Category Archives: Days Out

50 Family Days Out in London

  1. Turbine Hall, Tate Modern

    It’s not hugely known but you can enjoy top class Family Contemporary Dance Days & Shows at The Place, Euston. The Place is home to London Contemporary Dance School, Richard Alston Dance Company, a 280 seat theatre, and they host an annual Summer festival, courses and workshops aimed at boys – it’s not all about football you know.

  2. You are always welcome to join a  Culture Club Group Trip. There are theatre tickets at really reduced prices, and the door is always open for personal concierge services for consultation. I offer itenaries, museum tours, sporting tickets, birthday parties, all with a cultural bent. The list is endless. Contact me on sian.gwilliam@me.com, and I’d be happy to help.
  3. Whitstable Beach
  4. The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery. In 1971, the charity was registered as an adoption agency, offering a specialist service to find adoptive families for the most vulnerable childcare. It’s a charming museum, with a sweet cafe, and bang next door to a great playground.
  5. Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives … you’ve not lived if you haven’t been Tate-d. Check out what’s on right here.
  6. How about a Tour of Lords Cricket Ground the ‘Home of Cricket’, with afternoon tea for the hungry. Perfect for a trip with the grandparents, or a birthday treat for a sport loving child. Find out more on Culture Club here.

    Mountview Summer School
  7. The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. I think it’s only good manners to have paid them a visit, after all they are getting on a bit.
  8. You love London and you love life don’t you ? Well here’s a way to satisfy both at the Museum of London. They offer daily activities, storytelling, creative packs, a great shop, cracking location, and it’s free. Say no more.

    Views from The Shard
  9. The House of Illustration offers what is says. It’s in a perfect location in Kings Cross, 2 mins from a million things to do. They also offer brilliant workshops. We have tried and tested them, and they get 11/10 from us.
  10. If I said, it was the fastest in her day, has incredible history, and smells of old fish, what would you say ? the Cutty Sark. Well done. 10 points for you. Grab your Oyster card, and jump on the boat there. That’s your day sorted then.
  11. It’s never dull at The National Theatre. Check out the family events schedule, and discover the skills and secrets behind productions at the National Theatre: have a go at designing a costume; learn how our actors perform realistic fights on stage. That’s before you’ve even seen a ground breaking piece of drama (dahhhling).

    Mini Eco DIY Craft
  12. You made that up, I don’t believe you. You must have been hanging out at the Discover Story Centre in Stratford then. The place where families, storytelling, and authors all come together in one gooey icing blob.
  13. The RA (Royal Academy to us ruffians) is the best secret in town, when it comes to art workshops. It also is the best located museum for families, as you can skip over to Green Park for some fresh air, after exercising your brain cells at their latest exhibition.

    Willy Wonka Afternoon Tea
  14. Fancy yourself as the next Calvin and Hobbs artist? Then take the kids to a workshop at The Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury please. Please tell me how it went, as we haven’t made it there yet, and we are keen for a mini review.
  15. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is right by Regent Street and Regents Park, and serves kids of 8+ well. They offer workshops, and family days. Keep an eye on their what’s on pages, as they offer interesting courses for younger ones in the holidays.

    Meet this Sailor on the South Bank
  16. How about a free film at the BFI on the Southbank. They also run cracking weekend film sessions for families, workshops, holiday courses and it’s located next to The National Theatre. You’ll feel inspired hearing the thespian types discussing Rufus Norris’s Artistic Direction around you.
  17. The Fulham Palace holds on tightly to over 1300 years of English history, and aims to become one of Great Britain’s most loved and inspiring historic houses and gardens. They have fun kids workshops, garden walks, and tours. Find out more here.
  18. Do you like the idea of really fun free art, design, craft, and baking workshops for children and young people aged 2 – 16. Then head over to the Geffrye museum in Hackney please.

    The Royal Court
  19. A visit to Dennis Severs House is both a breathtaking and an intimate portrait of the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the 20th Century.  It was Dennis Severs’ intention that as you enter his house it is as if you have passed through the surface of a painting, exploring with your senses and imagination a meticulously crafted 18th Century world. (At least you will have something to tell Grandma, other than about M&M world, on your holiday postcard).
  20. Do you know any budding Knights in shining armour? If yes, get them down to one of the family events at Westminster Abbey pronto, before they are beheaded, and it’s all your fault.

    Museum Family Activities
  21. Take a 40 second descent in the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide, the world’s tallest and longest tunnel Slide as well as experiencing breathtaking views of London from two observation platforms.  Book here.
  22. Visit The National Portrait Gallery. With over 1,000 portraits of famous people to discover from the majestic portraits of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I in the Tudor Galleries to the pop stars and artists in the Contemporary galleries – the National Portrait Gallery is a perfect place for all the family to visit.
  23. All Muggles will love this one. How about a visit to The Harry Potter Shop in the Kings Cross Station, before you queue for your photo at platform 9 and 3/4? There are also Harry Potter walking tours, bus tours, private tours not forgetting the tremendous Warner Bros Experience and Tour in Hertfordshire.

    A Harry Potter Fan
  24. Any kids who will ever take an English exam, really should at least take a look at, and even better join in with some family fun at William Shakespeare’s Globe in Borough.
  25. The Wallace Collection, is one of those places that often appears on the ‘secret places to hang out in…’ lists of rather influential and fashionable London types. It might have something to do with the fact that it’s a stones throw from Marylebone and Selfridges, but also because it hosts very civilised drop in and draw sessions for kids during holidays, and at the weekends.
  26. Adult and Kids alike always have a good time at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. Their drop in craft sessions are brilliant, the museum shop is ace, and that’s before you’ve checked out the latest exhibitions, played with Punch and Judy, and the indoor sand pit, danced with a larger than life robot, and rocked on a horse.

    Days Out with English Heritage
  27. Those high energy kids might want to see what is happening at The Exploration Society. They offer the best ever adventure days/weekends/ camps. You can choose from sailing, kayaking, mountain biking, and woodland adventures, and these are before you have seen what you can have for ‘main course’.
  28. No child in Chelsea can survive their childhood without at least a weekend spent parading around the National Army Museum. It’s an institution for South West Londoners, and is especially popular with those who own small soldiers and officers.
  29. Trapeze & Circus lovers could try a private class or summer workshop with x-professional trapeze artist Genevieve at her Circus Glory school in Primrose Hill. It’s a special kind of person that can hang up side down on a large lolly stick.

    Ham House
  30. The British Library in Kings Cross hosts a FREE Family Programme that runs from July to September, 2017. We like South Asian Stories Friday 28 July, 2017 (12.00 – 13.30), it’s free, drop in and suitable for ages 5 – 11. This workshop is run in partnership with The Place and coincides with a free dance performance, 14.00 – 15.00, taking place outside on the Piazza. Everyone is welcome to watch.
  31. National Maritime Museum, Ahoy! Children’s gallery (Free) Ideal for ages 0-7 & The All Hands children’s gallery for 6-12s at National Maritime Museum is free and open daily. 10.00-17.00 weekends, holidays & Tuesdays | 14.00-17.00 on other weekdays |  Ahoy gallery is closed 3 July – 27 September
  32. Book tickets for family shows at the Underbelly Festival 2017, Southbank. For theatre and dance lovers, The Tap Dancing Mermaid (10 June) blends puppetry and dance to fantastical effect, and Metta Theatre’s Jungle Book (1-24 August) melds hip-hop dancing, spoken word and creative design to create a contemporary, urban, politically aware reinterpretation of Kipling’s classic.
  33. ExpeRimental from the Royal Institution is a series of short films that make it fun, easy and cheap to do science at home with children aged 4 to 10. The films give you lots of ideas for kids’ activities that will help you explore the world around you, question and experiment together. They show you how to do the activity and how to make sure adults and children get the most out of it.

    Fun at the Tate Modern
  34. You can join the family orchestra and chorus at the Proms family orchestra and chorus. There are many workshops that allow you to play or sing alongside professional musicians, whatever your age or ability (suitable for ages 7-plus). Some sessions will be focussed around highlights from the 2017 Proms season and by Oklahoma!
  35. There are lots of book-ish events happening across the UK at Foyles. You could start with a peek of mad crazy fun at the Adventures in Wonderland event on Sat 29th July, 2-3pm at the Charing Cross Road Foyles (free). It’s a preview of the theatre show that is happening at The Vaults, Waterloo.

    Wild Times on Hampstead Heath
  36. Or try Maisy the Mouse Picnic on Thursday 3rd August 2017 1pm – 2pm Royal Festival Hall (Free). Meet Maisy the Mouse and enjoy stories, activities and some picnic treats. They will be serving sweet and savoury treats, you can take part in Maisy-themed activities and reading a selection of Maisy titles.
  37. In September, you can go wild with washi and join in the fun with a Foyles MT ‘washi’ Masking Tape workshop to celebrate London Design Week. Saturday 16th September 2017 11am – 12:30 Noon 107 Charing Cross Road (Free Event).
  38. There is a new fish in town that wants to meet you. At the Natural History Museum, your place on the planet might feel different standing next to the remains of the largest animal that has lived on this planet. The skeleton of a blue whale is the star of their new exhibition Whales : Beneath the Surface. “More than 100 specimens from the Museum’s collection will be on display together for the first time, from parts of a colossal blue whale to a small harbour porpoise”. Natural History Museum, London SW7 (020 7942 5000), to February 28

    The British Museum
  39. Musical theatre fans can check the latest list of all the best shows in town here, in an earlier post I wrote for the lovely people at MyBaba. We fully recommend 42nd Street, Matilda and Carole King the musical (which is about to end it’s West End run and go on tour) for the Mums.
  40. I have put together a round up of some of the most popular Kids Theatre, Dance & Art Summer courses. Although many of these have limited places, and get booked up early, they also offer term time classes. If you have recommendations, or know of schools I can include, please let me know.

    See Matilda the Musical
  41. You might want to treat your Grandma to a really lovely afternoon tea, so here is a list of the Best Family Friendly Afternoon Teas in London, that might help you decide where to take her.
  42. You could take a trip to a National Trust property. They own some of the best beaches in the land, 59 villages, 49 churches and a gold mine (The Dolaucothi Gold Mines). Their teams conserve butterflies, bats, wildlife and plants. It doesn’t stop there, they also own four coastal World Heritage Sites.

    The V&A Childhood Museum
  43. If you have a Saturday morning free, you can often grab an early morning movie for next to nothing at your local cinema. If you need a little help, here is a list of some of The Best Cinema Clubs for London Kids in town.
  44. A great way to spend a morning or afternoon is to take a trip backstage around one of London’s many beautiful theatres. Not only will the tour tickets cost little more than a sandwich, you will get the chance to peek into the dressing rooms and tread the boards where many famous actors spend their time feeling sick with nerves.
  45. Grab a view from The ShardCheck : ‘the weather’. Check : ‘your footwear’. Check ‘you are definitely not Acrophobic’. Head over to The Shard at London Bridge and fly up to floors 68, 69 and 72, and you will be at almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in the capital.

    Inspiration at Granary Square, Kings Cross
  46. Take a cycle ride around the Capital. If you’re keen there are superhighway route maps you can follow. I would try out  the Wandsworth to Milbank one. Starting at the legendary ‘The Alma’ pub bang opposite Wandsworth Rail station with a pint of something cold, and a decent lunch. Then hire your bikes, pedal through Battersea, across Chelsea Bridge, and end up at Millbank. You get 5 points for every civil servant you spot, 75 points for any lost soldiers on horseback looking for sugar lumps, and 150 points if you pull up next to Prince William ‘undercover’ on his motor bike!
  47. It would be remiss of me not to mention that over the Summer the gates of Buckingham Palace are opened to the public for visits. You can buy tickets for admission to The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews. There are child friendly activities, audio tours and art trails and more. Read more here.
  48. English Heritage champions history, and the historic places that make our nation quite a good one. With every visit (and entrance fee) to an English Heritage site, of which there is an incredible list of 400 across the country to choose from, you will be protecting the future of our heritage, so for that reason, amongst many, we would like to give each and every one of the English Heritage team a proper round of applause.

    The Cutty Sark
  49. Let’s go for a DIY craft at home today. All you need is a smooth floor and+ A balloon+ Some glue (strong enough to glue plastic. You can use plasticine as an alternative)+ An old drink bottle lid (with a valve)+ An old CD then you are ready to make a balloon hovercraft. with the brilliant Mini Eco blog.
  50. How about a picnic in one of the capitals secret gardens? You could start with Inner Temple, one of London’s four Inns of Court. It is a tranquil three-acre garden with stunning rare trees, herbaceous borders and sweeping lawns. It is usually open to the public from 12.30-3.00 each weekday. There are more here

    Fun at the Southbank
  51. If you’re not exhausted and need a break from the city, here are 5 brilliant beaches within a train journey from London Town to choose from. Start with Whitstable, Camber Sands, Brighton, Frinton on Sea and West Wittering.

Sweet Smelling Family Fun at Somerset House this Summer

3. © Martin Klimas

There is a rather sweet smell coming from the Somerset House major summer exhibition this year. If you fancy a sniff then make time to visit their new exhibition Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent’, that will run between 21 June and 17 September. You will find it in the East Wing Galleries (walk around the fountains, towards the river, and turn left – I find the signs there confusing at times!).

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The exhibition will display unique, exciting scents in playful, interactive settings. There will even be a fully functioning, interactive perfume laboratory.

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Free Family Drop-In Workshop : Marty the Mighty Nose.

There is a free family workshop that will take place in connection with the exhibition, Sat 1 Jul 2017 between 12.00 – 15.00, South Wing(It is a free drop-in session for families with accompanied children aged 6+, spaces may be limited.) 

There are also loads of interesting hands on demos, workshops, and talks aimed at adults on offer, so take a look at the programme here for more info.

6. Bottle Tower © Givaudan


In connection with Somerset House’s Perfume exhibition, participants will investigate their senses in a workshop exploring language, self-expression and smell. Join the Fragrance Foundation and Marty, a cartoon character, and his famously mighty nose for an afternoon exploring the link between our senses and the ways we can describe them.

If you want to have the most organised diary from a London Concierge Service, and let My Culture Club take care of all bookings and curate the best things for you to do, sign up to my concierge site here.

Image credits;

© Martin Klimas

© Ori Gersht 2017
Bottle Tower © Givaudan

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Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine, Unicorn Theatre (Age 4+) : Bus Stop Family Review

“This is a wonderful production for young children” – Laura, Mum

“It was so funny” – Tommy, 4

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My husband and I attended the Unicorn Theatre’s terrific production of Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine with our nine-year-old daughter and four-year-old son and were all captivated from the very start. In my son’s words, “It was so funny!”

