May Half-Term in London: Top 20 Family Activities

Dogs Don't Do Ballet at Southbank Centre

So much on, where do you begin? We’ve made it simpler by picking out our Top 20 May Half-Term Activities for London children and families, from babies to big kids (and the young at heart).

Highlights include the IncrEdibles at Kew Garden, a festival of edible gardening, the London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre featuring Dogs Don’t Do Ballet among other family-friendly shows, and a chance to make butter in Mrs Dickens’ Kitchen!

KIDS THEATRE & FAMILY SHOWS

Sat-Fri: Charlie & Lola’s Extremely New Play at Polka Theatre, 240 the Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 (Wimbledon tube)
The ever popular brother and sister duo are back with a brand new production, blending music, puppetry and laughs. Follow Charlie and best friend Marv, Lola and best friend Lotta and of course Sizzles the dog on a magical new adventure. For ages 4+, apart from special Watch with Baby shows for under 4s. Shows from 10.30am (times and dates vary); £15/concs. £11/£10 Saver Shows: 4 May 4 (12.30pm), May 29 (11am, Watch with Baby show), Jun 23 (3.30pm), Aug 1 (2.30pm, Watch with Baby show), Aug 13 (11am) (Apr 27-Aug 17)

Sat-Fri: Fowl Play at Puppet Theatre Barge, Little Venice, 35 Blomfield Rd, W9 (Warwick Avenue tube)
A foal is born causing much excitement and a rumour among the chickens that turns the farm upside down. Features carved farm marionettes with lighting and music. For ages 3+. 11am & 3pm (Sat 25) and 3pm daily, adult £10/child and concs. £8.50. (May 25-31)

Mon-Thu: Dogs Don’t Do Ballet at Southbank Centre (pic), SE1 (Waterloo/Embankment tube)
Brought to life with puppetry from Little Angel Theatre, this funny and enjoyable blend of ballet music and comedy follows Biff the dog who thinks he’s a dancer. Part of the London Literature Festival, check web site for full programme of family-friendly events. 11am & 2pm, adult £8/child £4. NB: Sold Out, returns only! (May 27-30)

Tue-Sun: You’re Not My Friend Anymore at Unicorn Theatre, Tooley St, SE1 (London Bridge tube)
What happens when two best friends fall apart? Join Shoofly Theatre on this imaginative, funny and poignant look at the ups and downs of friendship, for ages 3+. 11.45am & 1.45pm, adult £16/child £10 (May 28-Jun 2)

Family Art Fun at V&A Museum

MUSEUM ACTIVITIES

Sat-Sun: Family Art Fun at V&A Museum (pic), Cromwell Rd, SW7 (South Kensington)
Holiday activities at the museum range from rhythm and music making for early learners in the Mini Musicians sessions to the Imagination Station workshop to design your first album cover. There’s also a special Make-It: Music Icon workshop for ages 5+ with photographer and DJ Edward Otchere helping you get the pop star look with costume, make up and photography. All events inspired by the David Bowie Is exhibition. Mini Musicians at 11am, 1pm & 3pm, FREE (May 25 & Jun 1); Imagination Station 10.30am-5pm, FREE (May 25-Jun 2); Make-It 10.30am-12.30pm & 2.30-4.30pm, child £7.50 (May 27-31). (Date range May 25-Jun 2)

Also see May Half-Term: Spy Kids at V&A Museum of Childhood (May 27-Jun 2)

Sat-Sun: May Half-Term at Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay, Canary Wharf E14 (West India Quay DLR)
It’s all about the Thames Estuary this half-term, with a chance to look at and create digital images of the estuary, hear pirate tales, make your own mudlark and create a chilly winter scene inspired by the frost fairs held along the frozen river. Daily between 11am-4pm (times vary), FREE (May 25-Jun 2)

Also see May Half-Term at Museum of London (May 25-Jun 2)

Tue-Fri: Rocket Week at Royal Artillery Museum, Royal Arsenal, SE18 (Woolwich Arsenal rail/DLR)
Explosive fun at the museum this half-term as kids can launch rockets at a model of Fort McHenry, in a recreation of an 1812 battle. Take a tour to find out about military rockets, take part in rocket making and mad science propulsion using household objects, as well as camo zone, military drilling and face painting. 11am-4.30pm, adult £5.30, child £4 + museum entry £2.50/family £12.50 (May 28-31)

