With the summer holidays finally here and children to entertain, The Resident picks out some of London’s best summer holiday programmes and activities to keep the kiddos happy…
Words: Phoebe Gould & Trinity King
Lead Image: Go Ape
1 Dulwich Pavilion Summer Family Events
Help your kids become more creative by taking them by Art in the Pavilion, a month full of family events hosted by the Dulwich Pavilion. Every Wednesday starting 2 August and ending on 30 August, kids ages 3 and up can enjoy a range of different art-making sessions in the Dulwich Pavilion. In addition to weekly events, Dulwich Pavilion is kicking off the summer holidays with the Family Summer Celebration where you and your kids can hang around the pavilion, dance the evening away along to the folk orchestra, create family or individual portraits, dress up to recreate the famous paintings in the Dulwich collection, and, of course, enjoy a family BBQ picnic. The weekly art-making events costs £3 per child, and the Family Summer Celebration costs £7 per adult and £5 per child with the option of one child eating free for every paying adult.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Rd, Southwark SE21 7AD; 020 8693 5254; dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk
2 Go Ape, various locations
Is your family full of thrill seekers? If so, check out Go Ape in Battersea Park. At Battersea, Go Ape runs two separate tree top experiences – Tree Top Adventure (10+) and Tree Top Junior (all ages). The Tree Top Junior course takes about an hour to complete through shady canopies and complex obstacles. At the end of the course, there’s an electrifying 34.5 metre zipline. Go Ape is an excellent wet weather activity, as the course stays open when it rains. There are further adventure centres in Trent Park, Alexandra Palace, Chessington World of Adventures Resort and the brand new Nets Kingdom at the Uxbridge centre, with bounce nets, slides, climbing towers and hand-built treehouses designed for kids. Completely encased in 3,000 square metres of hammock-like netting, it means the grown ups can relax with a coffee and leave the kids safely to it!
3 The Postal Museum’s Family Opening Extravaganza
To mark its opening, The Postal Museum will be holding a family extravaganza on its Postal Museum site throughout the summer holidays. Ideal for families with children aged 0-11, as well as family friendly interactive exhibitions, a whole host of activities will take place every day from face-painting and storytelling to arts and crafts and costumed actors. On the weekends of 28-30 July and 5-6 August there will be even more going on with multiple events taking place across The Postal Museum’s site. The Postal Museum opens on Friday 28 July, with the Mail Rail rides and Sorted!, the play area for 0-8s, launching on Monday 4 September. Tickets: adults £11, concs £9. Up to four children can be included on a full-price adult or concession tickets (prices valid until Sunday 3 September 2017).
Phoenix Place, Clerkenwell WC1X 0DA; postalmuseum.org
4 Go skiing at Chel-Ski
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can’t hit the slopes. Strap on your skis or snowboard and take on Chealsea’s very own Chel-Ski centre. The centre is a great place to ski for all ages and abilities, and offers personal instruction as you conquer the slopes. There’s even a mirror so you can critique your technique on your own. This summer Chel-Ski is offering a tempting summer lift pass so you can save money, even as you ski.
4 Sotheron Place, Chelsea SW6 2EJ; chel-ski.uk
5 Horse riding lessons in Richmond
This summer, take to the ring at Stag Lodge Stables on the edge of London’s Richmond Park near Wimbledon Common. Stag Lodge offers horse riding lessons and courses for all ages from 3 upwards. Stag Lodge is home to over 70 horses, ranging from sturdy Shetland ponies to 16-hand Hunter horses -there is sure to be a horse suitable for riders of all ages and abilities. In the summer holidays, Stag Lodge offers week-long pony courses – perfect for the budding equestrian in your family.
Stag Lodge, Robin Hood Gate, Richmond Park SW15 3RS & Stag Lodge 2, 197 Robin Hood Way, Richmond SW20 0AA; ridinginlondon.com
6 August Events at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
Let your kid release his inner astronaut by taking him by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich to check out their August family events. Every weekend throughout August, you and your children can participate in the Observatory’s Weekend Space Cadets where they will have the chance to take part in a varied range of activities related to space science and space exploration (Ages 5+, free admission, 12.45-16.15). Of course, no visit to the Observatory is complete without checking out a planetarium show. Whether you simply buy the ‘Astro Ticket,’ your access to both the historic Royal Observatory buildings and Meridian courtyard with a planetarium show, check out the adventures of Ted in his Space Safari or sit in on one of the Sky Tonight viewings, you and the whole family are sure to have a blast visiting the Royal Observatory.