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The set was decorated with portraits of the king and queen in the styles of various famous artists, and before the play began, my daughter, husband and I had fun identifying references to everyone from Boticelli and Dali to van Gogh and Warhol. (In fact, it got me thinking about ways to have fun with some family portraits of our own.)

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Then the action began. Septimus Bean is an inventor who makes machines so marvelous, he simply must present them at the palace. The only issue is that he’s never quite sure what his creations actually do.

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As he, King Alfred the Third and Queen Petronella puzzle this out, again and again (and again) and in wonderful rhyming verse, hilarity ensues.

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Fionn Gill as Septimus Bean was superbly adept at infecting the youngsters in his audience with enthusiasm for his ever-more-fabulous inventions–when we attended, children were actually calling out to him throughout the performance.

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Terence Frisch and Llewella Gideon as the king and queen are wonderful comic actors who had everyone laughing.

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*****SPOILER ALERT!*****

Most exciting of all was the play’s finale, which had the audience exit the theatre to see what had had become of Septimus’s latest creation. All of its odd components had been set up around the theatre’s entrance hall as Bean Park, a fantastical children’s play area.

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Both of my children, even the older one who had found the play a bit young for her, had a grand time feeding balls into twisty transparent tubes, using a pump to blow a foam ball into the air, taking apart and remaking an enormous magnetic puzzle, stomping on pedals to operate a fountain and sliding down a small chute, to name but some of the activities.

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We were among the last to leave, and my children have been conceiving of ingenious improvements to our modest climbing frame ever since.

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This is a wonderful production for young children.13322080_10150642225859950_3692141217541724397_n

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JOIN US ON A CULTURE CLUB FAMILY TRIP

Join the Culture Club members, and come along to a special workshop & see the show. Register your details on the Culture Club website here.

Date : June 26th

Workshop  : 1200-1300

Show : 1100

Workshop £5.00

Children £10

Adults £16

(All bookings subject to a my culture club £2.50 concierge fee per person).


SIGN UP AND FOLLOW THE CULTURE CLUB GANG
 
WHATS ON FOR YOU | Beautiful the Musical | Gifford’s Circus | Tate Modern Family Tours | Nature Explorers Day Camp | Matilda the Musical | TEDx London

5 Family Things To Do at the Tate Modern

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1. BESPOKE FAMILY TOURS

It goes without saying you should book onto one of the bespoke Tate Tour events I am running at My Culture Club. You can choose from family friendly private tours for under 5’s, for older kids and then for everyone (1 hr in duration). I run them monthly, and the next ones are in May half Term on June 3rd. There is a baby-friendly one at 10am, and one for kids aged 6+ and their parents at 11.30.

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2. SONIC TRAILS & THE DRAWING BAR

Get out your mobile device and check out Sonic Trails. Click, play and go on a sound journey through the gallery. Inspired by the artwork you’ve seen on your visit? Or, take a break and get creative at the Bloomberg Connects Drawing Bar, near the café on Level 1.

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3. EXHIBITIONS KIDS GO FREE UNDER 12

Family tickets are available for all their special exhibitions. Where under 12s go free (up to four per parent or guardian). If you’re wanting to be super organised, you could download this map, and plan your time around the museum. Then again, you could be like us, and enjoy a freestyle run around, and hang out in the shops for most of your time perusing the brilliant kids and art books.

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4. SPECIAL FAMILY EVENTS

Check the website here for the special family events that are happening at the museum. There are often free daily activities, workshops which allow you to explore different ideas about contemporary art with invited artists and educators.

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Pick-up the latest free, artist-designed activity and explore Tate Modern’s spaces and art displays in new ways, with exciting ideas to get you talking and creating in the galleries together as a family. Choose from activities that take you through art displays, from the Tanks to the Start Gallery and many of the spaces in-between.

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5. FOOD

This should probably be the first thing on the list, tips on where to eat. At the moment (May 16) the Tate Modern Cafe is currently closed for refurbishment. The Kitchen and Bar on Level 6, will provide a family-friendly casual dining experience with a menu consisting of bar snacks and small plates serving well-known English and international classic dishes such as fish and chips and spaghetti bolognaise. There are small espresso bars around the museum, where you can grab a drink and snack. Kids can eat for free in the cafés when an adult buys a main course from the menu.

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SOCIAL MEDIA

I want to hear what you think of Tate and our My Culture Club Tate Tours. Tweet your chirpy messages and check out Tate Kids to use your Tate inspiration to make your own creations and share with kids around the world. I’d love to hear from you on any of the wizard-y media ways below …

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest

 

5 Weekend Family Events for London Kids 

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1) Imperial College Festival
This festival has hands-on science experiments, music workshops, comedy, dance, cookery and more, for the whole family. Free, just turn up, 12pm, until 8 May

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2) The Showstoppers’ Fantastical Story, Udderbelly, Southbank (Age 6+)

A team of award-winning West End improvisers explore magical kingdoms as you decide what happens next. But grown-ups take heed – they only take suggestions from kids…

Saturday 7 May, Sunday 19 June & Saturday 2 July, 1.30pm

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3) St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, WC2
All ages Creative family fun with a historical twist. Choose from over 100 replica brasses from churches and cathedrals across the UK and try brass rubbing with a range of specialist papers and metallic waxes. Saturday – 10:00am, Sunday – 11:30am

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4) Under the Sea Family discovery Day, British Museum, WC1

All ages A day of creative activities. Make your own artwork, take part in storytelling sessions, and explore the galleries. Saturday – 12:00pm to 6.00pm

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5) Covent Garden May Fayre

Choose from a puppet festival, workshops, stalls, live music and a quick visit to the Dr Martens shop. The May Fayre is a very British affair, celebrating Mr Punch and Judy in all their glory, and apparently they will feel very at home in Covent Garden, as that’s where it all started back in 1662. Sunday from 1030am.

Credit image : V&A Childhood museum

 

The 5 Best My Culture Club Family Events To Book Now

” The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain”. – Dolly Parton.

Ok, Ok, so this is a little biased, but you can’t blame a girl for trying. I’ve been getting my head down recently, setting up my events and concierge company My Culture Club.

In a nutshell, the site will offer curated group events, often at a fraction of the published price. The aim is to get like minded people to make friends, and help families and all of us to get out and about and make the most of the exciting things to do in London and around. Call me your Social PA, your Culture Girl, or your private tour guide, I’m fine with all of the above and more.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, good and bad, I would be over the moon if you could spare 5 mins to tell me what you think of the idea, and if there are any improvements I can make.

Here is a pick of 5 of the events you can book now, there are more on the site. Leave me a comment any which way to request your tickets. EmailFacebookInstagramTwitter.

Hope to see you at an event soon. Sian xo

1. AURORA ORCHESTRA, AGATHA THE PIRATE : KINGS PLACE, SUNDAY, 8 MAY 2016 : 11AM (AGES 0-4) From £5

Join Aurora for a swashbuckling treasure hunt adventure with Agatha the Pirate. With brand new chamber arrangements of music by Béla Bartók, audiences will meet a host of glimmering jellyfish, sail the high seas and play hide-and-seek with a wonderfully wicked parrot.

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2. BABY FRIENDLY PRIVATE TOUR, TATE MODERN, SE1 (AGES 0+), 10-11AM, FRIDAY JUNE 3RD, £15 PER FAMILY

I’m excited to be working with the team at the Tate, and hosting this baby friendly private tour at the Tate Modern. The tour will focus on the display Material Worlds wing. Come along with your kids and bring friends, make friends or just get out of the house to soak up some culture.

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3. SEPTIMUS BEAN (AGE 4+), SHOW & WORKSHOP, UNICORN THEATRE SE1, SUNDAY JUNE 26TH, 11AM, FROM £12.50

Septimus Bean has invented a very great machine but is yet to work out what it is for. With the help of the king and court, he finds out lots of things that it isn’t for and one unexpected thing that it is utterly perfect for.

This comical, rhythmical and inventive show, based on the much-loved book, will be a highly enjoyable performance for the summer months. We need little inventors to stick around after the show and help us build the magical machine! We’ll be pasting, painting, drawing and sticking – it will get messy.

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4. FAMILY FUN DAY: IMAGINATIVE INVENTIONS, THE ROYAL INSTITUTION, SUNDAY 15 MAY 2016, 11-4PM, (ALL AGES), FROM £9.50

From the ancient Greeks to the modern day, inventions have shaped the way society has grown and the world has progressed, with many of these important developments invented right here at the Ri. Hear from Adam Hart-Davis, get hands-on, see demos, and explore the amazing inventions that have shaped our modern world.

Family Fun Day activities are suitable for 6-12 year olds though older and younger siblings also very welcome.

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5. GIFFORDS CIRCUS, (FAMILY) CHISWICK HOUSE & GARDENS, FRIDAY 8TH JULY 5PM, FROM £19.50

Giffords Circus was started in 2000 by Nell and Toti Gifford. They wanted to create a small traditional circus company that would bring the magic of circus back to British audiences. Since then the pair have been touring with a troupe of performance artists, musicians, horses and wagons producing unique circus shows and experience, loved by all the family, young and old. Giffords tour much of rural Gloucestershire, South West and Festival

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and one for luck … MATILDA THE MUSICAL, CAMBRIDGE THEATRE, (AGE 6+) TUESDAY 6TH & 7TH SEPT, 7PM (&7.30pm)

Matilda The Musical is the multi-award winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the beloved book by the incomparable Roald Dahl. Winner of over 50 major international awards, including 13 for Best Musical, Matilda continues to delight audiences in London, Australia, on Broadway and on tour around the USA.

 

 

39 Activities & Day Trips for London Kids

Morning All, So I was thinking, and realised that there are many posts on this Bus Stop that might be useful to you now the sun is shining. I’ve been presumptous and listed them for you in one place.

Think of it as a map to your family weekend, or just food for thought… either way, I hope it helps when you have no energy left to think about what to do tomorrow, because you have been tidying up aqua beads from behind the sofa, and cleaning the back of the fridge again.

Dont forget to drop me aline if you have any specific requests of where/ what and when to do it in the capital (no nut allergies here) I love to be asked. Also don’t forget the EVENTS DIARY on the bus stop homepage that lists events and workshops for you. xo

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1. National Trust places around London. You know you have to visit one of these days!

2. The Best of Kids Theatre. Book it Danno, or Julia, or Colin… whoever is paying.

3. Family Dance Shows at Sadlers Wells. They love kids it over there, and dance is not just for the school disco you know.

4. The Best Backstage Theatre Tours in London. Everyone loves a behind-the-scenes moment, so here’s your chance.

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5. 10 Fantastic Family Days Out in London. The names on the tin, so to speak.

6. Craft Project : Make a Tea Cup Garden.

7. A Top 5 Best Ever Summer Days Out in London

8. 49 Summer London Activities for Kids. Can anyone think of 1 more? I hate odd numbers.

9. Explore Secret Gardens in the Capital. Don’t say I told you so.

10. Visit a Nature Club in London. You’ll feel all warm and cosy afterwards.

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11. A Top 5 BEST Beaches near London. Family Railcard & A Bucket and Spade, ready steady go.

12. Top 5 House Swaps Sites for your Summer Holiday.

13. Top 5 London Days Out for Under 5’s.

14.  Top 5 English Heritage Castles and Palaces.

15. Top 5 Best City Breaks for your Get A Way from the washing up

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16. Top 5 Fountains for playing in around London.

17. Top 5 of places Kids eat FREE in London… now you can have that 2nd glass of rose.

18. The Best Delicious Dim Sum in London Town.

19.  Top 5 Educational Websites for Kids

20.  Top 5 Kids Magazines that make the perfect birthday gift.

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21. Music Courses and Classes around town for all the family. Time to pass on your musical genes.

22. Craft Project : Make a Leaf Man/Lady.

23. Visit The Queen at Buck Palace, a Top 5 of the Best Royal Venues in London.

24. The Bluest Bluebell woods near London want you to show off to you.

25.  The Best Science Kids Clubs. Bang Whizz,  you’re a scientist.

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26. Grab the train direct from St Pancras and visit Whitstable for the day.

27. Look after your grey matter with 10 TED talks about Education.

28. Get inspired and find out where Kate Prince hangs out in London.

29. Check yourself into a family workshop at The National Theatre.

30. Pack a picnic and check out a Heritage Trust Property.

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31. Treat yourself to this fab HUMAN BODY APP.

32. Set your heights and watch Brooke climb in this inspiring video.

33. Find your inner Matisse with one of these ART-Y books.

34. Get Happy with a super easy finger printing project.

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35. It’s simple, go to the park, a royal one at that.

36. Book your Summer Holiday camp now.

37. Clean your tent ready for the Best Family Festivals this Summer.

38. Tap shoes at the ready, book a Drama Holiday Camp today.

39. Dim Sum for lunch ? Here are some suggestions.

 

Best Bluebell Woods In and Near London

Did you know that bluebell sap was used to bind pages to the spines of books, and the Victorians used the starch from crushed bluebells to stiffen the ruffs of their collars and sleeves?

Also, Bees can ‘steal’ nectar from bluebells by biting a hole in the bottom of the bell, reaching the nectar without pollinating the flower (thanks visit woods.org.uk).

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In the UK the bluebell is a protected species and it is a criminal offence to remove the plants. These flowers also don’t grow wild anywhere else in Europe. (Loud applause for British nature!).

If you spot them, they can signify that you’re in an area of ancient woodland. Each ancient wood is unique with its own local soil, environment, wildlife and cultural history. For this reason ancient woodland is irreplaceable.

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Bluebell season normally lasts from about mid-April until mid-May, There are definitely some to be seen in London’s Woods and Parks and open spaces, like Bluebell Wood near Muswell Hill, Hampstead Heath and Kenwood House, Battersea Park, Kew Gardens, and Sydenham Hill to name but a few.

Out of Town

If you have the time, you should make a day trip of it and find a bluebell event, and even take your own factsheet with you. We had a fun day out hunting down bluebells last year. We left it a bit late in May and couldn’t find any, but did have a very fun day in the country side, complete with rolling down hills, and of course ice cream from the National Trust shop. I’ve sourced a few places that are within easy reach of London. Let me know how you get on, I’d love you to share your photos with me over on my instagram sian_gwilliam. xo

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Bluebell Facts

Bluebells are particularly distinctive with their vibrant blue-purple flowers. There are two types of bluebell found in the UK, native and Spanish bluebells. Cross-breeding between the two species means you may spot flowers which combine traits from both.

