The right venue can really make or break a party. Imagine trying to cram 30 children into your living room, hyped up with birthday excitement, fizzy pop and cake. Luckily for all of us, there’s a recent rise in quirky new ideas for venues to hold children’s parties – from science shenanigans to princess parties, if you can think of it, chances are you can find someone providing it.
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the perfect venue for your party. Today we’re going to share with you some of the main considerations to booking a suitable space for your event and also a few of the quirkiest, unusual venues we discovered in London.
The first factor to consider when booking a venue is availability. And we don’t just mean booking the venue. While an escape room may seem like the perfect venue for a fun frolic, if you have to ferry a minibus full of children down the motorway to get there and back, it may not be quite so ideal. So, it’s key to find somewhere local and fitting to your child’s chosen theme.
Booking the venue is also a major consideration. Imagine finding the exact dinosaur adventure your stegosaurus-loving son has been searching for or the perfect pirate ship party for your daughter, only to find it’s completely booked up on the dates you need. We recommend booking your event space three months prior to the event. So once you have settled on your preferred date and theme, it’s time to get searching!
The Planary marketplace is full to the brim of approved venues, from the unusual to the classic party venues. It’s the easy way to search local venues and their availability all in one place and by booking via the marketplace you have a clear record of all communications between you and the venue at your fingertips.
Children have broad and active imaginations, so while you may shiver at the idea of a beach party in November it may be their birthday wish. Of course, it’s impossible to magic up sunny weather in November or snow in August – we Brits can barely predict the weather, let alone control it!
However, there are things you can do. If your August-born child fancies a snow extravaganza for their birthday bash then consider indoor snow venues that provide skiing or snowboarding. Or perhaps an icy-themed garden party with snowflake-shaped cookies, Wintery games and magical entertainment. All it takes is a little bit of imagination and planning.
While the UK weather is slightly too unpredictable to allow for outdoor pools for most of us, you can easily rent out your local swimming baths, most will have fun inflatables or games equipment to allow for wonderful waterside times. For younger children, you could always set up a paddling pool in your garden and have tropical-themed supplies, colourful mocktails and parrot piñata will be the perfect accompaniment.
If you’re looking for a more active pool party then the London Aquatics Centre will set up an inflatable assault course for your children to try and tackle. Their Birthday Party package also includes a private room for your party after the pool session.
It’s a good idea to have a chat with your child to see what sort of theme appeals to them, to ensure you deliver the best birthday blowout you can. If you’re stuck for ideas, subscribe to the Planary Blog, for helpful tips and inspiration. Children love being involved with picking party themes, so sitting down to research for ideas is not only helpful but a fun activity to do together.
Hamleys in London hold special sleepover parties and let’s face it getting locked in a toyshop overnight is probably at the top of every kid’s wishlist. Who hasn’t dreamed of being able to explore the magical and wonderful world of toys, without any interruptions? This package from London’s premier toyshop offers exclusive, private use of the Hamleys store overnight as well as being bursting with extras such as an entertainer, VIP store tour, a late night feast, cake and a luxury goody bag for every child to take home.
It’s important to make sure your chosen venue is suitable for your choice of event. Your child may request a movie night at home with popcorn, star-spangled party games and a list of family-friendly flicks as long as your arm – but would you really want your child’s entire class staying overnight in your living room? Some events are more suited to having just a few close friends attending, while a big birthday blowout in a hired hall may look empty with just your kid’s closest chums.
We recommend making a guest list with your child when you discuss the theme so you don’t run the risk of hosting a class of hungry, excited children in your tiny apartment living room at the last minute! You should also check that your chosen venue can cater for your chosen guests, this way you avoid unexpected surprises on the day when your local pizza parlour can’t seat all 30 of your child’s classmates together.
Planary offer a free of charge guest list feature on their website where you can collect the names and contact details of your guests and allow them to RSVP quickly and with no paper. So it’s handy and better for the environment – and your postie!
If you already have a theme in mind, consider choosing venues with pre-built themes. Why not take wildlife-loving children and a few of their closest chums to the Rainforest Café? The jungle-themed venue will serve up cakes, treat and entertainment for your little one, all while you’re surrounded by the sounds of tropical showers, cascading waterfalls and periodic thunderstorms and of course the chance to spot prowling rainforest creatures.
Want a space-themed party to encourage your child and her friends to discover the wonder of space and science? Consider the Science Museum, another venue with a great pre-built theme. Targeted at 7-14 year olds, their Wonderlab birthday party experience allows children to witness awe-inspiring experiments, race on their giant friction slide, see clouds form in front of their eyes and so much more.
