When the Dinosaurs came to Northampton BID…

The Brief

We were delighted to create a dinosaur experience for Northampton Business Improvement District earlier this year!

Big Foot Events had initially organised a singular ‘Dinosaur Day’ for Northampton BID to take place in September 2020, but unfortunately due to COVID-19 restrictions it was unable to go ahead. We were thrilled that Northampton BID were reinstated for 2021 and we were able to rearrange the event for summer 2021, even bigger and better than before!

Now, after a difficult and uncertain year, it was even more important to bring visitors back to the Town Centre!

The Challenges

Jurassic times call for Jurassic measures, and we planned to make 2021’s event even bigger than our original 2020 proposal!

Although we wanted to create a dinosaur extravaganza, we needed to ensure that our event was COVID-secure, met social distancing guidelines, and made visitors feel safe returning each week to enjoy the activities.

We also had to adhere to Health & Safety protocols put in place by the Council.

The Solutions

We created an exciting dinosaur theme across the town over a three-week period in July, incorporating a range of different themed activities and entertainment for visitors. We held events on three consecutive Saturdays, encouraging repeat footfall with different attractions on each weekend. This dinosaur extravaganza also included our Jurassic Earth theatre show held at The Deco Theatre on the 13th and 14th of August.

Local businesses were also encouraged to participate in the promotions, and it was a pleasure to see so many independent shops and retailers take part in the event programme to create a Jurassic buzz around town!

Tom Cliffe, Director of local independent business Café Track in Market Square, transformed the outlet into ‘Café T-Rex’ for the day and ran special offers on food and drink, with dinosaur themed activities, games, and decorations: ‘It was an absolutely fantastic event, and it was so great to see so many different faces of all ages enjoying the dinosaurs. It was brilliant to see the Market Square being used for events such as this. Our takings were definitely up compared to normal Saturday’.

We had initially planned for some nutty Neanderthal characters to ride around the town centre in their Caveman Car to promote the Dino Dome but, as motorised vehicles were not permitted, we adapted to provide two on-foot walkabout interactive Crazy Caveman characters.

The Results

Commencing on the 17th of July, our Dinosaur Rangers and adorable Baby Dinosaurs roamed Market Square to promote the big activities of the upcoming week! These newly hatched creatures are a captivating attraction, and visitors had the chance to meet the mini versions of the following week’s big guests…

On the 24th of July, our dinosaur experience came into full force as several of our impressive, large walking dinosaurs visited the town centre. This included roaming dinosaurs Richie Raptor, Spence Spinosaurus, and our Baby Dinosaurs, as well as arena-based shows featuring Zeus T-Rex and Tank Triceratops.

Our roaming dinosaurs were a walking attraction, leading visitors around the town centre and drawing their attention to different local shops. Static animatronic dinosaurs Noisy Norman and Cory the talking dinosaur were available for visitors to interact with in the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, and a Giant Egg photo opportunity was set up to generate social media interest and create lasting memories. 

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On the final Saturday of the event programme, visitors were invited to enjoy an incredible 360° immersive ‘Dinosaur Dome’ experience that would transport them millions of years back in time to the Jurassic Era! The Dinosaur Dome was free-of-charge to the public, and we provided an online ticketing system to manage numbers and ensure that social distancing was possible at each showing. The Dinosaur Dome was such a popular installation that it was fully booked, but 3D VR headsets and a Meteorite Handling workshop were available for visitors to enjoy without booking ahead. To promote the installation, Comedy Cavemen walkabout characters roamed the town centre interacting with visitors.

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Thousands of families visited Northampton to take part in exciting dinosaur activities, with huge increases in visitor numbers and businesses in town reporting a surge in trade. Footfall figures demonstrated a 42% week-on-week increase in visitors to Market Square, and a 27% rise on the equivalent Saturday in 2019 before the pandemic struck, and Grosvenor Shopping Centre reported a 24% week-on-week rise in shoppers. Mark Mullen, Operations Manager for Northampton BID, agreed: ‘It was the busiest I have seen the town centre for a long time and nice reminder of what life was like before all of the restrictions. Everything came together to make the event a success, including the weather. The town was absolutely buzzing’.

During the event programme, Northampton BID encouraged visitors to take part in a ‘Dino Trail’ that complemented our dinosaur theme. More than 300 families enjoyed an interactive trail: using the ‘Explore Northampton’ app, visitors could locate 10 friendly augmented reality dinosaurs via their smartphones at different locations around the town centre.

A great number of retailers and food and drink outlets in Northampton participated in the event, running dinosaur-themed special offers and deals exclusive to visitors. Bewiched Coffee and Pjayz Kitchen offered a children’s meal deal that included a colouring sheet, Juice Café offered a limited edition ‘Do you think-he-saurus’ juice and ‘vegan volcano bagel’, and Geek Retreat Northampton ran a special dinosaur-themed milkshake named the ‘Roarsberry Extinction’. Vintage Guru and Salvation Army created themed window displays to tie in with the event, The Natural History Society Northampton ran a geology-focused town walk and hosted a display of Walter Cricks fossils, and Northampton Museum and Art Gallery ran children’s craft workshops with dinosaur themed activities!

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Client Testimonial

‘The dinosaurs were terrific; they really captured people’s imaginations and had a very realistic look and feel. They were perfect for our first major post-lockdown event. Big Foot Events were a pleasure to work with, and I would highly recommend them and their dinosaurs for those who really want to create a memorable live experience!’ – Mark Mullen, Operations Manager for Northampton BID

Big Foot Events also have the pleasure of creating Northampton BID’s Christmas promotions. We will be providing a Christmas Grotto installation in the Grosvenor Shopping Centre for the seasonal period. The Grotto will be decorated internally and externally to create a wonderful, festive Christmas setting for children and families to meet Santa Claus.

We have adapted our grotto to meet the shopping centre’s fire safety regulations: removing the solid grotto roof and replacing it with wooden beams and snow sheet so that, should the sprinkler system be set off, the water would be able to enter the grotto.

We also utilised the grotto’s garden area to create an in-and-out system that will allow guests to enter and exit separately to maintain social distancing.

We look forward to seeing the results of our sparkling Christmas Promotions!