Back in May we went to the National Space Centre for the first time. It was part of our big little city trip where we went to 6 different cities in 5 days. Leicester was day one of our adventures and a visit to the National Space Centre was a must. Review: National Space Centre, Leicester
I’d never been before but heard mixed reviews about it from family and friends. Not many people have not heard about the National Space Centre, let’s be honest. It’s a pretty big deal! I was excited to see what it was like. I’m not a huge fan of space, but I am generally interested in science, planets and museums on the whole so I thought I’ll give it a go!
Review: National Space Centre, Leicester
Getting there requires a bus journey which we did from the train, it took about 15 minutes and then a 5 minute walk to the space centre. The space centre is not hard to spot, the building is like nothing I’d ever seen before; a 42m rocket tower.
Right, so what’s there?… “With six interactive galleries, the UK’s largest planetarium, and the iconic 42m high Rocket Tower, the award-winning National Space Centre is an out of this world experience“.
Admission in cost £14 each and Eric was free (under 5s free). There is an upgrade on the door for no extra cost to an annual pass, we did this but I don’t think we will be going back (keep reading). Planetarium show is included in the admission which was my favourite experience from the visit and I really, really enjoyed it.
Once we went inside the space centre it was like no other museum I’d ever been to, very futuristic and modern. It was a little confusing to know where to start first. There are six galleries and on the ground floor this is big and wide with lots to see, but the floors that up in the tower are very small. It was quite dark and Eric was scared in some places once he woke up and was exploring.
Eric was asleep when we arrived and I’m glad he was because there was not much there for a toddler. Eric is quite easy to please in museums and will happily go around exploring, touching things etc but on the whole, the national space centre is for teenagers and adults. The information boards are not very interactive, and some of them veryyyy long with looooads of reading and outdated, too. Timelines were huge in the upstairs galleries with so much information, with a toddler it is impossible to stand there reading all of this when they constantly want to be moving around.
In the upstairs galleries there was nothing for Eric at all. We did see some displays which had buttons, a gallery with a rocket that you could sit in and prepare for take off with buttons but this was really complicated and Eric found it scary so he wouldn’t get inside, haha. The lift is fantastic and you definitely must go inside it as you go up right next to the rockets as if you are going into space.
Downstairs on the ground floor there was a dressing up box, a ball game, rockets in picnic area and astronaut suits… he enjoyed that. His favourite part was seeing the real rockets which were huge and for weeks after our visit he kept asking about the rockets at the space museum, so he definitely remembered them!
The “We Are Stars” show in the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium was the best experience ever… “We Are Stars allows you to explore the secrets of our cosmic chemistry, and our explosive origins. Connect life on Earth to the evolution of the Universe by following the formation of Hydrogen atoms to the synthesis of Carbon, and the molecules for life.”
I was worried Eric wouldn’t like it because the room goes very dark and it is a little overwhelming but he ended up really enjoying it. At first he was apprehensive but once I talked to him about it and the show started, he loved it and towards the end was looking all around the room.
It was absolutely amazing to watch something that is happening all around you; you’re looking up, down, left, right; it was just brilliant. If anything it makes you feel emotional! The show, We are Stars, was suitable for kids, too, with little cartoon characters in it, dinosaurs and jokes. I would definitely go back just for the planetarium if I lived closer!
I’m glad I visited National Space Centre and ticked it off my bucket list. I wouldn’t go again as I just think once you have gone you have seen and experienced it and unless you are hugely interested in space, I don’t think there is a reason to go back. Unless Eric is super interested in space and planets when he is older then I would consider bringing him back.
As for kids, I don’t think it’s very fun for little kids and not very interactive for toddlers. We didn’t go especially for a toddler day out, though, and we did expect that the National Space Centre would be better suited for us and it was. So even though I didn’t particularly find it very entertaining for little kids this didn’t matter to us all that much. We had lots of fun stuff for Eric planned during the rest of our trip so it was good to get this out of the way to start with.
It was a good experience to visit the National Space Centre but I wouldn’t rush to go if you haven’t been. I do find the admission cost steep and even though the annual pass is included, it doesn’t make a difference for people like us who travel for the museum; as it’s very popular and famous, but don’t live close and won’t go back again. Although the planetarium is included in the admission which is very good, it’s worth knowing if you do return with the annual pass you have to pay for the planetarium as extra.
There was a LOT of information and boards to read which, as I mentioned before, you just don’t have the time for when you visit with little kids but also I would have liked to see more space-science related things maybe to do with aliens and toddler friendly space displays/interactive areas about dark, stars, planets and rockets.
Have you been to the National Space Centre? What did you think?
If you are going with little kids – I do recommend checking out an amazing park around the corner, Abbey Park, with really good playgrounds, farm, cafe, river and ruins. We were really impressed and I wish I had known about it sooner as it’s only a few minute walking distance from the National Space Centre. We didn’t have much time before our train to Birmingham otherwise we would have stayed much longer at the park.