Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Information About The 3Foot People Festival 2014

3foot People Festival

Tickets go on sale this week for the UK’s largest event for preschool children! Following last year’s sell out success The 3foot People Festival returns for its ninth year and takes place from Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 June at Hylands Park, Chelmsford. The Festival will welcome nearly 13,000 children and their carers. Exclusively for 0-5 year olds, the event features hundreds of activities to help stimulate curiosity, imagination and play. From 9am to 4pm each day, little people can enjoy a live music stage, arts and craft-making sessions, a giant sandpit, a mini farm, storytelling, and much more.   

The general release of tickets is on Wednesday 30 April (online from 7am and in person from 9am). Adult carers (aged 16 and over) £8.50, children aged 2 to 5 years £8.50 and under 2s (including babies) £3. Further details can be found at, on Facebook or via Chelmsford Theatre Box Office. Please note that tickets always sell out very quickly and please remember that tickets will not be available on the gate so book early to avoid disappointment. There are no telephone sales available for The 3foot People Festival until Thursday 8 May.

3foot People Festival

There will be free parking onsite and dedicated buses running from the city centre directly to The 3foot People Festival. Bus tickets need to be bought in advance from the Festival box office or via the festival website. 

(Please note: The organisers are aware of a possible planned Teachers strike during the week of the event. Should this lead to school closures, any children aged 6-15 will not under any circumstances be permitted to enter the event.)

RHS Hyde Hall

Hyde Hall

Every so often the Royal Horticultural Society has a 'Free Day Friday' allowing free entrance to their gardens, including Hyde Hall in Rettendon.  So last month I took T (3) and L (16 months) along to explore the 360 acre estate. 

It was a dull and grey March day on our visit but we still had a lovely time. There were lots of scarecrows dotted around (they had been made during a previous family activity day) and T had a wonderful time running around them, looking at the differences between them, including a Darth Vader scarecrow! Being the middle of March there were very few flowers in bloom but I can imagine that the gardens would be stunning in full bloom. All of the flowers and trees are labelled so green fingered visitors can easily tell what they are looking at. The map you are given on entry clearly labels all the various areas of the estate, including the ponds, rose garden, beehives and vegetable plots. However T's favourite part was watching the digger at work!

Hyde Hall

I was surprised at how child friendly the gardens were. At the information desk there were maps with themed trails available and sheets to help children play I-spy as they walked round. We followed the main route around the gardens which, with a wide pavement, was very accessible for buggys and wheelchairs. There are some steeper paths and stairs but there was always an alternative route. There is a children's play area near the visitors centre, two toilet blocks (including a baby changing room) and the two restaurants have plenty of high chairs. With rain threatening on the day we visited the two restaurants were very busy but on a sunny day there is an outside courtyard with plenty of table and chairs. 

There are also lots of events for children and families throughout the year. The Little Acorns gardening club takes place every month for pre-schoolers, special themed events are planned during each school holiday and they even have a survival skills day planned on Father's Day.

I really would recommend Hyde Hall as a day out, especially for your pre-schoolers in term time. Under 5's get in free all year round and, even on a grey day, we were there almost three hours. 

Keep an eye on our Things To Do pages for the next Free Day Friday and other special events at Hyde Hall!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Dragon Hunt at Hylands Park

One of the things I enjoy about having children is being able to revisit all of the places of my childhood. Having grown up in Chelmsford, I have many fond memories of Hylands Park. Childhood walks, picnics with friends after my GCSE's and of course, before they really hit the big time, the 1994 Take That concert*! 

Since Chelmsford became a City and V Festival proved that Hylands Park can handle large scale events, there have been many changes to the Park to make it even more accessible to families. There are ongoing changes to the play equipment as the team have responded to feedback and there has been an increase in specific events for families. 

Entertainment by Arthur, his Queen and Lancelot
This weekend I was invited to review one of these events, the Dragon Hunt. The Dragon Hunt is now in it's second sell-out year but with the forecast of rain and a last minute change in the plans to accommodate the rain, I wasn't sure of what to expect. 

Dragon Hunt at Hylands Park
One of the clues! 
On arrival we were greeted by the King and Queen and given our 'Quest'. After the dragon had stolen the princess he had left clues dotted around the park and we had to find letters and solve the riddles in order to reveal the password that would let us into see the Princess. There was a nice mix of easy clues for the younger one and more difficult clues to make the adults think! The clues followed a circular route near to the house and it was a good way for the children to burn off some of the chocolate excess from the morning. There were just enough clues to keep you occupied for an hour before going into see the Dragon. 

Waiting for the Dragon!
The Dragon was to be found in the Pavilion next to the house and, after a short queue to get in, all the children were seated in a large U shape to await the Dragon. The actors were really good at reassuring the children that the Dragon was a friendly dragon and not one who should be slain!  I think this was a really nice thing to do as there could easily have been some very scared children in the audience. Everyone (who wanted to) could pet the Dragon and care was taken to ensure that everyone had equal opportunity to meet the Dragon. The Dragon was fantastic, breathing smoke and gently roaring as she made her way around the crowd. Her owner had also brought along the Dragon's egg and everyone got a chance to stroke the egg and encourage the baby dragon out! After the Dragon left, the actors entertained the audience with a story. 

