If you’re visiting London with children this summer there are lots of fantastic things to experience. Here’s my pick of the best things to see and do in the city this month – let me know if you have any tips to add.
The Jungle Book
Metta Theatre bring their cutting edge production of The Jungle Book to the Southbank’s Underbelly Festival from 1st to 24th August. The show uses street dance, circus performances and the spoken word to tell this popular story. After the festival the production is touring to Worthing, Salford, Derby and Flintshire. The show is recommended for 8 years and over.
Cost: From £11.50 per person.
London Fire Brigade pop-up museum
There are family activity days every Wednesday between 10am and 1pm throughout August at the London Fire Brigade pop-up museum on Lambeth High Street. You can make your own mini animation video, design your own fire-mark or make your own fire engine greeting card. The activities are designed for children aged three years and over.
IAAF World Athletic Championships 2017
More than 3,000 athletes from around the world are competing at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the IAAF World Athletic Championships 2017 from 4th to 13th August. One of the highlights is Usain Bolt’s last race before his retirement.
Cost: Child £9.58, adult from £20.00.
Buckingham Palace Tour
Buckingham Palace is Queen Elizabeth II’s official London home, and each summer the residence’s State Rooms are open to visitors while she’s away. On 5th August there’s a family festival with storytelling, crafts and games and on 28th August there are Rex the Corgi storytelling sessions at the palace – these events are included in the entry price. This year the State Rooms are open until October 1st.
Cost: Adults £23.00, under-17s £13.00, under-fives free.
Regents Park Open Air Theatre
Oliver Twist is an adaption of the Charles Dickins novel and is being performed at Regents Park Open Air Theatre until 5th August. The performance is designed for everyone aged six and over, and everyone aged two and over needs their own ticket.
Cost: £18 per person.
With claims of being the world’s biggest inflatable, this sounds like an impressive bouncy structure. The Beast is an enormous inflatable obstacle course and it’s at Alexandra Palace from 25th to 28th August. There are sessions for 11-15 year olds from 10am to midday, after that it’s for over-15s only.
Cost: £22.00 per person for one full circuit.
Londinium – The Gladiator Games
The Londinium Festival is running until 29th October and celebrates the city’s Roman heritage. From 25th to 28th August the Gladiator Games take place in Guildhall Yard, the site of London’s Roman Amphitheatre. Gladiators will fight for ‘glory and freedom’. Guildhall Yard is also hosting a fortnight of specially themed classic film screenings from 7th to 15th August.
Cost: Children from £13.00, adults from £20.00, under-fives free.
Notting Hill Carnival
The annual Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street party and Caribbean festival. There’s great music, floats, costumes and hundreds of Caribbean food stalls. This year the carnival is on 27th to 28th August. 27th August is the carnival’s family day, and the date for the children’s parade.
Kids Week runs for the whole of August and enables kids to go to top West End shows for free – as long as they’re with an adult paying full price. Each paying adult can take along one child for free and two extra children for half price, and there are no booking fees.
Cost: Adult tickets vary according to show, kids go free.
Science Museum: Robots
The Science Museum’s Robots exhibition looks at the 500-year quest to create humanoid robots, and examines what it means to be human. The exhibition covers five different places and periods, and displays a collection of more than 100 robots, including fifteen working models. The exhibition is running until 3rd September.
Cost: Adults £15, children £13, under sevens free. Entrance to the main museum is free.
STAR WARS™ Identities: The Exhibition
The O2’s STAR WARS™ Identities: The Exhibition follows the stories of Luke and Anakin Skywalker through more than 200 models, costumes, props and artworks from the Star Wars films. The exhibition runs until 3rd September and has an interactive identity quest, as well as some engaging scientific content to help visitors to explore the forces which shape us.
Cost: Adults from £20.00, children from £10.00, under-fives free.
The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes
Nathan Sawaya has created models of some iconic DC superheroes, using more than two million LEGO bricks. His The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes exhibition has more than 120 exhibits, and is housed in a purpose-built tent by the London Eye. The exhibition runs until September 4th.
Cost: Adults £16.50, children (4 – 16) £11.00, under-fours free.
Warner Bros Studio Tour
The Harry Potter film studios just outside London are fascinating to explore. You can read my review from my most recent trip there in my post Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter. The latest addition to the tour is Wizarding Wardrobes, which showcases the craftsmanship and artistry involved in creating the thousands of costumes which were used in the films. Wizarding Wardrobes is running until September 4th. I’ve also written a post about 17 places to find the world of Harry Potter in London.
Cost: From £33.
