Join #TeamElf or #Team Santa with MCFC this ChristmasThere's a wide range of festive events available in Manchester and this weekend we went along to preview one of the more unusual offerings - the brand new Christmas themed tour of the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City FC. Our football allegiances lie elsewhere (in League One with Bolton Wanderers) and I haven't visited the Etihad since it was the City of Manchester Stadium and the Commonwealth Games were hosted there, so I was keen to explore!
On arrival for the tour the group is split into #TeamElf and #TeamSanta and you'll compete in some friendly challenges along the way so make sure you choose your colours wisely! We were #TeamElf. The tour starts with the chance to have your photo taken wearing your 'team colours' in the form of elf and Santa themed Christmas jumpers. Only Bud was willing to don a jumper from our group and he was really pleased with the photo we picked up at the end of our tour which saw him superimposed against the Etihad, with the Premier League trophy beside him (there is an additional charge for the photos).
While Team Santa were having their photos taken we had the opportunity to explore the visitors centre and take a look at some of City's recent silverware. Our guide, Dominic, showed us some of the highlights and then we were straight in to our first challenge - decorating Christmas trees. Each member of the teams had to place a decoration on their tree. Team Elf were victorious but, due to an incident with tinsel tangling, we were deemed to have placed two decorations on in a single go. We conceded half of our points and embarked on the stadium tour.
First stop on the tour was the Chairman's Lounge where tickets to watch the match, with a slap up meal prior to the match cost around £600! We saw the front of the stadium and the site of the 'blue carpet' where the City team enter the stadium before each match. The Etihad has it's own access road which allows vehicles to drive directly on to the pitch, if required. The Lounge itself is a lovely space and, from there, you can access the Premier League's largest directors' box, complete with padded and heated seats! This is also the first chance you get to take in the full stadium in all it's impressive glory. It was very different from when I was there watching athletics in 2002!
The Media Centre was the next stop and the children got the chance to pretend to be Pep Guardiola, his most recent signing and their agent. It's a quick step from there into the Away Team dressing room, complete with Lionel Messi shirt, and our next festive challenge. This split us into our teams again and we each had a ball to throw at a row of snowmen to try and dislodge them from their perches on the away team benches. Amazingly each team scored 10 points so we were level going on to the next game.
This took place in the Home Team dressing room. Bottle Flipping! Those are two words that will strike fear in to the hearts of many mums with primary school age chidren! Thanks to the skills of the children from Tired Mummy of Two and Extraordinary Chaos Team Elf streaked into a comprehensive lead. The dressing room itself will delight City fans, giving them the chance to sit where their heroes do, in their very comfortable Recaro seats.
The last big point on the tour is the most important. We were led into the tunnel and then out pitchside. The children explored the dug outs which and we were all very careful not to touch the pitch! From there we made our way back through the stadium and on to our final Christmas game which saw each of us trying to chip a football into a Christmas basket. I'm slightly ashamed to say that not a single one of us managed this which meant that our Team Elf lead proved unassailable and we were the winners!
Back in the Souvenir Shop and Tour Centre we had the chance to look at our photos, make our own Match Attax cards, and receive our City Santa hat prizes (we passed ours on to my Sister in Law's family of blues). Our tour guide, Dominic, demonstrated an extensive knowledge of the club's history and a real passion for his team which was infectious.
We all enjoyed the tour and the festive elements make it the perfect Christmas treat for any football fans who would like to explore this impressive stadium.
Manchester City will be offering all those that have been on the Stadium Tour in December a 20% discount off all purchases in the City Store that month. So why not treat a loved one to an exciting day at the Etihad Stadium or pick up a perfect City Christmas gift and don’t forget for every City Christmas jumper purchased the Club will donate an additional £5 to local community projects delivered by City in the Community, who are celebrating 30 years of empowering lives through football.
Tickets for the tour cost £17 per adult, £11 per child aged 5-16 and £12 for concessions and will run on select days throughout December. Visit www.mancity.com for more information and to book tickets.