Most museums have something to interest and entertain little minds, but Eureka! is a completely different ball game. The children’s museum in Halifax, West Yorkshire, is dedicated to children and every single exhibit is made to be pushed, pulled, messed with, climbed on and played with. When I told my kids we were going there for the day, they were looking forward to it but I don’t think they realised how much fun they would have until we arrived.
I think Sam’s exact words were: ‘Mum, you never told me it was this cool!’
We’d been invited to visit the Christmas grotto and a festive show, Night Lights, but I assured them there was plenty of time to have a look round the rest of the museum before we had to leave. We did have time for a look round it all, but I know they would absolutely love to go back, so it’s lucky it’s not too far away from my parents’ house and a good place to meet up with some of my close friends from school and their little ones.
Eureka opened in the early 90s so I remember when it opened, but I was probably a little bit too teenage to appreciate how much fun it was for kids. The museum is split into six themed galleries, packed with hands-on exhibits. The first we visited was called Desert Discovery, and had a large machine in the centre which fascinated both Sam and Florence (aged six and two). Sam spent ages putting plastic balls into a hole before turning a handle and watching a giant conveyor belt lift them up into the air, across the room and down a chute. Flo was distracted by the mini soft play area nearby, set under a desert palm tree, and the darker tunnels with animal facts to explore.
We then visited Santa’s grotto, and I can honestly say it was one of the nicest ones we have ever been to. A friendly ‘elf’ chatted to us at the door, and when she led us in, Father Christmas looked pretty convincing in his tastefully decorated home. He spent about five minutes with us all and they were wide-eyed listening to his tales of elves playing with the toys and how many mince pies he could eat. It was much more than just a quick question and then you are moved on, it was more like a private audience with Santa – with plenty of chance to take some photos.
We then moved to the light show, which was held in the theatre on the ground floor. It was two actors telling a Christmas story – it was fun, they kept their young audience involved and more importantly, captivated. Flo was a bit shy at first but soon got into it, and Sam said it was one of his favourite parts of the day.
We had so much fun exploring the rest of Eureka! There’s a play town square at the centre, mocked up with small versions of everything including a Halifax bank, M&S food, a garage, car wash, and miniature Post Office. This is where Florence really had her fun. This girl loves to shop, and wherever we go she grabs a basket and fills it with random things that catch her eye. Imagine her joy when she could take a toddler-sized trolley and fill it with plastic baguettes! What more does a two-year-old need?!
I think our favourite gallery though was upstairs, called All About Me. The newest addition, this area was full of exhibits about the human body, showing kids what their body parts look like, how they work and most of all, letting them learn through play. You can see Sam riding a bike here, which was next to a skeleton on a bike, set up to mirror what our bones look like when we’re doing exercise. Flo really loved the set up baby clinic, where you could pretend to feel a baby’s heartbeat in its expectant mother’s tummy and weigh and measure a toy baby.
We even got to experience what happens at a Eureka! party, when we had lunch followed by the choice of a science show or fairy stories in the historic station building next door.
The whole day was just lovely and Sam has been asking when we can go back, so I’m sure we will be back at Eureka! before long.
If you’d like to go to the Christmas events, the grotto is on until 23 December, and the light show runs until New Year’s Eve. The museum will be closed from 24-26 December.
I have a family annual pass to give away to one lucky reader. If you’d like to enter, just fill out the form below. Good luck!