A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips

This is an advertisement feature

A Viking Christmas in Northumberland

A Viking Christmas is a brand new festive show for Northumberland showing at Queen's Hall Arts, Hexham from 13 December - 28 December 2019. Over 2500 tickets have been sold already and tickets are available from just £10.

Use code ‘NEFF10’ to access £10 tickets to any performance - click here to buy tickets

A Viking Christmas - What to Expect

A Viking Christmas Performance Times

A Viking Christmas is the first Christmas Show that has been commissioned in-house by Queen's Hall Arts. In January, the idea was put out to tender and 35 writers submitted a pitch. In the end, Gary Kitching (who you may recognise from The Suggestibles) was the man for the job and A Viking Christmas was born.

Taking strong influences from the North East and Northumberland folk tales, you can expect lots of local references popping up from Hadrian's Wall as part of the set to Jorvik and the Great Warriors of Northumbria.

I LOVE that the show is set in Northern England and is super keen to keep things local (from the set being designed and built in Durham right down to using local bloggers like yours truly to help to promote the show). Buying a ticket to see this show really is the theatrical equivalent of shopping local.

You can expect live music, puppetry, magic, laughter and more. The show is aimed at all ages from the very young to great, great grandparents.

Old tales of the North are given a Viking twist as the story unfolds. Join Lotte, the brave 11-year-old at the heart of the play who travels through an ice-covered Kingdom and encounters mysterious and perilous creatures and places along the way.

A Viking Christmas is a 2 hour performance including an interval. Read on for a sneaky peek behind the scenes.

A Viking Christmas will run at Queens Hall in Hexham this Christmas and travel to Alnwick Playhouse for Christmas 2020 and then finish in Sunderland over Christmas 2021.

Tickets for A Viking Christmas are just £10 (for all performances) if you use the code NEFF10 - book online here. 

A Viking Christmas - Review 

Scroll to the bottom of this post for merchandise prices, details of where to park / public transport, where to eat and accessibility information. 

You can purchase tickets online here or call 01434 652477. Use voucher code NEFF10 to access £10 tickets (available for any performance.)

Walking through Hexham in the evening in beautiful - there are pretty lights , a stunning Christmas Tree in front of the Abbey and the streets are lined with fabulous independent shops with the most gorgeous window displays. As we walked towards the theatre from the car park, we could hear the banging of Viking Drums and were delighted to meet these guys and gals at the theatre entrance,

These Vikings have given up their time to perform pre-show free of charge on selected evenings to raise money for charity - if you see them, please donate a few £ if you can. 

A Viking Christmas is a play that really focusses on storytelling. The original story is really lovely and has a few twists and turns along the way. My only negative about the evening was that I thought the story was a little lengthy however when I consulted with Steve, Harry, Heidi and Jack, the completely disagreed so I think I may have just been suffering from election night fatigue. 

The heroine of the tale is Lotte Shield Maiden - a brave adventurer who travels to Jovik with her magical doll Freya. Along the way she encounters magical and mythical creatures in the forest from the fearsome All Father and the tree monster Leaf to the hilariously silly Redcaps and the curious Ravens.

The play lasts for around 2 hour 20 minutes including an interval.

We loved A Viking Christmas and it is like nothing else we have watched. I would recommend the play for children aged 5-12 and their families with ages 7 & 8 being the perfect age.  I have not seen Jack (8) so enthusiastic about a stage show in a long time and he talked about it all the way home. He wants to let you know that it is his joint favourite Christmas play this year (sharing the honour with the Theatre Royal).

Storyteller Runa is brilliant and appears at intervals throughout the performance to share the story. She is brilliant and had us all enthralled with her words. Funny too and she a little bit of audience interaction which I didn't expect.

Heidi really related to the central character Lotte. Like Lotte, Heidi is a bit of an adventurer and I definitely think Heidi could see herself on stage. Heidi was especially captivated with the child's magical doll who accompanies Lotte on her adventures and makes a few silly and inappropriate remarks along the way.

