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From virtual rollercoasters to online raves: How to keep the family entertained during coronavirus lockdown

By Rebecca Sayce | Features | Published: | Last Updated:

From live concerts to fitness workouts and virtual tours of the Grand Canyon, all sorts of entertainment is keeping people amused during the coronavirus lockdown.

There are lots of free activities on offer for families

With venues and attractions closing to help stop the spread of coronavirus, many local businesses and artists have taken to social media to help spread some cheer.

And meanwhile services have launched from across the world so you can explore national parks around the world such as Yosemite in the United States from the comfort of your own home.

Offerings from around the world

Famed museums like the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC and London's British Museum are offering online experiences, allowing viewers to learn about the exhibits in the museums at home.

Zoos both in the UK and overseas - such as Marwell Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo and Chester Zoo - are also hosting live tours for families to enjoy.

Google's Arts and Culture section allows users to explore some of the wonders of the world online, including the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House and more.

Families can also take a trip around Disney's various parks on Google Street View, or ride exhilarating rollercoasters thanks to YouTube videos from across the world.

Meanwhile various artists are posting free live concerts for fans to enjoy, such as Yungblud, Dropkick Murphys, and Bowling For Soup's Jaret Reddick alongside Miley Cyrus' regular online show, Bright Minded.

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And Instagram coaches such as Joe Wicks, Nick Cheadle, Bret Conteras are posting free workouts to keep fit during self-isolation, while you can also watch celebrity chefs such as Antoni Porowski teach cookery skills.

Fender Play is also offering three months of free virtual guitar lessons amid the pandemic.

For a limited time, Broadway musicals and shows are available to stream for free online through BroadwayHD.

Local online entertainment offerings

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  • Are you doing your bit to keep people entertained, educated and kept fit at home? Whether it's online lessons, workouts, musical performances, tutorials or more, we'd love to hear from you. Email rebecca.sayce@expressandstar.co.uk with more information.

Wolverhampton R&B icon Beverley Knight has appeared on Take That star Gary Barlow's online music sessions.

Swapping arena stages for casual clothes and the comfort of their own homes, 47-year-old singer/songwriter Knight posted a clip on her Instagram featuring herself and Barlow during a video call duetting hit song I Knew You Were Waiting by Aretha Franklin and George Michael.

The video, created as part of The Crooner Sessions hosted by Barlow on his Instagram page, has since had tens of thousands of views.

Other stars that have featured on his daily show include Jack Savoretti, Alfie Boe and JC Chasez.

Meanwhile Cannock singer Becky Gosling has been posting live videos under #SingalongwithBecky for people to singalong to.

The Staffordshire musician said in one recent video that the response to her videos had been 'overwhelming'.

After starting as a one-off broadcast, Becky is now posting videos every day at 2pm due to demand.

She said that it began when she realised "we cannot control what's happening, but we can control how we respond to it."

Stourbridge rocker Miles Hunt hosted a live acoustic set from his home.

The Wonder Stuff vocalist performed an hour-long set that gained more than 20,000 views.

Following the performance, he promised he would be performing another 'sofa show' soon.

"I've just watched my live acoustic set back from yesterday, purely to see the comments that were made throughout, and I have to say I am overwhelmed, actual tears," he posted.

"At the very being of me is a shy kid battling his way through the world, it's always been like that for me.

"So lemme tell you, it is you all that have given me the confidence to be whatever I have become, a musician, a singer, a songwriter... someone that is able to get out of bed each day, put his big boy trousers on and give it another shot.

"And I cannot thank you enough for the power you have gifted me.

He went on to tell fans to "be kind, be careful, be considerate and appreciate everything that is required of us all" during the outbreak.

A host of celebrities and performers will come together to put on Birmingham’s biggest virtual show.

Brum’s Big Black Tie Bash is an evening of show-stopping performances with appearances from some of the city’s leading chefs and familiar face to raise money for the NHS and talented local musicians and performers.

On Easter Sunday, April 12, celebrities including Christopher Biggins, Jaki Graham, Shazia Mirza and Doreen Tipton will be streamed live into people’s living rooms as part of a three-hour show.

Hosted by Phil Oldershaw, the digital black tie bash will bring a little light relief to lockdown, encouraging friends and families to enjoy the streamed spectacular 'together' whilst in their own homes.

Michelin star chefs Glynn Purnell and Aktar Islam, as well as Great British Menu star Alex Claridge, will serve up the perfect remedy for a fortnight indoors.

Around 100 performers will take part in the show, which will boast a mixed of live-streamed and pre-recorded performances; featuring pianists, singers, acoustic guitarists and saxophonists.

