My youngest is waving his torch abstractedly as we all hasten to duck, shielding our eyes. ‘It’s not red’, he says, ‘it’s orange’, as he half gestures to the dinosaur sign in front of us. We’re on an after-dark hunt for dinosaurs. Not real ones, of course, but the pieces of the puzzle that make up the dinosaur in question — the Edmontosaurus — a resident of the Dinosaur Gallery at London’s Natural History Museum.
Still, the sign was red. So we had to turn back, but as this meant crossing the path of the animatronic T Rex one more time, that worked well for my children. One of six teams that make up the overnight Dino Snores experience, this was our first activity. Arriving at 18.45 and following check-in, we had three activities to fit in before bedtime. Among these was the chance to create our own T-shirt (and learn lots about dinosaurs along the way), but arguably the most entertaining was the live science show, Monsters of the Deep. From giant squids to cookiecutter sharks and angler fish, the specimens just kept on coming — from display jars, under microscopes, projected on screen and even as a stuffed animal.
En route we’d met Sophie, the most complete stegosaurus ever found, learned about what she might eat, and managed to fit in snack/dinner time, too. Bedding down in the impressive decadent Hintz Hall with its tiled floor (mats provided), beautiful arches and sweeping stairs, under the watchful gaze of the Diplodocus and some 500(!) other campers was not entirely restful. But in the morning, a muffin and juice got us going enough to sit through the live animal show. Best of all, it meant we were the first to explore the museum. Result.
How to do it: Dino Snores is for kids (aged 7-11), with accompanying adults. From £60 per person. nhm.ac.uk
Published in the Winter 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller – Family