The BIGSleepover dilemma: How could we keep 50 children entertained for 20 hours, overnight, before being picked up by their grateful and refreshed parents and carers?! How about the Lord Mayors show fireworks, ice skating at the Broadgate pop up ice rink near Liverpool St. station, and a meal in a funky restaurant before returning to the Froud Centre for games and a movie marathon.

We managed to find a good vantage point on Blackfriars Bridge for a good view of the fireworks that were to be released from a barge on the river Thames, a huge display lasting around fifteen to twenty minutes which brought out ooohs and aaaahs from the children.

Next, to the ice skating rink at Broadgate. We arrived at the rink in good time for our booking. Just as well, because putting on forty pairs of children’s ice skates takes some time! We had an hour on the rink; the children had a wide range of skating abilities. From the seasoned skaters who zoomed around the rink playing, to the complete novices who needed their hands held. Too soon it was time to leave the rink, oh no, forty pairs of ice skates off and forty pairs of shoes back on!

We had generous portions of burgers, chicken or macaroni cheese followed by ice cream with hot chocolate sauce (energy food after all that skating!). The restaurant looked like a rustic ski lodge and if you were too cold you could help yourself to one of the warm fleecy blankets dotted around.

Once back at the Froud centre the children got changed into their pyjamas and made up their beds, the boys and girls in separate rooms. By now it was around 11.00 pm but tiredness did not seem to be an issue, so let the games begin. First up its boys vs. girls pillow fights. Each child takes part in an individual pillow fight with somebody around the same age. Points are allocated for clean blows landed not for the strength of the blow. The girls end up winners by a mere two points.

Next up its girls vs. boys hide and seek in the dark. With the whole centre to us it’s a fantastic opportunity to play this game. This time it’s a win for the boy

By this time there are a few tired eyes around, and the movie marathon should sort them out. This takes place in the sports hall with the movie beamed onto a massive screen on the wall. Cushions, mats and quilts are strewn on the floor and the children settle down for the movie. It’s now we tell them the rule of the house is that if you close your eyes during the movie then you must go to bed. The movie starts and pretty quickly children start to nod off and are put to bed. However as always there are a few die hard kids who never seem to get tired. We watch two movies and at the end there are three children still awake who we order to bed (we have to make breakfast in a couple of hours). With all the children asleep it’s a chance for the staff to grab a light sleep but all too quickly it’s time to get up. The children need to dress themselves and clean their teeth before breakfast.

Breakfast consists of croissants, bagels and bread rolls with cheese, peanut butter, bacon or jam washed down with fruit juice before parents arrive to pick up their children.

Staff are looking a bit bleary-eyed by this point, but the children are jubilant and parents have had a great night off, so it’s all been worth it. The BIGSleepover is definitely one of our most popular events and we hope to able to run more!