Best summer activities for kids in London: summer holidays
School's out for summer: keep children entertained with our round up of the best London has to offer throughout the 2019 summer holidays
Enjoy a baby aperitivo hour with Piccolo in Clapham
While there's plenty to do in London with the kids once they're walking and talking, it's trickier to find fun social engagements for the younger set - and their parents, who just want to be able to sit and enjoy a nibble and drink in the sunshine, without feeling like pariahs because they've got their mini-me in tow. On Wednesdays from 3-4pm in August, parents and their tots can head to Minnow in Clapham for an aperitif for themselves, while baby or toddler will get a Piccolo pouch or pack of breadsticks or wafers (the apple, apricot and cinnamon pouch is tasty enough to work as a bellini mix for grownups). While the entryway looks narrow for those with buggies, don't panic - a buggy concierge will swiftly unburden you, while the downstairs area is kitted out with Kit & Kin eco-nappies and wipes and a stained glass window.
Book to see Beatrix Potter's Where Is Peter Rabbit? for FREE
Didn't score a Kids' Week freebie to a West End show this August? No worries - Where Is Peter Rabbit?, the hit singing, dancing and puppetry show that brings your favourite Beatrix Potter characters like Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle Duck and Peter Rabbit to life is running a special Kids Go Free ticket offer for its entire run, from 20 July - 1 September, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. The musical, narrated by Myleene Klass and Griff Rhys Jones, is sure to delight your toddler (and you, considering you'll only be paying for an adult ticket - the offer is a free child's ticket with every adult ticket purchased). And if your little one is a fan of Mr. MacGregor, they'll love seeing him, multiplied, on stage... As a special treat after the show, head off to a Peter Rabbit themed tea at The Terrace on Piccadilly, and munch on edible chocolate flower pots.
Click here for our review
Check out Peppa Pig in Concert at the Southbank Centre
How to get the kids interested in classical music? By teaming classic music with Peppa Pig, of course. From 24-26 August at the Southbank Centre, Peppa Pig: My First Concert, ensures kids can learn all about differentsounds and instruments along with Peppa and George at this interactive intro to a live orchestra.
Click here for more information
Visit the new Animal Adventure play area at ZSL London Zoo
A new play zone where kids can learn all about meerkats, porcupines, eagle owls, mongoose, coatis and more is opening at ZSL London Zoo at the end of July. Animal Adventure is a playground with child-sized hot air balloons and a replica HMS Beagle (complete with bridges, slides and ladders) to transport kids on imaginary adventures to visit animals around the world. The playground is set up to encourage kids to climb like coatis and scale a treetop rope course like macaws, and they will also be able to spot zoo animals like kune kune pigs, llamas and donkeys being walked nearby. An open-air amphitheatre will feature daily talks on topics like how llamas trek across the Andes, as well as opportunities to chat with zookeepers, while the Splash Zone offers water play. There's even a new cafe on-site.
Check out CBeebies' Twirlywoos live on stage at Underbelly Festival Southbank
Finding a theatrical experience for the under-2 set to enjoy isn't easy. You're in luck this summer: for the month of August, CBeebies' Twirlywoos are coming to the stage for the first time at the Underbelly Festival Southbank. Your child's favourite characters - Toodloo, Great BigHoo, Chickedy and Peekaboo - are heading off on a new adventure aboard their Big Red Boat, in a delightful hour of puppetry. Plus, think how smug you'll feel that the kids are watching this on stage, not on telly for once. Suitable for 1+.
Get the members' club experience at the Maggie & Rose Islington pop-up
Before you commit to the full-on family members' club experience, Islington parents can get in on the action with Maggie & Rose's pop-up for the summer, with Pop In & Play Sessions and Stay & Splat ones for budding artists. Perfect for a change of scene with your toddler; we can't guarantee you won't want to become a member, however...
If you're at a loss in Central London, head to Hamleys
Here's a top tip, parents: Hamleys ALWAYS has something going on, especially over the summer hols, so if you're in central London and your plans are scarpered by bad weather or your friends are late to meet you, head over to the Hamleys Summer funfair, which even includes the chance to win cool toy prizes with the store's spinning wheel. There are also puppet shows, story time, Hamleys character parade (as well as meet-and-greets with the PJ Masks, Pikachu and more), and a Regent Street summer street party (Summer Streets) on August 18th.
The National Theatre's big summer show for kids, Mr. Gum and the Dancing Bear, brings to life the hilarious story of fun-hating, child-detesting Mr. Gum, who - surprise, surprise - also doesn't love the idea of a massive bear called Padlock being around (he's as tall as 40 hamsters! he weighs as much as 19,000 grapes!) so it's up to nine-year-old Polly and her pals to save the day - and the bear.