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Emmets Garden, Kent

Charming Emmetts Garden is an Edwardian estate that was owned by Frederic Lubbock, becoming both a plantsman’s passion and a much-loved family home.

The garden was laid out in the late 19th century,  and was influenced by William Robinson. It contains many exotic and rare trees and shrubs from across the world.

Standing on one of the highest spots in Kent, Emmetts Garden offers panoramic views over the unspoilt Weald as well as some great walking opportunities.

When you visit, you can explore the rose and rock gardens, take in the views and enjoy shows of spring flowers and shrubs, followed by vibrant autumn colours.

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Runnymede, Surrey

Seen by many as the birthplace of modern democracy, this picturesque open landscape beside the Thames was witness to King John’s historic sealing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago on 15 June 1215.

Across the river from Runnymede you’ll find this timeless, secluded collection of woods and fields. The area is home to varied wildlife, the ruins of a 12th century priory and a the National Trusts oldest tree.

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The Ankerwycke yew, is an iconic 2,500 year old yew is steeped in history. According to popular belief, it was beneath this tree that King Henry VIII courted Anne Boleyn, and some reports suggest that he even proposed in its shadow

Address : Windsor Road, near Old Windsor, Surrey, SL4 2JL. ( SatNav: Use postcode TW20 0AE). 

By Train; The entrance is approximately 2 miles (3.2km) from Egham train station, and can be reached using the First 71 bus route. To plan a train journey please use the National Rail journey planner. Traveling from Heathrow: You can take the Underground from Terminal 1-3 to Hatton Cross, connect with the 490 bus to Feltham, then take the National Rail service to Egham.

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Arlington, Sussex

Eight one-mile trails cut across this lovely bit of East Sussex woodland. Head for the well-marked bluebell wood first, then pop over to neighbouring Parkwood Farm to see the pigs, sheep and goats. You can also book a posh camping holiday at the Loveabell tent site. They have an exclusive use of a field which sits adjacent to the famous bluebell woods in the heart of this beautiful location.

Adults £4, children £1.50, bluebellwalk.co.uk

Address; Bates Green Farm, Tye Hill Road, Arlington, Pollenate, East Sussex, BN26 6SH. Tel 01323 485151

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Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire

Ashridge Estate is a 2,000 hectare (5,000 acres) area of the Chiltern Hills with beech and oak woodlands, commons and chalk downlands. It’s very popular with dog walkers, joggers and families from near and far. You can park in Tring, grab a pint from the local pub after your walk. The area around the estate supports a rich variety of wildlife, including carpets of bluebells in spring, rare butterflies in summer and the fallow deer that rut in autumn. 

Address: Moneybury Hill, Ringshall, Near Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 1LT

Road; The entrance to Monument Drive and the Estate Visitor Centre is off the B4506 between Berkhamsted and DagnallParking: FreeSatNav: HP4 1LX

Train; Tring train station 1¾ miles – from the station you can take a taxi or follow our walk at the bottom of this page. Ivinghoe Beacon: Cheddington train station 3½ miles

12 Family Friendly London Exhibitions To See Now

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Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize

National Portrait Gallery , Leicester Square Until Sunday February 21 2016

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Otherworlds: Visions of our Solar System

Natural History Museum, until 15 May 2016. 

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Alexander Calder, Performing Sculpture

Tate Modern, 11 November 2015 – 3 April 2016

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The Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley

The Royal Geographical Society, until 28 February 2016

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Jean-Etienne Liotard

Royal Academy of Arts , Mayfair Until Sunday January 31 2016

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Night Shift – London after Dark

London Transport Museum, runs until 10 April 2016

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Egypt ; faith after the pharaohs

British Museum, runs until 7 February 2016

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Alice in Wonderland

British Library , Euston Until Sunday April 17 2016

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Annie Leibovitz, Women

Wapping Hydraulic Power Station , London Saturday January 16 2016 – Sunday February 7 2016

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Fighting Extremes: From Ebola to ISIS

Imperial War Museum, until 13 November 2016

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Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire and Revolution

National Maritime Museum , Greenwich Until Monday March 28 2016

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Natural History Museum until £13.50, £6.75 children & concs

 

 

A Family Day Out at London’s V&A Childhood Museum

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V&A Childhood Museum, Bethnal Green (Tube : Bethnal Green) Open daily 10.00-17.45 (last admission 17.30)

The V&A Museum of Childhood houses the UK’s national collection of childhood-related objects, one of the finest in the world.

 

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The Bus Stop Kids and I have spent a lot of time in the museum over the years. It works for us, as it serves a decent espresso (which was harder to find in the good old days of 2013) and it’s especially good for the under 5’s.

As well as the Benugo cafe, the Childhood Museum is a wide open space filled with stations around the museum that keep the kids entertained, whilst you check your phone for alerts from The Economist ones (not Kim Kardashians latest instagram post).

They offer hands on fun like dressing up, daily craft sessions, giant robots to cuddle, real rocking horses for those that love horses but hate the mucking out, a mini sensory disco, as well as an indoor sand pit complete with Punch and Judy show.

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We also love the toy/ book shop, the garden (for when the sun is out), and sometimes get the kids to concentrate on the fantastic collections of toys, dolls houses (like Grandma used to have), and then theres the brilliant current exhibitions they offer throughout the year.

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I’ve listed whats running currently (Jan 2016) so you can keep up to date. If you make the trip, I’d love to see your photos. You can share and tag your instagram photos #busstopkids or leave me a comment below.

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Exhibition : The Clangers, Bagpuss & Co

19 March  – 9 October 2016. Oliver Postgate’s voice and Peter Firmin’s puppets shaped the childhood memories of millions since they started collaborating in the 1950s. Here you’ll see Bagpuss, the Soup Dragon and ogle Noggin the Nog. As well as telling the story of Bagpuss and The Clangers, the exhibition will go behind the scenes of some of their other creations; Pogles Wood, Nogin the Nog and Ivor the Engine.

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Exhibition : The Tales We Tell

14 November 2015 – 3 July 2016. This exhibition presents a rare insight into Warli, a tribal art form from Western India. Drawing on a store of tribal memory, myths and everyday life, it has evolved from restricted ritual drawings into an applied art in the process of transition. The Tales we Tell: Indian Warli Painting is part of the V&A India Festival. 

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Exhibition : It’s a Hard World for Little Things

9 January – 17 July 2016. Children Carrying Heavy Objects is a series of six large-scale drawings that depict children and the burdens that they carry.

The images explore children’s absolute will to survive in a sometimes-hostile adult world and reflects the plight of children on a global and domestic scale; the show features local children and others from around the world.

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Exhibition : On Their Own: Britain’s Child Migrants

24 October – 12 June 2016. An exhibition telling the heart-breaking true stories of Britain’s child migrants who were sent to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries between 1869 and 1970. An estimated 100,000 British children were sent overseas by migration schemes, which were run by a partnership of charities, religious organisations and governments, and claimed to offer boys and girls the opportunity of a better life in Britain’s Empire overseas. Many migrants never saw their homes or their families again.

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Museums Activities for Kids (during term-time only Monday to Friday).

Animal Magic, 14.00 : Sensory storytelling for children aged 5 and under, inspired by well-loved animal tales.

Art Smarts, 14.30-16.00 : Kids can get creative with the drop-in arts and crafts sessions, and make an amazing piece of art inspired by the Museum to take home. For all ages.

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Museums Activities for Kids (during term-time only Saturday and Sunday & Summer holidays: Saturday  – Thursday)

Animal Magic, 10.30 : Sensory storytelling for children aged 5 and under, inspired by well-loved animal tales.

Explore, 11.15-11.45 : Object-handling, demonstrations and have-a-go sessions that let children get up close to childhood objects and toys.

Telling Tales, 12.00-12.30 : Interactive storytelling featuring popular children’s tales. Children can help tell the story using sounds and props.

Art Smarts, 14.00-16.00 : Kids can get creative with our drop-in arts and crafts sessions, and make an amazing piece of art inspired by the Museum to take home. All ages.

For details of special events and activities during the holidays see the What’s On pages.

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Montessori Family Packs

A selection of Montessori Family Packs for children age 5 and under are available to borrow from the Information Desk for 1 hour. You will need to leave a form of ID (e.g. a passport or driving licence). Each pack contains a map, activity suggestions, storybooks and toys to touch.

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Other Events in 2016

Chinese New Year  : Saturday 13 February :11.30 – 16.30 

Join us to celebrate Chinese New Year with both traditional and modern instrumental dance performances. Take part in Chinese Opera mask and lantern making, as well as costume and calligraphy workshops.

London Children’s Book Swap : Saturday 13 February  11.00 – 16.00

Calling all book worms! London Children’s Book Swap returns for the 5th year running. Bring your old books to trade for another person’s favourite read. Join in the fun to recycle and renew your personal library.

Make Do and Mend Critters workshop

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Wednesdays 30 March and 6 April 
10.30, 12.00, 14.00, 15.30

Join maker Cherene Hamilton to upcycle everyday textiles into weird and wonderful creatures. Book now £5 (with parent/carer) Ages 5-12

Dragons and Unicorns Puppet Workshop

Monday 28 March – Friday 1 April
10.15, 11.45, 13.45, 15.15

Join illustrator Frances Barry in making beautiful 2D moving paper puppets inspired by The Clangers, Bagpuss & Co exhibition.

Cosmic Shoebox Workshop

Monday 4, Tuesday 5, Thursday 7 and Friday 8 April
10.30, 12.00, 14.00, 15.30

Use your imagination to create a wonderful character inspired by the exhibition and work with artist Amy Brown to bring them to life.
Book now £5 (with parent/carer) Ages 5-12

 

10 Best Free Family Restaurants in London

Hello dearest Bus Stop family. Here is a feature I wrote for the MyBaba.com parenting blog last week. I’m sharing the love over here, as we’re not ones for cutting back when there are turkey and mince pie pizzas to be enjoyed.

“My Baba is packed with expert advice and information on all aspects of fertility, pregnancy, motherhood and parenting.” Take a look at their jam packed site, you’ll surely find something out you didn’t know.

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I’m always on the hunt for family-friendly restaurants in London, and it’s often a topic we’re asked about. Guest blogger Sian Gwilliam from mycultureclub.me gives us the low-down on the hot spots for family food this festive season. 

Hix (Soho, City, Smithfield Market, Bankside, Mayfair, Lyme Regis, Selfridges)

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We love a Hix Fix as a treat. The team and Mark himself not only believe in decent, quality food, they also quote that “Food and Art are the perfect marriage”. A statement that runs through the heart of the events at mycultureclub.me too. Also impressive is that the the kids eat free at the weekends, and between 4-6pm on weekdays. The ‘Calves Menu’ here is the most impressive kids food we have been lucky to try.

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When at Hix Bankside, our ‘foodie’ 9 year old goes straight for the glenarm minute steak with chips (£8.50) whilst our vegetarian 7 year old favours the Fillet of fish with Tiptoe Farm potatoes and spring greens (£7.50), with a live jazz band at the weekends, and a bottomless brunch on Saturdays, we’d be foolish not to share the Hix love with you.

ps.  Also on the list for fans, is trying a fish dog from their pop up posh fish finger van HIX’S FISH DOG. Often to be found at farmers markets and Summer Festivals across the UK.

INFO : Monday to Friday 4pm – 6pm, and on the weekends from 12pm – 6pm (except on Saturday at Chop House it is only between 5pm-6pm) for all children under 10 years old when accompanied by a dining adult at the following HIX restaurantsTramshed & Soho & Chop House

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Pizza Pilgrims (Soho, Exmouth Market, Carnaby Street)

PIZZA

If your family like Pizza, why not make a special trip to Carnaby Street, and tell them a little story on the way. It’s a tale about 2 brothers (lets call them Thom and James) they had decent but boring jobs in the City (I put that bit in for dramatic effect!), and then had a (cheesy) dream. They loved Neapolitan pizza so much they bought themselves a 3-wheeled Piaggio van and took a 6-week holiday around Italy, researching, grating, and squashing the finest pizza ingredients along their travels.

This journey was the beginning of the Pizza Pilgrim dream becoming a reality.

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In that very same van they travelled in, once home they then installed an Italian stone pizza oven inside it, and popped it up in Leather Lane market feeding the hungry office workers. Soon, their fresh, doughy and moorish pizzas became the talk of pop up town, and the rest they say is a piz-za history (!). They also managed to write and publish a book at the same time as flipping those bases, you can see it here.

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There aren’t any baby chairs at this little street food joint-turned-pizza restaurant, but children often enjoy sitting and eating their slices at the football table.  Pizzas start from £7 for a Margarita, and they offer a perfect range of mini ice cream cones £3.50, blood orange sorbet £4.50 and a decent Affogato for £4.

This Christmas they have a Brussel sprout and pancetta pizza on the menu and were running an offer of 1/2 price pizza if you took in a decoration, why not pop a little reindeer in your pocket and try your luck!  Their hashtag for the insta happy is ‪#‎merrycrustmas‬

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Honest Burgers (Oxford Circus, Peckham, Notting Hill, Camden)

BURGERS

Tom and Phil met in 2010 whilst working at a Brighton restaurant. Soon after, they bought a small marquee and decided to go it alone serving burgers at festivals and events. After meeting Dorian, Tom moved to Brixton in 2011 and within a few months they’d signed a lease on a tiny unit in Brixton Village.

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The kids menu is a mini version of the adults one (just as we like it), they just serve smaller portions. The mini burgers come with the rosemary salted chips, and cost 50% less than the grown up meals. Popular extras include cauliflower, shallot and sweetcorn fritters.  They have gluten free options too, just ask for it honestly.

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Maroush (Knightsbridge, Bayswater, Edgware Road, Ken Church Street, Oxford St

LEBANESE/ EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

Lebanese families love socialising, and spending quality time with their friends, often enjoying a debate or two over a traditional coffee (Kahwah). It’s a way of life to share food, which is why they serve small plates of different dishes.

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Choose from vegetables, poultry or lamb and spectacular fresh fruit and juices. The staff always entertain the kids, and welcome everyone with open arms. You can sit at the bar and have a quick service of wraps, meze and juices, or table service.

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Don’t expect kids menus, just let the kids share with you, and make sure you don’t expect them to eat everything if it’s your first visit. They will soon follow suit, but will best learn from example once they realise that it’s all delicious.

We often get Shawarma chicken wraps £7.50 for our eldest, and hummus and flat bread (£5.75) for our smaller one. Main courses are around the £15 mark. The fresh juices are totally divine £3.50. Ask for advice with the ordering if you need it, the staff will be more than willing. If you have room, treat yourself to a Baklawa with your coffee – a small delicious mouthful.

