School’s out for summer… etc! To ease you into the fun, we’ve handpicked 31 COOLEST things to do in London with kids this Summer. It’s looking like a hot one. Have a fantastic summer holidays!
1. It’s back, baby! The Camden Beach opens again at the Roundhouse, NW1 with beach huts, ping pong, cocktails, deckchairs, live music and 150 tonnes of sand to sink your toes into. Plan to go early with the kids as it does get crowded later (and full) and don’t forget your bucket and spade! 12-11pm (Tue-Sat), 5-11pm (Mon); FREE entry (Jul 26-Aug 23)
2. George Irving’s Funfair rolls into Shepherd’s Bush (Jul 25-Aug 3), Burgess Park in Southwark (Aug 15-17) and London Fields for the Bank Holiday weekend (Aug 23-25). Also don’t forget the Hampstead Heath Funfair also over the August Bank Holiday (Aug 24-25).
3. Make like Superman and defy gravity at Scarabeus Aerial Summer School flying workshops at Caxton House Community Centre, 129 St John’s Way, London N19 3RQ! Safe in climbing harnesses and cocoons, kids can take to the skies (almost) for an exhilarating experience under the guidance of expert instructors. 10am-12.30pm (ages 5-7) & 1pm-4pm (ages 8-11) , £100 (£80 for additional siblings) for 5 x half-day workshops.020 7281 7493 or email@example.com> to book a place
and specify which week you wish to book. (Aug 4-8 and Aug 11-15)
4. The big bash for little people ages 10 and under, Lollibop Festival relocates to the glorious surroundings of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire (just 20 mins by train from King’s Cross). Thirteen different activity zones plus Justin Fletcher, Science Museum, Disney on Ice Silent Disco, Skylanders Trap Team, Scooby Doo Live, Southbank Centre, Harry’s Wizard School, Postman Pat and many more on the line-up. Daily 10am-6pm. Advance tickets from £22.50/family of 4 tickets from £82.50 + booking fees. (Aug 15-17)
5. Bounce Festival in Old Deer Park, Richmond is a jam-packed family weekend of activities for ages 12 and under. From cooking and crafts, to sports and science, to live entertainment all designed to spark the imagination. 10am-6pm; £18 adv, £20 door/ages 4 and under £4/family £60 adv. or £70 door (Aug 16-17)
6. Celebrate the centenary of the arrival of the world’s most famous bear, Winnie (the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh) at Little Creatures Family Festival at London Zoo, Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY (Regent’s Park/Camden Town tube). Go on a Teddy Bear’s picnic, explore Tiger Territory, try a wildlife trail and play games on the lawn. 10am-6pm, regular zoo prices (Aug 29-31).
FLASH GIVEAWAY: WIN TICKETS TO SEE CLOUDS AT SOUTHBANK CENTRE
7. Enter the magical world of Clouds at Southbank Centre (Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX, Waterloo/Embankment tube), where clouds become sheep, shadows become objects and the imagination runs riot. Visually spectacular show for ages 4+. 11am & 2pm (Sun-Wed), 4pm (Sat); £18 (Jul 26-30)
To win a family ticket to see Clouds simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer to this question: What is the name of the Spanish company that created Clouds? (clue: it’s on the Southbank Centre web site!) Competition deadline Friday Jul 25, 12 noon..
