London’s a great place for a family day out at any time of year. This month, as ever, there are loads of fun things happening in the capital, plus Spring’s nearly here, the kids have a week’s half-term holiday and it’s Pancake Day. Marvellous.
Here’s my pick of the excellent things to do with kids in London this month.
Warner Bros Studio Tour: Directing Dobby
This month and next, visitors to the excellent Warner Bros Studio Tour (just outside London) can see at first-hand how the character of Dobby was brought to life for the Harry Potter films, in a special display dedicated to the house elf.
We went to the studios last winter and had a fantastic day there – you can read about it in my post Warner Bros Studio Tour: the making of Harry Potter. Directing Dobby is running from February 4th until March 31st.
Cost: From £33.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not
An eclectic collection of costumes, props and fantastic facts from Tim Burton’s cinematic fantasy movie ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children’ comes to Ripley’s Believe It or Not from Tuesday 6th February. Ripley’s houses more than 700 unusual artefacts from around the world, and my son and I really enjoyed our visit there (you can read my review here – London: Ripley’s Believe It or Not).
Cost: Adults from £13.98, 4-15s from £10.48, if booked at least 14 days in advance.
Science Museum: Robots
The new Robots exhibition at London’s Science Museum looks interesting. It’s purpose is to tell the 500-year story of humanoid robots and what it means to be human. The exhibition is set in five different periods and places, and features a unique collection of over 100 robots, fifteen of which are working models. Robots is running from February 8th – September 3rd.
Cost: Adults £15, children £13. Entrance to the main museum is free.
Southbank Imagine Children’s Festival
Imagine Children’s Festival is the Southbank Centre’s annual children’s arts festival, and this year it runs from 9th – 19th February. The festival features the best in children’s literature, theatre and music and there are plenty of workshops and activities for kids up to the age of 12 years old. This year more than half of the events are free, including a special screening of The Little Mermaid where the film is powered entirely by bicycles.
Cost: Varies according to activity.
London Zoo is run by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) charity, which works for the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. The zoo is home to more than 16,000 animals, from lions, penguins and giraffes to seahorses, butterflies and komodo dragons. You can read about our family trip to London Zoo here.
From 11th -19th February visitors to the zoo can step into the shoes of the vets, nurses and zookeepers who treat the patients of the zoo’s animal hospital at Vets in Action role-play events.
Cost: Adults from £24.25, 3-15s from £17.60, if booked online in advance.
The Robot Zoo is returning to the Horniman Museum and Gardens. The family-friendly exhibition features extraordinary mechanical creatures which have been created from a range of gadgets and machines. The larger-than-life animals show how real animals see, eat, hide and hunt. The Robot Zoo runs from 11th February – 29th October.
Cost: Adults from £7.00, children from £4.00, under-threes free.
Kensington Palace has been a royal palace for more than 300 years, and is still home to various members of the royal family, including Prince George, Princess Charlotte and their parents. Part of the palace is open to the public, and it’s a very interesting place to see. You can read my review of our tour of the palace here: Kensington Palace tour. There are family activities on offer during half term (12th – 18th February) and a new exhibition opens on February 24th – Diana: her fashion story. The popular Princess Diana Memorial Playground is in nearby Kensington Gardens.
Cost: Adults from £15.40, under-16s (accompanied by an adult) free.
The Cutty Sark is the world’s last surviving tea clipper and was the fastest ship of her time. The ship is now moored in Greenwich and is a very family-friendly attraction. Visitors can follow a free family trail or borrow a backpack of toys and stories. During half term (February 13th -18th) you can learn about the science of sailing ships at the new hands-on STEAMfest event. (STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and maths.)
Cost: Adults from £16.60, children from £7.70, under-fives free.
Magical Lantern Festival
The Magical Lantern Festival is at Chiswick House and Gardens until 26th February. 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.
This year Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, falls on Tuesday February 28th. Shrove Tuesday is the feast day before the start of Lent, the 40 days which lead up to Easter, and was traditionally the day when people used up the foods (eggs, butter and milk) which they wouldn’t be eating during Lent. These days Shrove Tuesday is mostly celebrated by eating piles of pancakes, and also by having charity pancake races (a race where the competitors run while tossing a pancake in a frying pan). There are various pancake races happening in London, including one at the Houses of Parliament – details in this Visit London feature.
If you’d like my mum’s Scotch pancake recipe you can find it here.
Cost: Depends on how many pancakes you make/ eat.
Museum of London: Fire! Fire!
351 years ago the Great Fire of London raged through the capital. Fire! Fire! is an interactive family exhibition at the Museum of London which explores the history and effect of the blaze. You can see how the fire started and spread, and discover the stories of some of the people who were there when it happened. You can see artefacts from the time of the fire, and compare fire-fighting techniques. The exhibition runs until 17th April.
Cost: Adults from £8.00, children from £4.00.
London Transport Museum
Covent Garden’s London Transport Museum is always a fun place to explore with kids. It shows the development of public transport in the city from sedan chairs right up to the Emirates Air-Line cable car. From now until April 23rd you can discover the art and aesthetics behind the functional and familiar at the museum’s designology exhibition.
Cost: Adults £17.50, children free.
Adventures in Moominland
Adventures in Moominland is part of the The Southbank Imagine Children’s Festival (see above). It’s the first major UK exhibition of The Moomins, and runs until April 23rd. The Moomintrolls are the creation of Finnish author Tove Jansson – and they’re wonderful. 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.
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. 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.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for accommodation in the capital, check out my post on recommended family-friendly places to stay in London.
More on London
Over to you
Do add your tips in the comments section below if there’s anything which you’d like to recommend now, or for inclusion in next month’s roundup.
Check back each month for my latest London roundup!