London is a great place for a family day out at any time of year. Here are just some of the family-friendly things to do in the capital this month.
Chinese New Year
London’s Chinese New Year Celebrations are the biggest outside of Asia. In 2015 Chinese New Year is on Thursday February 19th and is the Year of the Sheep. On Saturday 21st February the National Gallery is hosting a range of free family activities to celebrate Chinese New Year.
On Sunday 22nd February there will be celebrations in Chinatown and Trafalgar Square from 10am until 6pm. A New Year’s Parade starts at 10am in Trafalgar Square and will make its way through the West End before reaching Chinatown. There will also be celebrations in Trafalgar Square from midday including acrobatics, traditional dances and a lion dance on high poles. Chinatown itself will be busy with traditional craft and food stalls and a lion dance snaking it’s way through the streets. Find out more here.
Imagine Children’s Festival
The Southbank Centre’s annual two-week children’s festival is running from Monday February 9th until Sunday February 22nd. There will be readings by top authors such as Judith Kerr, Lauren Child and Anthony Horowitz as well as world-class orchestras giving child-friendly performances and the London premiere of a children’s opera which was first performed by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. There will also be a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. There are free and ticketed events on offer for young people of all ages. For more details click here.
Out of This World Activity Mornings
The Royal Observatory at Greenwich is offering the over-5s the chance to join astronomers for a morning of fun activities on Monday February 16th and Tuesday February 17th from 10.00am until 12.30pm. Tickets include a planetarium show, workshops to learn about dwarf planets and asteroids and entry to the Royal Observatory’s North Site and the Meridian Line. For more information and to book go to the Royal Observatory website.
Cost: £5 per child.
If you’ve been putting off going up The Shard because it’s too pricey then this February halt term could be the perfect time for you to brave the skyscraper’s 800ft high viewing area. The iconic London Bridge landmark is offering two free children’s tickets for each full-paying adult from Monday 16th until Sunday 22nd February. There are more details here.
Cost: Adults from £24.95 and under-16s from £18.95 (or free with an adult during half term) if booked at least the day before.
National Portrait Gallery
From 12th February until 25th May there’s a major John Singer Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery called Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends. There are a couple of Sargent-inspired events for kids on 17th February at 11.30am and at 2.30pm. Children of five years-old and above can learn how to create an animation about friends using post-it notes. Tickets are free and are available an hour before each event. There are 20 places for each event. The details are here.
Museum of London Docklands
There’s a free programme of family events at the Museum of London Docklands during the half term week including workshops, art drop-ins as well as events for the under-5s. There’s also a special family day for Chinese New Year on Thursday February 19th. The details are here.
Museum of Childhood
There are some fantastic workshops on offer at the V&A’s Museum of Childhood from Monday 16th to Friday 20th February. The Miniature Worlds workshops are inspired by the museum’s current exhibition Small Stories: At Home In A Dolls’ House. Children can create tiny tea-time treats, a mini match-box room and try on costumes inspired by the dolls house exhibition characters. Full information here.
LEGO Bricks in the Sky
The ArcelorMittal Orbit has an exhibition of London landmarks made entirely from LEGO® bricks from 15th to 22nd February. Iconic London landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and The O2 have been recreated inside the UK’s tallest sculpture. The ArcelorMittal Orbit offers wonderful views across London from its 80m high viewing platform in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Professional LEGO artist Warren Elsmore will ‘live build’ a 2m tall scale model of the ArcelorMittal Orbit using 100,000 tiny bricks. There will also be a stash of bricks for visitors to play with. Full details here.
Cost: From £11.95 for adults, from £5.95 for under-16s.
If your kids would like to design their own T-shirts inspired by traditional Navy tattoos then take them on board HMS Belfast. The WWII warship is now a museum ship and is permanently moored on the Thames. From Saturday 14th until Sunday 22nd February there will be free tattoo T-shirt workshops running every day on the ship from 11am until 12.30pm and from 2pm until 4pm. During the workshops you’ll learn about the history of Navy tattoos as well as the vital role played by HMS Belfast in Operation Overlord, the largest naval, air and land operation in history. There are more details here.
Cost: HMS Belfast entrance is £16.00 for adults and £8.00 for under-16s. The T-shirt workshop is free.
Roald Dahl Picture Book Week
The focus is on Roald Dahl’s picture books at the Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford from Saturday 14th to Sunday 22nd February. There will be story time, mask-making and author-illustrator visits from Christopher William Hill (Tales from Schwartzgarten), Guy Bass (Frog the Barbarian) and Chloe Inkpen (Zoe and Beans). Details of the event are here.
Cost: £5 per person, free for under-2s.
A new family-friendly exhibition opens at the Horniman Museum on February 14th. Plantastic brings the miniature world of plants to life on a giant scale. From how a bee sees the world to how a plant can move even though it’s rooted to the ground Plantastic uses interactive exhibits and games to help you to learn about the world of plants and how essential they are to our survival. Details of the exhibition are here.
Cost: From £6.50 for adults, from £3.50 for children.
The Art of the Brick
This is another one for LEGO fans: Artist Nathan Sawaya has used more than a million LEGO bricks to create the sculptures on display in an amazing exhibition called The Art of the Brick. Ther exhibition includes more than 80 sculptures ranging from replicas of well-known works of art, such as the Mona Lisa, to more conceptual pieces, such as a torso splitting in two. There’s also an interactive area where you can have a go at building LEGO sculptures yourself. The Art of the Brick exhibition has been extended until April 12th, 2015 and is at the Old Truman Brewery.
Cost: From £14.50 for adults, from £8.00 for children age 3-12 years.
If you travel to London by train you can get two-for-one entry via the Days Out Guide website at a host of attractions including HMS Belfast, the ArcelorMittal Orbit and many more. Simply download vouchers from the website and then show them with your valid train ticket to receive the discount before you pay for entrance to the attraction.
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Over to you
Do you have plans for family days out in London this month? What are your favourite things to do in London with kids at this time of year?