National Theatre Family Tours

National Theatre Family Tours

If you’re looking for different and interesting things to do with the kids in the run up to Christmas (or in fact any time of year) then why not go take them on a magical backstage tour of the iconic National Theatre?

We met at the National Theatre Bookshop , which is not only stocked full of fantastic literature, it also has a great children’s section. We were particularly taken with the National Theatre’s new ‘Play in a Box’ £12.99 which gives children everything they need to write, perform and direct their very own show including inspiration for characters, setting and plot as well as expert tips on stage, costumes and props etc. Perfect for budding actors, directors and producers age 6+ and a great Christmas present and/or entertainment in the holidays.

The National Theatre runs several tours and we went on a Family Tour which is suitable for kids 5-12 (up to 3 go free). Grandpa came along too and all three generations thoroughly enjoyed this unique behind the scenes tour.

After donning special High Vis vests with ‘backstage tour’ on the back we went off to learn all about the history of the National Theatre, which was completed in 1976. We discovered its unique construction out of wood then concrete and were shown the imprint of the sawn wooden planks.

Sitting in the auditorium of the Olivier Theatre, the largest of the three theatres, it was fascinating catch a glimpse behind the scenes and watch the backstage crew re-construct the set for the play that evening.

Our guide Jess was fantastic with the kids giving them lots of interesting facts and was ready to answer all of their quirky questions. It was so interesting to see the workshops where the sets and props are made and to discover that the brick wall which looked so realistic was in fact made from wood and plastic! 

The highlight for the children (and adults!) was going backstage and playing with some of the props, dressing up and hearing stories from some of the shows.The National Theatre runs about two to four tours a week which take between 60-90 minutes depending on which one you go on.

Family Tours £10, General Backstage Tours £10, Architecture Tours £12.50 (inside and outside but not in the auditorium) and Costume Tours £12.50 includes the cutting room, dye shop and wig room.

There are also special tours throughout the year including three ‘After Hours Tours’ - and there's always the option to book afternoon tea with a tour too. It would be great to combine a tour with seeing a show after. Pinocchio runs from 1 December 2017 to 10 April 2018.

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If you're looking for more inspiration for the weekend, head over to our What's On this weekend page!