Tue-Fri: Half-Term Holiday Activities at Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Rd, E2 (Hoxton overground)
The theme of this week’s activities is High Rise Living, inspired by the new exhibition Stands Alone, gardens and period rooms with special gardening sessions to celebrate the Chelsea Fringe Festival. Workshops include: make decorative doors, craft cityscapes, create mini rooftop gardens or design an upside down herb garden for your home. 10.30am-12.30pm & 2-4pm, FREE (May 28-31)

Kirikou Films at Phoenix Cinema

BABY CINEMA & FAMILY FILMS

Fri-Fri: My Neighbour Totoro (U) at Lexi Cinema, 194b Chamberlayne Rd, Kensal Rise, NW10 (Kensal Rise overground)
Sweet and captivating film about young girls who befriend magical forest creatures and go on an enchanting adventure. Animated and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. 4pm (Fri), 4.30pm (Wed) & 3pm (Fri, 31); £5 (May 24, 29 & 31)

Sat-Wed: Odeon Kids Club: Wreck it Ralph (PG) at Odeon Cinemas Holloway, Muswell Hill and other branches
Disney Pixar’s big-hearted and hilarious video game-inspired movie follows Ralph, a wannabe goodie with a bad rep on his quest to turn his life around. 11am, £2.50 (May 25-29)

Mon-Fri: Michael Ocelot Films and Workshops at Phoenix Cinema, 52 High Rd, East Finchley N2 (East Finchley tube)
Come and see a trio of Michael Ocelot animated films (pic), a tale of two brothers Azur & Asmar (Mon), Kirikou and the Sorceress, inspired by West African folk legends (Thu) and Kirikou and the Men and Women (Fri), the latest installment in the boyish adventures. Free crafty workshops before the films. 10am workshop, 11am screening (all films are rated U); adult £6/child £5 (May 27, 30 & 31)

Thu: Star Trek Into Darkness Parent & Baby Screening (12A) at Everyman Hampstead, 5 Holly Bush Vale, Hampstead NW3 (Hampstead overground)
Settle back with your infant under the age of 1 at this special screening with lowered volume and slightly raised lighting. Catch the latest installment of the critically acclaimed reworking of the sci fi classic by JJ Abrams. 3pm, adult £13.50/baby FREE (May 30)

Mrs Dickens Kitchen butter making workshop

HOLIDAY WORKSHOPS

Mon-Fri: Superdad Week at the Pottery Cafe locations in Fulham, Battersea and Richmond
Doing it for Dad is the theme at this week-long promotion where you can make gifts for papa using everything from your own sketches to baby’s footprints. 11am-6pm (Mon), 10am-6pm (Tue-Sat), 11am-5pm (Sun), pre-booking advised; £5.99 per person/per session (includes materials and multiple items, no time limit) (May 27-31)

Mon-Fri: May Half-Term Fun at Horniman Museum, 100 London Rd, Forest Hill SE23 (Forest Hill overground)
Make your own butterfly or moth finger puppet or create an underwater scene in these workshops celebrating sea and air. For ages 3+. Sessions between 11am-3.30pm (45 mins each), FREE (May 27-31)

Thu: Mrs Dickens Kitchen at Charles Dickens Museum (pic), 48 Doughty St, WC1 (Russell Square tube)
Have a go at churning your own butter, Victorian style, at this special workshop using Mrs Dickens’ kitchen secrets and a chance to taste your handiwork. 10.15am, 11.15am, 1.15pm & 2.15pm; £3 per adult/child + museum entry adult £8/child £4/under 6s FREE (May 30)

Thu: Puppet Making at Little Angel Theatre, 14 Dagmar Passage, N1 (Angel tube)
Watch a performance of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and then make a puppet to take home with you in this workshop for ages 2+. Same day workshop for ages 5+ at Islington Museum. 10.30am-1.30pm & 1.30pm-4.30pm; adult & child pair £40/concs £30/additional child £30 (May 30)