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Hare & Tortoise ( Bloomsbury, Ealing, Putney, Kensington, Blackfriars, Chiswick) 

JAPANESE/ RAMEN

We are secret experts when it comes to testing out family Japanese restaurants. Asian food is at the top of our list, and although we don’t get down to SW London so much these days, our kids know their Maki from their Ikura Gunkun across town.

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It’s not a cheap habit to support, but if you start the kids off with a bowl of steamed rice, then they should have less room for the salmon and tuna sashimi.

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We are fans of the Hare & Tortoise chain, and mainly go to their Brunswick Centre restaurant after a trip to Corams Field playground, or browse around the shops if its raining (again).

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It’s a no frills experience, where the staff usher you in, and you won’t wait long for your food. We are fans of everything from the edamame (£3.30), gyoza (£3.50), sushi, ramen(£6-7), roast duck and rice (£7.10), noodle dishes (£6.80) and if were not counting calories the tempura is welcome too.

Go easy on your ordering lots of dishes, and like I said, don’t let the kids order off the menu if they know their sushi well, or you’ll be broke as a sashimi dish alone can cost £8. Try ordering an adult rice or noodle dish and ask for small bowls to share it out. The staff are always obliging.

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Wahaca (Southbank, West End, Westfield W12)

MEXICAN STREET FOOD

All the Wahaca restaurants are happy to have the kids in tow. They are fun, and brightly designed spaces. Our elves are mad for the ceiling hanging swing chair in the upstairs of the Charlotte Street restaurant.

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Co-owner and Masterchef winner, Tommi Miers is a great chef, author, presenter, mum and supporter of food education, She has made a big effort to keep her menus healthy, natural and sources ingredients locally wherever possible.

Prices are £5.25 for the kids menu offering a taco or quesadilla and a drink (hibiscus water is a favourite), with an extra £1.20 for an ice-cream.

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I didn’t tell you that they also do the most delicious and luxurious churros with chocolate did I? Def not one for sharing with anyone, and a time to lead by a very bad example as parents! A happy and easy restaurant for any time of day. Enjoy.

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Also, Kids EAT FREE at these family friendly restaurants ….

Bodean’s (Soho, Clapham, Tower Hill) is an American BBQ dusty and finger licking small chain where kids eat for free between 12-3pm for every full priced adult meal purchased. 

Belgo (Covent Garden, Bromley, Camden, Kingsway) The best ever Belgian moules & frites in town, with great chicken, fish, pasta and ‘real’ sausages for the non-mussel lovers.

EASTER OFFER at BELGOS

Belgo Easter offer available between Monday 21st March & Sunday 10th April 12pm to 6pm (2016)

1 free kids meal from the specified kids menu for every full priced adult A La Carte main meal ordered. They recommend you book in advance at Belgo.com to avoid disappointment as offer is subject to availability. State you saw the offer ONLINE to qualify.

For full T&Cs visit Belgo.com. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer or promotion. Belgo withholds the write to withdraw this offer or promotion at any time. Not valid with any cash substitutions.

Sophie’s Steakhouse (Fulham, Covent Garden) Kids eat free at the Covent Garden restaurant on Sundays. The ‘special of the day’ is the ultimate Sunday Roast, which is as good as you get at home. Go online to their website and down load the voucher here.

Tate Modern Kids can eat for free* in the café when an accompanying adult buys a main course from the menu.*Valid at lunchtime only for children aged 12 or under, for one child eating with an accompanying adult in either the café or the restaurant on level 6. Subject to availability.

British Museum. Take a visit to the Gallery Cafe (which is tucked away to the left of the entrance as you come in from Covent Garden) they also offer a ‘kids eat free’ deal.

You can also take a look at these other family friendly places ; Westfield Mall ‘Kids Club‘ members get lots of food offers within the restaurants as well as;  Pizza Express lots of 2for1 offers if you sign up to their site, Dim T (Noodles & Dim Sum), Wagamama (noodles, stir fry & ramen), Rainforest Cafe (American), Giraffe (International), Yo Sushi (Sushi), The Butlers Wharf Chop House kids eat free during various school holidays (booking required), Eds Easy Diner (Burgers, big fries and milkshakes) and our family favourite mexican for nachos and burritos Chipotle, with friendly staff and a super quick order at the bar service.

At newly launched bespoke pizza restaurant Pizza Buzz in the City on Worship Street, they are offering a new kids menu called LittleBeez. For kids 12 years and under, they get a Little Beez 6″ pizza, dough balls, and Mamoo ice cream for £6.95 (plus a goodie bag too!), and in January  2016 kids will EAT FREE.

If you need to book for a special event like a private room, or birthday party you can use these handy websites (that often run special offers too). Square Meal or  Toptable. You can also read more about the Out to Lunch campaign set up by the Sustainable Restaurant Association here.

Sian is a Mum of two hungry, sporty and creative girls aged 9 and 7. She lives in Camden and is married to a successful comedy writer, who steals all his material from the kids. She runs popular culture family blog www.creativebusstop.com and has recently launched mycultureclub.me a concierge and members club for curious grown ups and kids. 

She organises group cultural & fun events in London. She does all the ground work, and finds out the best events not to miss in town. Sign up online for free membership for a limited time, www.mycultureclub.me. 

A Family Day Out at the V&A Museum

The V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum) in South Kensington should be a ‘schoolroom for everyone’ – said Henry Cole the first director of the V&A. It is pretty wonderful in every sense, bags the biggest and most popular exhibitions in the design world, and has unrivalled collections of contemporary and historic art and design.

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The Museum was established in 1852, following the enormous success of the Great Exhibition the previous year. Its founding principle was to make works of art available to all, to educate working people and to inspire British designers and manufacturers

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It houses some of the world’s greatest resources for architecture, fashion, photography, theatre and performance, sculpture, contemporary design, ceramics, Asian art and design, furniture, textiles, jewellery, metalwork and many more. It is Open daily 10.00 to 17.45 and admission is free.

 

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Pop-up Performance: The Nutcracker (Free, drop in, All ages)

Mon 28 December 2015 – Thu 31 December 2015  – 11.00, 13.00 & 15.00

Discover the enchanting world of The Nutcracker with contemporary dance performances. Suitable for all the family. Location: Lecture Theatre, Suitable for all the family,

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The Imagination Station Decoration Making (Free, Drop In, Ages 3+)

Mon 28 December 2015 – Mon 4 January 2016. 10.30 – 17.00

Create imaginative seasonal decorations and decorate our tree. Location: Level 1, Medieval & Renaissance, Room 50a.

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Pop-up Performance Workshops : The Nutcracker (Free, drop in, All ages)

Sat 2 January 2016 – Mon 4 January 2016, 11.00, 13.00 & 15.00

Discover the enchanting world of The Nutcracker with interactive movement workshops.

Back Packs & Agent Animal Bags

There are always pop up shows, interactive workshops, and drop in craft sessions for families running at the museum. During the holidays the team put on seasonal activities. If you miss the shows, you can ask for a back pack or agent animal bag (for the under 5’s). The bags are full of goodies which will entertain your kids. They will be led around the museum, and can enjoy fantastic stories, games and multi-sensory materials. 

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The Fabric of India exhibition (ends 10 Jan)

The exhibition is great for anyone interested in Art & Design, Design & Technology. The Fabric of India exhibition provides an in-depth insight into the rich diversity of handmade Indian textiles. Spanning the 3rd century to the present day. It explores the social and cultural dimensions of textile production, and opens up discussion points around the manufacturing industry and global trade.

Adults £14, under 12’s free, 12-17 years £9

EUROPE 1600 – 1815 ; Opens 9 December

Also opening this week, is the newly refurbished collection of 7 galleries displaying 17th and 18thcentury European art and design

See some of the most magnificent works held by the V&A, including spectacular examples of textiles and fashion, painting and sculpture, ceramics and glass, furniture and metalwork, prints and books. Many objects were made by Europe’s finest artists and craftsmen for the period’s most discerning leaders of taste such as Louis XIV, Marie Antoiniette, Catherine the Great and Napoleon.

(List of Adult Events are here)

 

5 Fun Family Things to Do in Kings Cross 

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If you haven’t made a trip to the newly developed area around Kings Cross station, you should try to. It’s on the London map in a big way. It has been redeveloped (of course by influential architects, developers and businesses) with a conscience. It’s also now the home to the good and the great (and the slightly eccentric) with Central St Martins being based there as well as Google HQ, The Guardian, The House of Illustration, Kings Place, a few narrow boats, some noisy wet kids, and of course a few start up/graphic design style companies dotted around. Due to it’s grandeur, I have to share a little of it’s history with you…

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Queen Boudicca

Kings Cross was a location that may have been the site of the legendary battle between Queen Boudicca and Roman invaders. FYI, The story goes that the final resting place of Boudicca, the warrior queen of the Iceni, is under Platform nine at King’s Cross Station. 

Great Northern Railway

It’s urban development really made a mark in 1849 when the Great Northern Railway (GNR) purchased land for the station to the south of the canal and land to the north for its goods station and steam locomotive depot. This move ensured it was naturally linked to the industrial cities in the North of England by rail, as Kings Cross station (as we know it) was officially opened in 1852. For all of you who were day dreaming in your history O’level (surely no one reading this has ever passed a GCSE?!), this area is a solid example of how London changed during the industrial revolution – right?! So after the havoc of wartime and the Nationalisation of 1948, the transport of freight by rail suffered a speedy decline.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link

Now I’m going to fast forward to the C21st! In July 2001, construction work started on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the restoration and extension of St Pancras Station. Since then, the area around King’s Cross has seen an investment of over £2.5 billion on transport infrastructure.

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St Pancras International Terminus

In 2007 the new St Pancras International terminus opened. The Midland Hotel was restored and reopened as St Pancras Renaissance. The area has also seen an incredible flow of investment into world-class buildings such as the Francis Crick Institute and King’s Place (Cultural and Arts venue). These changes have acted as a catalyst for further development and have helped change perceptions of King’s Cross.

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Kings Cross Now

The area is vibrant, full of wildly dressed art students, local families, bearded boys on bicycles and still quite a lot of builders as construction of the area is ongoing. Here is a pick of the 5 best things you can do, at pretty much any time of year. Let me know how you get on, and dont forget a change of trousers for the little ones with you, I bet you a fiver that you cant stop them running in and out of the fountains, and loving every minute.

1. Run in the Fountains at Granary Square

As you can tell, my #busstopkids (see my instagram) and their adorable friends totally love this past time. I think the pictures say it all, so I’ll let you experience the rest for yourself when you go.

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2.  Swim in the Kings Cross Outdoor Swimming Pond Club

So far we have only had time to swim in this outdoor natural bathing pond once, but we will be back, even if it makes us grab some wetsuits, and have flasks of hot chocolate on stand by to fend off the hypo-thermia when we get out! Now we mention it, we are quite proud that we have swum in the UK’s first ever man-made fresh water public bathing pond. You cant tell from the photos, it’s 40 metres long, and entirely chemical free. Which is why it feels like you are swimming in a big bath, surrounded by sweet flowers, without the duck poo and beer cans when you usually go wild-city swimming!

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The water is purified through a natural, closed-loop process process using wetland and submerged water plants to filter the water and keep it clear. The pond is surrounded by wild flowers and grasses that change with the season.

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What’s more the pond is open Monday-Friday from 6am-dusk, and Saturday-Sunday from 8am-dusk, BUT you have to purchase tickets for designated sessions throughout the day. Prices range from £3.50 to £6.50 for peak swims and non-swimmers will be able to visit the pond at a discounted rate.

3. Eat and Drink in the SKIP GARDEN

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It’s properly lovely. Home grown food, made with love and attention. The staff are gorgeous, so is the coffee, it has to be worth a visit. It’s also 10x better than the places on the high street, as this garden supports local kids, retired gardeners, wannabe architects and lots and lots of insects.

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More action from the skip garden…

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4. Join in with a Kings Cross event, like The Classic Car Boot Sale

This weekend will see at least 100 classic and historical vehicles cruising into King’s Cross for a Classic Car Boot sale, curated by Hemingway Design. It will be a weekend humming with vintage attitude, and all about having a cup of tea, a dance and looking very tidy. We went to the same car boot sale at the QE2 park last year, and totally loved it, so I can recommend you swing by, and check out the gingham action.

5. The House of Illustration

Founded by our very own Roald Dahl loving ‘Sir Quentin Blake’, the House of Illustration is the UK’s only public gallery dedicated solely to illustration. It is the place to see, learn about and enjoy illustration in all its forms; from advertisements to animation, picture books to political cartoons and scientific drawings to fashion design. Check the latest exhibitions and events here.

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Naturally the team promote new illustration talent, and commission new work. They also have an interesting illustrator-led educational events program. There are talks, drawing classes, publishing events and weekend family fun. Kids just get illustration in a way that they don’t necessarily get other forms of Art, so grace the house with your presence – if even to see the beautiful book shop.

5.5. EAT loads and feel good about it

You can choose from trendy brunch king ‘Caravan’, or the tres healthy The Grain Store, Indian ‘Dishoom’, Oz Breakfast giants, Granger & Co, Vinoteca or have cocktails in the Great Northern Hotel by St Pancras.

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THERE’S MORE STUFF GOING ON ….

Twilight Gardening

Fancy relaxing at the end of a busy day and meeting new people while helping to build the garden of a thousand hands?

Come to the Skip Garden on Wednesday evenings from 5pm – 7.30pm for a Twilight Gardening session. You will work alongside the Global Generations gardeners who love to share their knowledge on growing food in the middle of the city.

Each session ends with a beautiful home-cooked meal prepared with love by the Skip Garden Kitchen team.

Twilight Gardening sessions take place on fortnightly on Wednesday evenings in the Skip Garden.

To book your space email ciara@globalgeneration.org.uk

Take a short course at St Central Saint Martins

Designed in 1852 by Lewis Cubitt, the architect of King’s Cross station, the Granary once stored wheat for London’s bakers. The building has been gloriously restored by Stanton Williams Architects and overlooks the fountains of Granary Square. The college boasts glittering alumni including fashion designers Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, singer Jarvis Cocker, painter Lucian Freud and sculptor Antony Gormley. The campus at King’s Cross opened in 2011, welcoming 5,000 students and staff

Free Tours of Kings Cross

The knowledgable team at the King’s Cross Visitor Centre will be pleased to give you a free guided tour around the public areas of the development. You’ll learn about the industrial heritage of the area and hear how the development will unfold over the coming years.

