London’s a great place for a family day out at any time of year. This month, as ever, there are loads of fun things happening in the capital, plus spring’s nearly here, the kids have a week’s half-term holiday and it’s Pancake Day. Marvellous.
Here’s my pick of the excellent things to do in London in February 2020.
Southbank: Imagine Children’s Festival
Imagine Children’s Festival is the Southbank Centre’s annual children’s arts festival, and this year it runs from 12th – 23rd February. The festival features the best in children’s literature, theatre and music and there are plenty of workshops and activities for kids up to the age of 12 years old. Highlights for 2020 include an Earth Activity Trail, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and appearances by Michael Rosen, Dermot O’Leary, Cressida Cowell and Konnie Huq. Many of the festival’s events and activities are free.
Cost: Varies according to activity.
National Maritime Museum: Rainbow Week
Each February the National Maritime Museum celebrates LGBT history month. This year the museum’s hosting a week of free LGBT themed workshops and events for families during Rainbow Week, from 15th – 23rd February
London Zoo: Vets in Action
London Zoo is run by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) charity, which works for the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. The zoo is home to more than 16,000 animals, from lions, penguins and giraffes to seahorses, butterflies and komodo dragons. You can read about our family trip to London Zoo here.
From 15th -23rd February 2020 visitors to the zoo can step into the shoes of the vets, nurses and zookeepers who treat the patients of the zoo’s animal hospital at Vets in Action role-play events. It’s free to take part in this activity once you’ve paid to enter the zoo.
Cost: Ticket prices for ZSL vary according to date, so it’s hard to work out how much they are, but adult tickets seem to start from £20.45, children from £15.95, if booked online in advance. Under-threes are free.
Horniman Museum: Permiam Monsters
Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs is a new exhibition at the Horniman Museum and Gardens from 15th February – Sunday 1st November 2020. The exhibition brings the amazing animals of the Permian period back to life through fossil skeletons, full-size models and animatronics. Visitors can also sift through interactive dig pits, get creative in an art area, and see a collection of artwork offering a glimpse back in time through the eyes of award-winning palaeoartist Julius Csotonyi.
Cost: Adults £9.00, children from £5.00, under-threes free.
The interactive galleries at the Postal Museum cover 500 years of postal history. A highlight is the miniature train which carries you through the narrow tunnels of the historical Post Office underground railway. Inspired by its temporary exhibition The Great Train Robbery: Crime and The Post, from 17th – 22nd February 2020 the Postal Museum is offering a programme of fun and interactive activities to inspire curious minded kids. Highlights include making a wax sealed letter, sensory storytelling and a detective training trail.
Cost: Adult from £16.00, child from £9.00.
Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is always the day before Lent begins – in 2020 it’s on February 25th. In the western Christian tradition Lent is a time to give things up and so the day before Lent is a time to indulge. Some countries (such as Brazil and Italy) celebrate with a carnival at this time but here in the UK we generally just eat pancakes and, in some places, have pancake races to raise money for charity. If you’d like to take part in or watch a race, you can find details of this year’s London charity pancake races on the Visit London website.
London International Mime Festival
The London International Mime Festival showcases the best contemporary visual theatre, including cutting edge circus-theatre, animation and puppetry, mask, physical and object theatre. The festival runs until 2nd February 2020, and there are performances at various venues across the city. Artists from around the world and some of Britain’s emerging talents are taking part, as well as established names.
Cost: Varies according to performance.
Somerset House 24/7
Somerset House’s major winter exhibition 24/7 explores our inability to switch off from our 24/7 culture. The exhibition features a host of immersive works which explore the unrelenting pressure to consume and produce. One of the works allows you to be wrapped in a copper blanket, to block any electro-magnetic signal getting to you, and you can also learn about the experience of an artist who went for six months with no internet access. Until 23rd February 2020.
Cost: Adults £14, students £11.00 under-12s free.
Royal Opera House
Live at Lunch is a series of free lunchtime performances inspired by the Royal Opera House’s heritage and its operas and ballets. Artists from the ROH as well as guest artists perform from 1pm on specific dates until 28th February, 2020. Performances take place in newly opened-up spaces of the Royal Opera House.
Chiswick House and Gardens is hosting Lightopia, a new immersive lantern and light trail, until March 1st 2020 from Wednesday to Sunday. The spectacle includes acrobats, musicians and three-storey high lanterns, and has previously been staged in Manchester and Edinburgh.
Cost: Adult from £20, child from £13, if booked online in advance.
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 art works from the 9th edition of the event are in place until April 2020. 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.
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 March 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
Do you have any tips to share for great things to see or do in London this month or any other month? Do share so that I can include your recommendations.
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