Scottish National Portrait Gallery offers kids a chance to Sleepover Under the Stars

Scottish National Portrait Gallery offers kids a chance to Sleepover Under the Stars

Photo © Sangster Design

Storytelling, snacks and songs part of the gallery's special overnight event

Standing in The Great Hall at the entrance to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, you’re surrounded by, well, greatness. Busts and statues of important figures loom over you, while above your head, tiny stars cover the ceiling, reminding us of the scientific discoveries that have taken place on these shores.

It’s in this dramatic location that the first ever gallery sleepover will take place. Aimed at families with children aged 7–11, Sleepover Under the Stars is a 14-hour adventure starting on Saturday evening and ending on Sunday morning.

‘We want it to be really special,’ says Learning Co-ordinator Meg Faragher. ‘Most galleries don’t have an interesting, exciting space that people can sleep in where there aren’t any paintings, but we’re really lucky to have this amazing space we can use.’

Having stowed their sleeping bag and PJs on the camp beds provided, families will take part in two workshops. One creating glow-in-the-dark artwork, the other exploring great scientists and their discoveries, through dressing up, painting and handling fossils borrowed from the Museum of Scotland.

A quick ‘midnight’ snack (at about 10pm) and it’s time to climb into bed and enjoy harp, flute and storytelling from musician Marion Kenny, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem 'Escape at Bedtime'. When it’s time for lights out, those glow-in-the-dark paintings from earlier will really come into their own.

With its mix of artistic and scientific workshops, and general sleepover fun (including a hot breakfast in the Portrait Café next morning), Sleepover Under the Stars hopes to capture the imagination of everyone tucked up in a sleeping bag that night.

‘It’s a nice combination,’ Faragher concurs, ‘and it’s been great putting together the creative workshops. There’s also been a lot of organisational work behind the scenes, but we hope that people won’t see any of that, they’ll just have fun.’

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 23 Mar. To book a place visit

Sleepover Under the Stars

A sleepover for kids aged 7–11 and their accompanying adults, inspired by William Hole's Ceiling of Stars in the Gallery's Great Hall. There are hands-on art activities and a gallery adventure, followed by storytelling before bed. Ticket price includes a midnight snack and a hot breakfast in the morning.

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