If you’re planning a day out in London there’s a wealth of things on offer for you to choose from. Each month I look for intriguing things to see and do in the capital, as well as visiting the iconic landmarks and museums. Here’s my pick for September 2018.
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 1st 2018 there’s a family day at Custom House foreshore.
Cost: Varies according to event.
The Postal Museum is a heritage attraction with interactive galleries which take visitors through 500 years of postal history. 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. Until Sunday 2nd September, there’s a summer programme of family activities on offer at the museum.
Cost: Adult from £17.05, child from £10.45.
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 Saturday September 8th.
Cost: Varies according to event. Tickets are half-price for all under-18s and some events are free.
Zip Now London
You need to be brave for this one – Zip Now London is said to be the biggest and fastest city centre zip wire in the world! The ride whizzes you along at speeds of up to 50 kph, starting from 35m up in the air. You can experience Zip Now London on the Southbank until September 9th, as long as you’re at least eight years old, 1.2 m tall and accompanied by an adult.
Cost: 8-15s from £15.00, 16+ from £20.00.
Regents Park Open Air Theatre
There are four very different shows which are being performed at Regents Park Open Air Theatre this summer on various dates until 15th September. Dinosaur World Live has been created for everyone aged three and over and the organisers say that it features life-like dinosaurs. The Turn of the Screw, As You Like It and Little Shop of Horrors are also being staged at the theatre.
Cost: From £16.50 per person. Everyone aged two and over needs their own ticket.
London Design Festival
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 15th – 23rd September across dozens of locations, including some of the capital’s top museums. Family-friendly highlights include a series of alphabet chairs which people are encouraged to explore and make words with at Broadgate, and an interactive maze in the courtyard at the V&A Museum.
Cost: Varies according to event.
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 16th, from midday at the Guildhall.
Cost: Free, but Harvest Festival donations are welcome.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum invites you to put your senses to the test when you visit their Life in the Dark exhibition. You can learn about the lives of nocturnal animals at the exhibition until 31st January 2019. 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 Life in the Dark costs from £7.50 for adults, under-16s are free, entry to Sensational Butterflies costs £5.85 per person, under-threes are free.
New Scientist Live
New Scientist Live is a festival of science, technology and culture and this year it takes place from 20th – 23rd September at Excel London. The show features five immersive zones: Humans, Technology, Engineering, Earth and Cosmos, and more than 120 speakers, including Tim Peake, Clare Balding and Lawrence Dallaglio.
Cost: Adults from £40 per day, under-17s from £20 per day, under-sixes 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 22nd – 23rd September. Buildings such as the Leadenhall Building (the Cheesegrater) and Paddington Central take part in this event.
Japan Matsuri is London’s annual festival of Japanese culture. This year it’s on Sunday 30th September and it takes place at Trafalgar Square. There’s Japanese food, performances, karaoke, origami and more, and it runs from 10am to 8pm.
The popular Underbelly Festival is back at the Southbank until 30th September. The live entertainment festival offers a fantastic programme of live 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 summer the residence’s State Rooms are open to visitors while she’s away. For 2018 the State Rooms are open until September 30th.
Cost: Adults £24.00, under-17s £13.50, under-fives free.
Warner Bros Studio Tour
There always seems to be more to see on this tour of the Harry Potter film studios, just outside London. I’ve been there three times and would definitely go back – you can read my review in my post Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter. The latest addition to the tour is the Goblet of Fire, until September 30th, 2018. Visitors can see the original Goblet of Fire which was created for the eponymous film, and learn about the props, characters and special effects from the fourth in the Harry Potter series. I’ve also written this post about 17 places to find the world of Harry Potter in London.
Cost: Adults from £39, under-16s from £31, under-fives free.
Frieze Sculpture is a free outdoor sculpture display in Regent’s Park until October 7th. The display features 25 new and significant works by leading 20th-century and contemporary artists from around the world.
If you can’t get to the actual seaside, there are urban beaches in various places across the capital which you can visit, including the South Bank Centre Beach, until September 9th, The Beach at Brent Cross shopping centre, until September 2nd, and Lee Valley Beach, until October 31st.
Cost: Varies according to location.
Colour: The Rainbow Revealed is at the Horniman Museum and Gardens until 28th October. The award-winning exhibition explores the countless ways in which colour shapes our world and shows how colours are made and perceived and how animals use colour.
Cost: Adults from £7.00, children from £4.00, under-threes free.
Sculpture in the City
Sculpture in the City is an annual event featuring contemporary art works on display in public areas in the City of London. This year the event includes works by Sarah Lucas, Amanda Lwin and Marina Abramovic, and the art works are in place until April 2019. You can find out more about the pieces on display here.
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!’
@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.’
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.
You can read my October round-up of top things to do in the city here:
Here’s a post with loads of ideas for fantastic free stuff to do in London for families with a teen in tow:
Over to you
If you have any tips to share for great days out in London, do let me know!