Have an ‘Awesome’ Sleepover at NYC Cathedral with Medieval Knights
Imagine seeing a Medieval Times show, replete with epic battles and exciting tournaments, as well as brave knights and budding romances. Now, imagine living it, if only for one night.
It was the slumber parties of all slumber parties – The Knightwatch Medieval at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine – and it was glorious.
On Friday, March 22, my 5.5-year-old son Aiden and I packed up our sleeping bags – his was Lightning McQueen and quite festive, and mine was plain, gray, and quite “boring,” as he described it. From our Brooklyn apartment, we traveled 45 minutes to the Upper West Side to be transported centuries back in time into Medieval splendor, where kings, princesses, and knights were commonplace.
Upon arriving at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which is located on a quiet, tree-lined street steps away from Columbia University, Aiden and I are given our noble title and coat of arms. Then, we join our group in what proves to be one of the most interactive plays we’ve encountered and one of the most magical experiences we’ve been a part of in New York City thus far.
“Who’s that?!” Aiden asks as he excitingly pointed to one of the joyful characters who is dressed in green and purple.
“The court jester!,” I respond, just as excited.
He’s in awe. This is a different kind of experience for him.
Following quick introductions, we walk to the front of the cathedral where we listen in on Act I. That’s where we learn that the princess has been placed under a spell by a magician and we’re going to participant in a scavenger hunt led by the green and purple clad court jester to find clues throughout the Gothic cathedral so we can help reverse the spell.
It was a very magical moment that even the most jaded New Yorker (read: me) had to stop and take it all in.
Did you take that all in? During The Knightwatch Medieval event, the audience members are the ones participating in the scavenger hunt. And, in a nutshell, it’s absolutely awesome.
As we find and solve each clue, we become closer to solving the mystery and helping reverse the magical spell placed on the princess. But, prior to reading each clue, participants (who are also audience members) listen in on another scene from the play. With each clue we solve, I look on with joy as I see that this is adding to the thrill and excitement of the entire experience for Aiden and the other children.
Once the mystery is solved, we all gather in the nave to celebrate with medieval dancing and singing, a skill that we were taught during a workshop earlier in the evening. We also participate in medieval-based art projects, including creating clay gargoyles and brass rubbings.
After the celebration, everyone changes into their pajamas (be sure to pack warm pajamas as well as a sweater since the nave feels really cool at night), and Aiden and I cuddle up to listen to a bedtime story in the nave. Once he’s all tucked into his Lightening McQueen sleeping bag atop of a cot, which is provided by the cathedral, it’s time for the lights to go out.
To say that excitement and joy abounded as we attempted to sleep is an understatement. The jokes and soft laughter filled my heart as I stared into the tall ceilings and architectural splendor of the nave. It was a very magical moment that even the most jaded New Yorker (read: me) had to stop and take it all in.
I couldn’t believe that Aiden and I were having a slumber party! In a cathedral! In Manhattan!
The next morning, on the subway ride home, Aiden proclaims, “That was the funnest sleepover ever!”
Fun, indeed. But also educational, joyous, and full of fantasy. It was most definitely a slumber party to remember.
Have your own slumber party this spring!
Knightwatch Spring Sleepover at the Cathedral of St. John Divine Dates: May 24, and June 14 – 6:30 pm. (May 4 has been canceled.) $135.00 per person. For more information please call 212-316-5819 or email [email protected]
Alicia Harper is a 20-something single mother living in Brooklyn. Her life is filled with all things pink and sparkly, except for the one bit of blue — her rambunctious 5.5-year-old son, Aiden. Harper is the dean of students at a charter school and blogger and freelance writer whose work has appeared in Redbook magazine and HowAboutWe.com. Read more of her work on her blog, Mommy Delicious.