There’s a huge range of things for families with children to do in London, whatever the weather and whatever the time of year. Each month I publish a roundup of some of the best – here’s my selection for September.
Totally Thames is an annual month-long festival which happens in the capital every September to celebrate the River Thames. This year the festival has more than 150 events, including theatre performances, exhibitions, boat trips, walks, food, and more. On 1st September the Source to Sea River Relay will see a bottle of water carried along the length of the river by people on stand up paddle boards.
Cost: Varies according to event. Many of the events are free.
Arcelor Mittal Orbit slide
If you’re feeling brave, you can whizz down the world’s longest and highest tunnel slide, which opened this year at the ArcelorMittal Orbit, in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The 40-second journey down the 178m slide whizzes you around the UK’s tallest public artwork 12 times, and finishes with a 50m straight run. You have to be at least 1.3m tall and at least eight years old in order to go on the slide, and it’s best to book in advance. Tickets for the slide include entry to the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
Cost: Adults £15.00, children £10.00.
This month’s your last chance until next summer to visit the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s official London residence. This year the State Rooms are open to visitors until October 2nd.
Cost: Adults £30.50, under-17s £18.20, under-fives free.
Open House London
Open House London is an annual event where a range of buildings around the capital, which aren’t usually accessible to the public, open their doors for free. The aim is to promote public appreciation of London’s building design and architecture. This year the event is running from 17th – 18th September, and it includes a family programme, Open House Junior, with family activities and events.
London Design Festival
The London Design Festival is an annual event to promote London as the design capital of the world. This year it takes place from 17th – 25th September across dozens of locations, including some of the capital’s top museums. Family-friendly highlights include installations by the Royal Society of British Architects in Regent Street shop windows, and The Smile – a huge wooden structure which visitors can go inside, on display at Chelsea College of Arts.
Cost: Varies according to venue.
New Scientist Live
New Scientist Live is a festival of science, technology and culture and it takes place from 22nd -25th September at Excel London. The show features four immersive zones: Brain & Body, Technology, Earth and Cosmos, and more than 120 speakers, including Tim Peake.
Cost: Adults £25 per day online in advance for a standard ticket, under-12s free with a paying adult (up to two free children per adult).
Spiegeltent Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf hosts its very own Spiegeltent from September 22nd – October 2nd (Spiegeltent means mirror tent – the constructions were originally used as mobile dance halls in Belgium in the early 20th century). Spiegeltent Canary Wharf is showing a varied programme of daytime and evening entertainment, including dance, cabaret, comedy, music, acrobatics, theatre and variety. Family events include a Big Fish Little Fish rave and a Bach to Baby concert.
Cost: Depends on event. Some events are free and un-ticketed. Under-twos are free, but must have a ticket booked in advance.
Japan Matsuri is London’s annual festival of Japanese culture. This year it’s on Sunday 25th September and it takes place at Trafalgar Square. There’s Japanese food, music and dance and more, and it runs from10am – 8pm.
Pearly Kings & Queens Harvest Festival
The London Pearly Kings & Queens come together for this annual charity fundraising event at Guildhall Yard. The Pearly Kings & Queens wear their most elaborate outfits (dark suits covered with hundreds of bright pearl buttons in intricate patterns) for their Harvest Festival, and there’s traditional entertainment such as morris dancing and maypole dancing, as well as a parade through the streets to a service at St Mary Le Bow Church. This year the event is on Sunday September 25th, from 1pm, with the church service at 3pm.
Cost: Free, but harvest festival donations are welcome.
Over to you
Mums do travel reader Andrea Cutts is a fan of Greenwich. She tweeted me to say: ‘@grettaschifano Greenwich has so much to offer, had a great day out last week @NMMGreenwich @CuttySark’
Historic Greenwich in East London is home to the Royal Observatory, the Cutty Sark (the world’s last surviving tea clipper) and the National Maritime Museum, which all offer a great range of family-friendly events and activities. There are more details here.
Do you have any recommendations for things to do in London? Do let me know if you have any suggestions which you’d like to share.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for a place to stay in the capital, check out my post about family-friendly places to stay in London.