Festival of Neighbourhood: Beanotown

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Festival of Neighbourhood: Beanotown

In celebration of 75 years of The Beano, the Southbank Centre is creating Beanotown – a Beano neighbourhood decked out with related memorabilia and featuring a Beano museum and social club. Housed in the Festival Village – a spacious venue under the Queen Elizabeth Hall – Beantown will host a series of events including drawing workshops led by The Beano illustrators and sessions revealing the history of Dennis the Menace's pranks complete with demonstrations. The museum will showcase an archive of comics together with the history of DC Thomson & Co's enduring characters and stories. The social club, meanwhile, offers games including Table Dennis (yes, that's table tennis) and the Beano Breville Bar serving themed food. For more information about the Festival of Neighbourhood see www.southbankcentre.co.uk.


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Beano Town was the perfect antidote to a rather hectic week at work. Its combination of education and fun was spot on. With the history of the Beano and its animators nicely balanced with ping pong and a shooting game. Throughout the commentary was engaging, especially the use of the Beano as war time propaganda. The use of shorter sentences for kids and longer prose for adults was spot on. At time the audio clips seemed to blend together in parts of the exhibit. Although, it did not detract too much from the whole experience. For Beano buffs this is a great distraction from the hustle and bustle of London. Definitely worth a visit if you are around the South Bank area.

My son loved Beanotown the first time we went, so we returned a couple of weeks later with friends from out of town. Unfortunately, by the second visit all the funny sounds had been switched off (farting sofas and crash, bang, wallop beano-style sounds as you walk around), the free photobooth had started charging 50p a go, all the lovely helpers encouraging kids to tell their jokes and enjoy the space were nowhere to be seen, the table tennis bats were trashed... Still a great place to drop in with kids if you're on the South Bank. Please look after it!

If you love the Beano and it's characters, you will love this. There is lots and lots of fabulous memorabilia for the adult who loved the Beano as a child. There are displays of historical Beano toys, posters, and drawings. There is a display case of letters people have written to the editor going all the way back to the 1940s which were very interesting for me as a grown up. For the kids there was a dress up box where they could be Banana Man, Dennis, etc. Up a small set of steps, a room was set up for the kids to draw on the walls to their heart's content. In another nook, a tv was showing Beano cartoons. If you fancy a game of table tennis, it may take a little wait, but you can do that too. An art class was conducted in a room to the side of the entrance which we missed until we were ready to leave. You can get food at the cafe area. You can get Beano merchandise at the little gift shop. My kids enjoyed it, although they did feel slightly misled by the whole 'neighbourhood' theme advertised. They had envisioned a neighbourhood - houses, characters walking around, that sort of thing. This was not that. It was a more of a display with activities peppered around. This was perfectly nice and once the kids got over their initial letdown, they had a lovely, if rather tame, time. Some of the activities, like table tennis, the photo booth, and nerf target shooting, had slightly long waiting times and they did not get to partake. We had a pleasant half an hour stay and the kids were ready to move on. The thing they enjoyed the most was the huge letters spelling the word Beano which they could climb on.