So consider the entertainment you would like when booking a venue. Make sure there is ample space for any games, craft activities or entertainers that you have booked as well as offering a seating area for when children get tired or overexcited.
Spun Candy is an example of a great venue with built-in entertaiment. Creative kids with a sweet tooth will love their candy workshop parties. They can get hands-on with the sweet stuff, designing, mixing and making their own confectionary creations under the watchful eye of an experienced craftsperson. A bespoke buffet can also be created for your event – although your children may be more interested in snacking on the goodies they make!
Pirates are another party staple and if you fancy some watery activities to boost your Pirate-themed bash, then how about choosing a venue that does just that. The Pirate Castle offers kayaking, canoeing or canal boating sessions alongside their hall hire.
It’s also important to check with your chosen venue about any decorations you might like to display, or any props your entertainers might use. If, for example, you book a magician who needs a bubble machine for their act then it’s important to check that the venue allows this or you maybe have a moody magician and disappointed children on the day of the party.
Accessibility & Safety
As every parent knows, children can be as slippery as ninjas sometimes – so it’s important to ensure that your venue is child-friendly. While a softplay zone or trampoline park may be used to catering to children, your local cinema or village hall may not be. So it’s important that you ensure you are choosing a safe place to hold your event.
For slightly older, active children, balancing safety and fun at a party is always a top consideration for us parents. Consider a venue provider like Bunker 51 in London, who is experienced in hosting exhilirating laser tag parties in their themed nuclear bunker arena. You can book 1 or 2 hours of laser tag adventures followed up by a hearty army-style meal in the Officers’ Mess. This military-themed party is sure to go with a bang, adding coordinated balloons, banners and table decoration and a cake to the mix, all topped off with a goody bag for children to take home.
You can ease any worries you have by using the Planary marketplace to book one of our listed venues. We have a collection of child-friendly, approved venue providers who understand how important health and safety is to protect our loved ones. Not only that, but you can communicate with the venue directly through the website to address any concerns you may have – backed by Planary’s quality assurance.
While it’s easy to get swept up in all of the birthday excitement, it’s also important to make sure your venue covers some of the basics – is there enough parking and toilet facilities? Is the venue easy to find, or will I need to add some signposts and balloons?
What about a party venue that comes to you? Children’s party buses can be hired for your event, from buses filled with softplay areas, to ones that will drive to your house and host games and food onboard a classic red bus. An example that brings together the jungle theme and a mobile venue is The Jungle’s Party Bus.They will pull up right up to your destination of choice and offer children the chance to climb around in a completely framed, padded and netted soft play environment in their purpose-built buses. They are a safe and fun way to party and are ideal for children with special needs to join in the fun and celebrations.
While in an ideal world we would spare no expense on our beloved child’s party, sometimes reality doesn’t quite allow for that. Whether you want a low-cost luau or a flamboyant fiesta, it’s good to set a budget and stick to it. Make sure you have clear information about venue costs and deposits.
The Pottery Café is ideal for a low-budget bash with a fun twist. Children love getting messy, let them unleash their creative side at a Pottery Café birthday party. The café will create a bespoke event for you depending on the age of your guests, allowing them all to create and keep a memento of the day and have lots of fun while making it! The package also includes a finger buffet of sandwiches, crisps and juice keeping small tummies full so they are free to create carefree.
Some venues may charge extra fees for use of facilities and furniture, while others may have cleaning charges attached. It’s good to have a clear view on how much cash you’ll be handing over for the event so that it doesn’t spiral out of control and you end up blowing your budget on just the venue.
Children’s parties are evolving rapidly. While a few years ago a few sausage rolls and pass the parcel would appease most children, times are changing and the only limit on your event is your imagination.
If you’re finding it hard to pin down a theme, then why not choose an unusual venue, and pick through their pre-built themes? The Floating Showroom is a quirky boat venue that can show up on various canals around London. Variety is the theme here, as they can host a range of nautical and nice events for your party. As expected from a boat venue there are pirate and mermaid-themed bashes, but they also add more unusual origami and sewing events. All events include themed snacks, cakes and cupcakes and a pot of tea or coffee. So whether you fancy a sewing workshop, pirate shanties and games or mermaid stories and undersea fancy dress, this could be the perfect venue for you.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our event round-up and tips on making sure you pick the perfect place for your party in London.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, subscribe to the Planary blog as we will be keeping it stuffed with suggestions and inspiration for birthday bonanzas. Or if you already have your theme then why not check out our marketplace? It’s a one-stop party shop packed full of cake-makers, venues, party supplies and entertainers. We can help take the stress out of searching!