Wonderland summer adventure

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It’s quite an undertaking preparing Harewood for the summer holidays; the planning and preparation starts months in advance, writes Zoe White, Education Manager at Harewood.

How can we use our theme to inspire our summer offer? What activities can we run? Where shall we locate each activity? Will these activities work for the full six weeks of the summer holidays? These are just some of the questions we ask at the start of our planning.

This summer, we wanted to use our Victorian Harewood theme which visitors have really been enjoying.

Authenticity is a major consideration in everything we do and, our investigations into Harewood’s libraries found an original Victorian copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Perfect!

Our research also found that the classic story, still well-loved today, was in fact one of Queen Victoria’s favourites.

After reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it is rumoured that Queen Victoria suggested to Lewis Carroll that he dedicate his next book to her. With this royal seal of approval, our planning began.

We started by looking into some of the colourful characters and wonderful quotes so synonymous with the novel. “Why is a raven like a writing desk”, “Twinkle twinkle little bat”, and “Off with their heads”, are just a few which brought smiles to our faces.

It’s at this stage that we can start to get creative with ideas for activities. This brings with it its own challenges.

Each year, we need to ensure that every idea is long lasting, durable and relevant.

Most importantly for this season, how can we incorporate the magic of the story into activities visitors to Harewood will enjoy?

Ultimately we settled on a long list which visitors will able explore as part of Alice in Wonderland at Harewood event (July 29 – September 3).

Activities include: White Rabbit trail in the House, an opportunity to see the early Victorian addition of the book, Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in the State Dining Room, weekly children’s discovery talks about mock turtle soup, clocks, tea drinking and more, meet the March Hare’s friends in the Farm

Spot the characters including the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts around the lakeside path, visit the Potion Shed, read your favourite book in the Second-hand Bookshop, play a game of croquet by the flamingo enclosure, make your own Mad Hatter’s Hat in the Courtyard.

These are just a few of things which we have created for visitors young and old to enjoy as part of what we offer this summer.

There is a phenomenal amount of work that goes into every aspect which we hope is seamless to those who come and visit.

From the initial research to the delivery, our staff and volunteers put in an incredible amount of time and care, making sure what we offer is the best it can be.

We hope that you will be able to jump down the rabbit hole with us and explore this fascinating piece of Victorian literature this summer.