Blackheath Avenue, Greenwich SE10 8XJ; 020 8858 4422; rmg.co.uk
7 Futureversity’s Summer Courses in Greenwich
The immense amount of free time can make even the oldest of kids feel a little antsy. To help curb this, the youth charity Futureversity is launching a free summer programme for students ages 11-19 offering unique opportunites for these students to learn valuable new skills and develop their potential, plus they get to have a ton of fun and make new friends. Taught by industry professionals, the courses will focus on six categories: Business and Careers; Skills for Life; Art and Fashion: Sport, Fitness and Wellbeing; Digital media and Photography; and Music and Performing Arts. In addition to learning from the classroom, the kids will have the chance to gain experience visiting the real-life settings of these categories in central London.
Full course and booking available through futureversity.org or by calling 020 7247 7900
8 Stories + Storytellers
Throughout the summer, Foyles’ bookshops will be hosting author readings, creating workshop and illustration camps throughout the London area. 28-30 July, Shakespeare’s Telling Tales is a weekend-long festival celebrating storytelling, including Shakespeare-slanted story-making workshops, spooky tales and lively age-tailored educational sessions on Henry V. Starting 24 July and ending 25 August, Crouch End’s Pickled Pepper Books will be hosting weekly camps geared towards kids interested in book illustration, science and creative writing workshops. Bring the little ones and stop by the British Library on Sunday 20 August to meet and learn how to make illustrated ‘story makers’ from illustrator Sion Ap Tomos.
Venues and ages vary for each event; tellingtales.com; pickledpepperbooks.co.uk; story-starters.com
9 Treasure Hunt at the Museum
THATMuse creates fun scavenger hunts in some of the world’s famous museums to teach kids about history, art and culture while keeping them entertained. In London, THATMuse is offering public hunts once a month at The British Museum, with events coming up on Friday 11 August, Friday 8 September and Friday 13 October. You can also book your own private hunts for the family (the Classic Hunt is £75 per family) or the LUXE Hunt where your family will be divided into teams with the winners getting a prize (£275 for a three-hour hunt). The public hunts cost £12 for kids and £15 for adults.
British Museum, Great Russell Street WC1B 3DG; thatmuse.com
10 Kids Klub at Pop Brixton
For the entirety of the kids summer holidays, Pop Brixton will be hosting a range of activities for kids to participate in as part of their summer Kids Klub. Do checkout the highlights including cooking classes, Grooveschool DJ workshop, STEM + Art workshop, bouncy castle, NCT Bumps & Babes, Japanese language and chopsticks classes and kids kreate art classes. Be sure to check the website for a full list of activities, dates and times and be sure to take notice of whether or not the event is free or needs to be prebooked.
49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, SW9 8PQ; 020 3879 8410; popbrixton.org
11 Battersea Power Station’s Power of Summer Festival
Battersea Power Station’s Power of Summer Festival is a six-week festival of fun-filled activities including a pop-up beach, hip-hop classes, Edinburgh Fringe previews and much more. Kicking off on 22 July 2017, Power of Summer Festival takes over Circus West Village, overlooking the River Thames at Battersea Power Station, with a different theme each week. Circus West Village’s new independent restaurants and retailers will be throwing open their doors and putting on events and special offers. No. 29 Power Station West, a new village pub from the neighbourhood bar group, Darwin & Wallace, co-sponsor of the festival with Mother pizza restaurant, is offering 50% off food and drink until 4 August. Visitors to the festival will arrive at Circus West Village via Grosvenor Arch, where an impressive new art installation named Power has been unveiled by leading artist, Morag Myerscough. Summer Sundays runs throughout the festival and kicks off with Swing Patrol which will be providing a vintage band, DJ, dance lessons and performances by Air Patrol from 12-5pm on Sunday.
12 Summer Camps at the V&A Museum of Childhood
To make sure your kids attend a truly epic summer camp, sign them up for one of the two summer camps the V&A Museum of Childhood is offering this summer. The Secret Museum DIY Film Collective with Albert Potrony (ages 8-11) will allow the kids to bring the museum’s collection of toys to life through film and fictional stories. Bringing Stories to Life with Sara Byrnes (ages 5-10) will let the kids create their own stories and bring them to life through creative activities, such as paintings, 3D objects and large-scale sculptures. Monday 31 July – Friday 4 August, Monday 7 – Friday 11 August 9-15.30. Two days costs £80 (Mon-Tue), three days £110 (Wed-Fri) or five days £150. If you’re sending siblings, be sure to use the 10% off sibling discount.