Up close with the Dragon 
It was such a shame about the weather as it would have been lovely to take a picnic and make more of a day of it. The inflatables that would normally accompany the event had also had to be postponed until the next day. However it was a fantastic event and we will be going again next year - well done Hylands Park!  

The next event at Hylands Park will be the Boys Toys event on Father's Day 21st June. From what I've read so far - it's not to be missed! Tickets are on sale now. 

*I know I went this concert and wanted to prove it with a photo but Google has failed me this time! Mind you this well before the internet and social media had taken off. If anyone has got any photos of what would be a very youthful Take That from the concert I would love to see them!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Everyone Outside!

Today's post comes from Tim Dixon, Head of Essex Country Parks. With all the sunny weather predicted for this weekend it's a perfect time to get outside and see the many parks and open spaces that Chelmsford has to offer!
Earlier this month an Essex Country Parks survey revealed that a huge 86 per cent of parents with children aged 18 years or under agree that children should spend more time playing outdoors. What struck me wasn’t the result, but the fact that the people agreeing are the ones responsible for encouraging their children to put down the TV remote and venture outside.
Times have changed quickly and today’s school-age children have a lot of things to distract them from a good old-fashioned kick-about or a game of conkers. Our survey also found that 75 per cent of parents who agreed children should play outdoors more also think their offsprings spend too much time on computer games; 69 per cent think they don’t exercise enough; 65 per cent think they spend too much time watching TV; 53 per cent think they spend too much time on social media, and seven percent stated “other reasons”.
What hasn’t changed is that children still love using their imagination and are more than happy to play when you play the right game. That’s why we’ve devised a raft of Easter weekend events under the banner ‘Let their imagination run free’. These events harness the same love of fantasy but take the action outside for a few hours of fun family time.
Chelmsford Easter Activities
Cracking the Egg at Weald Country Park (daily until 21st April) invites everyone to map read and solve puzzles as they enjoy a self-guided trail around fantastic scenery (£3 per trail guide).
Junior GPS Easter Egg Hunt at Danbury Country Park on 19th April is a fun team event involving GPS units (child ticket price £4).
For younger children, the Easter Bunny Adventure at Cressing Temple on 20th April is an opportunity to have fun meeting costumed characters from Alice in Wonderland before tracking down a chocolate egg (child ticket price £5.95). Bring a picnic! Booking essential on 0845 603 7624.
Easter Ori-eggteering at Hadleigh Country Park on 21st April will see visitors navigating around the park to find eggs and chickens before collecting a prize (child ticket price £4).
We look forward to seeing you playing outdoors with your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces at one of the events, all of which are listed on our website

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Easter Egg Hunts in Chelmsford

Mumsnet Chelmsford Easter Egg Hunts

Here are all the Easter Egg hunts taking part in Chelmsford over the Easter Weekend. I've also included all the attractions that are offering Easter Egg hunts as part of their Easter activities. Let me know what you think of them!

Bunny Hunt at RHS Hyde Hall

Easter Egg Hunt at Galleywood Heritage Centre

St George's Easter Egg Hunt in Central Chelmsford Town Centre

Boreham Easter Egg Hunt

Dragon Hunt at Hylands Park (Not strictly a hunt for chocolate eggs but lots of fun!)


Marsh Farm

Chelmsford Museum

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Top 10 Indoor Activities In Chelmsford

After all the rain we had at the beginning of the week I started thinking about 'raining day contingency plans' and thought that you might all appreciate a list of the Top 10 Indoor Activities in Chelmsford! 

Mumsnet Chelmsford Chelmsford Museum

Mace Playce (Soft Play for 0-12's)  

Kids and Koffee  (Soft play for 0-8's)

Chelmsford Museum (Free!)  

Essex Police Musuem (Only open Saturday's but has an activity running every week)

Mumsnet Chelmsford Essex Police Musuem

Please do let us know if you think of our top indoor activities and whether you think we've missed anything! Or add a review to our site to let other parents know what you think of them.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Kids and Koffee

I recently organised the first Mumsnet Chelmsford Meet-up and I was struggling to come up with a venue. With no idea of numbers or the ages of children that people would be bringing with them I really needed somewhere that would cater for all. A soft-play seemed to be the best place and it needed to be in central Chelmsford in case anyone was travelling by public transport. Despite having  opened last summer, I still hadn't got round to visiting Kids and Koffee and after it was suggested on our talk boards, our venue was decided. Laura, the very lovely owner, agreed to reserve us a table and made everyone feel very welcome.  

It isn't a huge soft play but there are clearly defined areas for the under and over 2's. The area for the under 2's includes lots of age appropriate toys, soft-play blocks and has a little kitchen area adjacent to it. The over 2's area includes all the usual soft play equipment and because it is fairly small, you can see your children on the equipment at all times, which means that you can sit and enjoy your coffee! (The coffee, by the way, is good and the food isn't expensive).

There is also an outside area that, whilst too cold to use on the day we visited, has slides, play houses and lots of ride on toys to use. Different activities also run on weekday mornings with regular visits from Street Life Dance and Do Re Mini's. You can also book to have your child's birthday party here.

This is definitely a soft-play for the under 5's and will be useful to parents during the school holidays who are looking for somewhere for their smaller children to play. I will be definitely be back!