As the kids go back to school (group 'phew!' reverberating across the Bay), we're seeking things to do as a family at the weekend. Award winning blogger, Gina Caro, spotlights a festival that you might at first dismiss...
From Wednesday this week, Torre Abbey museum will host the International Agatha Christie Festival with 5 days of artists, writers and performers. At first, like me, you might not think this is a family friendly festival, but think again! This year, there's a big family focus over the weekend (Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September).
Any parent will tell you that every child is different, and that this can make finding a day out that everyone in the family will enjoy hard work. That's why this guide to the festival looks at what's on for even the most eclectic of families, as well as giving you all the pre-planning info on what, where and when:
For the creative child...
There's a great selection of self-led and artist-led activities. Try your hand at tile painting, weaving inspired by designer Esna Su's body sculptures or become a detective by modelling your own crime scene with artist Gabby Lovett. Create your own play through drama and improvisation. What mystery will you create or discover?! Suitable for ages 6+
For the wild child...
Does your child love getting dirty? If so, the 'archaeological dig' and mucky making potions in the gardens are a must! Suitable for all ages and running throughout both Saturday & Sunday. Suitable for all ages from 3+
For the inquisitive child...
Cure their curiosity with a more focused activity. The Agatha Christie Mystery Trail is guaranteed to keep them entertained. Hunt for clues around the house, through the art collections and gardens. Inspired by Agatha Christie's love of travel, there will also be a chance to learn about languages from around the world. Suitable for ages 6+
For the star in the making...
Do you have a future member of Diversity in your home? Don't miss contemporary choreographer Richard Chappell with an intergenerational cast of dancers from 12 to 96 years old on Sunday afternoon. From ballet to belly dancing and ballroom to contemporary - this has to be seen. Suitable for all ages
For tweens and teenagers...
On Saturday at 6pm, Doorstep Arts will be performing a preview of Out Of The Woods - 'Happily Ever After has come and gone, and we’re still here'. With original words and music written by local kids, see characters from your favourite fairy tales rewrite their stories.
Can you survive the Escape Room? Not for the faint hearted and recommended for 15 years and up, this is a combination of modern escape game and traditional murder mystery. Use your detective skills to escape the room. Booking is essential. Each game lasts 45 minutes.
There will also be a music stage throughout the weekend. On Sunday check out the concert on the outdoor stage, which will bring together locally-based artists with international musicians.
For the Grown-Ups...
Wander around the exhibitions and dip in and out of talks and tours. Highlights include Head Gardener Ali Marshall on Potent Plants, the Institute of Making for an exploration of toxicology and creativity, and The Mystery Orchestra for new songs inspired by Agatha Christie. Need some adult only time after a day of family fun? Drop the kids off with a babysitter and enjoy an evening open air cinema experience. Salty air, snacks and cinema!
It's no secret that having a successful family day out takes an element of pre-planning. Here at The Shorely, we've done the hard work for you:
Where is the festival?
The festival is being held at Torre Abbey museum in Torquay. This place is jam packed with things to see and do (literally, you can spend 3-4 hours inside) - including interactive displays, talking statues and surprises around every corner. Holding a festival here will only make for an even better family day out.
When is the best time to visit for families?
There are events aimed at young people throughout the week. For families, we recommend visiting during the weekend Garden Party 16-17 September. A weekend filled with music, stalls and family activities from 10am till 7/6pm each day.
What if it's raining?
If the Great British weather lets you down, don't let it put you off, as the festival is an all weather event. There are indoor and outdoor activities throughout the festival. If you get caught in a shower in the festival garden, be sure to check out the big activity tent.
Is it baby - toddler friendly?
Torre Abbey museum is very accessible with a lift to all gallery floors. The main gardens are perfect for families with plenty of room to play whilst being safely contained within the walled garden. Torre Abbey has baby change facilities in the disabled toilets on the first floor next to the gathering space. There are also baby change facilities in the tea room. There will be a dedicated buggy park in the Learning Lab courtyard near the Persian garden. It's open air - but under cover.
What about food?
The food at the festival is inspired by Agatha Christie's travels across the Middle East. There will be a tasty selection of world food from Edmond Davari, who will be providing children sized portions and they'll be ice creams from Dartington Dairy. For the grown ups try the range of local craft beers at the bar in the garden. Want to bring your own food? Take a picnic into the gardens and soak up the festival atmosphere.
Where do we park?
There is no parking onsite. Park in the Riviera Centre Car Park (remember to take change!) or in the Torre Valley car park (change or pay-by-mobile). Torre Abbey is a few mins walk from both.
How much will it cost me?
Garden Party Ticket: Saturday or Sunday. £10 per adult and kids under 15 go free (must be accompanied by an adult). This is a one day ticket with access to all exhibitions, galleries, garden party, music and family activities. On Saturday this also gives access to the Open Air Cinema screening of Death on the Nile. Doesn't include access to talks and performances (such as the Dance) or Escape Room.
Festival Weekend or Day Pass: Includes access to everything - including all talks and events across the weekend. Also, includes the Garden Party. Costs £25 for Saturday, £15 for Sunday and £35 for the weekend per adult.
We told you it would be a fun filled festival with something for everyone! The International Agatha Christie Festival runs from the 13 – 17 September at Torre Abbey, Torquay. Book tickets for the whole festival, the weekend or a day. Garden Party tickets can also be purchased on the day from Torre Abbey Box Office. Kids and teens under 16 go free.