King’s Cross Visitor Centre \ 11 Stable Street London N1C 4AB T: 020 3479 1795

KX Bootcamp

KX Bootcamp is a High Intensity Interval Training session based outdoors. The workout is designed to provide a high calorie burn using a variety of different equipment. At Bootcamp, you will be encouraged to test your body and push your limits, but always within your ability levels. The variety of Bootcamp allows you to experience a new challenging session every time – be prepared to flip tyres, throw medicine balls, swing kettle bells and battle with the ropes!

The session is led by Martin Whitelock. His tough but sensible training approach is not your typical military-style bootcamp. Classes are based outdoors in Lewis-Cubitt Square, King’s Cross.

Sessions times are as follows: Tuesdays  6pm – 7pm Advanced & Thursdays 6pm – 7pm Beginners  & Saturdays 10am – 11am Mixed Ability

Best Family Exhibitions to See Now

I’ve put together a list of the main exhibitions showing around town now, so you can find them all in one place. Dont forget that most of the venues have kids art packs ready for you when you arrive, which will keep the kids entertained and guide you around the galleries. You often get free pencils and goodies in the packs too.

I havent managed to visit many of theses museums this Autumn yet, but don’t hold me back I love a challenge! Check my instagram feed, as I’m always posting photos of the places the #busstopkids visit, so you can see for real what the kids like, and find inspiration for places to visit.

Please leave me a comment if you find any great places to visit, or tips on what is and isn’t cool for the kids, as it’s always more fun when we hang out at the Bus Stop together. Enjoy xo

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Design MuseumCycle Revolution (18 Nov – 30 June)

Cycle Revolution celebrates the diversity of contemporary cycling in Britain from every day commuting to Olympic level competition and looks at where design and innovation may take the riders of the future.

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The Foundling Museum

All fans of Victorian History, Jaqueline Wilson, London, Hogarth and Great Ormand Street will enjoy a visit to The Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury, The museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery. There are various small exhibitions in this charming building, take a look at 26 Pairs of Eyes an exhibition in which 26 writers, including former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, have been paired with 26 objects from the Foundling Museum Collection and responded with 26 ‘sestudes’ – texts exactly 62 words long.

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The Whitechapel Gallery : The Name of Fear (Until 25th October) & Richard Tuttle

Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander’s (b. 1967) new installation explores childhood fears, in a display of vibrant handmade capes that combines elements of drawing, textiles, design, performance and writing.The artist worked with children aged 7 to 9 from across London to gather a collection of fears – ranging from ‘heights’ and ‘bees’, to ‘strangers’ and ‘nightmares’, and the more abstract ‘silence’.

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The Jewish MuseumTiger, Mog and Pink Rabbit: A Judith Kerr Retrospective (until 14 October 2015)

As well original artwork from her best-loved books, the display also includes the drawings she made as a child refugee fleeing Nazi Germany. These were the inspiration for her celebrated title, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

Photo c/o Judith Kerr, Mog on rooftop © Kerr Kneale Productions.

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The Natural History Museum, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015/26 will open Mid October

Enjoy more than 100 of the best nature photographs exhibited on sleek backlit panels.Explore how new categories introduced this year have encouraged photographers to think differently about the way they tell stories and use innovative technologies. 25th September is their Annual Festival of Science. Check the website for a list of activities scheduled throughout the day.

War, Art and Surgery at Hunterian Museum (until 14 Feb)

Explore the relationship between war and surgery, past and present. With unprecedented access to military facilities, artist Julia Midgley has created over 150 pieces of reportage artwork depicting military surgeons in training and recently-wounded soldiers on their road to recovery.

Qvist Gallery and Art Cases, Hunterian Museum. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm.

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The Science Museum ; Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age (18 Sept to 13th March 2016)

Discover the story of Russian space travel in this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition Explore the historical, cultural and spiritual context of Russian space travel, shaped especially by the turbulent early decades of the twentieth century. See poignant testimonies and memorabilia belonging to some of the biggest names in spaceflight and discover the deeply personal stories of the pioneers who kick-started the space age.

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The House of Illustration  : EH Shepard: An Illustrator’s War

See a different side to one of the greatest illustrators of the 20th century in this major exhibition of E.H. Shepard’s war illustrations. Best known for his drawings for Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows, as well as his regular work for Punch magazine, E.H. Shepard also produced a substantial body of work while serving as an officer in the Royal Artillery in the First World War.

Glenn Ligon at Camden Arts Centre

This is the first exhibition of the American artist in a public UK gallery. His is a typographic art which mixes writing with painting. Free, until 11 January 2015

V&A cafe, © V&A Images
V&A cafe, © V&A Images
V&A Museum : Shoes: Pleasure and Pain runs now-31 January 2016 Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852-1860  until 11 October

The Shoes exhibition looks at the extremes of footwear from around the globe, presenting around 200 pairs of shoes ranging from a sandal decorated in pure gold leaf originating from ancient Egypt to the most elaborate designs by contemporary makers. The India & Burma exhibition will feature some of the earliest and most striking views of the landscape and architecture of India and Burma, by a pioneering British photographer. Part of the V&A India Festival.

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London Transport Museum : Night Shift London After Dark (now until 10 April 2016)

The Night Shift exhibition delves into the dark side of transport in London and explores the power of publicity and the world of the night shift over the last century. Eye catching transport posters highlight the rise of the West End and the growth of the leisure economy, whilst archive photographs and films document the development of transport to meet the needs of Fleet Street and other night workers. Wartime Tube sheltering, the burgeoning nightclubbing scene and hard hitting safety campaigns bring the story up to date and cast new light on the contemporary 24 hour city.

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Museum of London : A Bear Called Paddington & Crime Uncovered

Created with the support of the Metropolitan Police Service and the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC), the exhibition will consider the changing nature of crime and advances in detection over the last 140 years, as well as the challenges faced in policing the capital, such as terrorism, drugs and rioting

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Horniman MuseumPlantastic! (Now until 1 November)

Explore the wonderful world of plants on a massive scale. This interactive exhibition brings visitors up close to all kinds of fantastic plant life. Also showing now is Revisiting Romania: Dress and Identity ( now until 01 September 2016) Exploring how Romanian folk art has been used to express social and political ideas within the village and on the national and international stage. And, Bloom (runs now until 06 December 2015) A series of individually painted panels by artist Edward Chell inspired by cyanotypes and plants from our museum and gardens.

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Tate Modern : The World Goes Pop (17 Sept – 24 Jan) & Sigmar Polke (until 15 Feb)

Groundbreaking attempt to place pop art in its global context or another rehash of familiar names and images? The World Goes Pop examines not so much a movement as a variety of responses to culture under capitalism and consumer culture. With artists from Brazil to the former Yugoslavia, Japan to Colombia, and an emphasis on women, The World Goes Pop focuses on figures often written out of the story: the overlooked, the ignored and the marginal. Everything is pop, even when it isn’t. copyright Adrian Searle

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Geffreye Musem : Homes Of The Homeless: Seeking Shelter In Victorian London (now until 25 July 2015)

Contemporary homelessness will be explored in Home and Hope, a free display of artwork, photography and poetry, showing young people’s experiences of homelessness in London today. This is a collaborative project with New Horizon Youth Centre, a day centre in King’s Cross working with young people who are vulnerable, homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

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Royal Academy of Arts : Ai Weiwei (19 Sept – 13 Dec)

Straddling the poetic and the political, Ai Weiwei’s work is trouble. Sculptor, conceptualist, architect, blogger, top-level blackjack player and critic of corruption and social injustice, Ai is the most famous and outspoken artist to emerge from post-revolutionary China. This has led him into serious difficulties in his homeland, including a period of detention, the removal of his passport and the demolition of his Shanghai studio by the authorities. For all that, as an artist Ai is a maker of beautiful, sorrowful and acerbic things. This long-overdue survey should allow us to focus more on the art, less on the man.

The National Gallery
The National Gallery
National Gallery : Goya: The Portraits (7 Oct – 10 Jan) & Rembrandt the Late Works

Realist, caricaturist, critic and lover, Goya’s confrontations with royalty, politicians, doctors, lovers, children and, most tellingly, himself are filled with cruelty and empathy, humour and affection. He is unsurpassable, and the flaws in his art make it even more wrenching. Goya’s portraiture deserves a show bigger than even the National Gallery can provide, in what is claimed to be the first exhibition to focus entirely on this side of his work.

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Imperial War Museum : Fighting Fronts

See how the war started, why it continued, how the Allies won and its impact on people’s lives across the globe. Walk through a recreated trench with a Sopwith Camel plane swooping low overhead as a Mark V Tank looms above you. Explore the war at sea and campaigns in the Middle East, Africa, Gallipoli and the Western Front.

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The British Museum : Faith After the Pharaohs (29 Oct – 7 Feb) & Drawing in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns (until 6 Dec)

Egypt is the home to a diverse religious history has generated extraordinary art. Coptic Christianity has its own unique style, with touching, almost naive portraits and manuscripts, ancient monasteries and churches. This minority tradition has coexisted with the majority religion, Islam, whose own architectural and artistic splendour shapes the best-preserved quarters of Egyptian cities. Yet there is also a rich Jewish history in the country, and this, too, is explored. Not only does it show that Egypt has carried on being a great cultural centre long after the age of the pyramids: it also reminds us of the complexity and pluralism of life, art and history in the Middle East.

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The Wellcome Collection : Alice Anderson : Memory Movement Memory Objects (now until 18 Oct)

Over 100 works by acclaimed artist Alice Anderson are displayed at Wellcome Collection. How do we remember the past and commit moments to memory? Anderson’s beautiful and uncanny sculptures will prompt you to rediscover things you thought you already knew.Take part in the exhibition by mummifying a 1967 Ford Mustang and other objects with copper wire in ‘The Studio, the first of five areas in the gallery. Visit the exhibition desk outside the gallery to book your slot.

A Family Day Out at The National Theatre

With chat that the new musical Wonder. land, (music) Damon Albarn and (lyrics) Moira Buffini’s is moving to The National Theatre from its run in Manchester this November, under Direction from the Theatres new Director Rufus Norris, I thought it would be worth sharing the family events that we can all join in with, and all for pretty much a bargain price, if not totally free.

If you haven’t had time to read up about Wonder.land it is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic Alice in Wonderland, catch up with a review from my friends at Culture Whisper here (fyi, it’s for kids aged 10+).

The National Theatre
The National Theatre

Enjoy RiverStage Outdoor events outside the Theatre

Running until 30th August, from Friday afternoons over each weekend you can enjoy street theatre, live music, dance and guest DJs. On Saturdays there will be live music in the afternoons until late and on Sundays expect family fun with dazzling circus, vibrant dance and intriguing installations. Check the link above for the listings for the last weekends of the Summer.

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Take a Family Tour and Explore the backstage life of the National Theatre.

The Theatre is a working building, producing over 20 new productions every year. Preparation for the shows, including rehearsals, prop and costume-making all happen on site. No two tours are ever the same, so come and see what’s happening behind the scenes. You can book via email tours@nationaltheatre.org.uk. Individuals: £9 (Concessions £8), Entry Pass Members: £5 (not available to book online). Groups of 8 or more: £8 each.

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Enjoy Family Days Throughout the Year

During the Family days  you can learn and try out various theatre skills. Try designing costumes, learning how to perform realistic stage fighting, compose some score for an opening act, and meet some of the teams who work behind the scenes and make this Theatre one of the best in the UK. Details of family workshops on The Comedy of Errors will be announced at the end of August. Check on the link above for the different events attached to various productions coming up in the coming schedule.

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Peek into new Productions from The Sherling High-Level Walkway

See new productions being created before they reach the stage. The Sherling High-Level Walkway offers visitors views into the busy backstage production workshops for set construction and assembly, scenic painting and prop-making. These sessions are free and open daily (Mon – Sat) 9.30am – 7.30pm and on Sunday 9, 23 and 30 August, 12-6pm. The access to the Sherling High-Level Walkway is from the Gallery Level in the Dorfman Theatre Foyer.

War Horse Puppetry

Explore the National Theatre Archive from the comfort of the Lyttelton sofas.

The Lyttelton Lounge is a place to explore the National Theatre’s past and present. Browse exclusive digital content from our Archive, including interviews, prompt scripts and early recordings. It is free, and open all day, every day. Located on Lyttelton Level 1, accessed from the main foyer.

photo credit  ‘Ludovic des Cognets’
‘ Tours in the Olivier Theatre with the set of Treasure Island’  & ‘ Tours at the National Theatre- getting to grips with puppets’

The Top 10 Best UK Places to Visit

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CONGRATULATIONS LONDON …at the moment, we are top of the tree when it comes to who has the best booty to offer in the department of tourism in the whole of the world. Yes, that is right, dear old Boris and his family of bikes, has to take some credit, as the Mastercard Global Cities Index report recently put London ahead of Bangkok, New York and Paris in the world rankings.

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Its’ still the Europeans who love us most, followed by the Rest of the World, and then the Americans are quite keen too (still looking for Princess Diana tea towels I bet).

Get this stat; 123,000,000 visitors passed through the doors of some of the most famed attractions in 2014, a record 6.5 % increase on the previous year.

It seems the 3 key ingredients needed to bring you popularity in the playground for culture, sticking and craft college, is as follows;

1) In the Museum Dept, book a blockbuster exhibition, think Matisse, Rembrandt, or Alexander Mqueen.

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2) In the ‘hands-on exhibits’ Dept, make sure you tie in your exhibits with the curriculum, or at least have a space large enough to lose a few primary schools, visiting groups of Italian kids and ladies from the Cobham Bridge club.

British Museum, African Textiles exhibition
British Museum, African Textiles exhibition

3) In the ‘I need a rest and don’t want my packed lunch’ Depot, you have to have space for a decent (double espresso essential) cafe, a posh restaurant for the Telegraph readers, and a cracking architect firm that BBC4 will commission a documentary on.

The National Gallery
The National Gallery

So with a small drum roll, here is your list with a few stats (2014) for good measure. For those that don’t like waiting in a queue, (or a full buggy-park) I advise that you set off at the crack of dawn (and book where needed) if you want to visit these attractions in the school holidays.