Cambridge Heath Road E2 9PA; 020 8983 5200; vam.ac.uk
13 First Hand Experiences Outdoor Camps
If you believe every part of summer should be spent outside then send your kids to First Hand Experiences Outdoor Camps. For kids aged 3-5 years & 6-11 years old, sign them up for the outdoor day camps at Fulham Palace where they can visit local working farms, wooodlands, caves and beaches while gaining a greater understanding of the outside world. If your kids fall into the 7-14 age range, and they’re looking for a little more adventure, send them to the sleep away camps in Shoreham, Kent where they can celebrate the natural world through arts and crafts, music, theatre and whole food adventure.
Check out firsthandexperiences.co.uk for more information regarding prices and dates.
14 London Transport Museum’s All Aboard play zone
The London Transport Museum All Aboard play zone is designed for children aged 0-7 years. This is where kids play conductor on a real bus, repair a mini Tube train with toy spanners, and work in the Lost Property Office. Older kids will enjoy driving Tube train simulators and meeting costumed actors who bring the exhibits to life. There are costumed actors galore, transport stamps and even milkshakes for all to enjoy, while learning about the history of transport since the 1800s. During the school holiday, there are also craft workshops and storytime tales connected to the museum’s collection and latest exhibitions.
Covent Garden Piazza WC2E 7BB; ltmuseum.co.uk
15 Royal Institution Summer Classes
Whether or not science is their best school subject, your kids will surely love attending the interactive and fun science and engineering classes put on by the Royal Institution. Starting Tuesday 25 July until Thursday 31 August, kids of all ages can enjoy classes where they have the chance to be sciences for the day. From classes that allow them to make their explosive bath bombs, extract their own DNA, investigate forensic science, explore the chemistry of colour, build underwater robots, and try their hand at computer coding, mathematical origami and bioengineering, your kids will surely leave the Royal Institution with their curiosities satisfied.
21 Albemarle Street, Mayfair W1S 4BS; 020 7409 2992; rigb.org
16 Chocolate Making Classes
There aren’t many things in this world kids love more than a delicious chocolate bar, but the chance to make their very own chocolate bars and chocolate truffles may very change their worlds. During the Chocolate Bar session, kids will be choosing between different types of chocolate to temper, mold, decorate and create packaging for their personal invention of a chocolate bar. When they attend the chocolate truffle class, they will learn how to make chocolate lollipops and truffles by their own hands. At the end of both workshops, the kids will each have a new delicious treat to bring home to enjoy!
187 Ferndale Road, Brixton SW9 8BA; 077 2343 4235; thechocolatemuseum.co.uk
17 Summer Art Camps at Gerald Moore Gallery
Keep the little ones occupied by dropping them off at the art camps the Gerald Moore Gallery has to offer this summer holiday season. During the workshops, kids aged 5-11 can enjoy working with artists where they will have the chance to explore art and design in the gallery and surroundings of Eltham College. Choose between three different camps all of which occur 9am-3:30pm: The Recycle and Revamp camp 25-27 July, Tall tales and adventures camp 1-3 August and the Incredible Inventors camps 29-31 August . £40 for one day and £100 for entire three day camp.
Mottingham Lane, London, SE9 4RW; 020 8857 0448; geraldmooregallery.org
18 Join the Wildlife Adventure Club
London Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Adventure Club, based at Woodberry Wetlands, runs many workshops throughout the summer holidays. During the sessions, children can take a tour of the reserve, play active outdoor games, and learn about wildlife and the natural world. Each workshop is about a different topic. Is there a creepy-crawlers fan in your family? The Bird & Insect Detectives program is for them!
Woodberry Wetlands, 1 Newnton Close, Woodberry Down N4 2RH; wildlondon.org.uk
19 Play Tourist with the London Big Ticket
Merlin Entertainment has launched London Big Ticket, which gives you the chance to take advantage of some of the South Banks’ top tourist attractions without facing a hefty price tag. Create your own bespoke day out making the most of Merlin London attractions including the Coca-Cola London Eye, Madame Tussauds London, London Dungeon, SEA LIFE London, Shrek’s Adventure! London, the London Eye River Cruise and Big Bus London tours, from just £40. AND, when you buy the London Big Ticket on 1 & 2 august 2017, you get to try Bompas & Parr’s new Summer Fun-daes, unique ice cream flavours inspired by London attractions, like the Smoked Charcoal ice cream representing the thrilling Great Fire of London show at the London Dungeon.
