I had intended to write up this little trip so much sooner but between a really long bout of illness and general life mayhem, I’m just getting around to it now. It feels good to be back though and I’m excited to share this particular weekend with you!
Even four and a half years in to this blogging journey I still have total ‘pinch me’ moments and the travel opportunities that we have had as a result come as some of my most favourite. When Airbnb asked us to go on this trip, way back in October, I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. An overnight stay in the Natural History Museum is an experience not to be missed and I knew it would be something that our children would never forget doing. In many ways it was even better than we’d imagined too!
DinoSnores is an event run by NHM monthly and the premise is that you camp out in the huge Hintze Gallery (underneath the skeleton of Hope the Blue Whale!) after taking part in lots of activities around the museum during the evening. There is very little information on the website about the specifics of the event and that element of surprise was actually one of the most fun things about it. I hope I’ll not ruin it too much for you if you are thinking about trying it out!
Airbnb have their own special area on a mezzanine floor above the main gallery, and a few families are chosen at random to stay there. The idea is that you arrive at ‘base camp’ before heading out on all the different expeditions with your guide. From the moment we arrived we were blown away by the whole set up. From the little sleeping tents to the camp fire, to the camp coordinator (a 1940’s style explorer) who remained in character for the full twelve hours we were there – everything was so captivating. And what a setting for a magical evening too!
(apologies for the orangey tones and grainy look to these photos. Inside with artificial lighting is always hard on the camera but I wanted to share them nevertheless!)
We arrived around 7pm and dropped off our bags before heading out on our first activity. The whole organisation of the event was incredible. Despite the fact there were around five hundred people attending, everything was so slick and our little group of twenty barely saw anyone else. There were lots of Scout and school groups, and birthday parties too and they all seemed to be having a whale of a time (bad pun alert!) After a really brilliant space show, we returned to camp briefly before heading to design our own Dino t-shirts. The kids loved this bit particularly, and we learnt lots about paleo artists and how they piece together information about prehistoric times.
After completing or t-shirts we headed back to camp for a ‘midnight feast’ (it was 9pm 😉 ) before setting off on our last expedition – a torchlit tour of the dinosaur gallery. The kids were encouraged to find different clues in the dark and fill in their worksheets and I was actually really surprised at how well they managed. (Energy was definitely waning by this stage. Not just for the children in the group!) This was a total highlight of the whole trip. There aren’t many chances in life to explore the Natural History Museum in your pjs in the pitch black. 🙂 It was something really special and our three loved it. I had trouble taking any photos of this bit as it literally was entirely dark, but if you caught up with my InstaStories at the time (they’re still there in Highlights too!) then you’ll maybe have got the jist. After that it was back to camp and time to settle in for the night.
The one thing I would say, if you’re planning on embarking on this little adventure, is to pack something really warm to wear for sleeping. We had been warned of it being chilly and I had accounted for that, but with London battling sub-zero temperatures that weekend, I think we hit it at an even colder time. Being that NHM is not really built for overnight accommodation, it was unbelievably cold. I don’t think any of us slept very well at all because of it, and I wished I’d added in a few extra layers that we could have piled on top of our pjs! Just a minor thing, but something definitely worth mentioning I think!
Next morning we were up with the larks at 7am, packed and having breakfast by 7.30 and then ready for our last activity before leaving. The live animal show for all the attendees was brilliant and the kids were transfixed for a full hour as they were shown snakes and skunks, meercats and spiders. It was really interactive and, even in our sleepy state, we couldn’t fail to be mesmerised.
Final expedition complete, it was sadly time to leave (although you are welcome to stay on and explore the museum when it opens to the public at 10am) We had such a fun evening, made more special by how well we were looked after by the staff at NHM and Airbnb. I couldn’t fault the experience at all, and Eva, Noah and Annie came home proclaiming it the ‘best weekend ever’.
And who am I to argue with that.
**Thanks so much to Airbnb for inviting us to stay at base camp with the intention of sharing our experience. All words, images and opinions are entirely our own.**