By Jennifer Barton
Bertie & Boo Adventure Island is a Balham institution, catering to infants, toddlers and school-age children. We’re pretty confident any kid aged six months to 12 years and living in south west (or east) London has visited the Adventure Island space for a birthday party or soft play session over the years – and loved it.
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A café, play space and party venue, Bertie & Boo is all about letting imaginations run wild, with a pirate-ship themed soft play zone with tunnels, slides, climbing apparatus galore and a ‘shark infested’ ball pit. There’s a smaller soft play area for babies, too, with plenty for them to climb on and tumble over (entry to the soft play zone is £5.50 and free for babies six months and under).
There are twice-daily interactive Magical Storytime sessions (an additional £1), at 10am and 4pm, where entertainers bring books to life through puppetry, music and singing. The storytelling is closely linked with the Early Years Curriculum to get kids counting, naming colours and dancing around to kick-start a passion for books from the earliest days (and to while away a rainy day indoors).
Bertie & Boo Adventure Island parties are a rite of passage for any schoolkid, that team soft play with a magic, puppetry and comedy show and a mini disco (there’s a side room off the main soft play space used for this) with a picnic lunch and games like musical statues.
Not only do kids love a Bertie & Boo bash – so do the grownups, including the ones throwing the party. They just need to show up and can decide if they want to sip coffee, enjoy a sandwich or snack or have a glass of wine while the kids play next door. Kids’ parties start at £299 for up to 20 kids on a weekday, or from £375 on the weekends. You can also hire Bertie & Boo entertainers to come to a venue of your choice from £185 for one hour.
Bertie & Boo is a frequent destination for parents of toddlers, but even those with school-age kids are regulars – they pop in after school and let the children have a run-around and dinner (the menu is extensive, with options like smashed avo and truffle mushroom toasties for adults, sausage and mash and cheesy pasta with peas and broccoli for the kiddos).
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Bertie & Boo’s other location on Northcote Road (SW11), with café and play space, recently closed, but watch this space for news about their upcoming venue in Tunbridge Wells.
One more thing: if you haven’t tried them yet, Bertie & Boo is also famous for its gingerbread men biscuits, which every local toddler will list as their favourite treat.
Bertie & Boo Adventure Island, 205-207 Balham High Road, London, SW17 7BQ
M-F: 8:30am-5:30pm (Storytime at 10:30am and 4pm, but no 4pm Storytime on Fridays), Sat: 8:30am-5:30pm, Sun: 8:30am-1:45pm
0203 620 1785