Thu: Fantastically Fashionable Creatures at Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2 (Holborn tube)
Whole day workshop to print your own design onto t-shirts inspired by the fantastical creatures around the museum. For ages 7+. 10.30am-3pm, £20, bring packed lunch (May 30)

Bompas and Parr Tutti Frutti at Kew Gardens

OUTDOOR & NATURE

Fri-Sun: IncrEdibles at Kew Gardens, Kew Rd, TW9 (Richmond overground)
Embark on a Tutti Frutti boating trip along a lake transformed into a fruit salad by food wizards Bompas & Parr (pic); see a range of edible plants growing out of beautiful goblets and jugs in the Rose Garden Tea Party; meet some obscure edibles in the Global Kitchen Garden and play on the Bouncy Carrot Patch created by Hide&Seek. Daily from 9.30am, adult £14.50/child under 12 FREE/charges for Tutti Frutti boat ride and pre-booking apply. (May 25-Sep 1)

Tue: Summer Fun at London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Rd, N1 (King’s Cross tube)
A special Activity Day for children at the museum with this week’s schedule including a fun museum trail and a short Boat Trip along the Regent’s Canal. Other planned activities (unconfirmed for this week) are model boat making, treasure hunt, art and plaque making and ice cream making! 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30-3.30pm, adult £4/child £2 entry + £4 activity day charge (May 28)

Tue-Thu: Half-Term Events at Isis Education Centre, the LookOut, Hyde Park, W1 (Hyde Park Corner tube)
Kids can go on a bug safari on the Big Bug Explorer Day (May 28, 10am-3pm, £30 for ages 7+), explore the gardens on Discovery Day (May 29, 11am-3pm drop-in, FREE for all ages) and join in a special family workshop to discover Bees and Butterflies (May 30, 10am-12pm, £6-£10). Book online for workshops. (May 28-30)

Also see Half Term Activities at Holland Park Ecology Centre (May 28-31)

Don’t forget to check out our Bank Holiday Weekend Scoop!

Photos via Southbank Centre, V&A Museum, Charles Dickens Museum, Phoenix Cinema and Kew Gardens

Easter Bank Holiday Weekend Scoop for London Kids & Families (Mar 29-Apr 1)

There are so many things to do for families this Easter and thank heavens no snow on the horizon. From the Goat Race to the Boat Race, Easter egg hunts, kids cinema and theatre picks and even some outdoor fun.

We’ll be at the Real Food Festival at Southbank Centre to support Big Apple Hot Dogs and fellow street traders. Enjoy the weekend!

Fri-Mon: 10 Best Easter Egg Hunts in London
There are chocolate eggs hiding this weekend all across London. You have no excuse not to track one down! Follow our guide to the 10 best hunts.

Fri-Mon: Easter in London: 25 Things to Do with Kids
Find out what’s on our Hot List for families this Easter weekend including: The Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square (Fri); Horrible Histories at Hackney Empire (Fri-Sat); Clapham Common Easter Funfair (all weekend); Real Food Market (all weekend); Horniman Museum Easter Fair (all weekend); The Goat Race (Sun); LSO St Luke’s 10th Birthday Family Day (Mon).

MORE WEEKEND FUN

Fri: Kid Carpet and the Noisy Animals at Polka Theatre, 240 the Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 (Wimbledon tube)
Put a little rock & roll in your Good Friday with this riotous show featuring the charismatic musician and his animal band blending theatre, comedy and a concert atmosphere for ages 4-7. 2pm, £12/concs. £8 (Mar 29)

Fri-Sat: Easter at Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, W8 (High St Kensington tube)
Eggsplore the past at the historic royal palace with Peter the Wild Boy Easter egg hunt and an Easter bonnet making competition. Kids go free all weekend! 10am-6pm; adult £14-£15/child FREE (Mar 29-Apr 1)

Sat: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (U) at Rio Cinema, 107 Kingsland High St, E8 (Dalston Kingsland overground)
Perfect for the season, the original version of this classic tale lights up the screen with Gene Wilder as the irrepressible Mr Wonka. He lures Charlie Bucket and his fellow golden ticket winners into a magical, musical world of Oompa Loompas, chocolate rivers and everlasting gobstoppers. 11am-12.45pm, adult £3/child £2 (Mar 30)

