Visitor Attraction of the Year takes families back in time this summer

Wed, 25/07/2018 - 09:37

Visitor attraction of the year

This summer the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, is hosting a wide range of events and activities commemorating the end of the First World War and celebrating the contribution of the Royal Air Force, during its centenary year. The 150-acre free to enter site is home to more than 370 memorials, nestled between almost 30,000 trees, providing a beautiful and thought-provoking landscape for visitors to explore.

Summer Storytelling

Free-of-charge storytelling sessions featuring costumed interpreters are being held every Wednesday during the school holidays (until 29 August). Younger visitors (and the young at heart) can enjoy stories about the people who lived and served during the First World War and in the RAF since its formation.

Thank You Backpacks

Younger visitors can discover the stories behind a variety of characters from the First World War, aided by a Thank You Backpack, containing exploratory resources, dressing up items and mini mission cards. The backpacks will provide new ways of engaging with the large number of memorials around the site connected with the conflict. Thank You Backpacks are available for hire (£2.50 + £5 deposit per child) until 2 September.

Interactive RAF Experience

The Arboretum has recently unveiled a new free-of-charge interactive RAF experience for visitors, transporting them back in time to explore a Second World War communications centre and billet room. Launched as part of the Arboretum’s programme of activities celebrating the centenary of the formation of the RAF, the converted shipping containers allow families to explore the working environment of an RAF Command and Operations room and prepare themselves for inspection in the RAF billet room.

Visitors can interact with the props in each container and children can get into character using the dressing up items. The containers are open daily 9am until 5pm (until 11 November) and RAF costumed interpreters are available during weekends (until 30 September) to tell stories about life in the RAF and demonstrate equipment.

Replica Spitfire

A full-sized replica Mark IX Spitfire will also be on site until 27 July and between 20 August and 7 September, providing visitors the opportunity to see the iconic aircraft. Famed for their contribution during the Battle of Britain during the Second World War, the Spitfire performed numerous roles including; interceptor, reconnaissance, fighter-bomber and trainer, continuing to play a significant role in the RAF until the 1950s.

Sensory Play Garden and Children’s Wood Play Area

The Sensory Play Garden uses sensory exploration and discovery to introduce younger visitors to the concept of Remembrance, in addition to providing traditional play. It features a climbing frame, slide, and tunnels, and the sympathetically designed area sits naturally within the grounds of the Arboretum, seamlessly blending into the landscape. A second play area is located in the Children’s Wood, an area home to several memorials commemorating children who have lost their lives.

Summer Saver Deals

The Arboretum is offering sensational summer saver deals for visitors this summer, offering discounted prices for entry to the permanent Landscapes of Life exhibition or for hire of an audio guide. Exhibition entry (including Fashion & Freedom) or audio guide hire costs just £4 or £7 for both. Child, concession and NMA Friend prices are also available.

Further details about the National Memorial Arboretum’s programme of summer activities can be found on their website; www.thenma.org.uk

Sarah Oakden, Head of Marketing, National Memorial Arboretum, said: “The National Memorial Arboretum is the perfect place to explore with your family this summer as we build on our previous successes that led to us being named Large Visitor Attraction of the Year by Visit England. Our exciting programme of activities offers new ways to engage with the memorials located around the site, providing fresh perspectives and allowing visitors to discover some of the untold personal stories behind them.”