Despite the weather, despite the pandemic, we still want this summer to be fun, right? It’s a good thing London has us covered here. If you’re having a stayaction in the capital this summer – as as local or from out of town – add these fun family activities that suit all budgets to your list of things to do…
Photo: Kids Week, Society of Theatre London
1 Use the redesigned London TFL map as a guide, central London
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also wants families to have fun in London this summer. So much so, he’s launched the Let’s Do London’s Family Fun season, a programme of mostly free or low-cost things to do. As part of the campaign, he and his five young Mayors of Play have redesigned the Tube map highlighting fun things to do in central London. This includes firm favourites such as firm favourites such as ZSL London Zoo, to the hottest new tickets in town including Sketch on the Square by the National Gallery and Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A. Also, good to note that children under five travel free across London when with a fare-paying adult. Children under 11 can travel free on buses and trams anytime, and on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and some National Rail services with a fare paying adult.
2 The Dentist at London Dungeon
Truly a nightmare for many, a trip to the dentist is not much fun, usually. London Dungeon’s latest show The Dentist is probably be more entertaining than getting your cavities checked by your regular dentist, but probably more gruesome too. It brings to light terrifying dentistry from the Victorian era, which no doubt is pretty grim.
Running until August 31, entry is included in the standard ticket price, which are £30/£24 adult/child on the door, but book ahead for discounts, or as part of a package with other attractions with lastminute.com; The Queen’s Walk, SE1 7PB; thedungeons.com/london
3 Discovery Days at Hyde Park
The popular Discovery Days at Hyde Park have been extended to three days each week. These days are a perfect opportunity for families to enjoy summer outdoors and entertain the kids for free while they connect to nature with pond dipping, bug hunting, pirate ships and treasure. Each week is themed, from Wild Water, Peter Pan, Meadow Madness and Life Underground. Families also have the opportunity to explore Hyde Park on one of the family-friendly nature trails and take part in an interactive story, led by a professional storyteller.
Sessions are free and drop ins are welcome, but you can register your interest online too; gates open 11a, to 3pm; children must be accompanied by an adult; LookOut Discovery Centre, Hyde Park; royalparks.org.uk
There’s quite a bit going on around Eccleston Yards and Belgravia this summer. Japanese-Nordic centre Pantechnicon are hosting a series of origami and ceramics workshops for youngsters, and there’s also a creative summer day camp for children filled with pottery classes and painting sessions. Alma Kids has a range of wellness classes for young people to try out, and Wander Art – a long and colourful walking trail around Mayfair and Belgravia just got a little bit longer. Already on the trail are installations and works by the wonderful Yinka Ilori, Morag Myerscough and Emily Forgot (and more). Adding to this is ‘Have You Seen The Lions’ by Spanish artist Ricardo Cavolo – explore the neighborhood and enjoy the creative, bright designs.
The origami workshops (free) are on Tuesday, August 17, and the ceramics workshops (£40) are on Wednesday, August 18; times vary; 19 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8LB; pantechnicon.com; MasterPeace Kids Creative Summer Camp; Thursday, August 12 and 19; from £99; MasterPeace Creative Studio, 12 Eccleston Yards, 21 Eccleston Place, SW1W 9NF; more information here; Wander Art is free and on display until September, view the map here; belgravialdn.com
5 Theatre and Summer Schools at The Globe, Southbank
The Globe has a host of offering for youngsters this summer. First up, there’s the Summer Schools which has on-site and online workshops for aspiring thespians aged 9-19 years old. All programmes are designed to culminate in a presentation of work from the week, which family members and carers are welcome to watch. There’s also the Telling Tales Family Festival, which is a programme of interactive, sensory shows designed to immerse younger audience members into Shakespeare’s stories. And lastly, there are family guided tours you can take with children aged 7-11 year olds.
Summer Schools prices start from £250 and dates vary; Telling Tales is on until August 22 and prices start from £12; Tours are ongoing and tickets start from £17/£10/£46 adult/child/family; 21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT; shakespearesglobe.com
6 Kids Week at Leicester Square Gardens and West End
Kids Week sees children under 17 years go free to a West End show when accompanied by a full paying adult and additional children go half price. Actually, the name is a little misleading as this offer is available all throughout August. For an actual week however, there is a bunch of free outdoor theatre activities for families in Leicester Square Gardens including theatrical storytelling, singalongs, dance, demos and puppet workshops.
Free outdoor programme takes place August 23-August 27, details yet to be announced, but sign up to the newsletter here for updates. For more information on the theatre discounts, head here. officallondontheatre.com
7 The Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition at the London Film Museum, Covent Garden
Sip on Butterbeer, ride a broomstick and trace magical moments of filmmaking history at The Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition, as a collection of behind-the-scenes photographs at the London Film Museum. The exhibition will take fans through key moments of the film’s making such as Harry’s first day at Hogwarts to the Battle of Hogwarts.
On now until December 31; tickets £20/£14/£56 adult/child/family, children under 4 years go free; 45 Wellington Street; WC2E 7BN; harrypotteronlocation.co.uk