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Teddy Bears' Picnics

The Scarborough Spa Orchestra perform nine varied concerts per week for fourteen weeks through the summer, and the weekly Teddy Bears’ Picnics take place at a new time for this year, Tuesday afternoons at 1.30pm. Also new for this year, if you forget your own teddy or fancy a charming souvenir, you can purchase a special orchestra teddy.

Normally held outdoors in the sun court, with its Victorian design and monochrome harlequin floor, today the concert is indoors – there’s always a safety net for when the Great British summer is less than its best, by moving in to the vast expanse of the Grand Hall. However, today it’s not inclement weather but the loudness of nearby tree felling that has brought us inside. Whichever area you end up in, there’s always space for wandering little music lovers to boogie and let off steam, and plenty of seating, whether theatre-style or deckchairs.

Last year when I attended, the orchestra wore striped red and black blazers; this year the blazers are swapped for waistcoats and it brings a friendly, relaxed feel whilst maintaining their well-presented orchestral aesthetic. The concert starts with the eponymous title piece, and today there is one particular bear front and centre, as DJ Dex of Yorkshire Coast Radio is attending to help kick off the season. The children flock to him for photos, cuddles and flags, but remember to pack your own teddies for the rest of the season – as well as your picnic.

The programme is different every week, but examples today include ‘Consider Yourself’ from Oliver!, music from The Muppets and a track familiar to many Disney lovers, ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’. The songs are interspersed with introductions to the orchestra members and their respective instruments, giving an entertaining and educational spotlight for the players.

There’s an interval halfway through, allowing time for finishing that picnic or grabbing a coffee to keep you dancing. Later there’s a Charleston to contend with – I’m desperate to show off my swivel but my nearly-two-year-old gives me a look of disdain worthy of a Revel-Horwood. Also in this latter half, there are instruments handed out so that the children to join in. Hosted throughout by the perpetually bright and sunny Kathy Seabrook, orchestra member and purveyor of Baby Fun Music sessions in the locality, the concert makes 90 minutes trot by with the vivacity of a quickstep.

Even though we’ve been indoors, we’re left with a holiday feel as we end on ‘Beside the Seaside’, which is nothing if not Great British Earworm that you’ll hum all the way home, probably stopping off for a delicious ice-cream and to enjoy a trip up to the Esplanade in the cliff lift, or a view of the South Bay in all its glory as you walk towards the Spa Bridge.

Tickets are very reasonable too - they cost £3.50 each for parent and child pairs or £4 for individual adults on the door (booking fees apply online), and the concerts run every Tuesday until the 11th of September, 1.30pm (90 minutes, with interval). Pack sun cream, a picnic, a teddy and you're all set.

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