On Saturday we were invited to the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium to experience their Santa and Elves Christmas Experience and the Reindeer Round-up in Space planetarium show on their epic 360 fulldome screen.
I took Chester (who’s 2), my friend Laura and her son Finlay (also 2) so we had a tough, noisy and manic (just my child) audience! If you’ve never visited the Science Centre before, it’s out of the city, easy to get to and has free parking. The car park is a short walk from the centre itself and they have coat hangers (important at this time of year as we were all wrapped up and had somewhere to put all our stuff so we didn’t have to lug it round with us). The facilities are great and very child friendly, including a well stocked cafe with entertainment for the kids, soft play and an outside play area for when the weather is warmer.
On arrival at the Science Centre we headed straight to the main exhibition space to explore some of the hands-on experiments. These were great, there were lots of them, all exploring different elements of science and they definitely fall into the ‘fun yet educational’ category and they are suitable for most ages, even by two year olds they were much enjoyed! This is a safe area and kids can walk freely between experiments, if you are forever chasing after a runaway, vivacious child like I am, you’ll know how important this is! Our visit was on Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t overly busy and we didn’t wait to try any of the stations.
The parachute station shown below was a favourite of our boys along with the race track, this proved very popular and we had trouble getting them off it they were laughing so much.
Our first event was the Reindeer Round-up in Space show! It was held in the planetarium which has an awesome domed screen right above you and chairs that lie back making the whole experience quite relaxing. I have a very noisy, fidgety two year old and he was fine during the show so I wouldn’t worry about kids having to sit perfectly quiet and still (this is always something I worry about). It was hosted by an elf and was interactive and entertaining for the kids. This particular show took us on a tour of the solar system, visiting each planet and finding each of the reindeer along the way.
After the show we headed to the Santa and the Elves Christmas Experience. The first part of this was a science show, hosted by two elves (as shown below). It involved some truly terrible jokes and a sing along, and again was a relaxed, interactive experience where the children were invited up to take part in the experiments. It held their attention well during the experiments and the final experiment was a pretty impressive one!! Some of the younger children were hesitant about going into this experience, as young children can be, but be reassured that once in they all enjoyed it.
The second part of this experience involved the visit with Father Christmas. We were taken into a second room and the room was setup with Father Christmas in the corner and a number of tables around the room. On each table were two different activities – making a snow globe or a colour changer, we made snow globes (although recommended for ages 3+). These activities were great to entertain the children whilst waiting to meet Father Christmas (it beat standing in a cold queue!). Each family then went up to Father Christmas (he was a good Santa and he took a lot of time with Chester) in turn and had the opportunity to sit with him for a chat and photos (taken by the elf). Each child was given a parting bag with a red nose and small gift.
I’d recommend setting aside 3-4 hours for the visit, although this did include a trip to the cafe for us. Thank you very much for having us Winchester Science Centre: http://www.winchestersciencecentre.org/.