Sun: The African Market at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Rd, E2 (Shoreditch High St overground)
Enjoy an alternative Easter Sunday market with stalls offering crafts, fashion and accessories from the Continent, plus original books and music and of course delicious homemade African food. Grown-ups can linger for the live charity gig that kicks off from 8pm. Market 12-7pm, FREE (Mar 31)

Sun: The Boat Race, various riverside locations
Wrap up warm and join the crowds lining the river to cheer on Oxford vs Cambridge in the historic annual rivalry. Top spots to watch from Putney Bridge, Putney Embankment and Bishops Park (at the start); Hammersmith and Barnes (mid-course); Dukes Meadows and Chiswick Bridge (at the finish). Also check out Boat Race in the Park events with live screens and entertainment in Bishops Park, Fulham and Furnival Gardens, Hammersmith. Race starts 4.30pm, FREE (Mar 31)

Mon: Underground Overground at London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, WC2 (Covent Garden tube)
The Easter Holiday daily family activities kick off today with storytelling for ages 3 to 7 about the imaginary lives of characters living on the Underground and Make & Take workshops to contribute to a model tube set and invent your own fantastical station. 11am-2pm & 11.30am-2pm; adult entry £15/child under 16 FREE (Apr 1-12)

Mon: April Fool’s Day Comedy Concert at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 (Waterloo/Embankment tube)
An afternoon of comedy and musical mayhem bringing together the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain plus symphony orchestra for an event Time Out describes as ‘Best Concert of the Year’. Family-friendly fun for the day of all fools. 4pm; £9.50-£39.50/half-price concs. limited availability (Apr 1)

Local Pick
Sat: Easter Bunny Comes to Kinloch Gardens, Kinloch St, Islington N7 (Arsenal tube)
Back by popular demand, the Bunny hops into the gardens with her basket of goodies for a day of egg hunting, bonnet making, egg and spoon racing, paper eggs on sticks and more. For all ages. 11am-1pm, FREE (Mar 30)

We also like
Easter eggs and crafts activities at Discover in Stratford (Fri-Mon); do the Bunny Bustle 2K at Regent’s Park and raise money for disabled and disadvantaged people (Sat); Hop is showing at Everyman Screen on the Green in Islington (Sat); meet the Pearly King & Queen at Museum of London (Fri-Sat); Harlem Globetrotters slam dunk into Wembley Arena (Sat); stop by for Easter Egg Blowing all day long at Drink Shop Do in King’s Cross (Sun)

Calendar: What’s Hot in March for London Kids & Families (2013)

Chocolate festivals, World Book Day, ballet for kids and the brand new Mums Show Live — what’s not to love about March in London?

We’ve handpicked our favourite family activities and things to do with kids around town this month. Here’s what’s hot:

Madagascar Live at Wembley Arena, Engineers Way, HA9 (Mar 1-3)
Tiger Tracks at St Pancras International, N1 (Mar 1-21)
World Book Day 2013 (Mar 7)
The Big Write at Discover Children’s Story Centre, 383-387 High St, Stratford, E15 (March 7-17)
OZ The Great & Powerful in Imax 3D (from Mar 8)
Singing in the Rain with Live Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 (Mar 8-9)
WOW Women of the World Festival at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 (Mar 8-10)
Florimania at Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 (Mar 8-10)
Mother’s Day (Mar 10)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, WC2 (Mar 15-Apr 13)
HMS Belfast Celebrates 75th Birthday, at HMS Belfast, off Tooley St, SE1 (Mar 16-17)
St Patrick’s Day Parade, Trafalgar Square, WC2 (Mar 17)
Not so Silent Movies at King’s Place, York Way, N1 (Mar 17)
Mwalimu Express: African Family Culture Club at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Rd, E1 (Mar 17)
Global Kids Fashion Week at Freemasons Hall, Covent Garden, WC2 (Mar 18-20)
Chocolate Festival at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 (Mar 22-24)
The Big Egg Hunt, Covent Garden, WC2 (Mar 22-Apr 1)
My First Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells, Peacock Theatre, WC1 (Mar 27-Apr 7)
Family Weekend: Rapunzel at Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Ave, EC1 (Mar 29-30)
The Passion of Jesus, Trafalgar Square, WC2 (Mar 29)
Clapham Common Easter Funfair, SW4 (Mar 29-Apr 14)
Easter Events at Kew Garden, Richmond, TW8 (Mar 29-Apr 14)
Oxford & Cambridge Goat Race at Spitalfields City Farm, Buxton St, E1 (Mar 31)
Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels at Hammersmith Apollo, W6 (Mar 31-Apr 1)

