The clocks have changed, it’s starting to feel chilly, but London’s still a great place for a family trip, as it always is. Each month I pick my top things to see and do in the capital, from world-class exhibitions, to local festivals, to outdoor activities and everything in between. Here’s my selection for November, including some tips from Mums do travel readers.
Regent Street Motor Show
The UK’s largest free motor show comes to London’s West End on 3rd November, 2018. With displays of hundreds of vintage and futuristic motor vehicles, live music and dance performances and motorbike stunt shows, the Regent Street Motor Show is a great annual event.
Bonfire Night, which is also known as Fireworks Night and Guy Fawkes Night, takes place each year on 5th November, which is the anniversary of the foiling of Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up London’s Houses of Parliament in 1605. On and around this date, there are firework displays all over the city (as well as all over the country) from Blackheath to Brent to Alexandra Palace, and many of them are free of charge. There’s a list of the top 13 London firework displays over at the official Visit London website.
Cost: Varies according to event.
Music For Youth Proms
@ParentsTeensSEL tweeted to recommend the annual Music For Youth Proms, which take place at the Royal Albert Hall this year from 5th to 7th November. The event showcases some of the UK’s most talented and innovative young musicians. Each night 1,000 musicians perform in a concert featuring a wide range of music.
Cost: From £5.00.
Southbank Centre’s Wintertime Festival
The Southbank Centre’s Wintertime Festival has a busy schedule of entertainment for all the family from 9th November 2018 to 6th January 2019. Highlights include live shows, a winter market, and global street food.
Cost: Depends on event – access to the market is free.
Christmas in Leicester Square
Christmas in Leicester Square is running from November 9th 2018 to 6th January 2019, and offers range of entertainment as well as a Christmas market and Santa’s Grotto. Highlights include Monski Mouse’s Christmas Baby Disco Dancehall, Brat Kids Carnival and The Showstoppers’ Christmas Kids Show!.
Cost: Free entry, Grotto from £11.50, tickets for performances vary according to event.
Lord Mayor’s Show
In 1215 King John allowed Londoners to elect a mayor. Every year since, the Lord Mayor of London travels from the City of London to Westminster to pledge their loyalty to the King or Queen. This has evolved into the Lord Mayor’s Show, a vibrant procession across London which features the Lord Mayor’s splendid coach, marching bands, dancing and live performances and which attracts around half a million people annually. This year’s show is on Saturday November 10th. (Today the Lord Mayor of London is a ceremonial post, and is separate from the Mayor of London, which is an elected post).
Each year on November 11th there are events across the city to remember those who lost their lives in both world wars and in combat since. This day is also known as Armistice Day, when World War I ended on 11th November 1918. At 11am on that date every year many people observe a two-minute silence of remembrance, including in Trafalgar Square at a special Silence in the Square event. Remembrance Sunday is on the nearest Sunday to Remembrance Day (in 2018, November 11th is on a Sunday), and sees church services, parades and events, including at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, which is attended by the Queen.
HYPER JAPAN is a celebration of Japanese culture, food and style, and is at London’s Olympia from 16th to 18th November. There are film screenings, craft workshops, live performances, Japanese food, drink and gift stalls and more.
Cost: From £18.33.
Each winter a large chunk of Hyde Park becomes Winter Wonderland. From 22nd November 2018 the popular attraction offers live shows, a huge outdoor ice rink, fairground rides and a Christmas market. This year’s highlights include The Snowman™ Experience (an immersive, walk-through cinematic attraction), Peter Pan on Ice and ice sculpting workshops. There’s no charge to enter Winter Wonderland – you just pay for the activities which you do. It’s a good idea to book ahead for things like ice-skating and the live shows.
Cost: Free to enter, pay according to what you do there.
Returning to Clapham Common for 2018, Winterville bills itself as an alternative Christmas experience. With ice skating, festive films, tasty street food, fun fair rides and live music as well as Mexican wrestling, Plonk Golf and roller skating it’s a great place for a fun festive trip. Winterville is open until December 23rd, 2018.
Cost: Varies according to activity. If you book tickets in advance, entry is free.
Pop-up ice rinks
This month there are ice rinks popping up all over London for the winter. I try out a different ice rink each winter – my favourites so far are those at Somerset House, the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum. Fellow blogger Cathy Winston enjoyed skating at Hampton Court with her daughter and wrote a review of it for me – you can read her post here: Ice skating at Hampton Court Palace, London. Wherever you are in London this winter, there’s bound to be an ice rink nearby, but it’s best to book in advance as they can get busy, especially at peak times.
Cost: Depends on venue.
The Sun: Living With Our Star
The Science Museum‘s latest exhibition looks at our relationship with our closest star, the Sun. Visitors to this interactive experience can enjoy an indoor beach, try on virtual sunglasses and watch the sunrise in places around the world on a huge wall display. Until May 6th, 2019.
Cost: From £15.
Life in the Dark
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.
Cost: Entry to the museum is free, entry to Life in the Dark costs from £7.50 for adults, under-16s are free.
Good Grief, Charlie Brown!
You can see Snoopy, Charlie Brown and friends at the excellent Good Grief, Charlie Brown! exhibition at Somerset House this winter. I remember reading the Peanuts comic strips by Charles M. Schultz in my dad’s newspaper as a child, but before visiting the exhibition I had no idea of their ongoing cultural significance, that Lucy and Peppermint Pattie were feminist icons, that there was an actual Snoopy for President campaign in the US in the 1968 and 1972 elections (now there’s a campaign which is ripe for revival), or that NASA has a Silver Snoopy award for space safety. Fascinating stuff. The exhibition is running until March 3rd, 2019.
Cost: Adults £14.00, under-12s 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.
More on London
If you’d like a moneysaving sightseeing pass for your trip to the city, The London Pass includes a one-day hop-on hop-off bus tour, as well as free entry to more than 80 attractions, tours and museums, such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and The View from The Shard. The pass also gives you fast-track entry at some of the most popular attractions, so you don’t have to waste time queueing.
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.
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?’) and it will be emailed to you automatically.
Over to you
Do you have any tips to share for great things to do in London? Do let me know so that I can include your recommendations.