Performers from ‘The Greatest Showman’, which debuted at Marco Pierre White Birmingham last summer, will bring contortionists, snake charming, fire breathing and trapeze artists to viewer’s screens.

There will also be stints from comedy legends, a Gospel choir, and even a 50-piece orchestra, whose solo home-performances will be brought together.

Brum’s Big Black Tie Bash is the brainchild of Ben and Chloe Grey, the husband and wife duo behind Elegant Entertainment, and delivered in partnership with host Phil Oldershaw.

The event will stream on Facebook via a private link, which can be accessed once tickets have been purchased.

Priced at £15 per household they are available via Eventbrite and Design My Night, or by visiting the event page on Facebook.

Stafford DJs James McQuattie from CASA Nightclub and Jordan Bruus from Revolution Bar hosted a live DJ event from McQuattie's home that social media users could tune into on Facebook.

The live stream garnered thousands of viewers from across the Midlands and beyond. Many social media users posted pictures of themselves partying along with the duo in their own homes.

"We were expecting it to just be a bit of a laugh and a few friends tuning in to listen etc, but it actually went viral online," McQuattie said.

"It turns out that just over 20,000 people ended up tuning into us from around the world and we ended up getting song requests from people joining in from as far away as Hawaii and Australia live.

James McQuattie and Jordan Bruus hosted a live DJ event

"So much great feedback. We also had local businesses sharing our stream getting involved online."

The duo plan to meet up again to host further sets.

Dudley-based music podcast You Haven't Heard This Music is set to host an online music festival on April 10.

Artists will be live streaming from the YHHTMPC Main stage page for people to enjoy from home.

Acts set to perform include The Impersonators, Nya Crea, EMR, Ralph Pelleymounter, Betnie Rose and more.

Musician Jake Holyhead will be doing a 12-hour DJ marathon from his studio at Dark Arts Studios in Wolverhampton.

The event will be broadcast like on Lockedin Radio and people can donate to Jake's JustGiving fundraiser here.

All proceeds go towards NHS Charities Together.

Shrewsbury musician Jordan Brown performed a live show on Facebook and Instagram to raise money for charity.

All of the money raised from the performances is 'going towards buying NHS staff a drink' at the Lion and Pheasant in Shrewsbury, where Jordan ordinarily performs every Friday.

All staff need to do is produce an NHS badge to receive as many free drinks as the money raised will also.

So far, Jordan has raised £800.

Birmingham art collective Dragpunk has been hosting live, interactive drag shows for audiences to enjoy.

Titled Corona She Better Don't, the first live show aired on March 20.

The second instalment featured makeup tutorials, a Q&A, challenges and more.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-CnpItJjHP/

Artists are asking for voluntary donations to support local artists sent through PayPal to drag-punk@outlook.com.

Wolverhampton's Babies Academies of Music has began hosting free online family concerts.

The first live video, uploaded today, featured live music designed to entertain youngsters.

All live-streamed performances will be uploaded onto YouTube afterwards.

A test broadcast ahead of the BAM from home concert

Birmingham's Henry's Blueshouse has also gone virtual following the Covid-19 outbreak.

The blues night, which takes place at The Bull's Head', will be sending mailing list members videos and articles from the venues archives.

Fans can also visit the venue's YouTube for concert footage, as well as interviews from the likes of Jim Simpson, Chico White and Kent DuChaine.

Blues Talkin' with Chico White

Wolverhampton's Hogs Head hosted an online quiz earlier this week to replace their weekly gathering.

Set to begin at 8pm, the event is in place of the pub's popular weekly quiz.

To take part, players will need a device to watch the video on and a device to play along. For more info go to speedquizzing.live.

Local fitness

Shrewsbury fitness company Ultimate is posting a variety of online health classes for the whole family.

Owner Simon MacDonald is running a KidsFit PE lesson on Facebook live every day at 10am, as well as an Ultimate KidsFit class that is posted to the company's YouTube channel.

Other classes that can be enjoyed at home include the Bodyweight Battle on Tuesdays at 7.30pm and Saturday at 8am, and the At Home Reshape on Wednesday at 7.30pm.

Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club at Newbridge near Tettenhall is also posting regular online workouts on both Facebook and YouTube.

The sports centre so far has two videos online and plans to do more in the upcoming weeks.

morning AMRAP

Home Workouts With #TribeOut has been launched on Facebook with a series of fitness activities.

Created by Michelle Ivins, Kidderminster; Fran Nolan, Redditch; André Picart, Oldbury; and Dan Osadciw, Solihull, the private Facebook group hosts daily live fitness workouts at 8.45am.