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1)  British Museum 6,695,213 visitors
2) The National Gallery 6,416,724 visitors
3) Southbank Centre 6,255,799 visitors
4) Tate Modern 5,785,427 visitors
5) Natural History Museum 5,388,295 visitors
6) Science Museum 3,356,072 visitors
7) V&A South Kensington 3,180,450 visitors
8) Tower of London 3,075,950 visitors
9) Somerset House 2,463,201 visitors
10) The Library of Birmingham 2,414,860 visitors

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The visiting numbers are pretty impressive aren’t they? Let me know your favourite spots around town, as I quite fancy building up my own survey of some of those 6 million or so museum lovers out there… firstly, which is your favourite teeny tiny exhibit in The British Museum?

Tate Modern
Tate Modern

If you fancy a bit of Bus Stop Fun, check my Instagram, there’s all sorts of crazy stuff on there from our many days out around town.

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Some of the stats from The very kind BBC Entertainment & Arts section of their website here and from ALVA (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) here.

Further reading from The Telegraph here.

Images courtesy of Press Dept of Museums and LondonandPartners.com

The Best Family Events This Easter

Oh yes, it’s that time again… Time to make your own chocolate eggs, Easter cakes, and quickly get your potters wheel out to make a very small, slightly hard to use mug to place the easter egg in (baking to be free of all sugar, and dairy, and anything resembling sugar ps. no coconut oil allowed, good luck!).

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Just to start you off in a kind and thoughtful way, here are a few posts sitting on the back of the bus (yes, with the cool and rowdy kids) that might tickle you.

The 5 Best Water Play areas, Best Kids Theatre to see this year, Backstage Theatre Tours, pack your family rucksack for Days out around town, try a Kids Cooking courses, get organised and book a holiday kids Science or a Theatre & Music course before the places get snapped up.

Princess Diana Playground
Princess Diana Playground

Why not buy some fairy lights, face paint and your Family Festival ticket (tip: babysitting services at these festivals are already nearly full…). Or sort a House Swap this summer, book a cultural City Break, go for your first Lido paddle, or take a Graffiti Tour.

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When you’ve finished that list, just sit back and dream whilst the kids let of steam in one of the Best Playgrounds in town.

If you’re looking for super easy home craft projects, take a look at my Pinterest too.

Check the events diary on the home page too, it is bursting with daily activities, and it will make me smile if you do.

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1. Hampton Court Palace

Live cookery demos, animation workshops and TimePlays, where stories from Hampton Court Palace’s rich 500 year history will be brought to life in a series of micro plays. Sign up for the historical movie making workshops, where you can become an animator and create a short film clip to take home.

2. Easter Flamingoes on the Kensington Roof Gardens

Enjoy a Choccywoccydoodah Easter Egg Hunt this Easter Sunday at the Kensington Roof Gardens.  As an extra special treat all chocolate hunters will be given the opportunity to win a giant egg created by Choccywoccydoodah!

3. English National Ballet & English National Ballet School performance of Swan Lake (ages 3+)

This ballet features a narrator to help the young audience follow the story and a shortened version of Tchaikovsky’s wonderful music, these performances are specially created to make ballet accessible and enjoyable to children from the age of 3 upwards.

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4. Get your camping gear ready for the Elderflower Family Festival in May

I have a Bus Stop special 10% discount code just for you to give you a £10 discount off the current ticket prices for the Elderflower Festival in Sussex. To use this code book via the link here: http://elderflowerfields.co.uk/tickets/partners and use the following code: teutn3

5. Don’t Feed the Kids for A Day

Read this earlier post which give you a heads up of where kids EAT for FREE in London.

6. Create a Piece of History

Visit one of the palaces around London, or a National Trust property. You will feel better for it, I promise.

7.  Get your Summer Holiday Sorted

Check all the glorious properties on I-escape kids, or even book a weekend away with your dearest. Grandparents love to be left in control, and you might get the chance to read 2 chapters of a book, and will be brimming full of conversation.

8. Eat Ice-cream on the Beach

Check this earlier post on the Best beaches near London, grab your family railcard, and prepare to come home with pockets full of beach memories.

9. Enjoy Afternoon Tea with Rabbit at The Unicorn

On Friday April 10th at 4.30pm you can join the cast (and rabbit!) on stage for a cream tea and bunny craft session. They’ll have lashings of cream and plenty of jam.  £8 per child. (Accompanying adults are invited too – take part in the tea party without the arts and crafts for an additional £5 per person, must be booked alongside a child ticket), contact Box Office on 020 7645 0560 to book.

10. Keep a Garden Secret in a Secret Garden

Take a ball, bat and picnic to one of London’s secret gardens.

11. Join an Online book club

Get your kids to review their latest book, check out what other kids recommend online, and you never know they might even feel inspired to write their own story or book…

12. Inspire your fashionistas to design their own

Catch the Women Fashion Power exhibition at The Design Museum before it closes on the 26 April. The museum has the best ever shop, an OK-ish view of Tower Bridge (I dare you not to insta-gram a picture of it), and you can walk from the museum over to Malty Street Market, and Borough, if you want to play ‘I’m a foodie’ what are you?

13. Make your own Family Bunting with Nicole (Age 4+)

Join Nicole for bunting making at The Doodle Bar. Your task is to cut interesting shapes out using the templates provided and decorate through creative stitch and print. Once your shapes are created and embellished Nicole will stitch the pieces together. All materials will be provided except aprons. Please dress for mess! Tickets £10 (9.30-11.30am) 10th April.

14. Find Shaun the Sheep at Kew Gardens

Between March 28, 2015 – April 13, 2015 get yourself over to the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Kew to check out the chocolate workshops, collect your stamps when you find the shaun the sheep (cut outs) dotted around the gardens, and visit the creepy crawly indoor playground which is ideal for toddlers. (some activities carry an extra cost, to the entrance fee).

15. Be a Pirate on the Golden Hinde

Experience the life of a 16th century explorer aboard the Golden Hinde II, a full-sized reconstruction of the ship Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the globe between 1577-80. Enjoy guided tours to children’s fun days, battle workshops to their popular sleep overs, it’s the place to be for little pirates. Check the website for the latest activities.

16. Run riot at a Boot Camp for Kids

Firepower Royal Artillery Museum’s Junior Gunners Boot Camp is a chance for kids to have a go at military style physical training, a Chal lenger Troop assault course and target practice, and a bungee run. £4.50 plus admission. The Camp runs between March 31, 2015 – April 13, 2015 part of Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum, Royal Arsenal in Woolwich.

17. Play with a sonic trail at The Tate

Download Sonic Trails for Tate Britain and Tate Modern and experience the Tate through sound-scapes, especially created for families by musicians and sound artists. Become absorbed in an unexpected environment. (ideal for ages 6+).

18. Make & Do at Camden Arts Centre

Every Sunday (2-4.30pm) throughout the exhibitions, families with children can drop in to the Drawing Studio for free creative activities based around the exhibitions. Led by artist Tom Pope, the activities are fun and suitable for all ages.

19. Get your Trainers on and Head to the QE2 Olympic Park

A perfect place for scooter-lovers and skateboarders. The park runs family tours, art trails, has fun fair rides, ace playgrounds, coffee stalls, and the besets ever Olympic pool with family swimming sessions. What’s more it’s a skip and a hop from John Lewis if you’ve forgotten your goggles. Also on 4 April, families can choose from a 1K, 3K or 5K ‘Bunny Run’ circuit and walk, run or hop their way around the Park! Open to all age s and abilities – this family event will include a visit from the Easter Bunny, post-race refreshments and a unique finisher’s medal for all.

20. Get Nature-tastic at an activity park in town

Make it your mission to take your kids (complete with wellies and wet wipes) to a nature centre, and let them hunt for frog spawn. It’s your duty as a parent. Need I say more?

21. Blow your little fairies a homemade Easter Egg

Here’s one tip to get you started..Before you start blowing your egg, it is very important to scold your eggs in boiling water.. don’t say I didn’t warn you.

22. What rhymes with Dim Sum?

Did you forget that dim sum and noodles are probably the best kid friendly food ever? Here’s your guide to where to find them, and please, share your list in the comments, there’s only so many pounds of noodles I can eat in the name of research.

23. Take a Day Out to Hatfield House

Why wouldn’t you? It’s full of Tudor history, has a great farm, you can ride on a tractor, pretend to cut someones head off in the tower of london playground, play ball in the grounds, and it’s only a quick train ride from Kings Cross.

24. Feel Free to Be Free at The Kids Award Winning Horniman Museum

See the Plantastic exhibition at the Horniman Museum, Big Wednesday is a chance to watch the museum’s gardeners rebuilding minibeast habitats, take a storytelling tour of the gardens, do art and craft activities and more. Free, just turn up, 11am-3.30pm.

25. Get your glass and slippers out and watch Cinderella the Movie

Here’s the best ever round up of kids cinema clubs, if you think it through it’s a cheap way to entertain the kids, and have a cheeky nap yourself.

26. The Cartoon Museum 

The Cartoon Museum, on Little Russell Street near The British Museum has heaps of Easter Workshops for kids. Choose from learning to draw superheroes, create a Beano comic strip, or make scary 3D claymation faces.

27. Take the Kids on a Creative, Inventive Adventure 

The weekend kid loving gang Urban Explorer are organising a TED inspired mini-conference for kids about Technology, Entrepreneurship and Creativity at the RI on Sunday May 17th. Kids will have an opportunity to meet some of London’s most exciting inventors, creators and adventurers. Book now to be hanging with the coolest kids in town.

Great Easter Egg Hunts In London

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(Featured image credit The Wall Street Journal, Kurt Wilberding, Easter Bonnet Parade along New York’s Fifth Avenue)

As my memory gets more hazy as time goes on, I do still have fond memories of hunting for eggs, the odd pound coin and a few treats with my Dad with friends and lots of kids. In fact, back in those days when I would spend the weekends with my Dad, we were always off to a party, and an Easter Party was a perfect excuse. The National Trust are holding various events across the UK. If you are going down the home made route, check out Pinterest for ideas, printables, and even ready made clues. Bonnets at the ready, share your photos with me on instagram sian_gwilliam, we’d love to share the fun you have. x

Kings Cross Easter Fun Day

On Saturday 26th March, head to King’s Boulevard and board their Easter Train for a day of family fun. The special road train will journey to Granary Square, where you’ll meet giant bunnies armed with baskets of yummy treats. Show off your creative skills and take part in the Japanese kawaii-inspired Easter egg decorating competition – you might even win a prize! (All Ages : Free) Saturday 26 March

Easter Egg Hunts at the Cutty Sark 

Pretty much every day in April there is family daily fun at the Cutty Sark. Dance, sing and set sail on an adventure with Nannie, Cutty Sark’s figurehead. Join James Robson, Cutty Sark’s cook, to sing songs, learn sailor skills. Design your own comic strip, or meet Captain Woodget, Cutty Sark’s longest serving master, to learn about life on board the fastest tea clipper. It’s a great place for a day trip, and don’t forget about the Greenwich Market, it’s got your name all over it.

Battersea Park Children’s Zoo Egg Hunt

Kids need to spot the brightly coloured eggs around the zoo. Taking part costs just £1.50 on top of your standard admission fee and if you manage to find all of the eggs, you’ll win a prize! Make sure you find time at midday to visit Pet’s Corner; your kids can help the zoo keeper feed the bunnies!

Gabriel’s Wharf

Down on the Southbank this Saturday there is a cracking time to be had! Kids of all ages can enjoy craft sessions, decorate Easter eggs, make a basket and join the egg hunt. There’s a scavenger hunt for adults too. Free between 12pm-3pm (craft times)

London Wetland Centre Egg Hunt & Activities 

The perfect place to enjoy the start of Spring. Kids will enjoy the Giant Easter Duck Hunt and find the missing ducklings, with BIG yellow ducklings to uncover, it would be hard to miss them! If you can discover them all you’ll win a Cadbury Freddo frog. There is more fun stuff to do, like duck painting, where you can create your own colourful duckling to take home, and themed games.

Sutton House Easter Egg Trails

This Easter, it’s a feast for the kids as well! They can follow the clues around the grounds, learning as they go and being rewarded with a delicious Easter egg at the end of it. The fun starts today (Friday 25th) and again on Bank Holiday Monday from 12-4.30pm, When you’ve found your Cadbury’s chocolate prize join our Very Hungry Caterpillar art activities.£1.50 per egg hunt

Epping Ongar Easter Egg Hunt

Epping Ongar Railway’s hunt will run the length of the railway track from Ongar through to Coopersale, which is the length of 131,579 eggs placed end to end!

Kids will need to find the eggs, with some clues to help them, and any child who completes is entitled to a special Easter prize. You can have your children’s faces painted in an Easter style for £3, join the Easter Bunny’s own disco, the Bunny Hop! Held in a train carriage on Platform 3 at intervals throughout the day (check the times when you get there).

Tickets bought in advance online are the same as standard fares which means a family can travel for a day for just £34.  Events on 25, 26, 27, 28 MARCH

(Featured image credit The Wall Street Journal, Kurt Wilberding, Easter Bonnet Parade along New York’s Fifth Avenue)

5 Best National Trust Places near London

We all love The National Trust, and here are a few reasons why. It’s the largest voluntary conservation organisation in Europe. They have over 4 million members, more than the present coalition ruling parties.

They own some of the best beaches in the land, 59 villages, 49 churches and a gold mine (The Dolaucothi Gold Mines). Their teams conserve butterflies, bats, wildlife and plants. It doesn’t stop there, they also own four coastal World Heritage Sites. So it’s a royal Hip Hip hooray for The National Trust.

Here are 5 properties that would like you to visit them, when you’re ready. They won’t be going anywhere, so don’t rush.

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1. George Inn (pub), Borough

This is the last remaining galleried inn in London. Dating from the 17th century this public house, leased to a private company, is London’s last remaining galleried inn.

Did you know? The galleries which front the building were once common on inns, and that many other surviving examples were lost during the Second World War. The original George Inn was destroyed by fire in 1676. Charles Dickens visited the site when it was a coffee house…and it’s mentioned in Little Dorrit

The George Inn Yard, 77 Borough High Street, Southwark, London, SE1 1NH : Telephone: 020 7407 2056

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2. 575 Wandsworth Road, London

575 Wandsworth Road was acquired by the National Trust in 2010, because of the rich and striking interiors created by Khadambi Asalache (1935-2006), a Kenyan-born poet, novelist, philosopher of mathematics and British civil servant. He bought the house in 1981 while working at the Treasury, and over a period of 20 years (from 1986) turned his home into a work of art.

Prompted by the need to disguise persistent damp in the basement dining room, he initially fixed pine floorboards to the damp wall. He went on to embellish almost every wall, ceiling and door in the house with exquisite fretwork patterns and motifs, which he hand-carved from reclaimed pine doors and floorboards found in skips.

