Its only been a week since the government’s new lockdowns regulations came in to force, and many of us are already twiddling our thumbs. But fear not, this lockdown doesn’t have to involve days of monotonous banana-bread baking. There are truly excellent ways to start creating new memories again without stepping outside our homes.
Hundreds of adventures are available online, and can be tried alone or with friends, all while maintaining a responsible distance, whether your loved ones are down the road or on the other side of the planet.
Many online platforms are offering brilliantly bizarre personal virtual experiences, where you can be in a stranger’s kitchen cooking their family’s specialty, exploring the hidden depths of the host’s city, or even rummaging around their reptile house, all while learning a new skill and meeting new friends.
Read on for some of our favourite virtual experiences, to keep you entertained in the coming weeks, at the click of a Zoom button.
1. Meditate with Scottish sheep, £13 per person
One for city folks holed up in their cramped apartments, those craving a slice of the Scottish countryside, or a strangely satisfying virtual snuggle with some sheep, should book onto this experience stat. Beccy, in Sterling, offers a full relaxing farm experience, without getting muddy. After you’ve had a little tour with the hens, birds and seen some animal feeding, Beccy’s yoga instructor daughter, Rivkah, helps us rid us of our anxiety and stress with 10-15 minutes of meditation to the sounds of nature.
2. Make pasta with proper Italian grandmas, £27 per person
Join a charming family cooking a meal in Palombara Sabina, Italy, with Nonna Nerina or four other larger-than-life-grannies and their daughters. These ladies know what’s what in the kitchen and have a blast laughing and cooking different dishes every day of the week, from Trofie with Pistachio pesto (Mondays) to Fettuccine with Ragu (Saturdays) and creamy Tiramisu (on the weekends). They share some incredible stories and tips – like don’t mix onions and garlic (who knew!?). Before it starts you’ll have to stock up at the supermarket, they’ll send you an ingredients list ahead of time.
3. Draw someone in the buff, £8 per person
If you’ve always wanted to attend a life-drawing class but have not quite plucked up the courage to paint someone in the flesh, London Drawing’s live digital classes, with a real model, are far from blush-inducing. These fine art sessions offer the chance to depict people in their purist, primitive form, from the comfort of your living room. Classes usually take place weekly and feature different models and plenty of tips from art experts. No prior experience is needed, and sessions are open to those around the world.
4. Meet some reptiles up close, £30 per person
Fancy challenging a stubborn longlasting phobia? This off-beat virtual experiences takes place inside a reptile house, stuffed with geckos, lizards, venomous snakes, and spiders. Viewers will learn from a nature expert all about the slithering crawling residents, without the risk of being bitten. You can ask plenty of questions about these wonders, and learn how to feed them, how they survive, and what to do if you ever come across one in the wild (run?).
5. Drink cocktails with drag queens, £26 per person
Nothing will rip you out of your lockdown funk quicker than an online experience with these most fabulous Lisbon drag queens. Over 90 minutes you’ll make cocktails and belly laugh with dolled-up-to-the-nines duo Pedro (aka Teresa al Dente) and Nikolay (aka Irina Ganache), plus other complete strangers. Guests are encouraged to dress up and try out new personas themselves, in this hugely liberating get-together, but you can also do it in your pyjamas if you prefer.
6. Walk the empty streets of Prague during the Black Death, £14 per household
Our ancestors made it through the deadliest pandemic recorded in human history, so we can get through coronavirus, right? Log on virtually and follow Dr. Alexander Schamsky, an unknown hero of 1713, on-screen and fully kitted out in creepy virus protecting gear – an ankle-length overcoat and an ominous beak mask. Schamsky will walk you through the creepy streets of Prague as the host teaches about the history of the pneumonic and bubonic plagues, and the peculiar customs of the time (like people filling their beaks with dried flowers, herbs and spices to offer protection from illness). It’s strangely fun.
7. Escape into a world of Hollywood sound effects, £29 per person
Run by four-time Emmy-nominated Adam DeCoster, this surreal behind-the-scenes journey introduces you to the job of a Foley artist, the experts who do the sound effects for studios like Disney, Netflix, Sony, and Warner Bros. DeCoster, for example, makes the snow crunch in Fargo, and can use old shoes to change his footsteps to make them sound like soldiers or debutantes. He can make clothes rustle and doors squeak like they are in the room with you. This session will capture your imagination and reveal how audio effects bring the screen to life.
8. Flex your laughter muscles with a comedy coach, £12 per person
One thing we can all agree on is that we need a good laugh right about now, and comedian Iggy promises to turn “your stories of pain and shame into comedic gold”. He has many tricks up his sleeves and has performed stand-up and improv countless times in LA. In each session, he’ll show you how to bring tricky audiences on-side and will reveal the five secret joke structures that comedians use across the board. He also runs virtual comedy shows, if you want to see the experts do it properly.
9. Learn how to handstand with an Olympic medalist gymnast, £18 per person
Lockdown experiences don’t get much more brilliant than this. Kristian Thomas is an elite athlete who will actually teach you how to stand on your hands in your front room. He’ll develop your movement and gymnastic skills in no time and you’ll then have an unexpected new party trick to show your family on Christmas Day. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be a bronze medal winner, Thomas is open to questions about his incredible career and competing at London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics.
10. Visit another universe with a really big zoom lens, £18 per person
Boldly go where no-one has gone before, via a super-duper Hubble Space Telescope, the same bit of kit that helped NASA change our fundamental understanding of the universe. During a virtual experience with a proper astronomer, you can ask questions and get a crystal-clear view of outer space, learn about distant galaxies, constellations, mythology, and the wonders above and all around us. Hubble’s capabilities range from viewing the ultraviolet to the visible (which our eyes can pick up), and into the near-infrared.