I was asked if I'd be interested in coming along to review a Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave being held in Manchester. I had absolutely no idea what that was going to entail, but it sounded a laugh, and incredibly intriguing, so it wasn't an opportunity to be missed.
Sim and Liv from Simslife were also going, so we gave them a lift. Before we went there were loads of questions. How 'ravey' would it be? What music would be playing? Would people take notice of the advertised 'Carnival Theme'? Would it work in an Irish Club on a Sunday afternoon?
In fact my 21 year old was spot on with his guess, and the music was mainly 90's House. I was always more Indie than House, but I can never object to hearing Basement Jaxx. 'Rave' is a bit of a misnomer, but I can't think of a better option, so I agree with the description.
Much more tame than any rave I've ever been to - and definitely accessible to anyone with any age of children, without having the fear they'll be trodden on too much. The bar was open and people did have a drink, but no-one seemed to overdo it at all. It only really added to incredibly pleasant chatty, friendly atmosphere.
As you go in, the staff start as they go on by being really welcoming and friendly. They manned the doors throughout, returning lost children and answering questions, and preventing any runners sneaking out. Each child is also given a glow stick as they come in - always popular!
There is food available at a fair price, Nice Lollies with their fruit juice ice lollies, and a lovely surprise to find upstairs someone selling veggie, vegan and sausagemeat rolls, plus cakes and brownies - it's a rare day we can make everyone happy at once!
All a hit....
Also a hit were the activities laid on for children. The entire upper floor was arranged into a play area, except for the food stalls at one end. My children are a bit big, but it looked great and a perfect place to still soak up the atmosphere while attending to the youngest members of your family.
Downstairs around the dance area were activities mainly for older children including a huge poster to colour and draw on, play dough and a crown-making craft activity that was incredibly well-stocked.
Never did I see any children having to queue, although the event was a sell-out. The number of people was spot on - it was full enough to feel busy, but not so cramped you worried about your children. Everyone had plenty of space - even on the dance floor.
There were some lovely touches that were incredibly well-planned out, and made a difference between standard and great. One of my favourites was the regular use of a bubble machine over the dance floor. Not only did this delight the children, but it also gave warning the confetti cannon would be going off. If your children didn't like that then you could move away, mine thought it was the best thing ever and ran back each time laughing and giggling, and covered in glittery tinsel.
The Big Fish Little Fish Sunday afternoon family rave does work. A mash up of a festival, a rave, a disco and the best wedding after-party you've ever been to, it works. We had a great time, my 15 year old daughter even made herself a very impressive Ice Queen Crown, and the younger children adored it. Special mention for the huge yellow balloons....and sorry to anyone my 5 year old hit with this one!
We had to leave before the end, which meant we missed one of the highlights - the parachute dance. By all accounts it's definitely something you should try and stay for if you go....the kids did however get a Happy Monkey Smoothie to drink on the way home - that makes the trip a bit nicer with tired little ones!
Big Fish Little Fish hold events around the country. Entry costs around £8 per person with pre-walkers free. Tickets have to be booked in advance, and they're so popular that a lot of upcoming Family Rave events have already sold out. Definitely worth a try, especially if you like your music and dancing a little less ABBA, and bit more Armand Van Helden.
We were given free entry in order to review.