8. Kids Week, the annual family theatre discount allowing 1 FREE child per paying adult (and up to 2 additional kids half-price) to a variety of top West End shows, is back for a whole month with hot tickets including Wicked, The Lion King and Tony award-winning Matilda the Musical (Aug 1-31)
9. Take a trip into the magical world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as you follow the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit on a familiar journey told through dazzling operatic performances. At Opera Holland Park, 37 Pembroke Rd, W8 6PW (Holland Park tube). 3pm, £15-£75 (Jul 25-26, Jul 29-30, Aug 1-2)
10. HOT PICK: Run don’t walk to see Zoo Nation’s Groove on Down the Road at Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX (Waterloo/Embankment tube), a brilliantly inventive hip hop remix of The Wizard of Oz, showcasing talented dancers ages 10-19. 2pm, 3pm, 5.30pm & 7pm (varying dates); £22-27/concs. half-price (limited availability) (Aug 5-26)
11. Catch one of Shakespeare’s most loveable comedies The Merry Wives of Windsor at Coram’s Fields, Guilford St, WC1N 1DN (Russell Square tube). It’s a family friendly show, featuring colourful rogue Sir John Falstaff and lots of crazy, mixed up action. 7.45pm (Thu-Sun), adults £16/child under 16 + concs. £13/family of 4 £50 (Jul 17-Aug 3)
12. See a classic film in the open air, with family-friendly screenings at a number of outdoor cinemas springing up all over town. We recommend The Never Ending Story at The Nomad Cinema in Coram’s Secret Garden, Coram’s Fields (Aug 13). Find more in our family films and outdoor cinema guide coming up!
13. The fabulous Moomins are here for some Moominsummer Madness at Polka Theatre, 240 The Broadway, SW19 1SB (South Wimbledon tube). It’s a collaboration with Little Angel Theatre, celebrating the 100th birthday of Tove Jansson, creator of the classic picture books. Ages 4+ (plus special All Ages welcome shows for babies). From 11am (dates & times vary); £13.50/concs £9 (until Aug 16)
14. Go on a strange journey with the Muse of Fire at Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside SE1 9DT (Blackfriars/Mansion House tube). Follow puppets, an Elizabethan hermit and a magician to uncover the secrets of the Muse of Fire and stop her burning down the Globe. Theatrical adventure for ages 6-11 (and their daring parents/carers). 11am & 2pm; adult £12.50/child £10 (Aug 18-27)
15. Thrill to Cirque Bijou and Nutkhut’s outdoor circus performance exploring the story of London’s forgotten underground rivers and tunnels in Source at Arts Depot outside area, (3pm, FREE) on Aug 30. Also playing in Edmonton, Deptford and other locations. Visit Cirque Bijou web site for more.
16. This year the National Theatre’s brilliant free outdoor festival Watch this Spacegoes on tour, with dance theatre, circus, live music and more taking place at the hub at St John’s Waterloo, Waterloo Rd, SE1 8TY (Waterloo tube). Also look out for shows outside the National Theatre, including Clunk, a theatrical mini-gig aimed at under 5s (Aug 16). Varying dates and times, all FREE (until Aug 31)
17. We absolutely LOVED The Elephantom at New London Theatre, Drury Lane, WC2B 5PF (Holborn tube). A little girl makes friends with a ghost-elephant in her bedroom, and it’s the start of a very messy adventure. Puppetry, music and laughs for ages 3+. 11.30am & 2.30pm (Tue-Fri), 2.30pm (Mon) & 10am (Sat); £13-£20 (Jun 30-Sep 6)
18. Visit the National Portrait Gallery (St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HP, Charing Cross tube) to gawp at the amazing collection of lifelike paintings in the BP Portrait Awards, check out the Virginia Woolf exhibition (parental advisory, not all of it is suitable for kids) and take the kids on a family trail or try the new Family Activity Base and more workshops for children. 10am-6pm (Mon-Wed, Sat-Sun) & 10am-9pm (Thu-Fri), FREE entry although charges apply for some exhibitions. (ongoing)
19. Imagine a Royal Childhood at Buckingham Palace at this year’s Summer Opening at Buckhingham Palace, SW1A 1AA (Victoria tube). Go behind the scenes of princes and princesses through treasured toys, childhood clothing and previously unseen photos and film footage. 9.30am-7.30pm (July-Aug) & 9.30am-6.30pm (Sep); adult £19.75, child under 17 £11.75/under 5s FREE (Jul 26-Sep 28)
