I had a lovely family day out on Sunday with my OH and the kids at The Rainbow Factory. Having been a couple of times previously I knew roughly what to expect, however we have never been on a weekend so this was a whole new experience and it was fabulous.
The Rainbow Factory is situated in a small industrial estate on the outskirts of Leeds and is easily accessible from Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate. It promotes itself as ‘bringing children’s stories to life through theatre, music & craft’ and I must say it lives up to the expectations.
The Rainbow Factory is a unique storytelling wonderland which is suitable for children up to the age of around 10 (although some reviews I have read disagree with this, however as my children are only 4 and 2 I can’t say for definite).
The venue is situated in a small industrial unit and from the outside isn’t much to look at and without the signage you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d come the wrong place. However, once you get inside it’s like a little mini adventure, the space consists of a yellow brick road which leads through a series of book themed displays which currently include Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, The BFG and Jack and the Beanstalk.
At the end of the road you enter into the main room which is split into several areas. There is Goldilocks’ Kitchen which is where all the arts and crafts take place, the Gingerbread Café and seating area, the stage area, a small dressing up corner and the Rainbow Room which houses additional seating and a small play area with toys for the smaller children/babies, although my 2-year-old did find plenty to keep her busy in between the other activities.
We arrived a little before 11am and after paying we were taken straight through to where the activities were taking place. The theme at the minute is Heroes and Villains and this theme runs until at least the middle of October I believe.
We had just missed a craft activity which included making a treasure map and also missed out on talking through all the things we might see on a treasure hunt; however, we were just in time to listen to the first story of the day which was Supertato. The story was read by one of the staff, Jorden, who was really animated and engaged the children whenever possible throughout the book.
Once the story was finished everyone embarked on a treasure hunt around the Rainbow Factory led by Rachel and Jorden. We began looking around for the first clue which was hidden on the stage. The clue was read out and off we all set for the next clue which was hidden on the giant.
After clue 2 we took a short break to play a game in which the children had to throw a pea (think small plastic ball) into the giant’s mouth. If you missed, you had to go into his cage and wait until the next person successfully released you by getting the pea in the giant’s mouth.
As there were only around 6 children there they all had two goes before we moved on the next clue. We slowly made our way around the book themed displays deciding whether the characters were heroes or villains and searching for clues. Once we had solved the final clue we had to find our ‘prize’ which was another book to read. This time is was Supertato: Veggies Assemble. We headed back to the stage area and Rachel read the book to everyone with the same enthusiasm.
After the story we had a bit of time to explore on our own before the next activity began – the children chose to do some crafts in Goldilock’s kitchen and my OH and I took this opportunity to refuel with a hot drink – hot chocolate with cream and marshmallow for him, a latte for me.
The bell rang signalling the start of the next activity which was another hero themed story read by Jorden. I must point out at this stage that you don’t have to join in with the activities if you don’t want, although our two seemed to want to be involved in everything. After the story, we stopped to have lunch in the Gingerbread Café.
The food selection is fairly basic and averagely priced. It’s mainly sandwiches, crisps and cakes and the selection and overall quality is good. I had a sandwich and my OH had a panini, while the kids had a kids’ meal each, which consisted of a sandwich, juice box, small yogurt and two snacks from a selection, they opted for crisps and biscuits which ended up being saved for later as they filled up with everything else and wanted to get back to playing, but not before mum and dad sampled the cakes, which were really nice.
The afternoon continued in the same vein with coordinated activities including crafts, interactive performances of Robin Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk and story time as well as free play. The kids had such an amazing time we just followed their lead and before we knew it they were getting ready to close up meaning we had spent around 5 hours there! At no point did we feel like we had seen and done everything and all the time we were there we found something to do, from arts and crafts, to dressing up to joining in the activities and games set up by the staff.
We had a fab day and it was well worth the £20 entry fee (£4 each for my and OH; £4 for my 2 year old and £8 for my 4 year old), we also spent around £20 spent on food, drinks and some gifts on the way out. It was a lot quieter than previous visits but that to me was a bonus as my little boy doesn’t really like overly crowded environments and it meant that he came out of his shell a little more than he normally does, especially since the staff (who are absolutely amazing) had a bit more time to spend interacting with the children in between activities.