There are exciting things happening in London throughout the year, and April is no exception. Besides Easter (14th – 17th April), the Queen’s birthday (21st April), and St. George’s Day (22nd April), there are new exhibitions, performances and festivals to experience this month. Read on for my selection of some of the best things to do in London this April.
National Army Museum
The National Army Museum in Chelsea reopened in March after a £23 million redevelopment. The newly renovated building is light and airy and its five new permanent galleries are organised thematically to show what it feels like to be a soldier, what the army is for and how its role has changed over time. The museum uses personal and inspiring stories to show the importance of national defence and security. There’s also a study centre, a café and a ‘Play Base’, complete with an assault course and kitchen area, for children up to the age of seven years old.
Hampton Court Palace
At Hampton Court Palace you can search for Easter bunnies around the gardens from April 1st – 17th in the Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt – once you’ve found them all you can pick up a chocolate treat. There are also workshops where you can learn about the history of royal chocolate. The palace’s interactive Magic Garden play area reopens on April 1st – a place of mythical beasts, battlements, towers and a secret grotto.
Cost: Included in palace admission, from £20.30 for adults, from £10.20 for under-16s, under-fives free.
Moomin Adventures at Kew Gardens
The Moomintrolls are coming to Kew Gardens! Moomins were created by Finnish artist Tove Jansson, and from April 1st – 17th they’re hiding amongst the spring flowers at Kew. Visitors to the gardens can follow the Moomin Adventures Easter Trail and take part in Moomin Adventures craft workshops.
Cost: Free with entry, which is £14 for adults, £2.50 for children.
London Fire Brigade pop-up museum
At the London Fire Brigade’s pop-up museum in Lambeth you can see modern fire engines as well as a selection of the Brigade’s video and photographic archives. On April 5th and 12th children visiting the museum are invited to create their own mini animation videos, fire-marks and fire brigade themed greeting cards to take home.
London Games Festival
The London Games Festival showcases the best in video games and interactive entertainment through 30 events at 20 different venues in the capital – including at Somerset House (see below). Running until 9th April, the festival offers around 400 games to try out and is expected to attract around 50,000 visitors this year.
Cost: Varies according to event.
Game Changers at Somerset House
Game Changers is a month-long exhibition at Somerset House, offering an in-depth look at the creative process of designing games, from traditional games such as chess, to the games of today. The month begins with Now Play This from April 7th – 9th, a gaming weekend featuring more than 50 unusual games to get to grips with, including a ping-pong table which creates a work of art as you play.
Cost: Now Play This – from £6.50, up to two under 12s go free, Game Changers – free.
My First Ballet: Cinderella
The Peacock Theatre in Holborn is staging a ballet especially for children from 11th – 22nd April. Cinderella is part of the English National Ballet’s My First Ballet series of performances, which aim to introduce children as young as three years old to ballet through fairytales. The performance has music by Prokofiev and is accompanied by narration.
Cost: From £10.
Tall Ships Festival
This Easter around 30 tall ships are setting off from Greenwich for Quebec, Canada, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. If you’d like to see the ships before they leave, the Tall Ships Festival from 13th – 16th April has activities in Greenwich, Woolwich and on the Thames, including street performers, food stalls, fireworks and the chance to board some of the ships.
Cost: Depends on activity.
The Passion of Jesus
Every year on Good Friday (April 14th this year) in Trafalgar Square, you can watch a full-scale re-enactment of Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion in The Passion of Jesus by the Wintershall Players. The spectacular performance involves more than 100 actors and volunteers as well as donkeys, horses and doves. Be warned that the crucifixion scene is realistic.
Sadler’s Wells Family Weekend
Sadler’s Wells Family Weekend is an annual dance weekend especially for children and their families. It takes place at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and this year it’s on April 14th – 15th. There are shows to see and workshops and free craft activities to take part in.
Cost: Depends on activity.
Alice in Wonderland
You can explore Wonderland and search for Alice at The Vaults arts space below Waterloo Station from 15th April – 10th September. Alice’s Adventures Underground is suitable for ages 11+ while Adventures in Wonderland is designed for children who are five years old or more. Both are immersive story experiences in which you decide where to go.
Cost: From £31.50.
The Queen’s Birthday Gun Salutes
It’s the Queen’s birthday on 21st April (she’s 91 this year), and the occasion is marked in central London by Royal Gun Salutes and galloping horses towing cannons. At midday there’s a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park and at 1pm there’s a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London. It’s quite a spectacle, and is a separate event from the Queen’s official birthday, which is in June.
St. George’s Day
St. George is the patron Saint of England, and the Feast of St George is celebrated each year in Trafalgar Square with live music, English food stalls, family games, dance and storytelling. This year the event takes place on Saturday April 22nd.
Canalway Cavalcade is an annual waterway festival in Little Venice. The festival features an array of boats as well as live music, Morris dancing, competitions, food stalls, family-friendly activities and a real ale bar. This year’s cavalcade is from 29th April – 1st May. On 30th April from 9pm there’s procession of illuminated boats.
Cost: Free entry.
Natural History Museum
How about a sleepover at London’s Natural History Museum? Dino Snores For Kids gives seven to 11 year-olds, with accompanying adults, the chance to camp out in one of the museum’s galleries and take part in some fun activities. This experience is only available on a few selected dates, and you have to book in advance.
The Sensational Butterflies exhibition returns to the museum from March 31st. The exhibition is housed in a tropical butterfly house at the front of the iconic building and runs until September 17th. Inside the exhibition you can walk amongst free-flying tropical butterflies and moths. There are also interactive displays and games where you can learn more about these creatures.
Cost: Entry to the Natural History Museum is free. Entry to Sensational Butterflies costs £5.85 per person, under-3s are free. Dino Snores For Kids costs £120 for one child with one adult.
Robot Zoo at the Horniman
You can meet larger than life robotic animals at the Horniman Museum’s Robot Zoo until 29th October. The animals have been created from familiar machines and gadgets to show how the anatomy of real animals works. Exhibits include a robotic rhino and a squid with 18-foot tentacles, and there are interactive games and challenges to try out.
Cost: Adult from £7, child from £4, under-threes free.
The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes
Artist Nathan Sawaya has recreated a range of DC superheroes using around two million LEGO bricks. Sawaya’s previous touring exhibition, The Art of the Brick, was seen by millions of people across six continents. There are more than 120 pieces in The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes exhibition, including a life-size Batmobile. The characters are on display in a purpose-built tent by the London Eye.
Cost: Adult £16.50, child (4 – 16) £11.00, under-fours: free.
Science Museum: Robots
The Robots exhibition at London’s Science Museum tells the story of humanoid robots, and of what it means to be human. The exhibition is set in five different periods and places, and features a unique collection of more than 100 robots, fifteen of which are working models. Robots is running until September 3rd.
Cost: Adults £15, children £13. Entrance to the main museum is free.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for accommodation in the capital, check out my post Family-friendly places to stay in London.
More on London
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Over to you
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