The house stands as he left it, with his painted decoration on walls, doors and floors and with rooms furnished with his handmade fretwork furniture and carefully arranged collections of beautiful and functional objects, including pressed-glass inkwells, pink and copper lustreware, postcards and his typewriter.

Book a tour

Due to the delicate nature of the property, tours are limited to 54 visitors a week, in tours of a maximum of six people at a time. Admission charges and a booking fee apply, entry is free for National Trust members, but members still need to book a place. They are closed from from 3 November 2014 to 28 February 2015, and will be taking bookings for March to May from 1 February. You can call our bookings number from that date on 0844 249 1895.

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3. Morden Hall Park, Morden

Morden Hall Park is green oasis in the city, giving you a taste of a country estate with a glimpse of its agricultural and industrial history.

This tranquil former deer park is one of the few remaining estates that used to line the River Wandle during its industrial heyday. The river meanders through the park creating a haven for wildlife. The snuff mills, which generated the park’s income in the past, survive to this day. We’ve renovated the western mill, and it’s now used as a learning centre.

A much-loved rural idyll, the park lies in a built-up area, and some of the surviving estate buildings are used as workshops by local craftspeople and artisans. The renovated Stable Yard is the heart of the park with a café, second-hand bookshop and a living green centre with exhibitions.

Address: Morden Hall Road, Morden, London, SM4 5JD : Telephone: 020 8545 6850

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4. Ham House and Garden (Surrey)

This rare and atmospheric 17th-century house sits on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond. It is the creation of the tenacious Duchess of Lauderdale and her husband, the Duke, who together transformed Ham into one of the grandest Stuart houses in England.

Ham House is internationally recognised for its superb collection of paintings, furniture and textiles, largely acquired 400 years ago. Some of our unique objects include a rare Chinese teapot, said to have been used by the Duchess herself, and the exotic ivory cabinet. The house is reputed to be one of the most haunted in Britain. Some visitors have reported the ghostly aroma of the sweet Virginia pipe tobacco that the Duke smoked after meals in the dining room.

Outside, the open and formal restored 17th-century gardens surround the house. It includes a productive kitchen garden containing many heritage crops, the maze-like ‘Wilderness’, complete with summerhouses, and many beautiful spots perfect for a picnic.

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5. Fenton House and Garden, Hampstead

This beautiful 17th-century merchant’s house is a hidden gem in London, a place of unique charm and ambience.

Lady Binning bought the house in 1936 and filled it with her highly decorative collections of porcelain, Georgian furniture and 17th-century needlework.

The sound of early keyboard instruments and the colours of early 20th-century drawings and paintings add to a captivating experience.

Free Workshops for London Kids at London Print Studio

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If you love children & illustration, I am pretty sure you will enjoy this exhibition. The Enchanted Page is an exhibition showcasing some of the best of the UK’s up and coming artists at the London Print Studio in Westbourne Park. They are also running free workshops over the Feb 1/2 term.

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Designed for younger kids, the show features illustrations and cut outs from some of the most recently published children’s books. Whilst you’re soaking up all the talent, the London Print Studio have also cleverly designed an art trail which gets the kids reading, drawing, and telling their own stories too. 

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Those that know their illustrators from their onions, will be impressed with the team of talented artists that have joined forces for this show. The project has been curated by illustrator Frann Preston-Gannon and John Phillips at the londonprintstudio. The others involved are Alex Barrow, Michael Bartalos, Floyd Cooper, Philippe Coudray, Benji Davies, Yasmeen Ishmail, Talleen Hacikyan, Ohara Hale, Emily Hughes, John and Jana, Maggie Li , Julie Morstad, Ben Newman, Rachel Ortas, Frann Preston-Gannon, and Priya Sundram

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Workshops

On 17th & 18th February, during 1/2 term you they are hosting FREE story telling and creative illustration workshops. The sessions will be led by a professional illustrator and author. They are run as hourly sessions from 11.00am each day with the last workshop starting at 4.00pm. The important bit is that booking is essential and they are aimed at kids up to age 11 (who must be accompanied by an adult throughout the session).

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Please contact the studio on 020 8969 3247 or email info@londonprintstudio.org.uk to book your place.

Getting There

425 Harrow Road london W10 4RE
Open tuesday to saturday 10.30am to 6.00pm
Entrance to the gallery is free
Nearest tube westbourne park

The Best Family Theatre Shows for 2015

Remember that promise I made ? Well, I have a kept my sparkly word, and dug deep finding you the best kids shows happening this year.

These days it doesn’t pay to be putting the cultural needs of your family low on the list (next to buying more stain remover). Especially for weekend matinees, you have to be the first in line.

Jazz Hands at the ready… xo

Don’t forget the Events Diary with weekend workshops on the homepage, I’ve put in lots for 1/2 term.

There are also other posts like the kids cinema clubs, the backstage theatre tours, the family dance shows, the best family beaches, the best castles to visit, the pre-school book club, the 5 best valentine cards, and the day out in Whitstable one right here!!

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1) Bugsy Malone : Lyric Hammersmith : 11 April to 1 August : Ages 6+

Next April, Fat Sam’s Grand Slam comes to Hammersmith to reopen the Lyric after a multi-million pound redevelopment. Olivier award-winning director, Sean Holmes, will bring to life the first professional production in over a decade with a cast of exciting young talent.

Join Bugsy, Blousey and Tallulah for an unforgettable theatrical experience. Get booking today because, as Fizzy knows… tomorrow never comes. 2015 means bad guys, splurge guns, classic tunes and a cast of talented youngsters for theatregoers visiting Hammersmith.

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2) Things Will Never Be The Same Again (And Other Stories) : Tricycle : 28 February to 1 March.

Stories written by Year 5 & Year 6 pupils at Christ Church, Kilburn Park, Mitchell Brook, Salusbury & Stonebridge Primary Schools, in the London Borough of Brent.

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3) Yeh Shen : Polka Theatre : 18 Feb to 8 March (then other venues) : Ages 6+

Celebrate Chinese New Year with an enchanting tale about a young orphaned girl, her nasty stepmother and a lost shoe.Will Yeh Shen be able to attend the New Year Festival? Will she ever find happiness? And how can a fish, a dragon and a horse help her?

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4) The Railway Children : Kings Cross : 14 Jan

Set in a brand new, purpose built 1,000 seat venue, this breathtaking show features a stage built around a real train track, and a beautiful 60 tonne vintage locomotive that steams into the theatre to delight all ages. A truly unique theatrical experience, The Railway Children returns to London after winning the Olivier Award for BEST ENTERTAINMENT in its previous home at Waterloo.

5) Kooza : Royal Albert Hall : Finishes 19 Feb

The next few months will also see acrobatics and clowning take over the Royal Albert Hall once again with the return of Cirque Du Soleil’s breathtaking show Kooza. It premiered there in 2013 and is back impressing families with its contortionists, trapeze artists and the incredible Wheel Of Death until 19 February.

6)  Henry The Fifth : Unicorn Theatre : Age 8+

Kings need crowns and castles to prove themselves, and so does Henry. Henry the Fifth, that is, of England. But Henry is running out of cash and all he can think about is that his neighbour’s castle is bigger than his…

7) The Velveteen Rabbit ; Unicorn Theatre : 28 March to 26 April : Age 4+

There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; and for at least two hours the Boy loved him.

8) Peter Pan : Regents Park : 15 May to 14 June

There is little press or cast information at the time of writing, but there are two things that we do know. 1) All good things come to those who wait in line at the Open Air Theatre, and 2) When did Peter Pan and Wendy ever let you down?

“I ran away the day I was born,” said Peter, “because I heard Father and Mother talking of what I was to be when I became a man. I want always to be a little boy and to have fun, Wendy”

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9) The Twits : Royal Court : 7 April to 31 May : (Advised age 7+)

Mischievously adapted from one of the world’s most loved books, Enda Walsh turns the The Twits upside down and brings this revolting revolution to the Royal Court Theatre stage.

Workshops: Budding writers can explore the world of The Twits in one of our fun, interactive workshops for 8-11 year olds. Or, you can bring the whole family along to take part in creating a new piece of theatre together. More May half term activities and a host of online resources will be announced soon.

Every Saturday (from 18 Apr) : 11.30am – 12.30pm Family Writing Workshop : 1pm – 2pm Children’s Writing Workshop

Every Tuesday (from 21 Apr) : 5pm – 6pm Children’s Writing Workshop

Thursday 16 Apr & Thursday 28 May : 11.30am – 12.30pm Family Writing Workshop : 1pm – 2pm Children’s Writing Workshop

Sunday 31 May : 11.30am – 12.30pm Family Writing Workshop

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10) I Believe in Unicorns : Polka Theatre 12-15 March

Michael Morpurgo’s spellbinding story Tomas didn’t like books, stories or school. He was happier climbing mountains or tobogganing with his Dad. That was until the Unicorn Lady came to town and reeled him in with her irresistible magic tales. But then disaster struck and put everything that mattered most in Tomas’s life in terrible danger…

11) The Wind in the Willows : Greenwich Theatre 17-18 Feb

Award-nominated Immersion Theatre and the critically-acclaimed Cambridge Touring Theatre join forces to present a spectacular musical adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale.Join the boat-loving Ratty, the sensible yet curious Mole, wise old Badger and the fantastically irrepressible Toad as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

12) My First Ballet, Swan Lake : The Peacock : 2-12 April

Swan Lake is the latest of the classics to be recreated for young children in the My First Ballet series, the unique collaboration between English National Ballet and English National Ballet School .

The performances are specially created to make classical ballet accessible and enjoyable to children from the age of three upwards. Following on the success of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Coppélia , My First Ballet: Swan Lake is created by English National Ballet’s Associate Artist George Williamson and performed by second year students from English National Ballet School.

13) Jabberwocky, 3 Billy Pigs, Rapunzel and more…: Little Angel Theatre : All Ages

Be proud, and feel free to shout about the amazing work that keeps on coming from the world famous Little Angel in Islington. If you haven’t been yet, then make it a priority. The charming theatre just behind Upper Street, and near Ottolenghi, The Almeida and 13 Turkish restaurants, is just beautiful. They offer relaxed shows for any one with special needs, workshops, children puppetry courses during term time, and ‘Friday Fives’ where all tickets £5 for shows at 5pm. As well as half price weekends. Check online, take a look at more youtube video of the work, and book now. It’s just such a pleasure to be part of that world.

5 Best Authors to See at The Imagine Festival

The line up for the 2015 Imagine Festival, Southbank over Feb 1/2 term is looking hotter than ever. There are free events as well as well priced ticketed events. They’re a very friendly bunch down there, and know how to throw a festival or two, so expect all your wishes to be granted, that is apart the one that involves a house-keeper, tropical birds, and a life time supply of omega-3 glucosamine.

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1. Johnny Duddle : Sat 21 Feb : Ages 5-8 : Purcell Room, QE Hall

Jonny Duddle gives you a personal insight into life as a pirate. Dressed in his finest pirate attire, he provides book readings, tales from his time as a sailor, and a glimpse of his own sketches. Jonny tells you what it was like to work aboard a 100-foot square-rig sailing ship, before reading one of his own pirate-themed books, inspired by his past career and the tales he heard.

Get an inside glimpse into some of his sketchbooks, before Jonny draws a completely new pirate following prompts from the audience. Finally, listen as Jonny reads his latest pirate book, The Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon before taking questions about writing stories, drawing pictures and what it was really like to live like a pirate…

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2. Lauren Child : Sunday 15 February 2015 : Ruby Redfort – Feel the Fear : Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall : Ages 9+

Lauren Child talks about Ruby Redfort. She’s a code cracker, secret agent and schoolgirl (with a fondness for banana milk and donuts).

Ruby first appeared in Lauren Child’s best-selling Clarice Bean novels. Now, as befits a 13-year-old secret agent, she has her own series. Super smart and super cool, Ruby’s latest adventure, Feel the Fear, has Ruby up against a seemingly invisible foe. How do you set your sights on catching a light-fingered villain if you can’t even see him…?

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3. JASON BERESFORD : Tues 17 Feb : Learn how to invent a comedy superhero : Publishers\’ Family Workshop : Foyer Spaces : Age 7-11

Learn how to invent a comedy superhero. Join an interactive story-writing and character-creation workshop with Jason Beresford, author of super hero series The Fabulous Four Fish Fingers.

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3a.Bouncing Cats and Boom Boom Pups : Mon 16 Feb 2015–Wed 18 Feb 2015 : 11.30am, 1.45pm and 3.45pm: Foyer Spaces) : LITERATURE POETRY/SPOKEN WORD : For ages 4-10

Journey into the world of AnimaLand where beatbox, rap and graffiti come together. This immersive, high-energy performance features spoken-word artist Maxwell Golden and graffiti artist Luke Warburton. Set within a purpose-built graffiti installation, an original children’s book is brought to life and interwoven with freestyle hip-hop improvisation. The Bouncing Cats and Boom Boom Pups need your help as they navigate AnimaLand so audience beatboxing and participation is required.

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4. SEA QUEST : Sunday 15 Feb : Publishers’ Family Workshop : Foyer Spaces : For ages 6+

Fans of Adam Blade’s Beast Quest – join Sea Quest…

Find out all about the underwater world of Sea Quest. Use your bravery, cunning and skill to help rescue Max’s dad from the terrifying Robobeasts. Solve cryptic puzzles, design a Sea Beast, and get your Sea Quest cadet credentials. Exclusive Beast Quest and Sea Quest goodies for every adventurer. Dare you dive in? This event lasts 50 minutes.

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5.THE PHOENIX COMIC : Thursday 19 Feb :Publishers’ Family Workshop : For ages 6+

Join the comic artists for a comic-creation masterclass and walk away with your own comic strip. The Phoenix weekly story comic is brimming with top story tips just waiting to be uncovered. Crack open those crazy characters, conjure up your own comic world, bind it all together with an amazing story and enter into the wonderful world of comics.

10.30am and 1.30pm: Invent your own dastardly villain with Laura Anderson & 12 noon and 3pm: How to make awesome comics with Neill Cameron.

The Best Cinema Clubs for London Kids

Don’t forget to check the homepage Events Diary. I have added lots of 1/2 term activities and workshops to keep you busy, and help you plan ahead. If you like what you see here, please share with your friends…xo 

1. Barbican Framed Film Club (Barbican, Farringdon)

The Saturday Framed Film Club is the Barbicans year-round programme for families which serves up the most recent animated and live-action films, as well as family classics every Saturday morning. You can also get messy at their themed workshop on the last Saturday of every month. For babes in arms screenings, they offer films on Monday mornings for parents and babies of 12 months and under. Make a date for the Framed Film Festival which (over the weekend of 22/23rd November) gives families the chance to watch the best feature and short films from around the world, as well as create their own films and participate in a wide range of workshops.