Head to Westminster Abbey for some excitement
Looking for cool, FREE family activities on this summer? Westminster Abbey's got a packed schedule of activities to appeal to the 5+ crowd, from Knight School jousting training sessions to finding out all about Queen Victoria (it's the 200-year anniversary of her birth). You can also book in for family tours and activities like stonemasonry-inspired soap carving and candle-making.
Get them making slime - somewhere other than your house
Slime Planet is every south London parent's favourite new discovery: the kids are happy (they're making slime), and so are the parents (the slime isn't being made in the house). Check out the weekend and summer workshops for an awesome sensory experience where kids can customise their own slime (add glitter, scents like bubblegum or chocolate and foam beads). They can also make a giant slime as part of a collaborative effort with other kids.
Give them their first set of wheels
Calling all budding skateboarders and rollerbladers: Zebra Skate offers inline skating, skateboarding and rollerblading camps to kids in Clapham and Kensington. Perfect for getting the kids outside, active and having fun. Also, this may be just what they need to finally master those Heelys they begged you for and can't seem to figure out...
For those more into roller skating, we've also got all the info on where to skate in London, from street skating to dance jamming...
Get your goggles on at Brainiac Live!
Brainiac Live! is coming to the Garrick Theatre this August; think of it as a way to get your experiment-obsessed kid in on the scientific action, without blowing up anything in your home. On stage, prepare to see lots of experiments gone wild: combusting microwaves, exploding dustbins, daredevil stunts and science at its most fun. See if you can score a free child's ticket using Kids' Week - trust us, there's no more satisfying experiment than the one that keeps money in your pocket.
Learn about London's Secret Rivers at the Museum of London Docklands
Credit: The Heath by Andy Sewell, 2006-2011, Museum of London
Not only is the Museum of London Docklands' Secret Rivers exhibition free and fabulous, it's also really informative: kids can learn about London's history, from Roman times through Victorian ones to the present, and how the city's rivers became sources of pleasure and sites of poverty. There are some cool interactive bits kids will enjoy, plus a recreation of a 12th century triple bog seat. What's not to love?
As parents, we have all of these intentions of what we want to do with our kids, but the reality is that most of us are too time-poor to manage much else other than a quick ball kick around the park after school during term time. Make the most of summer in London by pretending you're in the countryside and riding a horse: book in for an equestrian adventure at one of London's city farms or riding schools.
Take in a sensational magic show with The Illusionists
Make the most of August Kids' Week freebies and go see seven of the world's top magicians live on stage together. Enjoy everything from mind reading to sleight of hand to daredevil antics, sure to inspire and awe your own mini magician.
Never grow up with Peter Pan at the Troubadour White City
National Theatre's Peter Pan, directed by Olivier award-winner Sally Cookson, is coming to Troubadour White City this summer - and it's set to be spectacular, with a live on-stage band, aerial acrobats and, of course, a trip to Neverland.
Enjoy being spellbound at The Worst Witch
Mildred Hubble is a lot of fun - and a lot of trouble, especially considering there's magic involved. Young readers love following her adventures on the page; they'll be even more thrilled to see them come to life on the stage at the Vaudeville Theatre, from July 24-September 8. Broomsticks and spell books optional.
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Enjoy history in action with Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain, Part 4
Horrible Histories may just be our favourite kids' show on telly, and The Birmingham Stage Company's live show (on throughout the month of August at the Apollo Theatre) has all of the intrigue, excitement and historical figures we can't get enough of (we're looking at you, Tudors!). If you're lucky, you can even score a ticket through Kids' Week for your little one - and if you're really lucky, they'll come home still talking about Samuel Pepys (we can dream, can't we?).
Returning to London this summer is the world's longest, fastest urban zip wire: 100 feet high and 225-metres long, kids age 8 and over can travel at speeds of up to 50 km per hour, as they soak up a bird's eye view of some of London's most famous landmarks, from Lambeth Palace to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, in one of London's top playgrounds, Archbishop's Park. Children aged 8-15 require parental supervision.
Kids' Week - actually a month - runs for the entirety of August. During this time, under-16s can go free to a host of London's best shows, when accompanied by an adult paying full price. Book promptly to avoid missing out on this hot ticket.
Brent Cross has it all: rollercoasters, a Fun House, Water Wars super-soaker games, carousels, donkey rides, seaside fun, fried food and ice cream. And, for the angsty teen and caffeine-deprived parent, it's also got a mall next door. You can't remember when you last had this much fun - without even getting in the car.
There's a reason they invented trampoline parks and that reason is: summer holidays with the kids at home. There's no such thing as bad weather with the likes of Flip Out to entertain your older (and younger) kids.