Does the thought of taking your children to sporting events fill you with dread? The crowds, the noise and the terrible food often put parents off, plus there’s the boredom factor. I’ve certainly delayed taking my son (5) and daughter (3) to anything so far, but I do wonder whether they’re missing out?
The Ageas Bowl in Southampton is leading the way in changing our perceptions. The ground is the home of the Hampshire Cricket Team but also hosts England international matches as well as the awesome ladies Southern Vipers team, who are great role models for girls everywhere.
Here’s what’s on offer:
I had the great pleasure of taking my son to his first ever cricket game recently, which was a Southern Vipers Kia Super League 20:20 game. The game was a double header with the Hampshire men’s equivalent, providing a whole afternoon and evening of cricketing fun.
What was brilliant was the range of extra activities on offer for children, all for free! There was a bouncy castle, catching challenge, surf simulator, face painting, table cricket and plenty of goodies.
During the upcoming England vs India test match at the end of August, there’s also going to be a climbing wall, laser quest and kids coaching.
Having these activities available inside the ground made a huge difference to our visit. We were able to break up watching the match with turns on the table cricket and bouncy castle.
Food and Drink
There are plenty of food and drink options inside the ground. Alongside the family activities in the East Bern were a number of food vendors, with lots of options including the usual things that you’d expect. The food isn’t too expensive and was good quality too. Best stay away from the sweet stand though, very tempting!
There’s also some permanent vendors too; a smoothie bar and the Sanjha Indian takeaway, offering small bites as well as curries. For the test match there will be even more street food offerings, with healthy, gluten free and lots of vegetarian options available.
If you fancy making a break of your trip to the cricket, there’s a Hilton Hotel situated in the ground. You might even be luck and get a room with a balcony, so that you can watch the match in even more leisurely style. The hotel also houses the BEEFY’S restaurant, inspired by the legendary Sir Ian Botham.
Peppa Pig World is only a few minutes down the road, as well as Marwell Zoo and the National Motor Museum, so it’s a perfect central point to explore the area (and there’s a spa!)
The Ageas Bowl is just off junction 7 of the M27 so it’s really easy to get to by car. For match days, there’s onsite parking and a Park and Walk facility as well as buses from the local train stations and Southampton city centre.
For me, the location makes it so much more appealing than other sports venues. There’s no being herded on the Tube or having to park miles away and walking to the ground. It’s ideal for families, and we saw loads and loads of children of all ages on our visit.
I would have absolutely no hesitation in going back to The Ageas Bowl, with both of my children. Whilst I’m not sure they’d sit through a lot of cricket, I know that there’s plenty else on offer. Plus there are loads of family events throughout the year, including music concerts and big screen film showings. The Ageas Bowl definitely makes it on to our location list.