Shaman's K9 Services in Telford is offering competitions for children, posting free training videos and brain games for dogs and showing you how to exercise dogs when limited to one walk per day.

Winners of the children's drawing competition, open to all children under 16, will receive a special prize for both themselves and their pet.

Nova, 15 month old Dutch Shepherd (on the course) with her first ever attempt at homemade agility

Luxury doggy daycare and hotel, K9 Anytime in Shifnal, is posting regular training videos to teach your dogs at home.

The latest video, teaching pooches to drop objects, has had more than 600 views since being uploaded.

Oswestry author Dave Bennett has been entertaining youngsters by reading a chapter of a story per day live on his Facebook page.

He uploaded the first chapter of novel Captain Jenna on March 18 and has since posted regular updates on her story.

Bennett is the creator behind the Little Mickey and Elwyn Shaw series of books as well as the Jenna/Ghalasia series

Animal facts, science lessons and more will be offered in a new series of videos coming from Telford's Exotic Zoo.

The former tourist attraction has built its own makeshift TV set in the hopes of entertaining and educating children from around the county and beyond during the coming weeks.

The videos, which will be available on Facebook and YouTube, are in replacement of cancelled education sessions that usually take place at the zoo.

Scott Adams holding Melon the Three Banded Armadillo, with Ryan Jordan

To help keep money coming in to cover things like animal feed and staff wages, the same team will also be offering paid live lessons for those that want them, as well as other personalised services.

New experience vouchers will come with no expiry date, so those wishing to support the zoo will be able to buy them now and use them at any time in the future.

Chester Zoo is set to host a live virtual tour to keep families entertained today.

From 10am until 4.30pm online guests can explore the family-favourite attraction, with highlights including the red pandas, aquarium, Asian elephants, Rothschild's giraffes and more.

Red panda

Dudley Zoo and Castle has released a series of educational activities for children to do at home.

Worksheets include step by step guides on how to create a 'bug hotel', hedgehog homes, a toilet roll model of a giraffe and more.

The site also has puzzles and art challenges for youngsters to take part in.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has launched a virtual tour for visitors to explore from their own homes.

The Gas Hall

The online tour allows people to click and explore the city centre attraction online.

A representative from the attraction tweeted: "On this tour you can wander around our art galleries, and no one is standing in the way of your favourite painting."

Various tours are available on the gallery's website, including The Round Room, Industrial Gallery and Edwardian Tearooms, Art Galleries, the Staffordshire Hoard Galleries and History Galleries.

Following government advice, Birmingham's Town Hall Symphony Hall (THSH) is closed. But the iconic concert halls cannot be silenced and, in the coming weeks, the venues’ much-loved free Friday jazz gigs will be broadcast to Facebook.

Nick Reed, chief executive of THSH Birmingham, said: “Music has the power to bring people together.

"Our forthcoming Facebook Watch Parties of the free Friday jazz gigs ensure that audiences can do just that.

"Self-isolation does not need to mean that people are isolated from their communities and through THSH’s Jazzlines, we’ve built an incredible community with a shared passion for jazz music.

Birmingham Symphony Hall

"THSH is committed to bringing live music to our city and these Facebook Watch Parties will provide an opportunity for our friends to continue their discovery of the best of Brum’s musicians”.

Youngsters stuck in the house during the coronavirus lock-down are being encouraged to get creative from the comfort of their own homes by the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

The museum is holding a short story writing competition where youngsters are urged to delve back into the Victorian era. The winners will receive book tokens for their efforts.

The stories can be up to a maximum of 500 words, and there are bonus points for illustrations.

Michelle Ivins, from Kidderminster, has set up a group on Facebook to help parents who are working from home and need ideas to keep the kids entertained during lockdown and self isolation.

Our Mini Tribe Adventure has more than 2,000 members sharing activities, resources and more.

Michelle began the group when she began working remotely and wanted support around her when entertaining her two-year-old from home.

Tipton entertainer A Hat Full of Magic, created by Ian Brennan, has been posting videos on their Facebook page.

Online magic shows via Facebook Messenger and Skype also available for your family.

PQA Wolverhampton are putting up loads of videos on both an open YouTube channel and online in secure Onedrive accounts for all of their 150 students as well as the public.

The group took the decision as a group of academies to close last week and already have loads of material for kids to follow including puppetry, singing, dance, filmmaking and special classes for 4 to 5-year-olds too.

Rebecca Sayce

By Rebecca Sayce
@becci_star

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me: rebecca.sayce@expressandstar.co.uk

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