This week, Lucy and The Chap get into the festive spirit with a trip to see Thursford Christmas Spectacular.
Tickets were provided in return for a review.
I love Christmas.
I love the twinkle of fairy lights in the cold night air. I love the spicy-sweet scent of mulled wine filling the house. And, more than that, I love singing along to Christmas tunes and watching films I’ve seen a thousand times already.
But I’ve never been to see Thursford Christmas Spectacular.
Shocking, I know.
Although it’s something of an institution, the event somehow passed me by. I’ve heard that tickets sell out every year and that people come from all over the country to see it, but I’ve never quite got around to buying tickets.
I was pleasantly surprised, then, when I was offered two tickets to see Thursford Christmas Spectacular at the beginning of the 2019 run.
The Chap, being somewhat less into Christmas (somewhere between The Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge), was underwhelmed by the news. Although he agreed to join me, he was far more measured in the lead up to the event.
The Practical Stuff
The first thing I want to mention is that Thursford is not easy to find.
While most of that was my satnav’s fault – sending me all around deepest, darkest Norfolk – there weren’t any signposts en route. They may have appeared since our visit, but we didn’t see any in early November.
In total, it took us around an hour to get to Thursford from Norwich. We only knew we were heading in the right direction because we could see the glow of lights from showground!
Although we arrived with minutes to spare, we sailed straight into a car-parking space without any problems. The site is easily all accessible, with even flooring and very few stairs (just some in the auditorium).
There are several bars to get drinks and snacks before the show and during the interval, along with shops selling merchandise and gifts, including the soundtrack on CD!
I should probably mention that you don’t need to wrap up warm. I ended up losing a few layers during the performance because the theatre was nice and toasty.
The auditorium is huge, which makes for a fantastic atmosphere. There are at least 1,000 seats – and almost every single one was filled.
And every inch of the theatre is covered in lights, boughs, wreaths and animatronics. It’s like a Christmas fantasy land. In fact, it’s what I’d like my house to look like when I put my decorations up. There was the smell of mulled wine wafting from the bar and it was unapologetically Christmassy.
When the show began with traditional carols, it took my breath away. The website states that there are 120 performers in the show and the standard of the singing, dancing and music is phenomenal. If I’m being totally honest, I wasn’t expecting such a professional standard. It was slick and faultless, with every last detail considered.
The carols were followed by dancing girls in full carnival getup, which is quite the spectacle – especially in Norfolk. It’s energetic, bold and bright and sets an upbeat tone for the evening.
The compère was surprisingly entertaining too. Britain’s Got Talent finalist Steve Hewlett is hosting the show this year. I don’t mean to sound disparaging, but I have an aversion to ventriloquists (the puppets scare me), but he was consistently funny, with his tongue wedged firmly in his cheek.
Read more: Norfolk Gift Guide 2019
The former Cirque du Soleil acrobats were breath-taking, appearing at several points in the show, performing gravity-defying feats, which left the audience open-mouthed.
The second half of the show, after the interval, was my favourite. It featured traditional carols and songs. Christmas is all about nostalgia for me, and it delivered in bucketloads.
The second half also allowed the orchestra to shine. They were centre stage for the entirety, so you could see them playing – and the effort they put in.
Thursford Christmas Spectacular: A Summary
It’s worth noting that I had thought the show would be suitable for young children, but it’s probably not. With a running time around 3 hours (including interval), it would be hard to keep small children focused.
It also means that the evening performance finishes at around 10pm, which is quite late, even for adults! In fact a little girl sat in front of us, around six years old, started dropping off to sleep in the second half.
The best way to sum up the Thursford Christmas Spectacular is to say that it reminded me of the Royal Variety Show when I was growing up. Tongue-in-cheek comedy; memorable song and dance numbers and breath-taking circus performers; it had something for everyone.
Remember how I said that The Chap wasn’t overjoyed by the prospect? He grudgingly admits that he had a good time – and there were even sections that he actively enjoyed. And if The Grinch enjoyed it, anyone will.
Tickets go on sale for 2020’s Thursford Christmas Spectacular on 16th December 2019. Buy your tickets here.