Saturday 17 September 2016

Z-Arts Manchester present Michael Rosen's Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things

I'm a big fan of Michael Rosen, and brand new to Z-Arts in Manchester is the interactive exhibition Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things. We were really lucky to be invited to be among the first people to explore the interactive experience in a preview on Friday night.

Michael Rosen is the children's novelist and poet responsible for We're Going On A Bear Hunt and around other 140 books. He served as Children's Laureate from June 2007 to June 2009 and is a TV presenter and a political columnist who is passionate about the importance of language and arts in the education and development of children.

Our Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things experience started with an introduction for the children from the storyteller, who also acted as our guide once we went through the blue doors and into the exhibit.

The storyteller was great, and incredibly patient and tolerant with our 6 year old sensory-seeking bundle of fun, who turned the volume and excitement up to 11 as soon as we walked into the exhibit....

....and it's no wonder. I wanted to run around and look at everything myself. It's like we stepped through a door into Michael Rosen's brain. And it was awesome.

Immediately ahead of us was a recreation of Michael Rosen's Grandparent's front room, with information about his childhood and family around the walls. It was a really nice space, with a big comfy chair, and lots for grown ups to read as well as children, plus a TV where everyone can be a star.


The children can touch everything. They can move objects and play with them, read the books, open doors and cupboards, and do all of the things you usually can't when you see something like this. They loved it. So did my partner - those aren't a child's feet sticking out of that tunnel in Michael Rosen's Dread Shed.

There are things to find everywhere you look. So much work has gone into this, and it really shows...

There were only around 10 children in our party, but you'd never have thought it. They were everywhere at once. So much to see and do and experience. There were even smells, including chocolate and strawberry inside the giant chocolate cake.


My personal highlights were my 8 year old's cheeky reply of "All blonde get 1 hour weekend" to my equally cheeky "All gingers get extra homework"...

And this blur, which was how my 6 year old looks in almost every photo...

On the way home he said it was the best place he's ever been to... We could tell.

Did we find any more bears? Yes we did! There are plenty, hidden in some quite unexpected places...


When our time was up we were called back to the grassy area to talk about what the children had seen. I'd love to post a photo of my 6 year old, leading the party of 4 young boys who were bang in front of the unphased storyteller, bouncing on a giant stuffed bear and shouting 'giddy up' at the top of his voice. They were all laughing so much. But I was too shy to take a picture...

After our time in Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things, we went upstairs to have a bear hunt themed party tea. The experience can actually be hired for what has to be the best and most unusual birthday party ever.

There are also lots of We're Going On A Bear Hunt activity sheets for children of all ages, from colouring and dot-to-dot, to trickier wordsearches and of course, 'make your own bear ears'.

I am a huge fan of Michael Rosen, so I was a captive audience, but my children really did feel as if they were allowed to run loose in a sweetshop. There is so much to see, and it's so beautifully done, to look at it alone would have been good enough for me. To be able to interact with everything within the exhibit made it so much more than that.

Excellent fun beautifully executed, with added nostalgia for the older kids. Well worth the ticket price.

Michael Rosen's Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things will be at Z-Arts from today until 17th December. Especially suited to children aged 1-11, tickets cost £7 per person (under 18m free) and a family of 4 costs £25. The runtime is around 50 minutes.

Times and dates are too numerous to list, but include every Saturday and every day through October half term. You can find out all you need to know on the Z-Arts listing page.


  1. What a lovely write up with some fantastic images! I really do need to pop down and see this, especially as it is on our doorstep! Sim x


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I read every one and try my best to reply!