Everyone loved Edda and Nod - two elf-like creatures who have escaped their creator and are roaming the forest. These two are super silly and had the audience in stitches. Their love of pies was relatable and I now want to try a Pie-Pie (a pie filled with mini pies). Expect a bit of slapstick, silly songs, fart jokes and a little bit of rudeness from this cheeky pair.

My favourite character was The All Father - it feels like Jim Kitson was born to play this role and he dominated the stage whenever he was in a scene. His booming voice and intimidating stage presence may be a teeny bit scary for very small children but there are only a couple of scenes where he is super mean - he is a bit of a gentle giant at times too. You know I love a bad guy and I honestly did feel as if I was watching a real-life scary Viking King on stage when The All Father made an appearance.

The forest is filled with evil trolls which Lotte must avoid on her quest. Unfortunately, she is captured by a particular fearsome tree-troll who really reminded me of Groot. She soon tames him though and he becomes a loveable sidekick.

The play is very clever, it mixes the Viking myths from 1000 years ago and features some beautiful Viking prose and songs (the last song was my favourite) yet there are lots of modern references too with mentions for Thor, Marvel and even a couple of light-hearted political jokes too. This keeps the play nice and light and it isn't too heavy for little ones.

I want to give a special mention to the scene with Lotte and her mother. They sing the most beautiful song together and the scene was really touching. Jack mentioned to me that this was his favourite song. I do think that some of the deeper sentiment might have been lost on him and it is brilliant that there were lots of layers to it for the whole audience to enjoy.

Lotte's relationship with her father is fantastic to watch and pretty special too and I am sure many of the parents in the audience would recognise a bit of their own family dynamics in the pair. Lotte's dad is a Viking Warrior who loves a bit of rough and tumble and playing practical jokes, is a little bit dim and may seem a little harsh at times but his heart is in the right place.

My final mention goes to the two Raven puppets - these two very much remind me of the crows from Sleeping Beauty. They are outspoken, love to side with evil, loyal to their master and speak their mind. I think they may have been my favourite thing about the play actually. They were so life-like and believable and you couldn't help but laugh at them.

I have deliberately shied away from telling you the main focus of the story - I don't want to ruin the surprise. It is wonderful though and very Christmassy too. It may be a myth, but I left believing the tale actually did happen in real life many years ago.

If your children love Vikings and storytelling, you are going to love A Viking Christmas. It is a winter tale for the whole family and a gorgeous alternative to panto which will still leave you with all the festive feels.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for merchandise prices, parking/public transport details & recommendations for where to eat before the show.

A Viking Christmas - Our Exclusive Preview

We are super lucky that we were able to watch some of the rehearsals for A Viking Christmas and take a mini behind the scenes tour. My mind was honestly blown at how much work goes into a production like this. Here are a few sneaky peeks behind the scenes to give you a flavour of what to expect.....

This is a Viking in costume development. In one scene, he has just 43 seconds to change costumes and character. During our visit, the costume designer was on set and working with the director and actors to figure out the best ways to maximise the use of costume yet ensure costume changes were as smooth as possible. Interesting stuff!

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips  - rehearsals

Harry was able to try on a Viking Helmet which was actually really heavy!

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips  - Viking helmet props

Below is the main character Lotte who is pictured with her magical doll. The character of Lotte is 11 (and named after writer Gary Kitchings daughter) and the real hero of the production (despite being surrounded by Vikings).

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips  - Lotte rehearsals

There are six actors in the play who each play multiple roles. The cast are all super enthusiastic, brilliant actors and just looked like they were having a good time and had a brilliant rapport with each other. They made it look easy which I guess is part of the reason they are so good!

There are a few puppets in the performance - this is a prototype raven who had the kids in stitches. SO much detail goes into a play like this, even down to details like which way the ravens should face and when which is what is being figured out here.

We LOVED our peek in the dressing room. During our visit, the costume designer was on set and they were figuring out how to make the best use of costumes & the final designs whilst still ensuring they are quick and easy to change in and out of.

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips   - dressing room

The centre is heavily focussed on the community. School groups which are coming to see the show will be invited to take part in various workshops including a shield making workshop. As Vikings are part of the curriculum, I think this is a brilliant idea and I would much prefer an educational theatre trip like this to a trip to see a traditional panto.

