To kick off our Summer holidays 2023 we were invited along to the National Space Centre in Leicester to review. I absolutely love anything about space and would spend many an evening on holiday with my dad observing the night sky when I was younger. So I was super excited to visit and learn more about what the Space Centre had to offer. If your interested in finding out more about it, read on!
The National Space Centre is located in Leicester, about 50 minutes from Birmingham and about 10 minutes from the motorway and located near a housing estate. You’ll know when you are approaching the centre due to the tall tower building (which looks like it has been blown up!) It is home to:
– Over 6 space exhibits
– Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium
– Rocket Tower
– Tetrastar Spaceport
This is a perfect rainy day activity to do in the Midlands as it is all indoors! And we chose the perfect day for it as it rained all day! As you enter, you are greeted with a queue line to access the ticket booths. Here, you will be given a small map for the ground floor (where most of the exhibitions and activities are) and confirmation of your booking time to enter the planetarium (more on that later)
From here, you’ll then enter via the ground floor entrance, straight into the small food court called Boosters Cafe and Soyuz lounge. This is where we would grab lunch and a coffee later on in the day.
Next to here is a wonderful large shop . Normally I try and dissuade the kids from checking out the shop but to be honest, this looked like a great shop full of STEM and fun activities and merchandise including Star Wars and ET (so no need to go to Florida then!) We spent about 20 minutes in here, even coming across some space food which the kids thought was cool! We picked up our obligatory fridge magnets and were ready for our prebooked show in the Sir Patrick Moore planetarium.
Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium is currently the largest planetarium in the UK! There are three different shows on during the day showing several times a day. Currently, as of July 2023, the showings are:
– We are Astronomers
– Journey through the solar system
I would recommend that as soon as you book your tickets, to prebook your show time to guarantee entry (you can do this online). We had booked onto the 11:10am showing of the journey through solar system and it was fully booked for that day when we arrived. You can arrive up to 15 minutes before show time. You then enter the planetarium which in essence, is a huge dome, similar to Think Tank museums planetarium. We then had a guide who talked us through the solar system, where the whole ceiling was covered in stars and planets. We even had a button system on the arm of our chairs where we completed a quiz during the showing. This was a great idea and which we all thought was a decent addition. The show latest about 20-25 minutes and it was really informative. If you are prone to motion sickness, be aware that the whole screen cover of the planetarium moves so for some, it could trigger this. But, if you close your eyes it does pass.
We then took our time to look around some of the exhibitions on the ground floor learning about Tim Peake and Helen Sharman, coming across suits and launch seats that they actually sat in!
There was lots of interactive areas where we could all take part in different activities which was great. We particularly liked checking out how astronauts brushed their teeth, how they had a shower and examples of food they ate!
Lunch time loomed and we managed to get a table right in the Soyuz area of the dining space. There is also additional tables through to the left of the food court and then again through another door. This didn’t look as appealing to us as it was all school tables (obviously perfect for school trips!) We sat in a booth and ordered some sandwiches, crisps and a sausage roll. There was also hot food available including hot dogs (which looked a good size) and jacket potatoes. My cappuccino was very tasty.
If you need the toilet, there is some located not far from here next to the shop. There is also baby changing and a disability toilet and a First Aid room.
After Lunch we continued onto the ground floor and queued up for the Terastar Spaceport. I had no idea what this was going to be about but it claimed to be a 25 minute interactive experience. Without too many spoilers, you are led through various different rooms where you have to work as a team to journey though the stars onto mars. Each room there was a different challenge and you’ll even get to take a seat on the Tharsis aircraft!
I thought this experience was absolutely brilliant and a great addition to the space centre. The staff remained in character the whole time and it was an excellent immersive challenge. The whole experience gave off Disney vibes as it was so excellently done – do not miss it!
In the area called Live Space, there are several showings throughout the day on various different subjects. We just missed one after leaving the Tetrastar spaceport however there was some nice craft activities happening so we sat down for 20 minutes whilst the younger two made space brackets – all included in the price!
We then completed exploring the ground floor exhibits where the kids enjoyed the interactive floor and they even got to drive a space buggy! There is vast amounts of information to read and so many hand on experiences!
Finally, we entered the Rocket Tower which is accessed via the stairs to the right of the cafe or the lifts located to the left. Here, across 4 floors you will find loads of information on space landings and what the world has learnt about space. There is also a lot of information on the competitive race between the US and USSR claiming who had gone into space first. I learnt about the first dog in space too!
On one floor we got to work as a team in an interactive experience called Gargarin Experience, where we would act as the space crew on board and the crew on the ground in the comms team. This was essentially acting out a take off! And we made it! The kids enjoyed this one!
We also got to experience drawing and designing our own space rockets!
– Try and go on a rainy day as it is all indoors
– If you have little ones in a buggy, try bringing a carry on or sling as the only way to access the Rocket tower is lifts and there is only 2 in operation
– There is a charge for parking
– Don’t forget to prebook your planetarium showing upon booking
We all thought the National Space Centre Leicester was a brilliant day out for all the family. As my children are getting older, in particular now my eldest is a teenager, we really have to consider where we go as a family so we can please all the children. This was a perfect family day out to please children of all ages and my 13 year old equally enjoyed the experience as did my 6 year old. I don’t really have anything negative to say about our day at all other than we would have loved more time and perhaps another food or drinks kiosk to reduce the queue at the Boosters cafe at lunch time!
Currently, tickets cost £18.95 for an adult and £16.95 for a child aged 5-16. Under 5’s are free! Check out their website for more information.
Have you been to the National Space Centre?
Thanks for reading xxx
Hi and welcome to The Willow Tree. I’m Michelle, also known as Shel and I am a mama to three beautiful crazy kids – I have two handsome boys and a wild and wonderful girl.
I really wanted a concrete place to share my love for travel, in particular Disney and offer my readers a chance to gain some knowledge around what we love to do as a family of 5.
I share our family adventures which include days out, travel advice and tips, holiday reviews, restaurant visits and of course, our love for Disney, including Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World.
Life is about creating memories, and here we are sharing them with you