20. Follow in Prince George’s tiny footsteps on the hunt for Sensational Butterflies at Natural History Museum, Exhibition Rd, SW7 (South Kensington tube). 10am-5.30pm, £5.50/under 5s FREE (until Sep 14)
21. Immerse yourself in Barbican Centre: Digital Revolutions at Silk St, EC2Y 8DS (Barbican tube). The exhibition explores new digital culture and technology, bringing together the worlds of gaming, film, architecture, design and music. Works and new commissions by artists as varied as Bjork, Tim Webber and Framestore (the visual effects team behind the film Gravity) and will.i.am. 10am-6pm (Sat-Wed); Thu-Fri (10am-9pm); adult £12.50/child 5-16 £5/under 5s FREE. Advanced booking essential (until Sep 14)
22. Discover a two-metre long papier mache dinosaur at the Children’s Art Commission at Whitechapel Gallery (77-82 Whitechapel High St, E1 7QX, Aldgate East tube) along with more fantastical object and workshops for kids and families alongside the exhibition. 11am-6pm (Tue-Sun); FREE (until Sep 28)
23. Wander through Quentin Blake: Inside Stories at House of Illustration (10am-6pm daily, adult £7/child £4) to view quirky and memorable works by Roald Dahl’s chief accomplice (until Nov 2)
24. Explore the newly reopened Imperial War Museum and its groundbreaking First World War Galleries along with the Horrible Histories: Spies exhibition for families. At IWM London, Lambeth Rd, SW1 6HZ (Lambeth North tube). 10am-6pm, FREE (ongoing)
25. The babes will be at the Southbank Centre (Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX, Waterloo/Embankment tube) for another champion round of the Urban Weekend celebrating street culture. Free b-boy and b-girl performances, rapping, beatboxing, pop-up basketball, BMX battles, free running, graffiti displays, Zoo Nation dance mob, urban fashion show and an Urban Block Party (Sat 2-7pm) featuring DJs rocking out on the festival terrace. From around 9am daily, many events are FREE (Jul 25-27)
26. Two days of culture and family fun are on the cards with Walthamstow Garden Party, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow E17 5JW (Walthamstow tube). There’s live music from Brand New Heavies among top artists from around the world, Boy Blue Entertainment street dance, Rock a Hula, bowling sessions, mini garden party for under 5s, activities, food stalls and more. 12-9pm (Sat) & 12-8pm (Sun); FREE (Jul 26-27)
27. Pop along to the annual Summer Festival at V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Rd, E2 9PA (Bethnal Green tube) for live music and performance including dance, walkabout acts and more to the museum gardens. Plus fashion and food stalls, arts and crafts for kids, face painting, rickshaw rides and games. All ages. 11.30am-4.30pm, FREE (Jul 27)
28. Europe’s biggest street party sweeps into West London with the Notting Hill Carnival happening as ever on the Bank Holiday weekend. Sunday is Children’s Day but the fun lasts through Monday with floats, costume parades, food stalls, sound systems and good vibes from 9am-7pm. FREE (Aug 25-26)
29. The fabulous Disco Loco in the Park family pop-up festival returns for its 3rd outing in Springfield Park, Hackney. Expect more live music, loads of yummy grub, theatre, interactive fun, film and sound pods, DJs and a laidback crowd. Brilliant way to wind down the summer! 11am-6pm, FREE (Aug 31)
30. Street Feast, the nomadic and family friendly street food market takes its gastro show on the road with new spot Model Market in Lewisham to add to its staple Friday and Saturday night sessions in Dalston Yard. Enjoy a rotating menu of street chefs and stalls, live music and DJs, and special family activities. 5pm-12am (Fri), 12pm-12am (Sat), FREE entry. (until September)
31. What used to be a weekend party at the Thames Festival has morphed into Totally Thames Festival, a month-long party featuring 100+ events celebrating arts, culture and all things riverside. Full programme on the web site. (Sep 1-30)