Look out for our Easter Holiday Guide and our Top 10 Easter Egg Hunts. Here’s last year’s Easter egg treasure trove

Ongoing

Manet: Portraying Life at Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, W1 (until Apr 14)
Journey to Space at Discover Story Centre, Stratford (until Nov 3)
The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour at Warner Brothers Studios, Leavesden, WD25 7LR (ongoing)

Calendar Cutie

This month’s cover girl is the amazing Adasu, only 28 months old and already a revolutionary. Here she is at the One Billion Rising flash mob event in Parliament Square on Feb 14, 2013. We love her cheeky style and rebel spirit. Go Adasu!

Send in your favourite photos of your babes (ages 5 and under) for a chance to be our next Calendar Cutie and be entered into a prize draw! Email photos and a short description to editor@babesabouttown.com

Photo credit: Joanna Catterall

Weekend Scoop for London Kids & Families (Feb 15-17, 2013)

LEGO Book Swap

Half-Term holidays are coming up and we’ll have our Half-Term Guide up soon. In the meantime, here are our picks for what to do with the kids in London over the weekend.

Hope everyone had a loving Valentine’s Day!

Fri-Sun: Imagine Children’s Festival (pictured) at Southbank Centre, SE1 (Embankment/Waterloo tube)
One of the highlights of the year, the Imagine Children’s Festival is non-stop fun throughout half-term. This weekend alone you can hear Baby French Tales, savour the Real Food Market, follow Beastie, look for Where’s Wally, play in the Lego Book Workshop, take part in the London Children’s Book Swap, catch a Baby Opera and a Babar the Elephant concert, and listen to poets Michael Rosen and John Hegley perform. Times and prices vary, many events are FREE (Feb 11-24)

Fri-Sun: Zippo’s Circus at Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Car Park, Prince Charles Drive, NW4 (Hendon Central tube)
Back for another outing, the popular circus features high-flying acts, daring stunts, crazy clowns and twisted acrobatics. 12pm, 3pm, 6pm & 7pm (dates and times vary); adult £8-£21/child £6-£17 (Feb 15-24)

Sat: Selfridges Half-Term Silent Disco at Selfridges, Oxford St, W1 (Bond St tube)
It’s party time to kick off the half-term holiday at Selfridges, with the Kids Floor opening up for a day of fun. There will be appearances by the Gruffalo, face painting, Miss Ballooniverse, book signings by KAS Quinn and a groovy Silent Disco (3-5pm) where you can show off your Gangnam Style moves. Also a chance to win £250 Mattel goodies! 1pm-5pm, FREE (Feb 16)

Sat: London Children’s Book Swap, venues across town
Bring along your favourite reads and swap it for more great books at this annual World Book Day event, featuring participating venues including Barbican Centre, Southbank Centre, Discovery Story Centre, Rich Mix, V&A Museum of Childhood, Unicorn Theatre and more. Visit the web site for venue details and times. (Feb 16)

Sat-Sun: Journey to Space at Discover Story Centre, 383-387 Stratford High St, E15 (Stratford overground/tube)
Brand new for half-term, this interactive exhibition takes kids on a rocket-ship adventure to explore mysterious planets and strange beings. Prepare for blast off! ; 12-1pm & 3-5pm (Tue-Fri); 11am-5pm (Sat-Sun); £4.50/family £16 (opens Feb 16, ongoing)

Sun: Mwalimu Express African Family Club at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Rd, E2 (Shoreditch High St overground)
One of our favourite family-friendly gatherings, the Mwalimu Express heads to Mali this week with live music from West African Blues Project, screening of the film Manuscripts of Timbuktu, parent & toddler dance sessions, craft stalls, food and more! 2-7pm, FREE (Feb 17)

