If, like most Londoners, you wish that the hordes of people milling around your favourite museum would just bog off so you can enjoy the exhibits, spending the night at the Science Museum must sound like a dream come true. Astronights gives adults the opportunity to roam around the incredible building and all its wonders with a glass of wine in hand and barely a person in sight. But it’s not all automobiles and spaceships at this all-night jolly, there are a few more things you should expect.
1. No sex!
Oh, did things just get awkward up in here? Well, it probably did for the 18-year-old and his parents sitting at the neighbouring table because one of the night guardians of the museum (not their official title) just announced that even though things can get romantic in the dark, secluded corners of the world-famous venue, you are never alone. There are 500 cameras that will be watching your every move and let’s face it, although it may sound like a good idea in theory, it’ll probably end badly.
2. A load of food
After your prudish warning, dinner is served. But you won’t just receive an evening meal that'll bring school canteen memories flooding back to you, you’ll also get a buffet-style breakfast, too. We didn’t test out the theory ourselves, but we’re pretty sure you can have your fill of food at both meal times and who can say no to a full English and croissants after an all-nighter?
The night guardians of the museum will pretty much leave you alone to wander around freely. You’re given a schedule of activities that you can partake in or not. Other than that, you can do whatever you want. Within reason.
4. Getting crafty
If a night at the museum didn’t make you relive your childhood enough, some of the arts and crafts will. From etching glass tumblers to soap-making, there are enough activities to keep you occupied into the wee hours of the morning, plus you’ll have some goodies to take home with you.
Okay, this might not be true of all Astronights, but the one we attended was magic-themed, as the upcoming January 13 event will be. To bring the theme to life, full-time scientist and part-time magician Neil Monteiro was on hand to teach some sleight of, erm, hand. Revealing the secret base moves of many card tricks and a few other illusions that will wow and astound your friends (after weeks of practice), Monteiro may go against the magician's code but he'll definitely give you the skills to win a few drinks from some unsuspecting muggles next time you’re down the pub.
Science and food will come together Heston Blumenthal-style, as ice cream will be created before your very eyes using instant hot chocolate powder, cream and liquid nitrogen.
7. A decent flick
Ever fancied a private screening of ‘Labyrinth’? Well, it wasn’t exactly private but we did get to watch the David Bowie classic on the giant IMAX screen with just 30 other people in the audience. And though there’s usually a different film at every Astronight, on January 13, you’ll get ‘Labyrinth’ again, plus the brand new ‘Rogue One’.
8. A distinct lack of sleep
After the cinema, you can head down to the ‘Who Am I?’ exhibit where you and your fellow campers will roll out your sleeping bags wherever you can. The room is actually huge so getting a bit of privacy is pretty easy, but if you’re an anxious sleeper – whether you’re worried about snoring, farting or just being surrounded by strangers – getting some shut-eye might be a bit challenging. If you do get to squeeze your five hours in then good for you, but I couldn’t. Luckily I had an iPad with a decent wifi connection which meant I could keep myself entertained throughout the night.
9. A kid-free zone
Once the night is over and breakfast is devoured, you have the opportunity to explore the Wonderlab in all its glory. Play with all on offer without the guilt of taking a kid’s turn or feeling embarrassed in front of all the yummy mummies who secretly wish they could play with the exhibits too.
10. A day in bed
The doors of the museum open at 10am and if you're not totally shattered, you can stay for the day if you want to. But any real adult will hear the cry of their own bed and run to it for one of the most comfortable daytime sleeps you’ll have in your life.