This February, we celebrated my gorgeous boyfriend Howard’s 29th birthday by enjoying a weekend away together in Manchester, to go see ‘Thriller Live’ at Manchester Palace Theatre. Please see below a description of our travels, with accompanying photography. Hope you enjoy 🙂 🙂
Saturday 15th February (Howard’s birthday!)
We arrived on the train at Manchester Piccadilly station early afternoon on Saturday 15th February, then checked in early at our Britannia Sachas Hotel, situated in the Northern Quarter, near Piccadilly Gardens. I have stayed at Sachas before, last year with my mum in April, when we came to see ‘Ghost – The Musical’. The accommodation is cheap and cheerful in my opinion, my return based on the hotel’s extremely convenient location, close to all the action, and ‘smoking room’ option, allowing myself to use my e-cigarette inside, haha! 😛 The weather was absolutely atrocious, chucking it down, so we made the wise decision to partake in indoor activities during our stay should the weather not improve. After a quick unpack, we headed to Bella Italia to fill our bellies with delicious Italian cuisine, yum yum.
First on our itinerary was the National Football Museum. Not exactly top on my list I must admit, but Howard was keen and eager to visit, and it was his birthday after all! 😛 Being a big Manchester United fan, he was certainly in his element. In the ground floor entrance hall Howard had his photograph taken with the FA Cup and Premier League trophies, so that was definitely a great opportunity, hehe. Level 1 displayed various other dazzling trophies, it delved into the history of the ‘beautiful game’; matchday experiences, the fans, the stadiums, the players, the clubs and the portrayal of these all in mainstream media – a creatively interactive exploration throughout. There was much more physical interactivity offered furthermore on Level 2, such as ‘shot stopper’, ‘penalty shootout’, ‘one-two’, and ‘pass master’, where visitors are encouraged to test their reactions and show off their football skills. Likewise, many toys and games and in particular the ‘discovery zone’ was there to keep youngsters entertained. The ‘football for all’ area demonstrated well how football has full capability of being always an inclusive sport, enjoyed by players of all abilities. The ‘Strip! How Football got Shirty’ exhibition occupied Level 3 of the museum, educating visitors on the history of team shirts. Although I was reluctant and hesitant to explore the National Football Museum at first, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by its content, so I would therefore recommend a visit for those like myself, not massive fans of football, it’s still worth a look around for sure.
As evening approached, we passed pretty Piccadilly Gardens and the beautiful and stunning luminous water fountains, on our way to Palace Theatre.
On Saturday evening, we saw the highly anticipated ‘Thriller Live’ at Palace Theatre, Manchester! 🙂 🙂 Michael Jackson was, in many people’s opinion, the ‘undisputed King of Pop’, and the greatest entertainer the world has ever known. Michael’s musical genius, from The Jackson 5 to his solo career, dominated pop charts and wowed audiences in a four decade span; he’s sold an exceptional 750 million records worldwide, and counting! The iconic Thriller album remains the best selling recording in the world, like ever! How incredible is that?! What a legacy Michael has left when he sadly passed away in 2009. ‘Thriller Live’ is ultimately a huge celebration of Michael Jackson; the man and the performer. The show has now played in over 30 countries, including; Italy, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Germany, China, Singapore and France, among more, dazzling over 5 million fans across the globe – luckily for us, arriving at Palace Theatre, Manchester this February, 2020 [Official Thriller Live Souvenir Programme].
There are many vocalists in the production that sing Michael’s songs, not just one individual singer; Kieran Alleyne, Jason Brock, Shaquille Hemmans, Joseph Thomas, two female vocalists Ceante Harris, Adriana Louise and resident director/ vocalist Britt Quentin, singing both solely and collaboratively on stage. Act 1 features Michael’s earlier Jackson 5 hits and disco and funk classics such as; ‘I Want You Back’, ‘ABC’, ‘Rockin’ Robin,’ ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, ‘Shake Your Body’, ‘Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough’ and ‘Can You Feel It’, whereas Act 2 focuses of Michael’s solo career acclaimed songs, including; ‘Beat It’, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, ‘Smooth Criminal’, ‘Man In The Mirror’, ‘Earth Song’, ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Bad’, ‘Black or White’, and of course, ‘Thriller’! The costume designers, Rob Jones and Catherine Teatum, did a fantastic job designing the amazing diverse and vividly colourful costumes, and obviously the dancers brought the stage completely to life with the eccentric moves, street dance, back-flips and of course iconic moonwalks showcased. Magical. [Official Thriller Live Souvenir Programme].
Of all the theatre shows I have attended over the years (and I’ve seen a fair few!) I have never known an atmosphere quite like it! The place was on fire. Everyone was up on their feet singing and dancing, waving their glowing flashlight merchandise wildly in the air. They were congregating in the aisles, much to the theatre staff’s dismay ha, and screaming their heads off to all of the lyrics, it really was something else. Manchester was mad! (In a good way 😛 ). Unsurprisingly, the show concluded with a very well deserved standing ovation, as most of the crowd were already on their feet, hehe. Spectacular.
Sunday 16th February
There was a continuing heavy downpour of rain on the Sunday morning unfortunately. After a satisfying full English breakfast at Sachas, we took refuge in and decided to cheer ourselves at The Printworks entertainment centre, adjacent to Arndale shopping centre. I recommended Printworks to Howard, as I had been before last year, myself and mum. To try something new, different and fun and challenging however, me and my boyfriend thought we’d first give an escape room a whirl!
