Williamson Park in Lancaster is 54 acres of public park which is most famous for the Ashton Memorial which was built in 1909 as a memorial to Lady Ashton by her husband. This is the building you can see from the M6 when passing the city:
As we had family up from down south my mum had booked us tickets to see The Dukes Lancaster's walkabout theatre production of The Hobbit. They have been putting on productions in the park since 1987 and this was the first time we had been to one. We arrived in time to have a picnic at the foot of the memorial although it rained before we had finished eating:
We just had time before needing to find scene one to take in the view from the top of the hill overlooking the city:
Then we headed to where scene 1 was set up with a Hobbit Hole set next to a grass banking. Chairs were allowed at the top and rugs etc at the bottom in front of the acting area. The children chose to be at the bottom whilst the adults took the comfortable spot at the top.
We weren't allowed to photograph during the scenes so I can't show you how fantastic the costumes and sets were! (If you want to see then check out this review) The first scene opened with Gandalf narrating the famous line: In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit...
In a change from the book the part of Thorin was played by an actress and we had some other female dwarves in the 13 but this didn't detract from the show. Towards the end of the scene Gandalf asked for a volunteer to look after the key to Erebor. Guess who put her hand up:
Once Bilbo had set off after the dwarves the entire audience had to gather their things and follow on to the next scene. This was in the woods (see above) and there were log seats built into the slopes for the audience. My daughter and I were right on the front row and so very close to the trolls, goblins and Gollum. The trolls were hilarious, the goblins scary and Gollum fabulous.
Scene 3 was deep into Mirkwood and we had to cope with several muddy patches to get to the log seats. A magical scene with acrobatic elves and an elven Queen. With a limited cast some actors had multiple roles and it was interesting to spot people who appeared more than once!
There was then an interval to allow everyone to relocate to the top of hill and sit near the memorial. This time there was no seating so it was chairs at the back and rugs at the front again. As this was the scene the key was needed I sat with my daughter right on the front!
Scene 4 included the master of Lake Town and the journey to Erebor. My daughter had to wait for her cue from Bilbo as he asked for the key. She was very confident at saying Here it is Mr Bilbo. The lighting effects for Smaug and puppetry were pretty impressive.
By now it was fully dark and the move to the final scene was lit by lanterns along the pathways. Elves flitted through the trees calling out as we were led down into a grotto which was Smaug's treasure chamber. Again there was a bank of seating for the audience. It was clever how they acted out the siege of the mountain with such a small cast.
All in all a magical experience and I am sure we will be back next summer for Treasure Island!