From visiting free, world-class museums to enjoying acres of green space to trying food from anywhere that you can think of, London is a fantastic place to spend time with your kids. Each month I publish a roundup of some of the best things which are on offer in the capital for families. Here’s my July selection:
The Slide at ArcelorMittal Orbit
The world’s longest and highest tunnel slide is now at the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The 40-second journey down the 178m slide circles the UK’s tallest public artwork 12 times, and ends with a 50m straight run. To use the slide you must be at least 1.3m tall and at least eight years old, and it’s best to book in advance. Tickets for the slide include entry to the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
Cost: Adults £15, children £10.
Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dancehall
Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dancehall is a disco for the under-fives. Led by Australian DJ Monski Mouse, little kids can hit the dance floor with their parents on various weekend dates until 25th September, 2016 at London Wonderground at the Southbank Centre. The disco lasts for 50 minutes.
Cost: From £7.40 per person.
Summer Science Exhibition 2016
The Royal Society is hosting a Summer Science Exhibition from 4th – 10th July at its home near Trafalgar Square. The exhibition highlights the diversity of scientific ingenuity and creativity in the UK. At the exhibition you can discover the secret life of birds, quiz scientists who investigate erupting volcanoes, see a surgical robot that helps surgeons operate with precision, speak to researchers about the big bang, explore a galaxy in virtual reality, and find out why there’s so much junk in space and what we can do to clean it up.
The BFG Dream Jar Trail
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of author Roald Dahl’s birth, and the release of The BFG movie, The BFG Dream Jar Trail is coming to London, and to Great Missenden from July 8th until August 31st. Trafalgar Square, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, St Paul’s Cathedral, Leicester Square, the Tower of London and Dahl’s home in Great Missenden will each host giant dream jars containing the dreams of celebrities and artists. The dream jars are inspired by the jars used by the BFG in the film. The jars are being auctioned for the Save the Children charity, after the trail has ended,
Sherlock Holmes: The Experience
Sherlock Holmes: The Experience is coming to Madame Tussaud’s from July 15th. Visitors can wear the great detective’s deerstalker while helping Dr Watson to find Sherlock. The journey transports visitors to some of the most famous places and moments from the popular stories, including the detective’s drawing room, along lamp-lit Victorian streets, to dark moors and to a dramatic watery conclusion.
Cost: Adults from £23.79, under-16s from £20.65.
The Proms is an annual eight-week orchestral music event in London which started in 1895 and is now the biggest classical music event in the world. Starting from 15th July, there are concerts, talks, workshops, family events and more, culminating with the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall which is on Saturday September 10th this year.
Cost: Varies according to event. Tickets are half-price for all under-18s and some events are free.
Power UP at the Science Museum
The Science Museum has a new attraction for gadget-loving-families… Power UP. This hands-on interactive two-week gaming event features video games, computers and consoles from the past 40 years. Running in partnership with leading gaming specialists European Gaming League (EGL), Power Up offers more than 160 systems and thousands of games that are all fully operable and available to play on – from Pong and Pacman to Lego and Halo. Power Up is running at the museum from 22 July – 7 August, and is recommended for ages 5+.
Cost: Adults £8, children £6.50.
350 years ago the Great Fire of London swept through the city. Fire! Fire! is an interactive family exhibition at the Museum of London which explores the city before, during and after the blaze of 1666. Find out how the fire started and spread, and discover personal stories of some of the people who were there at the time. You can see artefacts from the time of the fire, compare modern and contemporary firefighting techniques and learn how London rose from the ashes. The exhibition runs from 23 July 2016 – 17 April 2017.
Cost: Adults from £8, children from £4.
Archikids is an annual festival of architecture for young people. The festival offers a weekend programme of fun, free, family-friendly architectural activities in the heart of the city. During the festival buildings, places and spaces that are architecturally inspiring host a variety of engaging activities – tours, workshops, exploration trails, and competitions. The festival is aimed at 5 – 11 year olds, and this year takes place on 23-24 July.
There are various places where you can swim outside in the capital during the summer months – if it’s warm enough! The Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park is open to the public for swimming every day in June, July and August from 10am until 6pm. Besides the natural water of the Serpentine for swimming there’s also a children’s play area with a chlorinated paddling pool where little ones can splash about. There’s a grassy area for sunbathing and a kiosk selling drinks and sandwiches.
Cost: Adults £4.80, children £1.80.
The Making of Harry Potter – Finding the Philosopher’s Stone
This summer, the Warner Bros Studio Tour is celebrating Harry, Ron and Hermione’s quest to find and protect the Philosopher’s Stone. From 22nd July – 5th September, visitors to the studios can discover how the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone filmmakers used special effects to bring J. K. Rowling’s book to life.
I’d recommend The Making of Harry Potter studio tour at any time. You can read my review here: Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter.
It’s easy to get to the Warner Bros Studios – it’s close to the M25 and M1 motorways and there’s ample free parking. From London it’s a 20-minute train journey from Euston to Watford Junction and then a 15-minute ride on a shuttle bus.
Cost: Adult £35, child £27, under-fives free.
If you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to book tickets for Kids Week (which should really be called Kids Month as it runs from 1st to 31st August) when kids go free to a host of top West End shows. Each adult paying full price can take one child for free and two extra children for half price, and there are no booking, postage or transaction fees. Kids Week also has a range of free activities and events – check out the Kids Week website for details.
Cost: Adult tickets vary according to show, kids go free (see above).
Where to stay
If you’re looking for accommodation in the capital, check out my post about family-friendly places to stay in London. You can also read my reviews of the Four Seasons Canary Wharf here, the Amba Hotel Marble Arch here, the Hilton London Metropole here, Go Native Apartments here and the Royal Garden Hotel here. There are more reviews in the Where to stay category.
More on London
Check back each month for my latest London round-up – or subscribe to my blog (by entering your email address in the box on the right – where it says ‘YOU’D LIKE MY POSTS BY EMAIL?’) to have it emailed to your inbox automatically.
Over to you
Is there anywhere which you think should be included in my next roundup? Do let me know – I love having recommendations of family-friendly things to do.