21 Ways To Keep The Kids Occupied In London This Summer

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Looking to keep the kids entertained in London during the school holidays? Good news, there’s plenty of things going on to make the kids (and you) happy, all around the city. We’ve scoured South Bank, London’s museums, Greenwich, London’s parks and the West End to find places to go, and activities and events running over the next couple of months. Here’s our pick of the best places to take the kids in the city this summer.

South Bank

1. The London Eye

One of the most iconic sights on the city skyline, the Coca-Cola London Eye offers a 30 minute panoramic tour of the city, with views stretching for up to 40km on a clear day.

A good way to turn a ride into a great value day out is to book a Coca-Cola London Eye meal package, which includes dinner at a top nearby restaurant of your choice. The packages also include special children’s and family rates, making it a good option for younger visitors.

2. County Hall

The County Hall building is at the foot of the Coca-Cola London Eye. It’s home to three of London’s most popular family attractions. Get entry to any of these attractions, combined with a meal at a top nearby restaurant when you book entry with us.

  • Shrek’s Adventure is a tour through the world of the hit animated films, including a high-tech 4D magical flying bus ride. And the attraction also includes visits from some of DreamWorks’ other favourites, including Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon.
  • The Sea-Life London Aquarium is home to a dazzling amount of underwater life, and you can even come face-to-face with some of the deep’s most fearsome creatures (although thankfully you’ll be separated by protective glass) in their Shark Walk.
  • If you’ve got older kids, head to the London Dungeon. You’ll get a warts and all tour through the dark side of London’s history, and plenty of other spooky, grisly surprises.

3. Southbank Centre

Photo by Vic Frankowski

The Southbank Centre has plenty of kid-friendly activities going on this summer as part of their year-long Nordic Matters season.

The Royal Festival Hall’s enchanting, immersive Adventures in Moominland exhibition runs until 20th August 2017. It’s a chance to see rare items from creator Tove Jansson’s archives, and get a tour through a lifesize version of Moomin valley, narrated by Sandi Toksvig.

More Scandinavian-themed fun can be found at the Cirkus Cirkör show, taking place at the venue from 13th-16th August 2017. And there are free events happening every weekend, including a day of Swedish music and crafts, as part of the Summertime Festival.

4. Underbelly Festival

A summer favourite on the South Bank, the Underbelly Festival offers a packed line-up of cabaret, music and comedy, and is found by the Royal Festival Hall. During the day the venue stages several shows that are suitable for younger audiences. This year’s selection includes Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall (Sunday afternoons, until 24th September) – a dance party for the under-5s (and their parents).

Museums

5. The British Museum

If you fancy taking a new look at the collection, book in for one of THATMuse‘s treasure hunts around the museum. THATMuse has several different themed hunts to choose from each week, and takes you on a fact-finding, selfie-snapping tour around the museum’s collection. Their Fun and Games hunts are particularly good for kids, but most hunts are offered with a selection of difficulty levels, so all ages can take part.

6. V&A Museum of Childhood

The Bethnal Green-based museum has just opened a major exhibition, dedicated to the works of War Horse author Michael Morpurgo. Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories (until 25th February 2018) includes items from Murpurgo’s own archives, as well as artworks inspired by his stories by some of Britain’s most beloved illustrators, puppets from the award-winning stage version of War Horse and an immersive soundscape, which brings Morpurgo’s work to life.

The museum will also be hosting free activity days throughout the summer to coincide with the exhibition, which will include art, music, puppet-making and a visit from some of the animals from Spitalfield City Farm.

7. Natural History Museum

The newly reopened grand Hintze Hall is the place to head at the moment. While we’re sad to see Dippy the Diplodocus go, the blue whale skeleton that now takes his place is just as impressive. And the museum has several events planned over the summer to celebrate the whale’s arrival, including an new exhibition Whales: Beneath the Surface (until 28th February 2018), and aquatic-themed movie nights, including Finding Nemo.

8. The Science Museum

The Science Museum is crammed with facts and interactive displays especially designed for little ones. You can catch one of the big summer blockbusters on their IMAX screen, or find out all about the history of robotics in their big summer exhibition, Robots (until 3rd September 2017).

9. Horniman Museum and Gardens

Found in leafy Forest Hill in South London, this is a great alternative if you don’t fancy facing the crowds at the Natural History Museum. While smaller than their South Kensington counterpart, the museum has a famous stuffed walrus on display. Their current exhibition is The Robot Zoo (until October 29th). It features gigantic robot versions of animals and insects. Not only are the robots impressive, but you’re sure to find out something about the natural world too.

10. Wellcome Collection

This summer the medical-themed Wellcome Collection are taking curious kids (and adventurous adults) on a bit of an adventure. For Choose Your Own Summer, the museum is offering three trails through its collection – you can either explore the museum’s more fun side with the Play path, challenge yourself by following the Push path, or chill out with the Relax path.

