Category Archives: Wisbech Castle
Father Christmas Comes to Wisbech Castle
Well, we thought it might be busy, but we had no idea quite HOW busy!
If the queue, which stretched out onto the road for much of the day, was anything to go by the people of Wisbech were rather excited by our Christmas adventure and grotto.
As is normal with Wisbech Castle events, we try to never do the “obvious” thing. We throw in a curveball or two, to keep people guessing – and excited!
Our cast of characters included two Christmas elves, Mr Fluffy the Magic Bear, Ebeneezer Scrooge and of course the big beardy guy himself, Santa!
We made snow despite the mild weather and kept the kids and families laughing and smiling throughout.
The Castle Cafe did brisk business, offering refreshments from delicious cake to spicy Chilli n’ Cheese.
We did everything at very fair prices, aware that not everybody has a lot of extra cash at this time of year and wanting all families to be able to enjoy a lovely time.
Well done volunteers. Everybody seemed very happy. Roll on 2020 as we move the Wisbech Castle Project onwards and upwards.
Castle Of Nightmares – Aftermath
I was very pleased with the second Halloween event at Wisbech Castle. Completely sold out, nothing but positive reviews, everybody seemed to have a really great time.
Roll on next year.
(all photos (c) Ben Prest.)
Castle Of Nightmares – begins tomorrow!
Our second year of Halloween at Wisbech Castle features the Castle of Nightmares show.
The event has now completely and utterly sold out. There is not a single space left available.
This year we have doubled down on the event. It was a hit last year with rave reviews and we were aware of the need to do even better this time.
Volunteers have been beavering away for the last 4 or 5 weeks and over this last weekend that has become near feverish activity.
When I designed this year’s plot and scripted it out I set a lot of tasks for the engineers and builders upon whom I rely. Personally, I can barely put a plug on :)
The volunteers have not let me down. They have completed every task I set them.
Last night all the actors were in for our rehearsal and I feel confident we have a really scary show ready.
The event is on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday – with a family day on Saturday for the whole community.
This year, like last year we have sold out. But thanks to better time slot management we have sold more tickets than last year.
Let’s hope everybody has a really spooky great time.
This Thursday night at Wisbech Castle:
Are you an aspiring poet, writer, rapper?
All levels welcome, this event is for everybody who loves to write and who wants others to share what they’ve written with others via the spoken word.
Eggcellent Easter Fun Day(s)
Well, I’ve spent a wonderful weekend with friends and colleagues delivering the Eggcellent Easter Fun Day on Saturday and Sunday for over a thousand happy people.
Families poured into Wisbech Castle for the hugely successful event, themed on Alice In Wonderland and featuring so many things for families and kids to enjoy together.
Almost everything was delivered free to local people, thanks to our spectacular Wisbech Castle Working Party team of volunteers.
The weather was incredible, loads of people turned out and everybody seemed to have a really nice time. Many came back for both days!
Wisbech Castle and its team going from strength to strength.
In Character … Dave Topgood as The Mad Hatter, Samantha Hoy as the Easter Bunny, Brenda Barber as the Queen of Hearts, Cameron Fraser as Pikachu, Joe Tierney as the White Rabbit, Jamie Edwards as The Wisbech Giant, Abi Wallwork as Alice. Also thanks to all the many other volunteers who helped out to deliver this brilliant event.
The Cat Came Back
Here is a good news story you might like :)
Recently, a stray cat turned up in the grounds of Wisbech Castle. The fella looked a little under the weather and sorry for itself, “nesting” under the bushes and extremely nervous and skittish.
Volunteers could not get close enough to check for injury, but did begin leaving out food, which the cat ate.
While Dave Topgood kept the cat fed, Brenda Barber suggested Facebook as an option, as she seemed to remember somebody had lost a cat like it some time ago.
Cut a long story short – the missing cat that was advertised by worried owners back in early December turns out to be the same cat, which has somehow made its way from Walsoken to inside the walls of Wisbech Castle.
Which just goes to show – even after weeks and weeks sometimes things just all work out in the end.
Today, one very happy family was reunited with their missing cat.
One Thing, Then Another Thing
I’ve had very little time to blog recently and so all sorts of stuff has passed by without comment on this page.
The Christmas Light Switch On went perfectly, despite a few hiccups behind the scenes, the whole event was fab and the turnout broke records, again. Each year we have to move everything up a notch and more and more people come along. Yes, there was the usual handful of whiny political moaners, but they did nothing to dim the success of this amazing event.
Meanwhile our MP became Brexit Secretary sparking a great spectacle of emotion, opinion, joy and fury. From the point of view of Hard Brexiteers like myself, its disappointing. But I’ve known Steve Barclay a long time and I just don’t buy the idea that he’s “sold out.” I hope and believe that he is playing a long time, smiling along with the Prime Minister while knowing full well this ridiculous deal will never get through Parliament. If this is how things go then he’ll be an important man, negotiating our way through the inevitable No Deal situation.
