Parenting blogger Rachael Smith casts her expert eye over events for kids of all ages.
Hello! I’m Rachael, also known as Mrs Mumbler, a local mum to an energetic six-year-old boy and a cheeky two-year-old girl. Before having children I could tell you the best restaurant in Newland Ave, but I couldn’t tell you anything about where to go or what to do with a baby. So when I became a mum in Hull, I decided to build a website to create one place where all parents, grandparents and carers could go to find what’s going on: Hull & East Riding Mumbler. It lists all things happening in and around the city for babies, children and families from weekly playgroups and classes, to local family days out and special events.
I was already a big fan of Hull before 2017 arrived, but now we have this fantastic year of events, on top of the usual regular attractions and activities. I’m really excited about the year ahead, not just for me as a grown-up, but for my children to be able to experience such a variety of things they would otherwise wouldn’t. So I’m delighted to be bringing you this article to help navigate the upcoming City of Culture events. My aim is to show you what is specifically aimed at or suitable for children and what I’ve enjoyed doing with my family.
So, what’s going on in February for families?
We’re already halfway through season one, Made In Hull, and the big thing that’s running through the year is Look Up. These are installations of art that will keep appearing in the city. I happened by chance to be shopping in the city centre with my children last month when the Blade was lowered into Queen Victoria Square so we were lucky to see its impressive arrival. I can now bribe any shopping trip with the promise of touching the Blade!
I love the fact that we have so much regular stuff to do in Hull that seeing these artworks are a great addition to a day out.
Another big installation in Look Up is The City Speaks, a piece of artwork for the tidal surge barrier. There is a lectern on the quayside of Humber Dock Street that you can speak into. A microphone then captures what you have said and relays it as words running down the west side of the tidal barrier. It’s completely free to try and has a profanity filter so it is child friendly! You can have endless fun getting your children to speak into it and then see their words up in lights.
I love the fact that we have so much regular stuff to do in Hull that seeing these artworks are a great addition to a day out. This weekend we took our two children for a walk around the marina then carried on into the city centre to see the new exhibition Bowhead at Hull Maritime Museum. This really interesting whale exhibition ends on Sunday 19 March, so there’s plenty of time to see it. There is also an event running in the Museums Quarter throughout February, Fabulous Felines, with a cat-themed quiz to do around Streetlife and Hull & East Riding Museum, and an exhibition about cats in Streetlife.
But the main family event for February is Back To Ours. This is a series of cheap events based in local communities across the city during half term week.
Even some of the more “grown-up” attractions have been made suitable for children, we also popped into the newly re-opened Ferens Art Gallery and they were very welcoming to us. My children liked looking at some of the pictures and they’ve added a dedicated kid’s room for little ones to play in and explore. They are running regular, free or cheap workshops in February half-term for children to learn about different artists, make their own art and have gallery tours and they also hold a regular monthly free session Mini Masterpieces just for under-fives.
But the main family event for February is Back To Ours. This is a series of cheap events based in local communities across the city during half term week. There are events in each area of the city: North, East and West. Here are some of my highlights…
For younger children there’s The Story of Mr B, a surprise-filled puppet show set in a giant pop-up book telling the story of Mr Bumblegrum. It’s suitable for ages 3+ and is showing at:
- West: Sirius Academy West, Wednesday 22 February, 11am and 2pm.
- North: Winifred Holtby Academy, Thursday 23 and Friday 24 February, 11am and 2pm (24 February performances are ‘relaxed’ shows, suitable for children with special additional needs).
- East: Archbishop Sentamu Academy, Saturday 25 February, 11am and 2pm.
There are children’s film screenings of Roald Dahl films with extra fun and games, including a chance to meet characters inspired by the films – Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory at 10.30am, Matilda at 1.30pm and Fantastic Mr Fox at 4pm in the following locations:
- East: Archbishop Sentamu Academy, Wednesday 22 February
- West: Sirius Academy West, Thursday 23 February
- North: Winifred Holtby Academy, Saturday 25 February
For older ones, there’s Meet Fred. This is a puppet show with a recommended age of 14+ as you get to meet Fred, the rather rude and controversial cloth puppet! Showing at:
- North: Kingswood Academy, Wednesday 22 February, 6pm
- East: Archbishop Sentamu Academy, Thursday 23 February, 3.30pm (BSL interpreted)
- West: Sirius Academy West, Saturday 25 February, 1.30pm
Another one for teenagers is Joan & Hekima. this is Joan of Arc performed by drag king champion Lucy Jane Parkinson, followed by live African music. Recommended for ages 12+ it’s showing at:
- East: Archbishop Sentamu Academy, Thursday 23 February, 7.30pm
- North: North Point Shopping Centre, Friday 24 February, 7.30pm
- West: Hymers College, Saturday 25 February, 7.30pm (Captioned)
Finally for older children is Mark Thomas: The Red Shed. Mark Thomas tells the story of where he first started to perform, a red wooden shed aka Wakefield’s Labour club. The show will involve the audience (in a nice way) to recreate the shed and its inhabitants, due to strong language it’s recommended for ages 14+. Showing at:
- North Hull: Kingswood Academy, 25th February at 7.30pm (BSL interpreted)
- East Hull: Archbishop Sentamu Academy, 24th February at 7.30pm
All Back to Ours shows need tickets, details of how to get them at hull2017.co.uk/backtoours
Another family show for half term is Telling Tales: Musical Stories with Narration – a family friendly programme of classical music on Friday 24 February, 1pm, at Middleton Hall, the University of Hull.
And at Hull Truck Theatre on Saturday 25 February, there’s Finlay McGuigan’s Great Adventures In Storyland for three- to six-year-olds. These morning performances take place between 10am and noon, with craft activities before the show begins.
Outside of the city, if you are in Beverley over half-term, pop in to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at Beverley Art Gallery in Treasure House. This world-renowned display of 100 wildlife images is on loan from the Natural History Museum in London. It runs until Saturday 22 April and entry is free.
Looking ahead to March there will be lots more City of Culture events coming up. I’m holding my own event, the Mumbler Family Fun Day, on Sunday 19 March, from noon to 3pm, across Princes Quay’s Harbour Deck (ground floor). There will be games, activities, fun and crafts for children, including making a piece of artwork ourselves, plus taster sessions of local baby and toddler classes such as football, dance, music and performing arts running across the afternoon. It’s all free to attend.
2017 is certainly living up to expectations for me so far. I’m really looking forward to trying some of the Back To Ours events this month and finding out what the rest of the year holds.