Last Friday evening The Princess and The Pickle were invited along to Marwell Zoo's Sunset Party in the Park.
We'd already seen some of the dinosaurs currently on exhibition for the Rise of the Dinosaurs event (more about that here) but this was an opportunity to see the rest of them and, of course, take a #TRexSelfie (although The Pickle wasn't having anything to do with that!) He does love the dinos though - as long as they're not too close - and got very excited when he recognised one identical to his favourite toy...
"It's a Parasaurolophus!", he squealed, running towards it, "That's my favourite dinosaur!" (Yep, he knows more dino names than the rest of us put together and often flicks from page to page of his big book of dinosaurs, telling us what each one is called - I don't know how he remembers them all because I certainly don't!)
We also had another look at the Deinonychus robot and The Princess and The Pickle spent ages pressing the different buttons and seeing how it worked. I think having an interactive model on display was a great idea.
The sunset party was held after the zoo had closed to day visitors, from 6:30 - 9:30pm. It was a real treat being able to see all the animals 'after hours' and the Snow Leopards seemed much more playful than usual, although we didn't see the beautiful Amur Leopards at all - they must have slept right through the party. As did the otters, but they could be seen in their little house all snuggled up together! The Dwarf Crocodile and snakes were trying hard not to be seen and the gorgeous Amur Tiger was busy prowling through the grass and posing for the camera.
We had aimed to arrive at Marwell just before 6:30, but as is often the case with getting children out of the door on time, we got there about 10 minutes after the gates had opened. Surprisingly there were only two families in front of us in the queue and we were let in very quickly. As always with Marwell, the staff were friendly, the grounds well maintained, the toilets clean - and on this occasion the sun was shining too!
As well as the animals and the dinosaurs, there was also plenty of entertainment for the evening. We arrived to the sound of 'Happy' being played (you haven't heard about Velma the #HappyDinosaur yet?) by a band on stilts, which The Pickle was fascinated by! There was also a Carribe steel band, fire performers, giant penguins and huge pigeons who were very inquisitive (as pigeons are) and strolled right up to people, 'pecking' and generally doing what pigeons do - we found them quite amusing!
Much of the entertainment went on near the entrance, but there were also bouncy castles / inflatable play equipment further around. We did find these areas the busiest and there was quite a queue for the bouncy castle. However, just around the corner was a big open space to run around and let off steam - The Princess and The Pickle pretty much had it all to themselves! Away from these main areas, the rest of the zoo was surprisingly quiet with no big crowds around the enclosures. It was lovely being able to appreciate the animals and how lucky we are to have a place like Marwell Zoo on our doorstep.
Marwell are planning a second evening event on the 5th July, visit their website for further details and to purchase tickets - The Princess and The Pickle would definitely recommend it!