Greenwich

11. The O2

The Force has come to North Greenwich, with The O2’s amazing Star Wars exhibition – Star Wars: Identities (until 3rd September). The exhibition includes 200 props, costumes, models and artworks from the hit movies. And you can find out which character you’d be in the Star Wars universe with the exhibition’s state-of-the-art interactive quest.

12. Greenwich Park and Royal Museums

Greenwich Park has five museums on site. Wander around one of the world’s most famous ships at the Cutty Sark, and discover the history of  the Royal Navy at the National Maritime Museum. The Royal Observatory and Peter Harrison Planetarium is great for star seekers, and exquisite art and architecture is on show at the Queen’s House. Each museum has special family-friendly holiday activities on offer throughout the summer, including craft sessions and treasure hunts. And you can get a truly amazing view of the city for free from the top of Greenwich hill.

13. Thames Cruises

Travel to Greenwich in style with City Cruises. Boats depart every 30 minutes, and include three stops – Tower Pier, Westminster Pier and Greenwich Pier. You’ll pass by some of London’s most famous sights, get three days of unlimited hopping on and off, and a special family deal.

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

14. London Stadium tour

Built for the 2012 Olympic Games, the London Stadium is now home to West Ham football team and national athletics competitions. It’s worth taking a tour to explore the grounds and soak up the Olympic Spirit. Not a West Ham fan? You can tour other stadiums and sporting grounds around the city, including Fulham, ChelseaArsenal and Millwall‘s grounds, Twickenham, Wembley, The Kia Oval and Wimbledon’s tennis club.

15. The ArcelorMittal Orbit

The ArcelorMittal Orbit was designed by the Turner Prize winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor to mark the Olympics. Standing at more than 100 metres tall, it also offers great views across London from its viewing platform. In 2016 a slide was built around the outside. Almost 200 metres in length, it’s the world’s longest tunnel slide, and bigger, braver kids (and adults), will definitely want to give it a go.

Regent’s Park

Zoorassic Park at ZSL London Zoo

16. ZSL London Zoo

The ZSL London Zoo is the world’s oldest, at almost two hundred years old. It’s home to animals from all over the world, and its conservation projects are also helping animals thrive in the wild too. This summer, they’re inviting guests to take a safari back in time, with their Zoorassic Park experience. It’s included in the price of the zoo ticket, and allows kids to get up close to some amazingly realistic dinosaurs.

17. Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is just a short walk from Regent’s Park. It’s been an institution for more than a century, and still features amazingly convincing waxworks of both historical and current celebrities. Alongside this there are more high-tech attractions, including a 4D cinema.

Shepherd’s Bush and Hammersmith

18. KidZania London

KidZania is a mini city in Shepherd’s Bush’s Westfield London shopping centre, run entirely by children. Well, not quite… but kids do get to experience the 60 real-life role playing experiences, from being a firefighter to a pilot (just without the boring bits). If your child’s over 8 you can leave them in the capable hands of the KidZania staff, while you head off for a bit of shopping. And with the KidZania meal deal packages, you can find out about your kids’ adventures over pizza afterwards.

19. Fantastic Mr Fox

One of London’s leading theatres, the Lyric Hammersmith regularly stages some of the most innovative and exciting shows in the city. Including their family shows. As part of the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, the theatre is reviving their musical version of Fantastic Mr Fox this summer. If the weather’s good, there’s a kids menu at the pre or post-theatre meal in the theatre’s Bar and Grill up on the roof terrace.

The West End

20. Kid-friendly theatre shows

During the school holidays many West End theatres stage shows especially for younger audiences. This year’s selection includes returning favourites Horrible Histories (August 4th-September 2nd) and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (August 4th-September 3rd), and new adaptations of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny (until September 3rd), Julia Donaldson’s What the Ladybird Heard (until September 10th) and the classic Wind in the Willows (until September 2nd).

See more child-friendly theatre recommendations here.

21. …and for Harry Potter fans

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is still the West End’s hottest ticket, with seats very hard to come by. However, every Friday lunchtime, the theatre releases a small batch of tickets for the following week’s performances, and it’s always worth checking the website for returns.

However, you can still experience a bit of Harry Potter magic by taking a walking tour of the book and film locations in the West End. And, of course, there’s the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour just to the north of the city.

If you want the full experience, you can save money with The Magic of Harry Potter in London, which includes combined walking and studio tour ticket.

What are your favourite places to take the kids in the city? Let us know in the comments section.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our guides to 50 Brilliant things to do in the summer, and 28 things to do in London when it rains (just in case).

If you want to make more than a day of it, we’ve got great deals on London hotels.

And before you set off, be sure to check Transport for London’s official website (and the weather forecast).

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About Author

Mark is a Copywriter here at lastminute.com. He cut his teeth by writing for film and music sites and magazines, with a brief detour into the exciting world of financial journalism. Hailing from Portsmouth, he can be spotted most nights of the week soaking up the cultural delights of London’s theatres, concert venues and art galleries.

2 Comments

  1. Colin Proctor on

    There’s a real gap in the market here. So many parents with bored kids. Especially single dads like me. A huge site with multiple activities for a wide range of age groups and budgets is needed.

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