Sun: Baby Rave Love Ball at Pirate Castle, Oval Rd, NW1 (Camden tube)
It’s a Valentine’s edition party for this family disco with a festival vibe and ‘milky corner’ chill out for the littlest ravers. Come and shake your groove thang and dress up as something you LOVE. 3.30-5pm, adult £4-£6/child £3(Feb 17)

Sun-Mon: Imaginary Worlds Family Festival at National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2 (Charing Cross tube)
The National Gallery’s first ever family festival is a two-day feast of film screenings including The Wizard of Oz, puppet showings e.g. Arthur’s Dreamboat, pram tours of the exhibitions, art workshops, pop-up orchestras, book signing and more. 10.30am-5pm (event times vary), max charge £3/mostly FREE (Feb 17-18)

We also like
Wind in the Willows at Polka Theatre, Wimbledon (until Sat); The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr Benn at Arts Depot, North Finchley (Sat); Bringing Down the Moon at Jacksons Lane, N6 (Sun); Orchids Exhibition at Kew Gardens, Richmond (ongoing until Mar 3)

Image: LEGO Book Swap at Imagine Children’s Festival, via Southbank Centre

Calendar: What’s Hot for London Kids & Families (Feb, 2013)

Kids playhouse, Ezra

Welcome to February, or as we like to call it, Birthday Month! The party season kicks off with my eldest’s birthday tomorrow, followed swiftly by mine and then Jed’s and let’s not forget Pancake Day, Valentine’s Day, Carnival and Chinese New Year!

Shake off those winter blues and check out some of the amazing family fun in London throughout the month. Half-Term guide coming soon.

Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D (PG), cinemas nationwide (from Feb 1)
The View from the Shard, Joiner St, SE1 (Feb 1-28)
Guanabara presents Carnival! at Guanabara, Covent Garden, WC2 (Feb 7-12)
An Evening with Rolf Harris at Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall, SE1 (Feb 8)
Singing in the Rain at Framed Family Film Club, Barbican Centre, EC1 (Feb 9)
Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square, WC1 (Feb 10)
Imagine Children’s Festival at Southbank Centre, SE1 (Feb 11-24)
Great Spitalfields Pancake Race, Old Truman Brewery, 81 Brick Lane, E1 (Feb 12)
Better Bankside Pancake Day Race, Borough Market, Southwark St, SE1 (Feb 12)
Moscow State Circus at New Wimbledon Theatre, the Broadway, SW19 (Feb 13-14)
Mwalimu Express African Family Club at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Rd, E2 (Feb 17)
Baby Rave: Love Ball at Pirate Castle, Oval Rd, NW1 (Feb 17)
Imaginary Worlds Family Festival at National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2 (Feb 17-18)
New Wave Kids at V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Rd, E2 (Feb 18-22)
Pig Day at Battersea Park Zoo, SW11 (Feb 19)
Discover Circus and Family Ignite at Royal Albert Hall, SW7 (Feb 19)
Big and Small Family Day at Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1 (Feb 22)
Baby Loves Disco: Mardi Gras at Sway, 61-65 Great Queen St, WC2 (Feb 23)

Ongoing
Cirque du Soleil: Kooza at Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 (until Feb 14)
The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour at Warner Brothers Studios, Leavesden, WD25 7LR (until Mar 6, 2013)
Manet: Portraying Life at Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, W1 (until Apr 14)

Calendar Cutie

Who’s that peeping out of the playhouse? My gorgeous boy, who’s about to become 7 tomorrow. Many of you have known him since he was 4, others even longer. I love this photo, it reminds me of a happy morning playing at our friend Jo’s. It reminds me of summer and how quickly seasons turn and your little boy is no longer so little anymore. Happy birthday, Ezra!

Send in your favourite photos of your babes (ages 5 and under) for a chance to be our next Calendar Cutie and be entered into a prize draw! Email photos and a short description to editor@babesabouttown.com

Weekend Scoop for London Kids & Families (Nov 29-Dec 2)

Baby Opera: Korall Koral

Santa’s popping up all over the place these days, but I guess ’tis the season for it. Find him at Rich Mix and Baby Loves Disco this weekend. Also happening for London kids and parents, immersive theatre in Stratford and a Baby Opera (pic) on the South Bank. Have fun!

