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 for August 2019 – let me know if you have any tips to add.
Kids Week (which should be called Kids Month imao), runs for the whole of August and is when kids aged 16 and under can go to a host of top West End shows, such as Mamma Mia!, School of Rock and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, for free. Each adult paying full price can take 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 (see above).
Prudential RideLondon is an annual festival of cycling in which more than 100,000 cyclists of all levels and abilities take part. This year it’s on August 3rd – 4th and it includes events across London and Surrey for professional and amateur cyclists, as well as a free family ride on closed roads in central London.
Cost: Varies according to event.
Notting Hill Carnival
The annual Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street party and Caribbean festival. The festival has marvellous music, floats, costumes and hundreds of Caribbean food stalls. This year the carnival is on 24th to 26th August. 25th August is the carnival’s family day, and the date for the children’s parade.
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. Some of the best are Hampstead Beach, open from Sunday to Friday in July and August, The Beach at Brent Cross , from June 22nd to September 8th 2019, and Lee Valley Beach, which is open throughout the summer.
Cost: Varies according to location.
Make the most of the warmer weather by trying some of London’s outdoor swimming venues. Serpentine Lido is in the lake in Hyde Park, and is open to the public for swimming every day from now until early September. There’s a children’s play area with a chlorinated paddling pool as well as a grassy area for sunbathing and a kiosk selling drinks and sandwiches. Tooting Bec Lido, Brockwell Lido and Hampstead Bathing Ponds are also great places to swim in the capital.
Cost: Varies according to location.
Natural History Museum: Investigate for Families
Science Educators are on hand at the Natural History Museum’s Investigate Centre to help you to explore hundreds of the museum’s nature specimens. Investigate for Families is a free drop-in activity, and it’s open every day until September 1st, 2019.
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 busy summer programme of family activities on offer at the museum.
Cost: Adult (25+) from £16.00, Young Person (16-24) from £11.00, child (3-15) from £9.00.
The Proms is an annual eight-week orchestral music event in London and is the biggest classical music event in the world. There are concerts, talks, workshops, family events and more, culminating with the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall which is on Saturday September 14th this year.
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 15th, as long as you’re at least eight years old, 1.2 m tall and accompanied by an adult.
Cost: From £27.00.
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 24th – 26th August there’s a family festival with storytelling and an exclusive family tour of the palace gardens. In 2019 the State Rooms are open from July 20th to September 29th.
Cost: Under-fives free. For State Rooms and family garden tour – adults £35.00, under-17s £21.00. For State Rooms only – adults £25.00, under-17s £14.00.
The popular Underbelly Festival is back at the Southbank this summer. The live entertainment festival is running until 29th September, and 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.
Frieze Sculpture is a free outdoor sculpture display in Regent’s Park and in 2019 it’s on display from 3rd July to October 6th. The display features 20 new and significant works by leading 20th-century and contemporary artists from around the world, including Tracey Emin and Tom Sachs.
Brick Wonders is at the Horniman Museum and Gardens until 27th October 2019. The exhibition showcases some amazing wonders from around the world, all made entirely from LEGO® bricks. There are more than 50 models on display, and visitors can work on their own designs in the interactive play areas.
Cost: Adults from £8.00, children from £4.50, under-threes free.
Sculpture in the City
Sculpture in the City is an annual event featuring contemporary works by internationally renowned artists. The works are displayed in public areas in the City of London. The 9th edition of the event launches at the end of June, and the art works are in place until April 2020. You can find out more about the pieces on display here
The Slide at ArcelorMittal Orbit
If you’re brave enough, you can whizz down the world’s longest and highest tunnel slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The 40-second journey down the slide goes 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 1.3 metres tall and eight years old or more. It’s best to book in advance (especially at weekends), and tickets for the slide include entry to the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
Cost: Adults £16.50, children £10.50.
Up at The O2
Up at The O2 is a safe and easy climbing experience across the roof of the O2 arena. Climbers traverse the structure via a walkway which is suspended above the roof of the landmark building. My husband and I tried this and enjoyed it despite the chilly April weather. You can read my full review here. You have to be at least 10 years old to take part, and all safety equipment is provided.
Cost: From £30 per person.
National Army Museum
The National Army Museum has five permanent galleries which are organised thematically to show what it feels like to be a soldier, what the army’s for and how its role has changed over time. The museum uses personal and inspiring stories to show the importance of national defence and security. There’s a café and a ‘Play Base’, complete with an assault course and kitchen area, for children up to the age of seven years old, and there are fun activities for kids on offer during the school holidays.
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), Southbank 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
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 guidebook, 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.
Each month I publish a round-up of great things to do in London, so do pop back to see it, 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.
You can read my September 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:
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, which means that if you clicked through and made a purchase I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you. All opinions and words are my own, as ever.