Since July of 2021, my work as a Children’s Entertainer has been very different to before. Taking up a residency at Web Adventure Park has been a real change from how I used to do things before Covid-19 affected us all, but it’s been nothing short of incredible. Here are a few thoughts and why there has only been one downside… not being able to do very many birthday parties!
Life Before Covid
My main work as a Children’s Entertainer (I say that because I also perform lots of magic for adults at weddings, private parties and corporate events – see www.darrenmacmagic.co.uk) used to be at birthday parties. Typically I’d be at 2 or 3 birthday parties each weekend doing children’s entertainment in West Yorkshire and the surrounding areas. I was very happy to do a show in the morning then another in the afternoon and often do similar on a Sunday. I love being a children’s birthday party entertainer and I think if Covid-19 hadn’t stopped that I’d still be doing most of my work in that field now. No two parties quite the same, different age groups, audience sizes, and venues all made for a great variety and lots of fun.
The Global Pandemic
Then, in March 2020, like a lot of things for a lot of people, everything changed! The impacts of Covid-19 were felt by us all, across all industries and that was definitely the case for Entertainers.
From March 2020 until July 2021 our opportunities to work were severely limited and I did lots of online shows but very few in real life. In fact, except for the odd outdoor Summer show and a run of Christmas shows in schools in December 2020 all my other shows were online.
The online shows were great fun. At a time when people couldn’t get together in ‘real life’, it was a great way of connecting people for a fun and interactive event. When a new lockdown was implemented, the demand for online shows rocketed and it wasn’t really until June 2021 when live events were even possible.
This turned out to be the start of my busiest year ever!
MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME
In June 2021, live entertainment came back with a bang. It was great to see people making up for lost time and hosting events to get people together.
Sure, they were tentative and smaller than usual, still with sensible distancing measures in place, but all the events I performed at were lovely and you could really feel how happy children and families were to be together.
Schools hosted events that weren’t able to go ahead for the last 15 months and corporate companies booked parties just to allow everyone to come together and enjoy something in ‘real life’.
Working With The Web
Around the same time, I received an email from The Web Adventure Park to discuss the idea of doing some shows there in the Summer 2021 holidays.
When I first saw the email I was a little conflicted. Performing magic shows in soft play environments is not easy at all. Loud background noise, plenty of distractions and mixed ages of children doesn’t usually give you the best conditions to perform a great show.
However, having visited The Web before with my girlfriend and our son, I remembered what a great time we’d all had. The soft play was one of the best I’d seen, the food was great and the atmosphere was excellent. The place was clean, well-kept and the free craft session we took part in was a great little touch – we really enjoyed our day.
So I went and met with the team and saw what they were trying to create. Very quickly I realised this wasn’t just some shows in a soft play centre it was a plan to create an attraction jam-packed with so much to do that families could easily spend a full day there.
They showed me what they had planned and I very quickly agreed to be a part of it. We initially agreed upon six weeks of entertainment across the Summer holidays and I began planning my shows. I decided on 2 magic shows in the morning and afternoon and a lunchtime gameshow where children could compete in challenges and win prizes.
And it just worked! I really enjoyed working with their amazing team and the audiences were fun and responsive and ready to be entertained. They were staying longer to watch my last show and the weather was quite kind so we could perform shows in a central seating area for hundreds of people each show.
Towards the end of the Summer we decided to extend the deal to every weekend day and every school holiday, a contract that would see me performing at The Web Adventure Park for around 170 days per year!
Doing over 500 shows a year in the same place means I can really get my teeth into new material. As I write this, in early 2022, I’ve already delivered 10 different half hour shows to fit with the various themes of Christmas, Halloween and Summer as well as our new show Music Match. I’m already working hard on my Easter show and new material for our Summer festival. Knowing you are going to be in the same place all year gives you a great starting point to try out new magic tricks.
I’m thrilled that things have gone so well at The Web and I can’t wait to see you all in 2022. If you come by The Web then please come and see one of my shows and say hello after as well. I’d love to chat with you and it’s such a fun place to bring the family. My shows are just a small part of a big day out at The Web so come and visit… you’ll have a blast!