If you’re planning a day out in London this month there’s a wealth of things on offer for you to do. Each month I look for intriguing things to see and do in the capital, beyond visiting the iconic landmarks and museums. Here’s my pick for September.
There’s a free family drop-in workshop at Somerset House on Saturday September 2nd, led by artist Rosie Allen. The workshop is part of The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects, a design exhibition revealing the extraordinary possibilities of everyday objects. You can learn the art of narrative and the technique of comic style as you cut, stick and draw everyday objects into extra-ordinary characters. The workshop is suitable for children aged 6-12 accompanied by an adult.
Totally Thames is an annual month-long festival which takes place in the capital each September to celebrate the River Thames. The festival has a vibrant programme of events including river-inspired art, live performances, archaeology walks, boat races and more. On September 2nd-3rd there’s a flotsam weaving family workshop at the Cutty Sark.
Cost: Varies according to event.
Fire Engine Festival 2017
The London Fire Brigade’s Fire Engine Festival is on Saturday 9th September. There are fire engines from across the ages on display, and visitors can try on firefighter uniforms, see some of the oldest fire engines in the country and learn about how they work.
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.
Open House London
This is your chance to see inside some of the most iconic buildings and architecturally unique spaces in the capital. Open House London is an annual event where a range of buildings around the capital, which aren’t usually accessible to the public, open their doors for free. This year it runs from 16th-17th September, and includes a family programme, Archikids Open House Junior, with free workshops and events for 5-11 year-olds and their families. Buildings such as the Leadenhall Building (the Cheesegrater) and Paddington Central are taking part.
London Design Festival 2017
The London Design Festival is an annual event to promote London as the design capital of the world. During the festival, hundreds of large-scale installations, exhibitions and events pop up in unique spaces across London. This year the festival takes place from 16th-24th September across dozens of locations, including some of the capital’s top museums. Family-friendly highlights include an interactive pop-up performance at the V&A to celebrate the role of costume design in the 1980s music scene.
Cost: Varies according to event.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum’s impressive Hintze Hall 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.
Japan Matsuri is London’s annual festival of Japanese culture. This year it’s on Sunday 24th September and it takes place at Trafalgar Square. There’s Japanese food, performances, karaoke, origami and more, and it runs from 10am to 8pm.
Pearly Kings & Queens Harvest Festival
The London Pearly Kings & Queens come together for this annual charity fundraising event at Guildhall Yard. The Pearly Kings & Queens wear elaborate outfits (dark suits covered with hundreds of bright pearl buttons in intricate patterns), and there’s traditional entertainment such as morris dancing and maypole dancing, and a parade through the streets to a service at St Mary Le Bow Church. This year the event is on Sunday September 25th, from 1pm at the Guildhall.
Cost: Free, but Harvest Festival donations are welcome.
New Scientist Live
New Scientist Live is a festival of science, technology and culture and this year it takes place from 28th September–1st October at Excel London. The show features five immersive zones: Humans, Technology, Engineering, Earth and Cosmos, and more than 120 speakers, including Margaret Atwood and Tim Peake.
Cost: Adults from £26 per day, under-17s from £15 per day, under-fives free.
The Underbelly Festival, is at the Southbank until 30th September, and has a programme of comedy, circus, cabaret and family entertainment, as well as street food stalls and outdoor bars.
Cost: Varies according to show.
Buckingham Palace Tour
Buckingham Palace is Queen Elizabeth II’s official London home, and each year its State Rooms are open to visitors for a period while the Queen’s away. This year the State Rooms are open until October 1st.
Cost: Adults £23.00, under-17s £13.00, under-fives free.
Zip World London
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,120 kg in weight – and very brave.
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 until October 29th. 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.
Cost: Adults from £7, children from £4, under-threes free.
Tips from Mums do travel readers:
Thank you to everyone who shared their favourite things to do in London with kids in September. All of these tips (sent to me @grettaschifano on Twitter) sound like great fun:
@PassepartoutHom says: ‘Picking chestnuts at Greenwich park! Aqua Splash at London Aquatics till 4/09. Robot Zoo at Horniman Museum and Gardens.’
@Heyreidy says: ‘Have you seen the Monopoly board walk? It is a walk through London going through all the places on the Monopoly board.’
(I haven’t been able to find details of this – so do let me know if you have!)
@vwallop says: ‘Open House, if the weather is still good then last trip to a lido, I’m leading a cycle ride as part of Wandle Fortnight on 9 Sept…’
More on London
Check back each month for my latest London round-up – or you can 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 both the Lonely Planet London Travel Guide and the London Marco Polo Travel Guide.
If you need accommodation in London, check out my post about family-friendly places to stay in the capital.
Over to you
If you have any tips to share for great days out in London, do let me know!