CEO and Artistic Director of Birmingham Hippodrome, Fiona Allan, tells us why Christmas traditions are so important, and shares a few of her favourite things coming up in the new year.
Words: Fiona Allan
As someone who grew up enjoying hot weather, barbecues and beach trips, with Christmas being part of the summer school break, a winter Christmas still feels like a novelty.
I’m sitting at home writing this as the dark night starts closing in, and I can’t quite believe it’s that time of year again. The end of the year is always a time of reflection for me: looking back over what has changed for better or worse over the past year, and anticipating what a new year will bring.
We each have different traditions this time of year, and celebrate in different ways. Mine started last weekend, when I made the soul-searching decision to finally buy an artificial Christmas tree. Having done the solo battle of lugging around pine trees once too often I decided that was one Christmas tradition I could give up.
Workwise with Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker followed by this year’s pantomime Cinderella soon upon us, we’re gearing up to welcome over 150,000 people through our doors over the holiday season. I find it rewarding to think we play a part in the Christmas traditions of so many people across the Midlands, seeing so many happy people really is definitely one of the perks of my job.
This year, we’ve expanded our seasonal offerings to include more activities for families, especially those with younger children, to experience a Hippodrome Christmas. Saturday, December 16 will see our inaugural Frost Fair, a day of free performances, artisanal markets, craft workshops and seasonal food and drink. Take a break from shopping to soak up the atmosphere in our beautifully decorated foyers – it will be a great day, and entry is free.
And for the first time, we will also be running a Christmas show for younger children in the Patrick Studio, our 200 seat smaller venue inside the Hippodrome. The production is The Snow Dragon, brought to us by Tall Stories, the talented company that has toured The Gruffalo, and it’s full of toe-tapping songs and laughs for all the family.
Looking forward, I’m excited for the year ahead. For me, it means a trip home to Sydney in January to see my family and friends there – coinciding with the Sydney Festival, which has a load of international performances I’ll try to catch.
Luckily for Birmingham, there’s no need to travel abroad, or even to London, to see amazing world-class performances. In 2018 we will be bringing a stellar line up of top shows to the Hippodrome, including Wicked, Matilda, War Horse, Ballet British Columbia, Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, and a host more. It’s going to be a very exciting year.
So for now, have a wonderful festive season and a really terrific start to 2018.
(Don’t forget, if you’re running low on present inspiration, Hippodrome gift vouchers are always a great idea!)