Spending the night in a museum is the stuff of childhood dreams, so I was thrilled to find that space-mad Noah was old enough to take part in a sleepover at the National Space Centre.
Pricing and Booking
We visit the National Space Centre several times a year as it’s our favourite day out. Tickets for the museum last a whole year so it’s also very cost effective for us.
Spending the night does cost extra! On first glance, it seems a bit expensive, with adult tickets to sleepover costing £40 (£30 for children). It was £70 for us to stay, but to be fair, we’ve paid more than that to stay in some pretty basic hotels. Overnight tickets include an extensive programme activities through the evening, exclusive access to the galleries, the experience of sleeping in the museum, breakfast, a planetarium show and a keepsake mission badge.
Booking for the sleepover at the National Space Centre was really easy online, however we wouldn’t have known about the opportunity had we not been following the museum’s social media channels.
We arrived at the museum rather early, so we used our year pass to spend a bit of time looking around in the afternoon. We were really excited to see that the foyer had been thoroughly improved since our last visit during Brickish Weekend. The ticket desk that used to be quite difficult to navigate around when it is crowded has been removed, now there is plenty of space to view this wonderful display of real and fictional astronaut suits.
At 5pm, the doors shut to the day visitors and we put our sleeping bags in the ‘picnic’ room where they would remain until it was time to get into bed. At 6pm we were allowed back into the galleries to enjoy the Space Lates programme.
There’s no need to sleep over to take part in the museum’s Space Lates event. From 6pm until 9pm on selected dates it’s possible to visit the museum, not only to see the exhibitions but to take part in activities and see talks about various space subjects from special guests.
There were plenty of family friendly activities to take part in. Noah enjoyed investigating pieces of meteorite under the microscope and getting to see a piece of moonstone up close. He also had a chance to get crafty and build his own rocket. The fun part was testing it out!
The museum’s cafe, Boosters, was open in the evening so we were able to grab a bite to eat. There are a few hot options like soup, hotdogs and jacket potatoes. We quite liked listening to the ‘Sounds of Apollo’ performance while we ate, although it was so relaxing I could feel myself dropping off.
Noah also sat through quite a grown up talk about the legacy of Apollo 7 and 8. I was really surprised that he sat through this talk which I think was more aimed towards adults, but he cites it as one of the highlights of the evening!
At 9pm the doors closed to the public and we were invited into the planetarium for a quick brief and an interactive quiz about space!
After that, we were free to continue looking around the museum. This was lovely as Noah often finds himself competing for a go on certain interactive exhibitions; the quiet hours meant he could use them straight away.
Exclusive activities were also taking place for sleepover guests! Noah made his own mission badge to wear! Then up on the very top floor of the museum’s iconic rocket tower, everyone got stuck into a space themed problem-solving board game called Gravitrax.
This part of the evening flew by and 10.30pm was around before we knew it! Everyone gathered in a 60s style living room (it represents where families would have crowded around a black and white TV to watch the moon landing) for story time. We listened to a few space-themed stories including two of our favourites from home: The Darkest Dark and Goodnight Spaceman, both written by astronauts!
There is the option if you’re really tired to go to bed at 10pm in the Shuttle Suite (a conference room) but if you wait up until 11pm, you can sleep among any of the exhibitions! How about sleeping under an asteroid belt? Or next to the Mars and its land rover? There are so many possibilities. The museum is also big enough that you don’t have to sleep near other people if you don’t want so you can have a bit of privacy.
Noah, however, did want to sleep near other people and we set our camp by the massive Earth globe!
We didn’t have the easiest sleep. Everyone nearby us seemed to sleep soundly, but it appeared I was the only one with a child that enjoyed waking me up every five minutes. Repeatedly, I was asked: ‘how long is it until 7am?’, ‘stroke my head’ and of course, requests to go to the toilet.
When our wake up call at 7am arrived, I felt a bit like I was hungover. Noah, on the other hand, was ready for action.
After putting our stuff away, we went to get breakfast in the cafe. I was so pleased to find out that they were serving hot, veggie sausage sandwiches (meat was an option too).
Our final treat was a planetarium show all about astronauts!
Noah loved the whole experience! I really enjoyed the evening’s activities! I’m glad I finally had the experience of staying overnight in a museum, but I don’t think I could have slept on the floor longer than one night! I need my bed!