20 Learn to Skateboard at House of Vans
The House of Vans, a free community space below the arches of Waterloo station dedicated to Vans and the skate culture it embraces, leads free learn-to-skate sessions for all ages every weekend with pads, boards, helmets and a locker provided. There’s also a cinema room that hosts free screenings across a wide spectrum of genres, from family friendly to box office blockbusters and foreign language films. Check out Little Rippers Film Club, a post-Skate Skool screening of an animated or live action kids classic. For those not up for the half pipe, you can chill in The Wall cafe, which serves up a weekend brunch menu alongside all-American classics.
Arches 228-232, Station Approach Road, Waterloo SE1; houseofvanslondon.com
21 Explore HMS Belfast
Visit the HMS Belfast, an active royal navy ship during World War II. Roam the decks for a view of the Thames and go down below to see what life was like during both conflict and peacetime. The HMS Belfast is one of only three surviving war ships from the D-Day landings in World War II and fired over 5,000 shells during her 33 days of service off the coast of Normandy. On Summer Saturdays, the ship is running Ship Shape Saturdays for kids to learn how to become a member of the crew.
The Queen’s Walk, Bankside SE1 2JH; iwm.org.uk
22 Summer Tennis Camps
Sydenham Tennis Club is running summer tennis camps for ages 5-15 from 25 July to 25 August 2017. A fun way to keep children active and occupied over the long summer holiday, the tennis camps are suitable for all level of players from complete novices to those who have regular coaching. There are morning and afternoon camps run over four days (Monday-Thursday) and it is possible to book single sessions as well. Run by LTA licenced coaches. A full 4-day course is £52, single sessions are £15.
23 Summer Arts Courses at The Albany, Deptford
The Albany and Deptford Louge are running five creative arts courses for 8 to 18 year olds from 3-23 August 2017. Choose from the likes of Love2Dance Street Dance Arts Award in a Day, Digi.Art Masterclass, Silencer: Creative Writing and Performance and Chill Pill: Spoken Word & Rap. Classes range in price from free to £10, and are free for Lewisham Homes residents.
The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG. To book email email@example.com or see thealbany.org.uk
24 Theatre at Kew
Kew Gardens presents two live theatre shows for children this summer – The Wind in the Willows and The Dream Fairies – Adventure through Bubble Land, both performed by the Australian Shakespeare Company. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame’s classic story of life on the riverbank with Ratty, Mole, Badger, Otter and Toad, runs from 22 July to 28 August. The Dream Fairies, where the adventurous Honeysuckle unexpectedly meets the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream with songs, bubbles and acrobatics, runs from 29 July to 28 August. Meet at Victoria Gate. Tickets include entrance into the gardens.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond TW9 3AE. To book see theatreonkew.co.uk
25 KidZania, Shepherd’s Bush
KidZania at Westfield Shepherd’s Bush is designed for children aged 4-14, blending learning and reality with entertainment. During the four-hour experience, kids can independently explore over 60 real-life activities and test their skills in a variety of professions. KidZania is also running summer camps for kids aged 6-12, who will spend either two or four full days (8am-6pm) enjoying themed activities and learning more than ever about their favourite professions (available from 14-17 and 21-24 August 2017, prices from £99).
Westfield Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, Shepherd’s Bush W12 7GA; kidzania.co.uk
26 Go Bowling
If it’s too hot outside for an outdoor adventure (or London’s doing it’s typically rainy best to stifle your fun), check out Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes. The venue has a 1960’s retro feel, complete with neon lights, diner food, and live music. Recent additions include four private karaoke rooms, ping pong tables and London’s only virtual cricket net. Kids aren’t allowed in after 8pm, but for the morning and afternoon it’s a venue that is sure to delight the whole family. Alternatively, check out The Croc Bowling Alley in the basement of Ham Yard Hotel in Soho – a spectacular space housing an original 1950s bowling alley, stylish lounge and dance floor – is perfect for older kids and sassy teens. £20 per person (includes use of up to 2 lanes in the bowling alley for a 1 hour period).
1 Ham Yard, Soho W1D 7DT; firmdalehotels.com
Tavistock Hotel, Bedford Way WC1H 9EU; bloomsburybowling.com
27 Visit a City Farm
There are about 70 farm animals who call Bethnal Green’s Spitalfields City Farm home. Plus a couple of thousand bees. At Spitalfields you can ride donkeys, race goats, soak up the sun in a flower garden and try the hottest chili possible. Escape from the city through petting goats and pigs, buying pesticide-free Bengali vegetables and fresh produce, and have a cup of tea at the nearby café, The Tea Hut. And London has plenty more city farms to keep the kiddies happy, click below for more…
9 of the Best City Farms in London