If you’re planning a family day out in London this month, there’s a huge range of quirky and interesting things for you to see and do – and many of them are free. Each month I pick out some of the best things to do in the capital – here’s my choice for October.
Kew Gardens are celebrating autumn with a brand new festival and exhibition, Artful Autumn. The exhibition runs from 7th to 29th October and features works by 16 different artists on the themes of natural beauty and the environment. Visitors can view the exhibits as they explore the gardens.
Cost: Adult £14.00, child (4-16) £2.50.
Marvellous news: London has a whole week devoted to chocolate (why’s it just for a week though?). This year Chocolate Week is running from 9th – 15th October and celebrates the world of fine chocolate. The Chocolate Show is at Olympia from 13th – 15th October and has workshops, tastings, demonstrations and more.
Cost: Adults from £12.50, children (4-12) from £8.00.
Diwali is celebrated around the world by Sikh, Hindu, and Jain communities, and is also known as the Festival of Lights. There’s an annual Diwali celebration in Trafalgar Square which attracts thousands of people. This year’s programme includes live music and dance performances as well as food stalls and a range of family-friendly activities. Diwali coincides with the new moon (the darkest night of the month) in October or November, so the date changes each year. This year, the Diwali Trafalgar Square celebration takes place on October 15th, from 1pm to 7pm.
Bloomsbury is an attractive area in central London, and the Bloomsbury Festival is a five-day celebration of its creativity. Running from 18th to 22nd October, the festival offers a programme of arts, science, literature, performance, discussion and reflection, and includes family events.
Cost: Varies – some events are free.
Power UP at the Science Museum
Power UP is a popular two-week interactive gaming event which is running at the Science Museum from 20th to 31st October. The event offers hundreds of games and more than 180 consoles from the past 40 years of gaming for you to try.
Cost: Depends on the type of ticket – they range from single 90-minute sessions to half-day tickets.
Harry Potter: A History of Magic
I’m very excited about the British Library’s new exhibition: Harry Potter: A History of Magic, which is running from October 20th 2017 to February 28th 2018. To mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book, the exhibition showcases a range of wizarding books, manuscripts and objects, including historic British Library treasures as well as original material from the author’s and her publisher’s archives. If you go, check out my post on 17 places to find the world of Harry Potter in London.
Cost: Adults from £16.00, children (5-17) £8.00, and it’s advisable to book in advance.
Halloween is on Tuesday October 31st this year, and towards the end of the month many places in London have Halloween-themed activities and events. The city’s spooky highlights include London Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo (21st – 31st October), a Halloween science show at the Science Museum (21st October) and ghost tours at Ham House & Garden (various dates).
Cost: Varies according to event.
London Fire Brigade Pop-up Museum
On October 25th the London Fire Brigade Pop-up Museum is hosting a family day where you can make your own mini animation video, create your own fire safety plan and design a fire engine greeting card. The free event is running from 10am to 3pm and is designed for children aged three and over.
Cost: Free, but you need to book your place through the museum website.
Museums at Night
The Museums at Night festival sees an array of the country’s major museums, heritage sites and historic properties open their doors after dark. The festival has events taking place across London from 26th to 28th October. There’s a range of free and ticketed night-time activities on offer, including live performances and tours by torchlight.
Cost: Varies according to event.
There are some amazing robotic animals on display at the Horniman Museum until October 29th. The museum’s Robot Zoo exhibition uses everyday gadgets to show how the bodies of real animals function. Exhibits include a robotic rhino and a squid with 18-foot tentacles, and there’s a range of interactive games and challenges to experience.
Cost: Adults from £7.00, children from £4.00, under-threes free.
More on London
Check back next 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?’) and it will be emailed to you 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, check out my post about family-friendly places to stay in the capital.
Over to you
Do let me know if you have any tips for great days out in London.