We do feel lucky here at Small City, to have first-hand info on all of the great events going on in Perth and Perthshire. Apart from allowing #RhonaRecommends to be the font of all local knowledge (if ever a woman loved her hashtag it was Rhona) it has also allowed Nicki and Holly to clock up a few extra-cool auntie points with their endless stream of great ideas!
A consistent favourite for a ‘day out with the kids’ is the wonderful Blackwatch Castle & Museum; so when they announced their first ever Winter Festival complete with Santa Tours and Lights Switch On we were all over it. Nicki, Neiv (9) and Erin (almost 6) headed along last Saturday for an afternoon of crafts, tours, stories and, of course, an obligatory slice of homebaking!
"We were a little early for our 3pm tour and so in the interests of giving a full review we popped into the Copper Beech Café for a spot of lunch. The food at Copper Beech is simple, fresh and tasty and they have loads of great choices for kids.
The girls had both eaten before I picked them up but like most kids they were only too happy to press their noses up against the cake display and choose a wee treat. Neiv went for a moist, rich slab of chocolate cake which she devoured alongside a hot chocolate with extra cream – easy seeing I was handing her back in time for bed! Erin chose the rocky road – also with hot chocolate and cream – and sensible woman that I am, I ordered the homemade lentil soup with crusty bread. All delicious!
We could see crowds gathering in front of the building and when we followed the gazes skywards, we could see up in the turrets, was Santa himself. He’d come to entertain the children with festive tours of the Castle...
SESSION ONE: Santa Tour
I’ve been lucky enough to join a family-friendly tour of the Castle on previous visits and so I knew what to expect. It had occurred to me therfore, that inviting Santa to deliver tales of WW1 may prove a challenge for even the most creative of historians.
What can I say? I was wrong and it was genius! Who is the one person all children will pay close attention to? Who will they listen attentively to, offering up willing ears and raising hands in happy participation? Santa – that’s who!
For me, it doesn’t really matter how we get children to engage in history, it just matters that they do. They were enthralled, hanging on his every word as he took them on the journey of the Black Watch Highland Regiment throughout the years.
SESSION TWO: Story Telling In The Trench
I spent many an enraptured afternoon sitting on my Grandad’s knee listening to tales of the war. He was a Black Watch soldier, and the older I grew the more real the stories became. So when I crossed the garden of the Castle on Saturday to see a replica of a WW1 trench, it shocked me to realise just how wrong my mind’s picture of these close-quarters had been.
The girls balanced along the narrow wooden beams as they made their way between the walls of the trench. Sand bags were piled up and with a light drizzle in the cold December air, there was a real sense of emotion hanging in the small storytelling room. Adults and children, squeezed in and listened intently to tales of men, war and Christmas in the trenches. Brilliantly, brilliantly done.
SESSION THREE: Arts And Crafts
All of my nieces and nephews are fans of an arts and crafts session at Black Watch. It is always so incredibly well done and this one was no different. We took our seats – big kid here included – and swirled icing sugar onto star shaped cookies, made cardboard Santas and Christmas Cards and left dressed in a light dusting of glitter and smiles!
Santa dropped in to say hello, much to the kids delight, and as we made our way outside for the lights switch on I could hear parents and children alike enthusing over how great a day they’d had.
By 4.30pm it was starting to get a little darker and with the PKC ‘Anyone Can Sing’ choir counting down we knew it was almost time. 3, 2, 1…. A beautiful, big fir standing proud in the entrance of the castle lit up with hundreds of bright, gold coloured bulbs and the choir lifted into song. The girls were standing in the dim light, arms full of cookies and crafts, joining in their favourite carols and soaking up the Christmassy, festive joy.
VERDICT: The girls had a great day – crafts once again appeared high on the list of favourites although Neiv (9) was especially taken with the trench. Another hit from the Black Watch family events team.
Next time you're wondering 'What's On For Kids in Perth' then I would highly recommend checking out our Family Events Section. As well as listing what's going on at The Blackwatch Castle and Museum for kids, we also include other family events and activities.
You can also sign up for our newsletter which highlights all the forthcoming events on our radar.
Cost: Kids were £5 each with adults going free. This included all activities with an option to give a wee bit more if you could afford it.
We were offered free entry - normally £5 per child - to review the Winter Festival.