A visit to the National Space Centre in Leicester is an absolute MUST for anyone within the local area. With so many interactive and educational activities available, plus special events throughout the year, there is little chance for boredom to creep in.
The National Space Centre even offers visitors who purchase their ticket online the option of upgrading to an annual pass, for free. It is an absolute bargain making the most of this offer and attending different special events throughout the year.
This post details our personal experiences so far at the National Space Centre in Leicester. Our first visit was during a special toddler event, focused around the popular kid’s TV program, PJ masks. Our second was an average day attending the centre, with no additional events or activities on offer.
My kids, being just 3 and 1 years old, were mesmerised throughout both trips. I honestly thought they might get either overwhelmed or incredibly bored due to their age. However, the National Space Centre has so many interactive activities, including LOTS of buttons to press, that my kids couldn’t get enough. Not to mention, of course, their absolute fascination with the gigantic rocket within the 42m high rocket tower.
Toddler Day: PJ Masks
Now, I have to be honest here, before booking this event, my children had never even heard of PJ Masks. We actually had to sit down together and discover the characters, Cat Boy, Owelette and Ghecko, in preparation for our visit. Needless to say, Georgi and Mae were glued for the next 3 episodes. How had I not found this program sooner?!
Preparation work complete, now Georgi and Mae understood who I would mean by PJ Masks, they were super excited to be going to the National Space Centre.
Photo Credit: with thanks to the National Space Centre, Leicester.
Unfortunately, I was not prepared for the other 100s of mums and dads whose kids also loved PJ Masks and had prebooked their tickets to attend. It is fair to say, the centre was manic and bombarded with extremely excitable preschoolers everywhere.
Even with the madness, Georgi and Mae had the best day ever. The National Space Centre had put on additional and themed activities occurring throughout the day. This was great as it provided my children with different activities they could choose from and attend based around their interests. Throughout the day we:
- Played with light and sound toys in a sensory room
- Coloured in our own character mask
- Listened (I lie – ran around a room chasing one another whilst all the other children sat nicely listening) to a PJ mask storybook
- Participated in a sing-a-long and dance session
- Watched the Astronaut George show in the planetarium.
That wasn’t even all of the activities on for the day, we just ran out of time to do everything there was on offer. Not to mention the fact we didn’t even explore any of the National Space Centre’s usual interactive activities.
There was so much to see and do, exploring every sense from sight, touch, sound, it was a complete sensory haven. Not the slightest chance of my children getting bored.
It is so hard to pick just one favourite from the day, but I have to say the Astronaut George show within the planetarium was one incredible experience. The show only lasts for 30 minutes and both my children, who could easily win awards for being fidget bums and 2-second attention spans, did not leave their seats.
It wasn’t just like a cinema screening, this show was interactive. It drew in the children’s attention, asking them questions and involving them for the whole 30 minutes. Even with both of my children being so young, they were able to interact and answer the questions and follow the actions. It was honestly brilliant.
They were absolutely gutted when it was time for us to leave and return home. Fortunately for them, we had taken advantage of the free annual pass upgrade from booking our tickets online. I had also taken my mum with me rather than my husband, as he was in the middle of his night shift pattern. So, the kids were in luck!
Return Trip to the National Space Centre
I won’t lie, I was a little apprehensive of returning to the National Space Centre without a special event specifically aimed at preschoolers. But the kids soon put me at ease. They were so excited about returning, especially to show their Dad the HUGE space rocket.
I figured, even if we just attended to see the rocket again, that was a big win for the kids. Plus, I was able to make it more educational this time and Mae was fantastic being able to answer which was faster e.g. train vs rocket, plane vs rocket, etc. Mae also couldn’t stop telling me that the rocket is so fast and goes to the moon. She was being very sweet.
This visit, we were able to completely relax and not feel rushed trying to fit in every activity into a short amount of time. We attended on a Monday so there was only a handful of people and maybe one school trip attending.
There is so much to see and do, I honestly couldn’t believe it. Even my husband was impressed and that’s a huge achievement.
The National Space Centre has 6 main interactive galleries, which are:
- Into Space
- Space Oddities
- Orbiting Earth
- Our Solar System
- The Universe
- Tranquillity Base
- Plus the Planetarium and Rocket Tower.
I thoroughly loved that our children were able to take control of their own learning and make choices with what activities they wanted to participate in or where they wanted to spend their time. It was wonderful attending on a non-busy day to give them the opportunity to lead.
Some of our top activities from the day, which Georgi and Mae loved, were a large alien puzzle, playing with space ship buttons and dials, driving a Mars robot, running around a huge 3D Earth and of course, using the lift right the way to the top of the rocket.
Even though this was our second visit, we still didn’t have time to do everything they had to offer, such as the dress up or control jet boosters. So I am incredibly glad we still have our annual passes for another family day trip.
We also came across a mini planetarium, which showed the marvellous, Astronaut George. I actually preferred seeing it in this planetarium to the first time. It was small and we were the only people who sat in there for the whole 30 minutes. The room had large buttons on the walls, enabling Georgi and Mae to choose a button to press and answer each question.
Obviously, their favourite sight throughout was the giant rocket within the 42-metre high rocket tower. The part they loved was when people pressed the big red button in the lunch hall and set the rocket off into launch mode, with a full countdown. Not to mention the extremely loud engine noise and huge amounts of steam. You can imagine how much I thoroughly enjoyed each and every time this was set off, particularly after the 5th kid pressed that button. I am sure you aren’t meant to press the big red button?
We ended the day with two very fulfilled children who did not want to go home. I think they could have stayed for a week and still not got bored. We will definitely be making the most of our annual pass and visiting a few more times yet this year.
The National Space centre is hosting another toddler day on 9th September, which of course, we will be attending! This event is listed as Small Space Teddy Day and includes so many activities such as bear awards, storytime, the opportunity to meet Astronaut George, foot/handprint teddy, make a paper plate polar bear and sing-a-long session. I cannot wait to take the kids to this event.
I absolutely love that all the activities planned are so hands-on and easily accessible for younger visitors. It is great that they have themed days throughout the year just for toddlers. No school visits are allowed on these days, making all activities much more age-appropriate for Georgi and Mae.
National Space Centre Prices
The National Space Centre really is reasonably priced for a family day out. When purchasing online, full-priced adult tickets are £15 each. But under 5s go free!
Then, of course, do not forget to ask for an annual pass upgrade on your first visit. You are then able to visit for the rest of the year for free. Your only additional costs are a) if you purchase food and b) if you want to see any shows after your first visit, they cost £3pp.
Will you be attending the Small Space Teddy Day? Get in touch, we might see you there!
The above images used featuring PJ Masks along with the Small Space Teddy Day advert have been taken from the National Space Centre’s Facebook Page with full written permission obtained. These photos belong to and are fully credited to the National Space Station, Leceister.
This review is my personal opinion and has not been commissioned by the National Space Centre.
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