The Nutcracker brings Christmas Magic to Birmingham

A visit to see ‘The Nutcracker’ always signifies the start of my Christmas. The classic Tchaikovsky ballet which tells the magical story of the night before Christmas, is a seasonal treat that arrived at the Birmingham Hippodrome this weekend, delighting audiences young and old.

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To put it simply, The Nutcracker is Christmas, especially when staged by the fabulous Birmingham Royal Ballet, celebrating 25 years in 2015. It is sparkle and glitter, excitement and anticipation, presents and children, and, most of all dreams and magic. This is all reflected in the exquisite set design, which transforms from a sumptuous Victorian home, complete with an enormous Christmas Tree (courtesy of Prince Albert, who introduced them in 1840), to a veritable winter wonderland, with bleak midwinter trees and falling snow. Simply spellbinding.

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The story of The Nutcracker tells of Clara, a young girl who is presented with a Nutcracker doll by a magician, Drosselmeyer. As night falls Clara is unable to sleep, so creeps downstairs to collect her Nutcracker from under the Christmas tree. But magic is afoot, and the sitting room grows and changes to a sinister enclave filled with giant rats, all of whom seem to want to hurt Clara. The Nutcracker then springs to life, along with her brothers toy soldiers to run to the defence of the young girl. Thus starts a night of dream adventures that encompass dancers from many different lands, a flying dove and a Sugarplum fairy.

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As Clara, Laura Purkiss is wonderful, her dancing is full of charm and youthful elegance. Celine Gittens is a memorable Sugar Plum fairy, so beautiful and majestic when dancing with the Prince. And, as the Prince, Tyrone Singleton, who I adored in Carmina Burana shows that he is the Prince of sensual romance, with a performance that combines drama and sensitivity.

The famous score soars across the theatre, played so expertly by the excellent Royal Ballet Sinfonia, and, as the performance comes to a close, it is clear that, 25 years on, Birmingham Audiences are still as enchanted by The Nutcracker as they were 25 years ago.

The Nutcracker is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until 13th December. Click here for ticket information.

The prettiest Grotto in Birmingham opens at House of Fraser

The most beautiful grotto in the Midands opened today in House of Fraser, Birmingham, promising to bring magic and festive cheer to all who visit. The House of Fraser grotto is run by the Harry Moseley Charity #HHHO (Help Harry Help Others) with all proceeds from admission tickets helping to raise vital funds. We were lucky enough to be invited along on Tuesday for a preview and promptly fell in love with the whole experience.

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The Grotto, which features a very realistic Santa who seems fresh from Miracle on 34th Street, is preceded by a magical Christmas village display, complete with animated penguins and Reindeers. There are house frontages where you can glimpse through the windows and take a look at Santa’s workshop, bedroom, and even the ‘Rackhams’ emporium – a lovely blast from the past for many.

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Photograph credit Jas Sansi

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Friendly elves and pixies chat to the children as they wait to see Santa, also performing tricks and posing for photographs. The mood is perfectly judged for excited children, with things to keep them occupied both before and after seeing the man in red, including grotto will be packed with activities for children to enjoy whilst waiting to meet Santa, including a colouring competition and Santa’s cinema, showing that new festive favourite, Frozen.

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The visit to Santa is just lovely. The elves ensure that Santa knows the names of the children beforehand, so they are greeted personally. The presents are lovely quality, with Joe receiving a dinosaur book that he was really pleased with, and Renee my niece loving her monkey glove puppet. You can also purchase a photographic souvenir too.

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The #HHHO grotto at House of Fraser will be open from 10am – 5pm (Monday – Saturday) and 11am – 4pm on (Sundays) from 29 November – 24 December.  Tickets cost £5 per child and  can be purchased from any of the Homewear and  Childrenswear till points in store.

*With thanks to Kim Stephens from Marketing Birmingham and Georgina Moseley for the lovely invitation.

 

 

All these things and more – that’s what Christmas means to me my love.

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and I can now say I am really, really excited that Christmas Day is so close. 2013 has been a fantastic year for Fashion-Mommy, but I am now getting ready to spend some quality time with those I love the most. So I thought I would wish all the Fashion-Mommy readers and supporters a very Merry Christmas, hope Santa makes all your dreams come true this year.

Here are some of my own, personal, favourite images of the build-up to Christmas 2013.

Merry Christmas everybody!

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My mantlepiece, co-decorated by my five year old.

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My favourite of those Selfridges London Windows, the Kitty Shoe from Charlotte Olympia.

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The Body Shop Window was festooned with Gingerbread Men! Love!

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My boys ready for the big switch on in Birmingham.

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Real Reindeers.

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The Art Gallery looking very festive.

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The Birmingham Christmas Parade.

Starbucks Red Cups

Starbucks Red Cups

Giant Reindeer in Shrewsbury

Giant Reindeer in Shrewsbury

At Lincoln Christmas Market with my little sister

At Lincoln Christmas Market with my little sister

Best Christmas Jumper of 2013?

Best Christmas Jumper of 2013?

 

Love this!

Love this!

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A traditional tree in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade.

 

A beautiful tree my little boy made at Nursery

A beautiful tree my little boy made at Nursery

My favourite decorations are usually shoes and handbags.

My favourite decorations are usually shoes and handbags.

Joe takes a role as narrator in his school nativity.

Joe takes a role as narrator in his school nativity.

Christmas in Birmingham.

Christmas in Birmingham.

My mom and Joe show some heart in the Heart FM snowglobe

My mom and Joe show some heart in the Heart FM snowglobe

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The Beautiful stores of the Frankfurt Market in Birmingham.

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Enjoying a Carousel Ride.

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Brum’s wheel lights up the night sky.

 

With Legoland Santa

With Legoland Santa

And Joe and my niece Lia meet the real Santa Claus

And Joe and my niece Lia meet the real Santa Claus

A tree made of Lego!

A tree made of Lego!

Christmas Lego figures

Christmas Lego figures

Christmas is my cutie in a Christmas jumper.

Christmas is my cutie in a Christmas jumper.

Love the shade of Blue decorations in Birmingham

Love the shade of Blue decorations in Birmingham

Fabulous Ted Baker Window display - always worth a look.

Fabulous Ted Baker Window display – always worth a look.

Another beaut Window, this one from Muji.

Another beaut Window, this one from Muji.

A night at the Panto.

A night at the Panto.