Thu: Chelsea Christmas Shopping Evening, Sloane Square and surrounding areas (Sloane Square tube)
Pop down to Duke of York Square and other areas in the heart of Chelsea for a shopping evening to remember with complimentary bubbly at Space NK, Dodo and LK Bennett, mince pies at Caramel, complimentary gift wrapping at Neck & Neck kids wear plus more discounts at participating stores. 6-9pm (Nov 29)

Thu-Sun: The House where Winter Lives at Discover Children’s Centre, Stratford High St, E16 (Stratford tube/overground)
Punchdrunk Enrichment joins forces with Discover to create this enchanting, immersive storytelling experience for kids ages 3-6 and their families. Performances at 12.30pm, 2pm, 4pm & 5.30pm (varying days); adult £8/child £6 (Nov 29-Jan 13)

Fri-Sun: Baby Opera: Korall Koral at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 (Waterloo/Embankment tube)
Step into a surprising, shell-like tent to hear sea horse harps, bagpipe flutes and other mysterious creatures playing music for kids ages 6 months to 3 years old. 10.30am (Fri), 10.30am & 11.15am (Sat-Sun); 1 adult + child £8 (Nov 30-Dec 2)

Sat: Baby Loves Disco Christmas Party at Sway, 61-65 Great Queen St, WC2 (Covent Garden tube)
Groovy babies head to hot nightclub Sway for the Xmas edition of BLD, with festive treats and a visit from the big fella in the red suit. Tickets include a gift for every child. 1-4pm, £10 for all walking humans, non-walkers FREE (Dec 1)

Sat-Sun: Cutty Sark Christmas at Cutty Sark, Greenwich, SE10 (Greenwich DLR)
Make a sparkly decoration out of stars, bells or gingerbread, or drawing inspiration from other shapes found around the ship. 11-1pm & 2-4pm, adult £12/child £6.50, under 5s FREE (Dec 1-2)

Sun: Winter Bonanza at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Rd, E1 (Shoreditch High St overground)
Come along for an all-day Christmas party with crafting for families and a visit from Santa, community meal plus live music and DJs for grown-ups in the evening. 11am-late, FREE (Dec 2)

We also like
We Make London holds their Christmas fair at Battersea Arts Centre (Sat); catch a Stick Man at Leicester Square Theatre (until Jan 8); Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has Zippo’s Circus and Christmas chalets (daily until Jan 12); The Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park (until Sun); Not So Silent Movies has silent family films and live orchestra at Kings Place, N1 (Sun); big kids (ages 6+ only) will love Pinocchio at Little Angel Theatre (until Jan 27)

Look out for our Kids Christmas Guide and also our Top 10 Family Shows coming soon!

Babes Love: The Adventure Walks London Map

Adventure Walks London Map

We’re big fans of the Guy Fox London Children’s Map, so when I had the chance to check out another map for London kids, I was curious to see how the new one would stack up.

The Adventure Walks London Map is a brilliant concept, featuring not only a fold-out guide to central London (as well as Stratford and Greenwich) but tons of sightseeing tips including 20 London walks for families.

It’s created by London mums Becky Jones and Clare Lewis, the team behind the popular Adventure Walks for Families books, and it’s packed with ideas for enjoying a fabulous day out with kids in the Capital.

We’d been to see a show in Leicester Square and afterwards I asked Ezra to open the map and lead us to Covent Garden. He was happy to be able to direct us — it’s a straightforward path and the map makes both sites easy to spot.

The Adventure Walks London Map has sweet illustrations and cheeky icons to highlight local attractions, such as ice skates for Bayswater skating rink and people walking across a zebra crossing for Abbey Road!

Helpful lists point you toward anything from the best museums and galleries to the crispiest fish and chips, the coolest ice creams or the yummiest cake shops around town. Definitely mamas after my own heart!

I’m really impressed by how much detailed information the authors have managed to squeeze onto this map without making it seem too crowded.
I also love the sense of wonder and (re)discovery inspired every time we unfold the map.

The Adventure Walks London Map is an essential piece of kit, whether you’re a bright-eyed newbie or a seasoned babe about town.

