Last weekend we spent a day in Basingstoke, getting into the festive spirit and seeing what they had to offer families at this time of year. Basingstoke has always been one of my go to places for shopping but it’s not somewhere I take the children often.
As soon as we parked up and walked through town we found the Christmas tree and Christmas train ride in the middle of Festival Place shopping centre. The children were happy to watch the train go round and loved looking at all the Christmas lights everywhere – Basingstoke have gone to town where decoration is concerned.
This year Basingstoke have traditional Christmas markets as well as the range of shops that we’re used to throughout the year. There’s also a Christmas shop which has popped up in Festival Place and lots of stalls dotted around perfect for buying that unique Christmas gift.
We had lunch at Pizza Express – one of our favourite family restaurants – and it was the perfect place to stop halfway through out day in Basingstoke. The restaurant was really welcoming and the children loved that they were given baubles to colour in as soon as they sat down. There were also festive decorations everywhere and just a lovely feel to the place.
For starters I had the Terrina Festa which was like pate made from salmon, crab and prawn. It was served with rocket, a dressing and flatbread and was really nice although one slice of terrine would have been enough for me.
Hubby had the Manzo Crochette, pulled beef and chianti crochette served with a dip. They were fried with a crispy coating but really nice and gooey in the middle still – a really lovely starter and something different to our usual choices.
The children loved their dough balls, as always, and being served with salad makes them a really filling and balanced starter. We could all eat dough balls all day!
For his main Hubby went for the Porchetta Natale, a pizza topped with pulled hog roast and so many Christmas flavours – stuffing, pancetta as well as the usual cheese and tomato base. It was a really filling pizza and he really enjoyed it.
I went for the Padana pizza – a classic combination of goats cheese and caramelised onion. It was lovely – and served on the romana base it was thin and crispy – as authentically Italian as it gets!
The children had a pizza for Little Man and penne bolognese for LP which they both really enjoyed – and had clear plates at the end. It’s lovely going somewhere where we know the children will enjoy the food without complaints.
For dessert I had the Jaffa Profiteroles which were served with ice cream. They were coated in chocolate and full of chocolate cream and orange gel. A really wonderful dessert that I hope Pizza express keep on the menu after Christmas!
Hubby had the Panettone Cheesecake and I admit that I had pudding envy! It looked immense – cheesecake with a slab of panettone on the top, a thick biscuit base and served with ice cream. It was the sort of desserts dreams were made from!
The children both had Piccolo Sundaes – with a choice of chocolate sauce or fruit sauce and served with a mini cone and accompanied by a babyccino warm milk drink. It’s always the highlight of any Pizza Express meal for them.
Our lunch at Pizza Express couldn’t have been better and after we went to see The Night Before Christmas at Haymarket, right in the heart of Basingstoke town centre. It’s so lovely to have a theatre so close to everything else and the children always love a visit to Haymarket.
The Night Before Christmas was the perfect show to kick off the festive season, a modern take on the traditional Christmas book and a show that the children really loved watching – and participating in! You can read our full review here. The Night Before Christmas has now finished it’s stint at Haymarket but they still have Sleeping Beauty showing for the rest of the festive season.
We had such a nice day in Basingstoke and it’s opened my eyes to the city as so much more than just a shopping destination. There was even a Santa parade on Sunday which hopefully we’ll be able to see next year.
If you’re looking for somewhere different to visit this Christmas definitely consider Basingstoke – somewhere different to the typical Christmas market towns but somewhere with just as much, if not more, to offer. You can find out more about Christmas in Basingstoke over on the official website here.
Disclosure: We were invited to Pizza Express for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.