Escape Reality, Manchester features a diverse array of exciting , enthralling, mysterious themed rooms, all in which challenge participants, 2-6 players, to escape in a one hour time frame – a fully immersive experience in which players must use their problem solving skills and their own intuition to crack codes, decipher mystic clues / puzzles and outwit strategies purposefully planted to prevent escape. The complex offers 8 themed realities, all varying in levels / difficulty; ‘Auron’, ‘Tortuga Pirates’, ‘Enigmista’, ‘Bank Job’, ‘Asylum’, ‘Alcatraz’, ‘Ritual’, and the one we attempted – ‘Legend of the Mummy’.
The basic concept of ‘Legend of the Mummy’ is that a renowned Professor of Archaeology recruited the dangerous responsibility of retrieving lost Ancient Egyptian treasure has gone missing – we, as an assigned Archaeological replacement team, must continue the professor’s work; steal the treasure from ‘the dark depths of the Ancient Pyramids’ or face entrapment inside the triangular walls of the Ancient Pyramids forever, mwahahaha! Well, we were absolutely pants! I knew I’d be useless, but I hoped we might have a half decent chance of escaping with Howard as he regularly plays similar games on this smartphone/Xbox. ‘Legend of the Mummy’ was supposed to be one of the easier rooms, only level 3 of 5 in difficulty apparently. However, we didn’t find some of the hidden clues we were supposed to, and the ones we did find were so cryptic, half way through we were still only in the first of three sections – a staff member even had to come inside to help/guide us, what a disaster, haha! … INESCAPABLY, we didn’t escape lol… It was so much fun though. I would definitely like to try alternative escape rooms in different cities for sure, we can only improve 🙂
Our next pursuit was Treetops Adventure Golf – an 18 hole ‘Tropical Trail’ jungle trek, and another 18 hole ‘Ancient Explorer’ of mystical magic. Last time me and Howard played crazy golf at Valley Centertainment Leisure Park, Sheffield, I was victorious, this time however Howard beat me by a long shot 😛 At the end, he even struck the golf ball in the awkward 19th hole, winning us another free game, which we decided together to kindly pass on to a family with young children who told us they come to Treetops regularly. A nice gesture on our part methinks 🙂
After all the days’ activities, we were definitely ready for some good grub. Where better than a Hard Rock Cafe? For those of you following my blog from the very beginning, this will all sound very familiar, as you will know I have already visited Hard Rock Cafes in Amsterdam, Prague and once before in Manchester in fact. They’re so cool. I just love all the rock memorabilia adorning the walls, such a great sight to see, so captivating and intriguing. We ordered mocktails and our ‘Legendary Steak Burgers’ were, as always, divine, yum yum 😛
As dusk approached, we thought we’d have a casual wander around Arndale shopping centre. We found a really quirky shop selling impressive high quality music, film, TV and games fan gifts and merchandise; t-shirts, framed posters, figurines, original art etc. I got distracted in the ‘Stranger Things’ section, brill show. There was even a ‘Only Fools and Horses’ yellow Reliant Regal model van, lovely jubbly! Howard bought me a new white snakeskin handbag from my favourite, River Island, lucky me, and then afterwards I was like a big kid in a candy store inside the Disney shop! Hey! 😛
On Sunday evening, our last night in Manchester, we were contemplating a comedy club but Howard convinced me to go to a casino alternatively. No wonder people lose money easily gambling unless they’re super lucky, it’s so expensive on the slots, I never realised! Howard isn’t able to drink excessive amounts of alcohol unfortunately as it may trigger his epilepsy, however we still had an enjoyable time hitting a few cocktail bars – Yates and Slug&Lettuce to be precise 🙂
Monday 17th February
Another Full English breakfast included in our hotel price Monday morning, and back we were on the train South Yorkshire bound!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read / view, your support is always very much appreciated!
Please keep a look out for near future amateur art blog posts. I am considering deviating from the norm of portraiture and drawing something a little bit different, original art perhaps inspired by famous artists, I’m mulling over ideas in my mind… So watch this space 😛
Much love, Lauren xx
Further reading / information:
https://adventuregolf.com/ [Accessed 29th February 2020]
https://adventuregolf.com/manchester [Accessed 29th February 2020]
https://adventuregolf.com/manchester/adventure-golf [Accessed 29th February 2020]
https://www.britanniahotels.com/hotels/the-britannia-sachas-hotel-manchester [Accessed 1st March 2020]
https://www.escapereality.com/ [Accessed 29th February 2020]
https://www.escapereality.com/escape-rooms-uk/manchester/ [Accessed 29th February 2020]
https://www.escapereality.com/our-games/game-summary/legend-of-the-mummy [Accessed 29th February 2020]
https://www.flyingmusic.com/thrillerlive/ [Accessed 26th February 2020]
https://www.hardrockcafe.com/ [Accessed 29th February 2020]
https://www.hardrockcafe.com/location/manchester/ [Accessed 29th February 2020]
https://www.hardrockcafe.com/menu.aspx [Accessed 29th February 2020]
https://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/ [Accessed 26th February 2020]
https://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/explore-the-museum/whats-inside/ [Accessed 26th February 2020]
[Official Thriller Live Souvenir Programme]
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