This weekend we trotted over to West Yorkshire to the National children’s museum Eureka! to once again see Santa. We love Santa and had heard nothing but good things about the museum. It was also exciting for me as it was a good excuse for meeting up with other family bloggers, which is always a nice thing to do and doesn’t happen often enough for my liking.
Eureka! is a children’s museum which I know is very popular with families with young children, and I’ve not met anyone yet with anything bad to say about it, which is always a good sign. I have to say, I was extremely impressed with Eureka! but first let me tell you about our trip to see the main man in red.
Our first stop of the day was to watch a play called Night Lights, where two actors played brothers who were too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve, so instead decided to build a rocket and travel to the moon. It was about twenty minutes long, which is just about right for my four-year olds. The eleven-year old was a bit too grown up for it, but the four-year olds loved it, and proper belly-laughed at some parts. The audience was encouraged to join in with actions and noises but it was sedate enough for the young audience with no loud bangs or surprises. The children enjoyed it a lot. It is recommended for Early Years and Key Stage 1.
Next stop was Santa. There was a bit of a queue and it wasn’t moving that quickly. This is because once you get in there, you get to spend a fair bit of time talking to Santa and you’re not at all rushed. Santa was very good and took the time to learn all the girls’ names, and listened intently as they each told him their Christmas wishlists.
There was no photographer or pressure to buy photos, and at the end, each child got a goody bag. Ours each contained a wind-up torch and a sticker book. The price per child to see Santa is £3 and I think this is very good value for the gifts and the overall experience. You don’t need to pre-book Santa but you might have to queue a little if it is busy. Go towards the end of the day (you have to buy a ticket before 3pm) and your wait might be reduced.
After Santa, it was lunchtime and a chance to meet up with blogger friends and their families. Eureka! provided us with a really nice lunch, and the children with a party experience. Eureka! do children’s birthday parties with a choice of activities. For more information, please see their website. Eureka! wanted to show us two of their party themes – Fairy Tale and Crazy Science. The four-year olds opted for Fairy Tale, and the 11yo and 8yo Crazy Science. The Fairy Tale activity was perfect for the twins. They had to make up a story in their group, led by a very engaging enabler, and then they could decorate their own fairy doors.
The older two girls loved the Crazy Science activity, where they got to watch explosions and other noisy stuff. It was pitched perfectly to the audience and my 8yo and 11yo loved it. They now want a Crazy Science party at Eureka!
After this, we were free to explore the rest of the museum, and we really did enjoy it. I feared we wouldn’t have enough time to see everything but even though the museum has lots to see and do, it’s not so enormous that it gets overwhelming. Tickets are valid for 12 months, so if you don’t manage to get round it all, you can come back another time. The leaflet says your visit can take up to three hours, but you can easily spend more time here if you see absolutely everything. There is a cafe on site, and a picnic area if you want to stay longer.
The museum really is packed full of hands-on activities for young children to play and learn. I am in danger of talking a bit too much so I’ll give you a run through of our favourite bits accompanied with my Instagram photos from a challenge we did on the day.
The first part we went to visit was Living & Working Together, which is a townscape with a plaza, an M&S food store, a Halifax bank, a Post Office and a garage. The twins loved the mini shopping trollies in the M&S, and we learnt how to jack up a car and change the wheels in the garage.
The photo challenge here was to take a photo in The Dig in the town square, so here goes!
Up into the house and we found a stage in the attic. Another photo challenge completed! Top tip – go through the black curtains to the side and you can walk through a starry night.
The SoundSpace area was a lot of fun. This was a place to explore sounds, and make your own sounds. My 11yo loved the hands-on equipment to explore sound waves, and the 8yo liked composing her own tunes with electronic sounds such as violin and chickens. The Sound Garden was a special area for under 5s. Here, we found the giant sunflowers, so another challenge completed!
Possibly our favourite part of the museum was All About Me, which is where you can go to learn about our body and how it works. First of all, we have a body scan, and complete the photo challenge (hurrah!)
….then we explore the rest of it. We learn about teeth and how to look after them, what internal organs look like, how our skeleton works, and also how we can look at babies in their mummies’ tummies. The twins loved scanning the pregnant dummy and feeling the baby kick. No, Mummy is not going to have another baby for you, thank you very much.
There were also other exhibition areas including Our Global Garden, and Desert Discovery, and also some outdoor areas to explore, such as a giant sand pit but it was much too wet and cold on the day of our visit to try these out.
Visit time – 4 – 5 hours including our lunch and party activity, and a trip to Santa.
There was a great deal to do here at Eureka!, and while we did get round it all fairly easily, I think we could easily do a return visit and it not feel stale. We’d probably find something new to do next time which we missed this time. In fact, a repeat visit was requested as soon as we got back into the car.
The museum is right next door to Halifax train station and short walk from the bus station. A pay-and-display car park is adjacent.
Overall, I was very impressed with Eureka! and recommend it to anyone with pre-school and KS1 children, although my 8yo and 11yo had a great time too.
Here are some more pics from our day
Disclosure – we were guests at a blogger event