The Proms is an annual eight-week orchestral music event and is the biggest classical music event in the world. There are concerts, talks, workshops, family events and more, ending with the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on September 9th.
Cost: Varies according to event. Tickets are half-price for all under-18s and some events are free.
Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent is a multi-sensory exhibition at Somerset House. The exhibition is running until September 17th and shows a range of unique scents in playful, interactive settings including an interactive perfume laboratory.
Cost: From £9.00 per person for the exhibition.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum’s impressive Hintze Hall, formerly the home of the iconic Diplodicus cast, reopened in July after a major redevelopment. The space features new specimens and exhibits, with an impressive blue whale skeleton as the central display. If you go, you can also walk amongst free-flying tropical butterflies and moths at the Sensational Butterflies exhibition (until 17th September) which is housed in a tropical butterfly house at the front of the museum.
Cost: Entry to the museum is free, entry to Sensational Butterflies costs £5.85 per person, under-threes are free.
The Underbelly Festival, is at the Southbank until 30th September, and offers a marvellous programme of comedy, circus, cabaret and family entertainment (including a production of The Jungle Book – see above), as well as street food stalls and outdoor bars. Cost: Varies according to show.
Zip World London
You need to be brave for this one – Zip World say that their new London attraction is the ‘biggest, fastest city zip wire in the world’! The ride whizzes you along at speeds of up to 50 mph, 100ft up in the air. You can experience Zip World London on the Southbank until October 1st, as long as you’re at least eight years old, 1.2 m tall and 120 kg in weight.
Cost: 8-15s £16.50, 16+ £22.50.
Frieze Sculpture is a free outdoor sculpture display in Regent’s Park until October 8th. The display features 25 new and significant works by leading 20th-century and contemporary artists from around the world.
Robot Zoo at the Horniman
There are some astonishing robotic animals at the Horniman Museum this summer. The museum’s Robot Zoo exhibition uses everyday 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 also some fun interactive games and challenges to try. The Robot Zoo is at the Horniman until October 29th.
Cost: Adults from £7, children from £4, under-threes free.
The Slide at ArcelorMittal Orbit
You can whizz down the world’s longest and highest tunnel slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The 40-second journey takes you around the UK’s tallest public artwork 12 times, and ends with a 50-metre straight run. To use the slide you must be at least eight years old and 1.3 metres tall or more. It’s best if you book in advance, and tickets for the slide include entry to the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
Cost: Adults £16.50, children £10.50.
Make the most of the (hopefully) warmer weather by trying some of London’s outdoor swimming venues. From Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lido to pools such as Tooting Bec Lido and Brockwell Lido, as well as natural places to swim such as, Hampstead Bathing Ponds, there are many places to choose from.
Cost: Varies according to location.
The Postal Museum opened to visitors at the end of July. The heritage attraction has interactive galleries which take visitors through 500 years of postal history, and there’s an interactive play zone for under-nines. Visitors can also travel on a miniature train through the narrow tunnels of the historical Post Office underground railway.
Cost: Adult from £11.00, child from £8.00.
If you can’t get to the actual seaside, there are urban beaches in various places across the capital which you can visit this summer, including Beach East at the Olympic Park, Fulham’s Neverland London and The Beach at Brent Cross shopping centre.
Cost: Varies according to location.
Tips from Mums do travel readers:
Thank you to everyone who shared their favourite things to do in London with kids in August. All of these tips (sent to me @grettaschifano on Twitter) are great:
@simplefamtravel says: ‘On our recent visit we went to the Cartoon Museum and loved it (and blogged about it) They mentioned they do workshops over the summer.’
@famfunlondon says: ‘blackberrying in any of London’s lovely woods one of our annual faves’
@vwallop says: ‘I’m leading 3 family cycle rides along the Wandle over the summer, AMAZING blackberry potential!
Anything water related (if it’s hot), south bank or Somerset house fountains, serpentine lido, mudlarking, brockwell lido and bmx track.’
@MaidenheadMum says: ‘Buckingham palace is open this year and under 5s are free! We’ve booked our tickets already!’
@Nadiaaatje says: ‘Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is also great for kids. Ride the big slide!’
@Blindsides1 says: ‘We love the vibes on the South Bank. London Eye for all ages too – took 1,4,6 yr old – all loved it.’
@_Cyran says: ‘Cycling along the Docklands – SE London and visiting Mudchute Farm.’
Over to you
Do you have any tips or recommendations to add? Have you visited any of these places, or would you like to?
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 need London accommodation, check out my post about family-friendly places to stay in the capital.