#FullOnFestiveFun is The Red Dragon Centre’s hashtag for the Christmas season – and that’s certainly what we had yesterday evening at a Hollywood Bowl children’s Christmas party, followed by ice creams at Cadalwaders.
We’d been invited along as part of our role as blogger ambassadors for The Red Dragon Centre, along with two other local parent bloggers, Alina from We Made This Life and Kelly from Kelly Allen Writer, and their children. Not only have I become good friends with Kelly and Alina through our blogs (there’s a lovely and friendly parent blogging community here in South Wales) but our children are becoming friends too after meeting at the various events we are lucky enough to attend. They were all super-excited to be hanging out together at a bowling party.
The counter staff at Hollywood Bowl Cardiff explained that the children could either wear their own shoes or bowling shoes. As long as shoes are flat, these days you don’t have to wear bowling shoes. Unsurprisingly the children opted for the excitement of bowling shoes, with most of us discovering our children needed a size smaller than their usual shoe size.
The parties cost from £10.95 per child, including a game of bowling, mocktail, a meal, and a photo of all the bowlers after their game. We were given the VIP lanes, where the seating areas are wider and more comfortable than the regular lanes and which have different coloured balls and pins. The children were really excited to see the crackers, party poppers and Santa hats laid out on the seats – and pulled them all before we blogging mummies even got to take a photo! (Have the learned nothing about being bloggers’ children and everything having to be photographed before you can play/eat/use it?!
Rob, our bowling host for the evening, set up the score boards, including the side barriers for the children, which mean their balls stay on the lane and don’t fall into the gullies at the side. We had four children in each lane, my eldest two children Little Miss E, almost 7, and Little Man O, 5, played with Kelly’s children George, 7, and Molly, 6. My youngest child, Toddler Boy I, 2, teamed up with Alina’s children, Little Boy, also 2, and his sisters Bean, 9, and Little Miss J, 5.
The ball ramps are great for younger children who would otherwise struggle to lift the heavy bowling balls, meaning they can push the balls down the shoot and straight onto the lanes. The toddlers in particular thought this was great.
Bean and George were the only ones bowling without the ramp. Little Man O had a go without towards the end but I think he struggled with the weight of the balls.
Rob brought the children over some mocktails to drink during their game, a pineapple and mango fruity drink, plus a raspberry and lemonade mixture. Needless to say, the children loved having sophisticated drinks, although none of my children liked the drink with lemonade in it. They’ve never tried it before and were not impressed with the fizziness.
We ordered our food from the lane so that it was ready for us to eat after the game. The children’s Christmas bowling party includes a choice of four meals – burger and fries, hot dog and fries, veggie burger and fries, or pizza. Between them our kids had a mixture of all them. The children loved sitting at a table together and the activity place mats, where they could complete various puzzles and design their own bowling balls, were well received.
We bloggers were also treated to food, with most of us opting for burgers and pizza – my veggie burger was lovely and very filling! There was a bit of confusion over the adult meals due to a change over in staff, meaning some of them had been missed off the order, but this was quickly rectified.
After our food, Cadwaladers invited us along for ice creams for the children and hot drinks for the grown-ups in their coffee shop just outside Hollywood Bowl.
If you’ve not yet tried a Cadwaladers ice cream, then do, because they are amazing – so lovely and creamy. The company was founded in 1927 in Criccieth and now has stores across Wales. The ice cream recipe is a closely guarded secret, although their website does reveal it is made with the addition of “6 lbs of “shan’t tell you” and “a great deal of love and care”.
The children each had a teddy bear cone with a generous scoop of ice cream. The cones are a bargain at £1 – the difficulty was deciding which of many flavours to opt for.
The mango sorbet flavour was the most popular, particularly among the girls, with other choices including bubblegum, chocolate and vanilla. Miss E initially opted for bubblegum but she had a real dilemma when she saw her new buddy Molly ordering mango sorbet. The manager Ieuan said it’s fine to try a little spoon of a flavour before deciding on what to order, and a little taste was enough to convince Miss E to give it the mango sorbet a go.
After two hours of bowling and food, we parents were in need of a reward too. Cadwaladers has a lovely festive menu of themed hot drinks. Kelly and her husband shared an eggnog latte (£2.70 small, £3 large) and a gingerbread spiced latte (£2.95/£3.35) while I opted for a gingerbread snowflake hot chocolate (£2.95/£3.35). I had mine minus the marshmallows, but it was a real luxurious treat with cream and syrup and goodness knows what else, and much needed. Calories don’t count when you are reviewing them, right?!
The light-up reindeer and Father Christmas just outside Cadwaladers was also very popular with the children – it look fantastic!
I will be honest, bowling with eight children aged between two and nine was great fun but also rather chaotic. The two toddlers were prone to wondering off and the other kids were jumping around with excitement. However, having everything under one roof and free parking (subject to minimum spend and ticket validation) just outside certainly made life easier. We walked straight from our lane to the adjoining restaurant for our food (we could have had our meals at the lane if we’d preferred but we thought that would just be asking for trouble!); straight outside for ice creams at Cadwaladers (via the arcade games area, which admittedly the children needed a lot of persuading to leave despite the fact we hadn’t put any money in any of the machines they were trying to play on!); and then straight outside to our cars with tired children.
It was such a lovely evening. A bowling party is a great idea for a festive treat in the run up to Christmas for groups of friends and family, or even for a December birthday – and as the teddy bear ice cream cones are only £1, it’s also an affordable treat.
Other Christmas events at The Red Dragon Centre include a Christmas pop up craft market on Saturday 3rd (11am-10pm) and Sunday 4th December (11am-8pm), with up to 12 stalls providing Christmas gift inspiration.
Sunday 11th December will see a visit to the centre from Monty and Dave, two larger than life magical reindeer puppets who love to dance, as well as being fed and stroked. The interactive and cheeky Christmas reindeer will be meeting and greeting in the centre at 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm for 30 minute intervals.
For more information on both events, click here.