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 2019.
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, mudlarking and more.
Cost: Varies according to event.
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.
London Design Festival
The London Design Festival is an annual event to celebrate 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 14th – 22nd September across dozens of locations, including some of the capital’s top museums. The V&A Museum is the official festival hub and is filled with an extraordinary range of design installations for the festival.
Cost: Varies according to event.
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 21st – 22nd September. Buildings such as the Leadenhall Building (the Cheesegrater) and Paddington Central usually take part in this event, but the programme varies from year to year.
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 29th, from 12.30 at the Guildhall.
Cost: Free, but Harvest Festival donations are welcome.
Japan Matsuri is London’s annual festival of Japanese culture. This year it’s on Sunday 29th September and it takes place at Trafalgar Square. There’s Japanese food, music, dance and activities for all the family, and it runs from 10am to 8pm.
The popular Underbelly Festival is back at the Southbank. 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.
Buckingham Palace Tour
Buckingham Palace is Queen Elizabeth II’s official London home, and each year the residence’s State Rooms are open to visitors while she’s away. 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.
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.
Japan House London
Anno’s Journey is a family-friendly exhibition at Japan House London until 27th October. The exhibition showcases the life’s work of prolific storyteller and award-winning illustrator, Anno Mitsumasa, and it is the first ever display of his work in the UK. The exhibition invites readers to discover, or rediscover, the joys of picture books and imaginative storytelling.
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.
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.’
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 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:
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.