Things to do with children between Christmas and New Year: a guide to the best London events
Break out of the Christmas cocoon and enjoy some of the fabulous family events to make the most of the holidays and amuse all ages.
It's not too late for a white Christmas
Slava's Snow Show, Southbank Centre
Intrepid explorers aged two to six (and their brave mums and dads) are invited to join a fun-filled expedition to the heart of winter. The ever-popular Slava's Snow Show returns to the Southbank Centre for another imaginative journey. Prepare to enter a real-life snow globe as audience members are doused in snow. Throw in clowns, comedy, and magical visuals for the perfect way to have a last-minute white Christmas.
For tiny tots and their teddies
This sweet exhibition hosted at the V&A follows the adventures of Winnie the Pooh's creators: A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard. Prepare for an extraordinary adventure, as the gallery space has been transformed into the Hundred Acre Wood: complete with secret slides, storytelling trees, and an interactive bridge to play Poohsticks. Along with the magic of the original illustrations and audio recordings of classic Pooh stories for gallery goers, the show captivates children with an engaging presentation of Britain's beloved bear. Perfect for grown ups and little ones alike, Winnie the Pooh: Exploring a Classic showcases the extensive career of a bear who loves to just do nothing.
Inspire budding artists and lego architects
BRICKLIVE, Saatchi Gallery
If Father Christmas brought some lego this year then head to the Saatchi Gallery for some grand scale project inspiration. The life-size lego sculptures are awe-inspiring for children of all ages, but just as exciting for ambitious mums and dads eyeing up the brightly-coloured bricks for their own grand designs. Contribute to a giant three-metre LEGO mosaic or design your own tag for the graffiti wall – there are no shortage of ways to get creative.
Run away with the circus
Based on the steamy, adult-only La Soirée, this child-friendly counterpart sees the troupe of talented aerialist, acrobats, clowns, and contortionists, La Petite Soirée promises to deliver ‘all the excitement with a little less of the sauce’. Gather the family under the big top to witness this fantastic spectacular that celebrates the weird and wonderful aspects of performance art. The variety show will consist of music, circus, acrobatics and comedy to keep the whole family entertained all night long.
A new spin on the pantomime that will have you in fits of laughter
King Tut, King's Head Theatre
Turning tradition on its head, and then inside out, King's Head Theatre is putting on a panto. Avoiding the traditional fairytales that serve as the plot for most pantos, this festive tale takes audience members to Ancient Egypt. Prepare to rock like an Egyptian on an archaeological expedition that breathes new life into your favourite pantomime staples, from the funky score to the outlandish plot to the ostentatious costumes. The classic fun and foibles of a festive panto are mingled with the blend of riotous comedy and high octane physical theatre – as well as excessive amounts of hieroglyphs and gold lamé.
Or go for a traditional panto with tremendous talent
Cinderella, Hackney Empire
What better place to take in a traditional Christmas pantomime than Hackney Empire? This Grade II listed building was built as a music hall in 1901 and has played host to performances from Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. This year, Cinderella (Aisha Jawando) takes to the Hackney Empire stage for a riotous festive show. In the Great British pantomime tradition, there will be plenty of singing and dancing, high doses of glitter and lots of laughs. Expect more than your usual helping of outrageous costumes, uproarious energy, music, and dancing as Cinders tries to make it to the ball in this most magical of pantomimes.
A traditional ballet to warm your hearts
The Little Match Girl, Lilian Baylis Studio
On Christmas Eve in a snow-dusted Italian town, under distant winter stars, the Little Match Girl plies her humble wares to a rich Italian family. Like everyone else, they push her aside, and she retreats to her grandmother’s tomb in the cemetery for comfort. But Christmas Eve is no ordinary night, and the grandmother appears in a vision to carry the Little Match Girl away from her troubles to the magical world of the moon. The rather grim Hans Christian Anderson fairytale is transformed into a fantastical adventure, complete with lunar exploration vehicles and a weightless pas de deux with an astronaut. Named “a gem,” and “wonderfully inventive,” by critics, the whole production sparkles with stars and little match flames. It’s enchanting for all the family, and a great opportunity to catch a raucous choreographer for once happy to settle for telling a great story.
Journey to a galaxy far, far away
Immersive Star Wars pop-up
Forget the cinema – star in your very own Star Wars adventure with this immersive pop-up experience. Brought to you by two companies on the cutting edge of VR, The VOID and ILMxLAB, this high-tech experience incorporates sights, sounds, and even smells to completely transport you to another dimension. There's no better way to get excited for The Force Awakens than by saving the Rebellion by yourself (with some help from your family, of course).
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Brave the great outdoors for a glittering nocturnal nature trail
Wrap up warm and brave the great outdoors to glimpse the glittering festive wonderland of Christmas at Kew. Travel down their nocturnal trail through the trees to see super sized shimmery snowflakes and a tunnel of lights. For the kids there's a Snowflake Grotto, Victorian carousel and an outdoor playground. And while the children are playing, adults can enjoy the selection warming food and booze on offer, including roasted chestnuts, spiced cider and, of course, mulled wine. The traditional focus and the stunning backdrop of the gardens in their wintry glory make Christmas at Kew one of the sweetest festive events this year, especially as the pre-Christmas rush dwindles. With all the fairy-lit fun of a festive event, without the soulless feel of Hyde Park's mega Winter Wonderland, even the scrooges will get into the Christmas spirit.