favourite is Makka Pakka. All of the characters do appear in both shows.
The dome is used so well, as along with the characters on the stage, there is a screen at the back, and the front of the dome also has moving images projected onto it. I loved the twinkling stars above us at the start of the show, which as with the opening credits, gave way to flowers. So pretty and effective. There are also bubbles that blow out over the audience – always a sure hit with young children, I find!
The characters are both fully sized, and also smaller as puppets, varying from scene to scene, allowing for perspective. The people on the stage operating them are in full view, and blend in with the performances perfectly.
Be ready to sing the songs, and it was fun to feel an at oneness with fellow parents of toddlers, as we all sang out every In The Night Garden song together, with feeling!
On arrival, there were clear signs for parking, which was free, and plenty of attendants around guiding people. There were signs to the showdome, and it was a fairly short walk from the car park.
Doors open half an hour prior to each show, and I’d say it’s worth getting there for then as for the standard seating, it is a first come first served basis as to where you get to sit. It’s quite a small and intimate dome anyway, so even those last in would have had a good view of the performance. Seating is all on big deep steps, so children can stand up and move about, or dance as Boo often did!
There are refreshments available, alongside the In The Night Garden merchandise, and you can also book a Meet and Greet with the characters after the show. We didn’t go for that option, as the kids did meet them at the ITNG party that we attended a few weeks ago.
There is a buggy park area as you enter the dome, with lots of space and it is all undercover. There are plenty of toilets and baby change areas, all clean and tidy and just outside of the showdome.
It didn’t feel like we were queuing or waiting around for long, and once seated, we were given countdown announcements until the start of the show, to increasingly loud cheers as we got to the 5 minutes, and then 1 minute markers!
We took our 5 year old and 2 year old, and both of them thoroughly enjoyed it. There were plenty of younger children, too, and I didn’t spot much restlessness throughout the performance even from the very little ones. There are no intermission or breaks for them to get bored in, it runs for an hour, and as with the show, the story is easy to follow and enjoy.
I was so impressed with how slick the whole event was, from start to finish. Every little detail seemed to have been considered and they really have managed to make this very family friendly, keeping it enjoyable for everyone, not just the kids!
The Night Garden was brought to life in that dome, and the magical feeling of the programme translates so well to the stage. If you’ve an In The Night Garden fan at home, this is absolutely a must-see. A truly captivating show.
In The Night Garden Live is currently on in Birmingham, and will then be moving Manchester and Glasgow. You can find out more and book tickets here.
Disclosure: We received entry FOC for the purposes of this review, though all words and opinions remain my own