Tomorrow, we have royal visitors. Prince Charles and Camilla will be coming to Wisbech to visit St. Peters Church and meet representatives from many local voluntary organisations and heritage organisations. Wisbech Castle has a stall, as do many others. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are, of course, VIPs on a massive scale and preparations are well underway for the big day. I won’t personally be meeting them, I ceded my place on the stall to allow an extra volunteer to go. But I’ll be outside the Castle at the appropriate moment with other volunteers, hoping to catch a glimpse. A great day for our Town.
I’ve got to get my November newsletter out this week (running out of days in November) and we are still wall to wall meetings and planning for Christmas events so there’s really no spare time before Christmas at all. Never mind, who needs sleep? :)
Castle Of The Dead – Finished!
After three huge, sold out nights of Castle of the Dead, the event is over. Time to move on to the next thing!
Wisbech Castle team would like to thank Tony Reader for all his hard work with our lights and electrics. Pam and Roger Rawson for being briliant with guests who needed help recovering from the fear and Unknown Beauty (Nicole Handley) for her brilliant make-up work. https://www.facebook.com/UnknownBeautyOfficial Finally we must thank Nine Lives Theatre company https://www.facebook.com/ninelivestheatrecompany/ for their incredible performances. Also Ben Prest Photography https://www.benprest.co.uk/ and David and Jess Oliver for their First Aid support. We could not have run Castle Of The Dead without these people and all the other amazing volunteers.
Most of all thanks to our incredible actors and volunteers, too many to list, who made such a fun show possible.
Castle of the Dead – Day One
I’ve been going to scare attractions with friends for a few years now and I’ve often wondered if we could put one on. I’m a game designer by trade and occasionally a writer and I’ve mulled over lots of ideas over the years. But the first time I was able to play with them was Halloween 2017, where the Town Council brought in a haunted house fairground attraction and we upped the ante by opting to put live actors and a “story” into the mix.
Luckily, there are a fair few talented Councillors and friends of the Town Council because otherwise the idea simply wouldn’t have progressed. But we were able to make the event work and Sorrow House was born – the story of a group of escaped lunatics who had holed in up a HMO and really didn’t want to leave. :) One of the characters, “Big Baby”, was played by Sam Hoy who was far and away the most terrifying actor. So much so that when we bring the same haunted house back this weekend, the plot is a sequel called “Sorrow House 2, the Revenge of Big Baby” centering on that characters continuing spooky story.
But Sorrow House is just a bit of fun. The real opportunity to get our scare on came this year via the Wisbech Castle. I’ve been thinking how great a scare attraction had the potential to be and working on the plot and script for some time. What really made this possible was simply having such a lot of dedicated volunteers with a wealth of talent. I genuinely thought we could make this a special event and provide not just great entertainment for the town but also be a cool fundraiser.
And so Castle of the Dead was born.
Preparations for Castle of the Dead have taken over a month. Volunteers putting in their energy, skills and imagination to help develop the plot, the props, the property. It’s been quite a journey, made no less difficult by the fact that we had to simultaneously do all the normal work around the Castle, and open it for its public tours, and open the new Cafe. But somehow, thanks to a tireless group of very dedicated people, the project took shape.
It appears that the Town was hungry for something like this because by the time the week of the show came we had all but sold out of every timeslot. We had space for a handful of walk-ins but otherwise there were no more tickets available.
Tonight the Castle of the Dead open its doors for its first evening (of three) and the guests – or should I call them “official observers” – began to arrive.
Our team is as varied group from teenagers to pensioners, from every walk of life. Three members of the team are autistic in one form or another. Two are disabled. Yes we do also have a few more experienced actors, but many of our volunteers have never ever done anything like this before. In fact quite a few never imagined they WOULD do anything like this. And yet – wow. They just knocked the ball out of the park tonight. The opening night could not have gone better. It really couldn’t. You could hear the screams for miles – but when the survivors of the Zombie Onslaught emerged from their final encounter with Wisepenny the Clown and moved into the Castle for hot chocolate and cake, it was all laughter and smiles.
I am so proud of the team. You can feel when something just goes well – the buzz, the click, the feeling that there’s an energy to what you are doing. Yes, we were scaring people – in the best possible way. But it was a whole lot of fun and everybody said so. Tonight the Wisbech Castle Working Party, volunteers and Friends Of the Castle put on an incredible, sold out, blockbuster of a first event. Not a penny of public money was spent, rather we have raised a considerable sum for Wisbech Castle.
Not only that, but I feel we may have a new annual event on our hands. Because when you have this much fun doing something the first thing you begin to think about it “how can we make it better next year…”
We still have Thursday and Fridays shows to get through. I can’t wait.