The Adventure Walks London Map is out now, £4.95. Visit www.londonadventurewalks.co.uk

Weekend Scoop for London Families (Sep 6-9)

Circolombia at Thames Festival

It’s the official end of summer as the Mayor’s Thames Festival takes over the River Thames area with a stunning line-up of arts, workshops and performances. Here’s what else we’ve found for London kids and families this weekend:

Thu-Sat: Kew the Movies at Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB (Richmond overground)
Watch open-air cinema in the gorgeous gardens with a line-up of classic films every evening including The Artist (Thu), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Fri) and Grease (Sun). From 6.30pm, adult £16/child 6+ £12/under 6s FREE (Sep 6-8)

Fri-Sun: Future Cinema Presents Grease, secret London location
Get ready for a hand-jiving, show-stopping night out as the creators of Secret Cinema, live cinema experiences, present the cult musical Grease. Come as your favourite T-Bird or Pink Lady. From 6.30pm, £35/concs & under 17s £25. Tickets released from 1pm (Sep 7-9)

Sat: Mini Maestro Festive Family Prom at St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC1 (Charing Cross tube)
Go on a musical treasure hunt, play real instruments or even conduct your own orchestra at this lively, interactive family concert with the London Musical Arts Orchestra, playing favourites from the Last Night of the Proms. 4.30pm, adult £8.50/child £6.50 (Sep 8)

Sat: Roald Dahl Day with Michael Rosen at National Theatre, Cottesloe Theatre, South Bank, SE1 (Waterloo/Embankment tube)
Celebrate the weird and wonderful world of Mr Dahl, in honour of his birthday, with readings from his classic books by former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen. Rosen also reads from his latest work, Fantastic Mr. Dahl. 10.30am, £4/£3 concs (Sep 8)

Sat-Sun: Thames Festival, Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge and beyond (check out Thames Festival travel info)
The wonderful end of summer festival also rounds off the 2012 Games this year and offers an unmissable programme of activities, with loads on for kids and families. Check out BFI Fundays family films and workshops, Blue Ribbon Village special kids’ zone in Potters Fields, Circolombia circus (pic), Kids’ Choir, a Homage to Rio celebration and of course the spectacular Night Carnival and Fireworks Finale! 10am-late, FREE (Sep 8-9)

Sat-Sun: Showtime, across London
The city’s largest ever free outdoor arts festival, presented by Mayor of London, draws to a close with performances around town including the Bandstand Marathon on Sunday, a record-breaking music marathon happening in 20+ parks across London. 12pm onwards, FREE (Sep 8-9)

Sat-Sun: Albany Outdoors, around the Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 (New Cross overground)
Join in the Albany’s free outdoor festival of music and performance, with family friendly highlights including life-sized Punch & Judy show, interactive Alice in Wonderland, the Van Man theatrical street dance, roving poets in Wordshuffle Cafe, Madcap’s Urban Village Fete and more. From 11am, FREE (Sep 8-9)

Sun: Closing Ceremony at Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Rd, E2 (Hoxton overground)
There’s Bhangra dancing, interactive stop motion animation workshops, storytelling, film screening and more at this festive event marking the end of the 2012 Games and the Stories of the World: London series, part of the Cultural Olympiad. 10am-5pm, FREE (Sep 9)

LOCAL PICK
Sun: Gillespie Park Festival, Gillespie Park, Drayton Park, N5 (Arsenal tube)
The popular local festival features everything from Morris Dancing sessions to spoken word by John Hegley. Enjoy outdoor fun with food stalls, live music, Emmanuel the Magnificent performing acrobatics and storytelling from George Fiawoo. 1-5pm, FREE (Sep 9)

We also like
Shop until you drop at Vogue’s Fashion Night Out TONIGHT, various London locations including West End and Westfield (Thu); explore Points on a Compass at HMS Belfast, SE1 (Sat-Sun); go on a Reptile Walk at London Wetland Centre in Barnes (Sun); browse among 10,000+ teddies on sale at Hugglets Teddies Fair at Kensington Town Hall (Sun); from Bengal to Bethnal Green celebrates the feast of Eid at Rich Mix, E1 (Sun)

And don’t forget the huge Team GB Athletes Parade from Mansion House through central London to The Mall on Monday, starting at 1.30pm!

Photo: Circolombia via Thames Festival web site