Birthday parties for kids should be memorable and fun, and if you live in London they are the best excuse for being a bit of a tourist in your home town and taking full advantage of what you wouldn’t usually consider.
But where do you start?
We’re spoiled for choice in London and the prospect of taking a group of eight or so 12 year olds around town can be daunting.
London kids have a great choice when it comes to places to go for a birthday treat, it’s difficult to find somewhere that is queue-free, not choc full of tourists or too scary. (So no pressure then in the party organising department.) This rules out London Dungeons and Madame Tussauds and quite a few other places too but surprisingly Ripley’s Believe It Or Not ticks more than a few boxes.
At first glance, this place would never be my first choice because I imagined a few gimmicks got people in the door and that what followed would be a little bit light and have no depth. But I’m not a kid, and I hadn’t had any recommendations from friends…
Funnily enough, that’s what makes for a novel and unique birthday.
At her behest (and a few groans from me) I booked a party package at Ripleys Believe It or Not which includes a tour guide, party hats and a book for the birthday kid. If you want party bags, they’re £5 extra each and there’s also a discount in the restaurant.
I was initially skeptical about going but the team that run it are chaotic, fun, very theatrical and enthusiastic. We were treated to a knife throwing act in the entrance and then took the lift up to the 5th floor to have a walk around the eclectic mix of weird and wonderful items collected from around the world. We had a latecomer and the management ensured our late guest was accompanied up in the lift and joined our party without a hitch.
This eclectic collection of the quirky, bold, brave and downright crazy stuff from around the world and the subsequent global franchise comes courtesy of Ripley himself, a sometime child prodigy who created a global phenomenon in his cartoons entitled Believe It Or Not. It’s very reminiscent of the Victorian freak show and as it is smack bang in the middle of Trocadero in Piccadilly, it’s also quite comforting to think we still love a bit of quirky eccentricity in London. It’s undeniably fun, especially with an engaging guide to bring the tour to life.
We were told on good authority that Seva from The Wanted used to work there so it seems to be a training ground for Brit boy bands too.
We did have a believe it or not moment, David Thewlis was ahead of us in the queue and no one believed he was in Harry Potter…you can’t win them all.