London’s always a great place for a family trip and, as ever, there’s lots happening in the capital this month. Here’s my selection of some of the fab things on offer in London in November – it’s starting to feel festive! Check back at the start of each month for my latest roundup.
Bonfire Night, also known as Fireworks Night and Guy Fawkes Night, takes place every year on November 5th, the anniversary of the foiling of Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. There are firework displays all over London (and all over the country) on and around 5th November. From Blackheath to Crystal Palace to Kingston to Brent, there are displays across the capital – and many of them are free of charge. There’s a list of the top 10 London firework displays over at visitlondon.com.
Boxpark and Lonely Planet Kids
From 8th to 20th November you can explore the world through an inspirational Lonely Planet pop-up photography exhibition at Boxpark Shoreditch. The exhibition features a collection of amazing images from around the world. On Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November Lonely Planet Kids is offering a host of child-friendly travel workshops and activities at the exhibition, including a travel poetry workshop with travel blogger and poet in residence Kirstie Pelling.
Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival
The Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival is back, with a packed programme of festive fun and entertainment for all the family from Friday 11th November 2016 to Wednesday 25th January 2017. The 21-acre riverside site is transformed into a winter landscape for the festival. Highlights include performances by NoFit State Circus, a winter market, a roller disco and Le Gateau Chocolat’s first ever work for children, Duckie.
Cost: Depends on event.
Lord Mayor’s Show
In 1215 King John granted a charter to allow Londoners to elect their own mayor (nowadays the title of Lord Mayor of London is ceremonial, and is completely separate from the Mayor of London, which is an elected post). Every year since then, the Lord Mayor of London has travelled from the City of London to Westminster to pledge their loyalty to the King or Queen. This has become the Lord Mayor’s Show, a river pageant and parade across London featuring marching bands, samba dancing and fireworks which attracts around half a million people each year. This year the show is on Saturday November 12th.
STAR WARS™ Identities: The Exhibition
STAR WARS™ Identities: The Exhibition is at The O2 from 18th November 2016 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.
Warner Bros Studio Tour – Hogwarts in the snow
This winter some of the film sets from the fabulous Harry Potter films at the Warner Bros Studio Tour (just outside London) are again transformed into festive scenes. Visitors to Hogwarts in the Snow can see Christmas trees in the Great Hall, a festive Gryffindor common room and a snow-covered Hogwarts castle model. We went to the studios last December and had a fantastic day there – you can read about it in my post Warner Bros Studio Tour: the making of Harry Potter. Hogwarts in the Snow is running from November 19th, 2016 until January 29th, 2017.
Cost: From £33.
The Design Museum showcases contemporary design in every form. The museum opens in a new location in High Street Kensington on November 24th, and offers much more for families than previously. From 25th to 27th November the museum is running free drop-in Weekend Open events for all ages. The new location provides space for the museum to have its first ever free permanent display of its collection: Designer Maker User tells the story of contemporary design through a bold and engaging display.
Cost: Free (although there is a charge for some exhibitions).
Si5 Spy Mission
There’s a new adventure activity on offer in Croydon – Si5 SpyMission sounds like an exciting cross between James Bond and Crystal Maze. Housed in a 10,000-foot square warehouse, Si5 SpyMission offers children and adults the chance to become ‘spies’ for the day by undertaking a mixture of timed physical and mental challenges. There are specially tailored activities for different ages, starting from six years-old.
Cost: From £8.50 per person.
Natural History Museum ice rink
Hurrah, the winter ice rinks start popping up in London this month! We try a different one each year, but the rink at the Natural History Museum is one of my favourites. It’s at the front of the iconic museum building, and when you’re worn out from skating you can pop in to see the dinosaurs and warm up. Open until 8th January 2017.
Cost: Adults from £12.65, children from £8.80.
Over to you
Harry Potter Graphic Art Exhibition
Joanne Mallon blogs at Opposable Thumbs, and she’s found an exhibition which I really want to go to. She tells me: ‘Did you know that there’s a free Harry Potter graphic art exhibition on in the centre of London right now? Well worth a visit.’ I didn’t know, but I do now, thanks Joanne. The exhibition is at House of MinaLima in Soho until February 4th, and features graphic designs from the Harry Potter films by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, reproduced as limited edition art prints. There are also authentic film props on display, on loan from the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.
Sarah Ebner of Family Travel Times recommends iPilot, a new flight simulator experience in the city. Sarah says: ‘My son and husband recently tried out iPilot which they enjoyed – it involved flying a plane, in London’. iPilot say that their flight simulators are so real that pilots can train in them. You can simulate taking off and landing at any of over 24,000 airports around the world, guided by instructors.
Cost: From £59 for 15 minutes. Children’s birthday parties from £15 per child.
The Railway Children
Karen Beddow of Mini Travellers recommends The Railway Children at King’s Cross. The Olivier Award winning show of E. Nesbitt’s classic children’s book The Railway Children is currently being shown at King’s Cross station. The star of the show is a real steam train and the action takes place in a temporary theatre which has been built over the railway tracks. The show is recommended for children of two years old and above (under-twos aren’t admitted).
Cost: Tickets cost from £25 for adults, with a 25% reduction for under-16s.
What would you like me to include next month? Do share your recommendations!
Where to stay
If you need somewhere to stay in the capital, check out my post on recommended family-friendly places to stay in London.
Find out more
Check back each month for my latest London roundup!