There has been a lot of fundraising behind the scenes too and they have been able to raise enough to fund a whole Primary School visit from one of the most deprived areas in Northumberland which is brilliant. The feeling I received the most from our tour was that they really wanted this performance and the theatre in general to be accessible to all.

The foyer is beautiful! There will be a few surprises and it is a feast for all of your senses. Keep your noses peeled as you leave the theatre.....

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips  - foyer decor

Harry and Heidi's best Viking face....

Here is a peek inside of the theatre. It seats 350 people and each performance will usually have two technical staff working alongside the cast, a stage manager, front of house manager and a team of volunteer ushers.

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips  - inside the theatre

Finally, Queen's Hall Arts is in such a beautiful location. Just across the road from Hexham Abbey and the park. It is beautifully lit up in the evening and makes for such a magical setting if you are heading to an evening show.

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips  - Hexham abbey Christmas tree

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips  - Queens Hall entrance

A Viking Christmas Tickets & Discount Code 

You can purchase tickets online here or call 01434 652477. Use voucher code NEFF10 to access £10 tickets (available for any performance.)

A Viking Christmas will visit Alnwick Playhouse over Christmas 2020 - if you cannot visit Hexham this year, it is a play to keep in mind for next Christmas. 

A Viking Christmas - Merchandise & Drinks Prices 

All profits from merchandise sales go towards the theatre (which is a charity) and their important work in the community.  I was really impressed with prices which were £1.50 for a soft drink (I think this is the cheapest we have encountered this Christmas) and £2.50 for a Doddington Dairy ice cream during the interval. 

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips  - Merchandise prices

There is also a range of Viking merchandise available from the foyer from £3.50 for a small helmet. The kids in the audience looked fab all dressed up and these props make a better alternative to the traditional flashing toys you normally see at the theatre over Christmas which just end up in landfill. We have Viking helmets at home and they have been well-used over the years. 

A Viking Christmas Review & Top Tips  - drinks

A Viking Christmas - Where to Park & Public Transport
  • Venue Postcode - Queen's Hall Hexham,  NE46 3LS
  • FREE parking (2 hours between 9am - 5pm) is available with a Northumberland Parking Disc on Beaumont Street. We parked in the larger Wentworth Car Park near Waitrose (postcode NE46 1QE) which is a short 10-minute walk from the venue. Parking is free but if you pick a medium-stay space, a parking disc is required. If you stay in a long-stay spot, no disc is required. Discs are available to purchase for around £1 from the local shops/tourist info. Medium stay spaces are marked in blue and you can park for up to 4 hours which is plenty of time.
  • Queen's Hall Hexham is a 5 minute walk from Hexham Train Station (up a slight incline). 
  • Queen's Hall Hexham is a 7 minute walk from the bus station. Go North East and Arriva buses both serve Hexham with regular buses from Newcastle and nearby towns/villages.

    Find out more about parking and public transport here. 

A Viking Christmas - Accessibility 

A Viking Christmas Review & Tips Accessibility

A Viking Christmas - Where to Eat  

The Beaumont Hotel is an independent townhouse hotel in the centre of Hexham just a short walk from the theatre. They are also the Queen's Hall Arts season sponsor and if you dine there on the day of your performance and show your ticket, you will receive 20% off your bill. Find out more & book here.

A Viking Christmas Review & Tips  - Beaumont Hotel Menu
Beaumont Hotel Sample Menu 

Alternatively, the venue has its own cafe open Monday-Saturday from 10am - 4pm. The cafe serves home-cooked treats, scones and paninis, is pushchair-friendly and has a tommy tippee prep machine and microwave baby food.

A Viking Christmas Review & Tips  - Queens Hall Cafe Menu
Cafe Menu 

I am so excited about A Viking Christmas. I really think it offers something a little different and it is lovely to champion regional theatre like this. I will share my full review on 14 December.

Let me know if A Viking Christmas is something you would like to see. 


1 comment

  1. It sounds fantastic! Gutted we haven't been able to squeeze it in and go :( Can't wait to read your full review!


© North East Family Fun | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig