If you’re planning a family day out in London, you have a huge array of activities to choose from, whatever the time of year. Each month I publish a roundup of some of the best things on offer in the capital for families with kids. Here’s my January selection.
London Boat Show
You can enjoy a nautical day out with your family at the London Boat Show, which is at ExCeL from 6th – 15th January. The annual show brings together experts, traders and celebrities from the world of boating and water sports. You can try your hand at various water activities at the Watersports Park, such as kayaking and zorbing. There are also live music, fashion and dance shows, and you can climb on board and explore many of the boats which are on show.
Cost: Adults from £20, under-16s free (up to two free child tickets per accompanying adult).
Magical Lantern Festival
From 9th January until 26th February The Magical Lantern Festival is at Chiswick House and Gardens. The festival is a spectacular fusion of art, heritage and culture, with outdoor installations of beautifully sculpted lanterns. The theme for this year’s festival is Explore The Silk Road, and it begins with a 15-metre wide lantern of London’s Houses of Parliament. There’s also an entertainment area with an ice rink, a mini funfair, a range of food sellers and more.
Cost: Adults from £16.50, children from £10.50, in advance.
London A Cappella Festival
The London A Cappella Festival runs from 26th to 28th January at Kings Place. The festival draws performers from all over the world and provides learning platforms for singers of all ages and and abilities. Saturday 28th January is LACF Kids Day, and features family-friendly workshops, performances and activities.
Cost: From £5.50 per person.
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year celebrations in London are the biggest outside of Asia. The Year of the Rooster starts on January 28th, 2017, and the London events to mark the occasion take place on Sunday January 29th in Chinatown, Trafalgar Square and across the West End, from 10am until 6pm. The celebrations begin with a lion dance parade which sets off from Trafalgar Square at 10am. If you’re going along, be sure to wear something red, to bring you luck in the New Year (according to Chinese tradition).
Some of London’s temporary seasonal ice rinks are still open this month. The Somerset House ice rink is open until 15th January. The ice rink at Canary Wharf is open until February 25th. London’s longest-running outdoor ice rink is at Broadgate, with private lessons available and rink-side bars and restaurants. Broadgate ice rink is open until February 2nd.
There are also permanent ice rinks in London at Alexandra Palace, Streatham, Lee Valley Ice Centre, Queens London Ice Skating and Sobell Leisure Centre in Islington.
Cost: Varies according to location.
Southbank Winter Festival
The winter festival at the Southbank Centre is on until 22nd January. Highlights include a big top for immersive circus performances by NoFit State, an outdoor winter market with food, drinks and gifts, gonks hidden around the Southbank Centre, and a roller disco for all the family.
Cost: Varies according to activity.
Hogwarts in the Snow
The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour is at Leavesden, just outside London. The tour is fascinating for Harry Potter fans, or as an insight to the film-making process. We went on the tour last year and absolutely loved it (you can read my review here – Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter). Until January 29th, Hogwarts in the Snow shows the film sets dressed for the festive season, and you can learn how special effects experts create fire, ice and snow.
Cost: From £39 for adults and from £31.00 for children (5-15 years old). There’s no charge for tickets for under-fives.
Adventures in Moominland
The Southbank Centre is staging the first major UK exhibition of The Moomins until 23rd April. In case you don’t know about the Moomintrolls, they’re the creation of Finnish author Tove Jansson – and they’re marvellous. The immersive, interactive exhibition is suitable for ages 7+, and takes visitors on a journey through the forests, caves and seas of Moominland to find the Moomin family, made famous in a series of children’s books.
Cost: Adults from £12.00, children from £10.00.
STAR WARS™ Identities: The Exhibition
STAR WARS™ Identities: The Exhibition is at The O2 until 3rd September 2017. At the exhibition you can follow the journeys of Luke and Anakin Skywalker through some 200 props, models, costumes and artwork from the original Star Wars films. There’s also an interactive identity quest, and some interesting scientific content to help visitors to explore the forces which shape us as individuals.
Cost: Adults from £20.00, children from £10.00, under-fives free.
More on London
Check back each month for my latest 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. If you’d like to find out more about London, I recommend the Lonely Planet London Travel Guide and also the London Marco Polo Travel Guide.
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.
Do you have any suggestions to add for great things to do in London? Do let me know, as I love sharing recommendations!