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  1. Last Christmas we were invited as a family to try out some of the Christmas delights of Basingstoke. We had such a lovely weekend that we were more than happy to visit again this year.

    christmas in basingstoke

    In Basingstoke and Festival Place has a plethora of Christmas activities on there's a little market with handmade fudges and all sorts of stocking fillers and catering stands plus 4 very large Nutcrackers which pleased Olive in the Malls. Father Christmas and his Woodland Walk is located in Festival Place you can also pick up a Peter Pan trail too. Follow the map to discover hidden characters from Peter Pan in shop windows. This is a great idea for keeping younger children entertained whilst Mummy and Daddy do a sneaky bit of shopping. Olive managed to find 6 of them.

    We also took the chance on Saturday to visit the final day of the Turner Exhibition at the Willis Museum. Daddy Moo loved seeing the pieces which were on loan from the Tate Gallery. Megan was truly amazed by Turner's tiny pocket sized sketch books and homemade painting pallet for taking out on walks to get his colours and scenes down. Daddy Moo and I had a sneaky wink to each other as she has a TOAD diaries sketchbook with her initials embossed on for Christmas. The next exhibition is a “May the Toys be with you” a collection of Star Wars toys un til April 2018. The Willis Museum is free to enter there is a lovely coffee shop and plenty of places to leave a donation or two. The 200 years of Basingstoke Exhibition is brilliant too.

    Festival Place boasts a array of restaurants and eateries including the usual suspects Pizza Express, Nandos and Las Iguanus plus independents such as Festival Street Kitchen.

    Here is our review from 2016 : Pizza Expressfestival street food

    Festival Street Kitchen is located just outside Festival Place in the food/restaurant end. A full blown revival of street food, using fresh local produce to create dishes from around the world, from hog roast to paella and Thai green curry to chilli beef with nachos. We loved seeing the big pan bubbling away. On Saturday it was jungle curry and Sunday creamy meatballs which were delicious. Sadly it piddled with rain so we didn't get to enjoy the cute little garden area. I love the idea and execution of the Festival Street Kitchen.big pan

    Here is our review of Nandos Basingstoke :

    After our dinner in Nandos we headed off to see Peter Pan at Anvil Arts because we do love a good panto!

    Read our review : Peter Pan

    We stayed the night in Premier Inn which is located within easy walking distance of Festival Place, making it the perfect pit stop for enjoying the sights of Basingstoke. Not only did we enjoy a very yummy breakfast in the hotel but the children were all provided with a Christmas present which was a very lovely touch.naughty or nice basingstoke

    Most of the shops don't open until 11am on a Sunday but there was still plenty of things to see and do before then. We made our way to Festival Place and went to see Father Christmas in his Wooldland Walk. We timed it perfectly meaning we didn't cue or wait at all. Olive loved the singing Christmas tree and luckily all 3 were on the nice list. We have seen quite a few Father Christmas' this year, and I must admit those with a real beard win me over instantly. Theer is just something so soothing and magical about a real beard! Father Christmas had plenty of time to chat and asked the all important sibling question “do you fight”. Surprisingly they all answered honestly and then promised Father Christmas they would be better at sharing and more tolerant living together. (I wait with baited breath!) They had photos taken which you can purchase as extra but they didn't seem to mind me taking my own and all the children received a gift too. All this for £4.50! It was really refreshing to see not only a well executed, thought out and organised Father Christmas but at a reasonable price too.

    After some shopping and lunch we visited Milestones Museum which is another one of my favourite things to do in Basingstoke before heading back home. We had a super mini break in Basingstoke it was the perfect way to kick off our Christmas celebrations now the children have finished school.milestones museum

    You can read our 2016 review : Milestones Museum

    We were provided with all of the above in return for a full and honest review. opinions are our own. Thank you

  2. We love a panto we do! There is nothing like a good old fashioned pantomine to get you feeling like Christmas, sitting together with your family shouting at the baddies, helping the goodies get their happy ending and having a good old sing song. This weekend we flew off to Neverland with Peter Pan at The Anvil which is running all the way until Sunday 7 January 2018.


    Andrew Agnew (CBeebies' Balamory AKA PC Plum) plays Smee and Gary Turner (Emmerdale, Peter Pan 2011 and 2006) makes a welcome return as Captain Hook, a role he has played twice at The Anvil were the perfect double act. Very funny, super slapstick and Smee singing his own rendition of “Despacito” was hilarious! Completing the pirate crew comedy acrobats The Nitwits added a great dimension to the panto, we really enjoyed all the tumbling sequences, but when a trampette appeared Olive almost lost it with excitement! Gymnastics won't know whats hit them when she returns with a few Nitwits moves!

    Wendy is played by Jenny Huxley-Golden, who made and exceptional mother and a great duo alongside Star of the West End Jessica Punch as Peter Pan. Which was well executed and who doesn't love to see Peter Pan fly through the audience. We loved Helen Petrovna as Tinker Bell and the use of roller skates to keep her constantly moving and appear like a flittering, fluttering fairy. Not only was she naughty but she turned out to be a hero sipping the poison to save Peter Pan. Luckily though there were enough believers in the audience “I do believe in fairies, I do” to help mend a poorly fairy.

    ANVIL2017peterpan0128xMegan (9) : Smee was really funny. I liked the song at the end. I liked the mermaid too she was beautiful. (played by Sarah Lousie Day)

    The stars of the show has to be the kids and there were so many in this panto! The lost boys were all really good as were John and Matthew who had such a lot of lines to learn. Well done to all the young people from the North Hampshire Academy of Dance, Basingstoke Academy of Dancing, Theatre 4 Kids and JG Dance. 


    Peter Pan has been enjoyed by generations for over one hundred years and Anvil Arts puts on a fantastic show with something to please everyone. My only little critic is that it's a very long show starting at 6pm and ending at nearly 9pm, which for little ones (or kids like Olive who can't sit still this can be a long time). Ticket prices vary depending on performance for further information call the Anvil Arts box office on 01256 844244 or visit the Anvil Arts website