March is a busy time in London, and, as ever, there are lots of family-friendly activities on offer in the city. Here’s my pick of some of the best things to do in the capital with kids this month.
World Book Day
World Book Day is on March 3rd this year. It’s an annual international celebration of authors, illustrators, books and reading, and is a torment for parents like me who don’t enjoy creating children’s costumes. Thankfully my kids are both at secondary school now, so World Book Day Costume Trauma is but a memory in our house (read my post about Harry Styles on World Book Day to see what it used to be like). The National Literacy Trust is running a World Book Day charity Where’s Wally? Fun Run on Clapham Common on Sunday March 20th.
Cost: 10k or 5k run £22 per person including Where’s Wally? costume, 1k run (for under-12s) £12 per person including Where’s Wally? costume.
Holi is a Hindu spring festival which is celebrated by throwing paint around. From 4th – 12th March there’s a pop-up Holi party pod for diners at the Cinnamon Kitchen restaurant in Devonshire Square. Visitors can put on some overalls and take part in a thirty-minute paint-pelting session. Children from five years old can take part with an adult, but overalls aren’t provided for them, so they need old clothes for this activity.
Cost: From £8 per session.
Mothering Sunday, also known as Mothers’ Day, is on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is on 6th March this year. It’s evolved from a traditional day for domestic servants to visit their ‘Mother church’ into a general celebration of motherhood. Time Out has a great roundup of Mothers Day events in London, including a Care International Mothers’ Day Walk in Her Shoes.
Cost: Varies according to event
St Patrick’s Day
The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place in London on the Sunday closest to 17th March (St. Patrick’s Day) and so this year it’s on Sunday March 13th. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and more than a quarter of a million people come together in the capital to celebrate. Starting from Piccadilly at midday, a parade of floats travels along Piccadilly to Whitehall on a 1.5 mile route. There’s free entertainment at the St Patrick’s Day Festival in Trafalgar Square from midday, with Irish music and dance, an Irish food market, children’s theatre and fun activities.
The Sensational Butterflies exhibition is housed in a tropical butterfly house at the front of the Natural History Museum. The exhibition is running from March 24th until September 11th. Inside the exhibition you can walk amongst free-flying butterflies and moths from around the world. There are also interactive displays and games where you can learn more about these creatures. While you’re there you can also visit the Natural History Museum itself, which is free to enter.
Cost: Entry to Sensational Butterflies costs £5.85 per person, under-3s are free. Entry to the Natural History Museum is free.
Up at The O2
If you’ve a head for heights, how about going up on the roof of the O2? Up at The O2 is a 90-minute guided expedition over the roof of the London landmark via a fabric walkway. The 360 metre-long walkway is suspended two metres above the roof of The O2 and is 52 metres above ground level. At the summit of the walkway there’s an observation platform which offers spectacular views for miles across London.To take part in this climb you are provided with a climb suit, shoes and a safety harness (phew!), and you need to be over 10 years old. I haven’t done this activity, but it sounds thrilling – let me know what it’s like, if you’ve been!
Cost: £28 per person.
Affordable Art Fair
The Affordable Art Fair is a regular event in Battersea Park and it attracts around 20,000 people. A huge range of contemporary art is exhibited at the fair, and prices can range from £100 up to £5,000. Besides the exhibits there are free activity packs and workshops for kids, and a free crèche for 2-10 year-olds. The fair runs from March 9th – 13th.
Cost: Adult tickets are £10.80 if you buy them on the Affordable Art Fair website in advance. Under-16s are free if they’re with an adult.
Dinosaurs: Monster Families
The Horniman Museum has a fab, family-focused interactive exhibition from February until October 30th. Dinosaurs: Monster Families shows how dinosaurs cared for their nests, eggs and babies – and it looks fascinating. Visitors can see a replica of a skeleton of a dinosaur hatchling, dig in the discovery pit, touch an actual dinosaur bone and see a full size cast of a Tarbosaurus skeleton.
Cost: Adult £7, child £4, under-3s free.
The Unicorn Theatre near London Bridge offers high quality theatre for young audiences, and is staging an action-packed performance of a Greek myth until May 2nd. Minotaur is the story of a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man who lives in a labyrinth in Crete. Minotaur has received excellent reviews.
Cost: Adults from £12, under-18s from £12.
The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl
This is the centenary of celebrated children’s author Roald Dahl’s birth, and the Southbank Centre is offering an interactive exhibition of his life and inspiration. The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl is a magical journey featuring interactive exhibits and unique items from the Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre. The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl is running until July 3rd and is recommended for ages 7 – 12. The exhibition is unsuitable for younger children and there must be at least one adult for every three children.
Cost: Adults from £10, children from £8.
This year Easter is from 25th until 28th March, and there are many family-friendly Easter activities on offer in London. Here are some which look fun.
WWT London Wetland Centre
The WWT London Wetland Centre is running a Giant Easter Duck Hunt from 25th March until 10th April. Visitors can follow the giant Easter duck trail around the nature reserve to find where the ducks are hiding. If you find all of the ducks you win a Cadbury’s Freddo Frog! There are also Easter craft sessions on offer, including a chance to build a LEGO duckling.
Cost: If booked online in advance, adults from £11.79, children from £6.48, under-4s free, plus the Easter trail costs £1 per person, including prize.
Cutty Sark Greenwich
The Cutty Sark’s chickens have been laying their eggs in some strange places around the ship. Take part in an Easter egg hunt on board the world’s sole surviving tea clipper from 25th to 28th March for a chance to win a family ticket to Camp Bestival.
Cost: Adults from £12.15, children (5-15) £6.30, under-5s free.
There’s a family-friendly chocolate festival at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew from 19th March until 10th April. Activities at Chocolate Sensations include a Lindt Gold Bunny trail around the gardens, workshops from chocolate makers Chocolution, a chocolate cookie kitchen and a chocolate wrapper workshop. Yum – it sounds like my kind of festival!
Cost: If booked online in advance, adults from £14, children (4-16) £2.50, under-4s free, plus the cost of festival activities.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for a recommended place to stay 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. If you’d like a London guide book, I recommend the Lonely Planet London Travel Guide and also the London Marco Polo Travel Guide. The Visit London official website is also very helpful.
Over to you
Is there anything which you think should be included in my roundups? Do let me know – I love having recommendations of family-friendly places to go and things to do.