2. Everyman Cinemas (Baker Street, Hampstead, Belsize, Maida Vale)

A real favourite with the parents that go, is their ‘Baby Club’. You are only allowed if you have with you a sweet one under 12 months old. Those of you with toddlers over a year old can opt for the Kids Club instead. The lights are dimmed, but allow parents to feed and care for their babies whilst the film is running. You get a cuppa and slice of cake with your ticket too.

3. Soho Hotel  & The Electric Cinema (Soho & Notting Hill)

Every Saturday you can fill your boots and enjoy a buffet lunch followed by the children’s movie of the week in the rather posh hotel screening room at the Hotel. Tickets: £20 per person including lunch buffet, or £10 per person film only. Buffet at 1pm, film starts at 1.30pm. This might tempt you … the price includes a glass of Prosecco for the grown ups! All children must be accompanied by an adult and all adults must be accompanied by a child. There is also the Electric Cinema : Saturday Kids Club over on Portobello Road.

4. Gate Cinema (Notting Hill Gate)

There is a kids club on Saturdays, 10:30, 10:00am pre-film activities for kids. £1 per film once you are a member (£4 family membership).

5. Curzon Cinemas (Soho, Chelsea, Richmond, Mayfair, Renoir)

The kids club at the Curzon is less hectic than the ones above, but it is a very loved independent cinema chain, and full of film lovers, that know their onions. Films usually start at 1030 on a Saturday morning. Take a look at the latest films on offer on the link above.

6. The Lexi (Kensal Rise)

They have a Saturday Kids Club. (Adults must be accompanied by a child or two) as well as kid-friendly matinees during the school holidays. These can be very popular; pre-booking takes the guesswork out of the day’s plans.

7. BFI (Southbank)

The BFI Family kids club shows monthly pickings of movies from the world of animation, international cinema and a good ole classic movie. They offer free viewings of movies in their on site Mediateque for kids (you might want to book at weekends). They also host a larger event called the BFI Funday, where they feature new releases. Expect a few famous faces from the movie world (yes that includes script writers and DoP’s too) as well as creative activities, a fab after school film club, a Saturday Film Club and school holiday and seasonal events.

8. The Ritzy (Brixton)

Look out for Toddler Time and their Big Scream showings. Toddler Time features 30-minute shows for pre-school children and their parents / carers. Admission is just £3 per child, accompanying adults free when they become members of Toddler Time (free to join – please ask at the Box Office or call 0871 902 5747).  Toddler Time is free for babies under one year old. At Big Scream Club they screen films exclusively for parents and guardians with babies under one year old.

9. The Tricycle (Kilburn)

The cinema within the theatre. They welcome kids, families and all types of young people here. Give them a call and see what they offer at the time, I can tell you that they will always be glad to see you.

10. Screen on the Green (Islington)

Part of the Everyman group. They are sweet, small and perfectly formed, but at the time of writing not revealing if they offer any kids events. I will update more when I hear…(silly them.)

11. The Phonenix (East Finchley)

They offer Toddler Time 30min shows at 11am. Ages 2-4. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets £3 for child plus 1 FREE accompanying adult. For bigger kids the kids club on a Saturday (11am) is the place to be. They host a free activity for kids aged 5-10 followed by a film at midday. A maximum of 20 children can attend the activities, so pre-booking through the box office is the only way to go. Tickets for the film are £2.

12. Rio (Dalston)

The Rio offers specially priced tickets (£2.50 children and £3.50 accompanying adults) for the Saturday Morning Picture Club and Tuesday afternoon Playcentre Matinees. (Morning Picture Club Membership is free). Members have their membership cards stamped on each visit and get free admittance after every 10 visits and a free poster after every 25 visits. Parents, please note: children under the age of five years must be accompanied by an adult throughout the performance. You are welcome to drop off older children at the start of the film and return to pick them up at the end. Doors open at 10.30am and the FILM starts at 11.00am sharp.

The Parents and Babies Club gives parents with babies a chance to visit the cinema, without having to find a baby sitter or worry about their babies causing a disturbance.  The Club is exclusively for parents with babies under one year old. Membership is free but you do need to sign up and receive a membership card to come to these screenings. You may join on the day, or email manager@riocinema.org.uk with your name, address, contact telephone number, your baby’s name and date of birth. Tickets are at the normal matinee price of £7.50 and £6.00 Concessions

13. Prince Charles (Leicester Square)

The home of the sing-a-long movie! There are lunchtime time screenings. Wouldn’t this be a great place to have a birthday party outing? Fancy dress almost essential, and the rest as they say is history.Tickets are Adults: £15 – £16 with Children (under 16): £9.50 (matinees only)

14. Rich Mix (Shoreditch)

You can go to weekend family movies for less than the price of a coffee here. £1.75 when I last looked! They usually start at 12pm but check online for any updates and listings.

Family Ticket Information : These prices are for films that have been given U, PG or 12A certificate. Mondays – all day £6, £4 child (No family ticket on Mondays) & Tue – Fri before 5pm Child £5.50 & Family of Four for 2 adults & 2 children or or (1 adult & 3 children – £23) for a Family of Three (1 adult & 2 children – £16.80)

With each Family Ticket, each child receives a free Kids Combo popcorn, drink** and snack. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other cinema offer at Rich Mix and can only be claimed on the same day and same performance as the family ticket purchase.

15. Arthouse (Crouch End)

ArtHouse shows a mix of Hollywood Studios as well as more independent films for Kids. Saturday and/or Sunday Morning (and during half term), ArtHouse hosts Kids Club. Each week one film is chosen to be part of this scheme where both adults and kids pay only £4. (No lone adults will be admitted and any children under 12 years of age must be accompanied by an adult at all times). They also have a Babes in Arms screenings, every Monday And Friday Morning. The films are for parents and guardians with babies under one year old.

5 Best Backstage Theatre Tours in London

Some of my best memories as a growing kid were theatre related. I played Maria in West Side Story for the Somerset Youth Theatre, spent all my birthdays at West End shows with my old Pa, and just soaked up being close to anyone who came near me with a sparkling jazz hand. The seeds were planted early, and if you know any budding theatre lovers, then why not start via the stage door, like I did.

A great way to spend a morning or afternoon is to take a trip backstage around one of London’s many beautiful theatres. Not only will the tour tickets cost little more than a sandwich, you will get the chance to peek into the dressing rooms and tread the boards where many famous actors spend their time feeling sick with nerves.

If you do get the chance to take a tour, leave me a comment below, to share your thoughts, just a quick rating out of 5 will do. Break a leg, darling.

1. The Royal Court

The tours (usually at 10.30 or 11am) take you behind the scenes of the Royal Court, into the offices and sites where the scripts are read, rehearsals take place and the productions are brought to life. You’ll hear the history of the building, explaining the redesign of 2000, as well as the history of the company and our on-going work with new writers. Tickets £7 or free on Open House Weekends.

2. The London Coliseum

The London Coliseum, commissioned by the great theatrical impressario Oswald Stoll and designed by the flamboyant theatre architect Frank Matcham, opened as a Music Hall in 1904. It is considered to be Matcham’s masterpiece and is a sensational example of Edwardian architecture in the grand style. It quickly became known as ‘The Peoples Palace’; a theatre that was affordable to enter but which would also inspire a sense of wonder and excitement. Each tour lasts approximately one hour and includes quite a lot of walking so please be aware that there are quite a few stairs to climb. Prices for adults are £10 and £8 for kids.

3. The Almeida Theatre

You can find out more about the history of this fascinating building on their theatre tours. Led by an experienced guide, the tours explore the depths of the theatre, including the backstage, wardrobe and technical areas. Your visit will also cover the history of the theatre, from lecture room to music hall and carnival novelties factory. Theatre Tours, Ticket prices: £6 – £7

4. Theatre Royal, Drury Lane 

Through The Stage Door is a unique and enchanting experience – a dramatised tour led by professional actors who inform and entertain, taking you on a memorable journey through the theatre’s history. Meet famous characters including, Garrick, Sheridan, Grimaldi and Nell Gwyne. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour, and are daily at 2.15pm and 4.15pm (Wednesdays at 10.30 and 11.45am). Adults £10.50, Children and Seniors £8.50, groups of 10 or more £8.50 per person. : Family ticket £30.00 (2 Adults and 2 Children)

5. Globe Theatre

The expert guides will take you on a fascinating tour of the iconic Globe Theatre, bringing the space to life with colourful stories of the 1599 Globe, of the reconstruction process in the 1990s, and of how the ‘wooden O’ works today as an imaginative and experimental theatrical space.Tours begin every 30 minutes

6. Palladium Theatre

Guided tours of the nation’s favourite theatre are usually run at 11.30am on the second Friday of each month when the theatre is not dark. Each tour lasts a minimum of 2 hours covering the performance, architectural and social history of the London Palladium.Tickets for the tour are £12 each and the total capacity per tour is 30 people. As there are lots of stairs, the tour is not recommended for the infirm and ladies are advised to wear flat shoes.

7. The National Theatre

The National Theatre is a working building, producing over 20 new productions every year. Preparation for the shows, including rehearsals, prop and costume-making all happen on site. No two tours are ever the same, so come and see what’s happening behind the scenes. Tours last 75 mins, and cost £8.50

10 Great Family Days Out in London

1. A Hampstead Heath stomp with a Pub Lunch 

I’m not sure if anyone who has ever been for a breath of fresh air and a walk on the Heath, hasn’t felt better in some way afterwards. It’s not that complicated really… great views, acres of beautiful countryside (320 hectares/790 acres), an art deco designed Lido, wild swimming ponds, and a few kites for good measure.

There is also Kenwood House sitting on the North of the Heath. Kenwood is a well loved
London institution. Adored by dog lovers, marathon trainers, and welly wearers. The house is run by English Heritage, a former stately home, it dates from the early 17thC. Within the house is an impressive art collection (though I have a feeling the key paintings are on a US Tour at the moment!). These include works from ‘Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough. There are also sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Eugène Dodeigne in the gardens near the house, which are famous in their own right.

Once you have stomp’d a little, reward yourself with a hearty lunch at the famous Spaniards Pub. Known as ‘a country pub’ in the middle of London, it’s pretty famous. Word has it that Keats wrote ‘Ode To A Nightingale‘ here (That would have been before the noise pollution from the 4×4’s doing the school run distracted him I think…).

Inside you will find roaring fires, a good wine list and enough real ale, cider and decent food to give most tired legs some rejuvenation. Just don’t leave it until closing to find your way home via the Heath. Plan your return journey by bus to either Hampstead tube (10 mins) or Highgate Village for a night-cap (20 mins by bus).

(sort of) Fact Time  : “Boudicca’s Mound”, near the present men’s bathing pond on the heath, is a tumulus where, according to local legend, Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) was buried after she and 10,000 Iceni warriors were defeated at Battle Bridge.[12] However earlier drawings and paintings of the area show no mound other than a 17th-century windmill. (Wikipedia)

The Shard
The Shard

2. Grab a view from The Shard

Check : ‘the weather’. Check : ‘your footwear’. Check ‘you are definitely not Acrophobic’. Head over to The Shard at London Bridge and fly up to floors 68, 69 and 72, and you will be at almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in the capital.

The view gives you unparalleled 360-degree views for up to 40 miles. Once you have booked your tickets you will be able to choose the time of your visit and can enter The View up to 30 minutes from the time printed on your ticket, that just about give you enough time to finish a bottle of champagne, and post your award winning photography on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Google+, oh did I forget you need to take a selfie with that stick-thing too.

If its views you are hankering for, you could also take a trip to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and fly up the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Here’s a feature with some info for you.

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3. Graffiti Street Tour with InsideLondon

Insider London’s Street Art Tour shows you the work of world famous street artists where it’s meant to be seen: on the street.

They’ll show you how street and graffiti art has evolved, showing you everything from an early Banksy piece, to work from heavyweights like Shephard Fairey, Space Invader and Roa, and the latest work from emerging street artists. They’ll also swing by a series of street art galleries to show you how street art is shaking up fine art on a global scale. Read more here.

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4. Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tower of London, via a Boat Ride 

Walk from London Bridge (tube/rail), or take a tube to across the Millennium (wobble) Bridge to Tate Modern on Bankside. The latest exhibition in The Turbine Hall is the Richard Tuttle : I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language (14 October 2014 – 6 April 2015), It is  the largest work ever created by Richard Tuttle.

If you are hungry for more art you can then either take the Tate Boat (which runs every forty minutes) along the Thames to the Tate Britain. Or just take your Oyster Card to pay for the boat, or buy a Day River Pass, and hop on the other river services that will deliver you to any parts of the Thames. Choose from The London Eye, The Tower of London or further East to Greenwich, for the National Maritime Museum, The Royal Observatory and The newly re-built Cutty Sark. The nearest Pier to the Tate Modern is Bankside, to the right of the museum looking at the river.

Tate Modern Opens : Sunday – Thursday, 10.00–18.00 & Friday – Saturday, 10.00–22.00 & is open for New Year on 1 January, 2015

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5. Grab a Bowl of Ramen or Dim Sum in Town

Those that get out and about tell me that the latest Asian dining fashion is to eat bowls of ramen soup. It is ‘Big In Japan’ as Alaphaville sweetly sang. In Japan it is standard to have a specialist Ramen soup shop on every corner. In the UK we have been a part of the ‘Wagamama’ and ‘Yo Sushi’ crowd for a few years now, but it’s only recently that the UK has embraced the real Ramen dish. This soup is on basic levels a combo of noodles, broth, vegetables (bamboo and bean sprouts a must), meat, and egg.

If you get the chance to eat at a Ramen bar, then go for it, as when it’s made properly, with expertise, and hours and hours of simmering to find the ‘perfect’ broth, then you will be hooked. Your soup will be either made with a chicken, pork or (no bone) broth, and they are likely to be named TONKOTSU Ramen, MISO Ramen, or SOY Ramen. This food is fun and satisfying for any takers. We take the kids all the time, and what we often do is order them each a bowl of steamed rice, and then share our soup with them. Get the kids their own chopsticks, and get them practising the art of ‘chopsticking’ (?!) and that will kill at least 9 minutes until the soups arrive. Find out where to scoff up your bowls of deliciousness here.

copyright : Hartswood Films
copyright : Hartswood Films

6. Investigate Sherlock Holmes at The Museum of London

There’s been a certain something in the air around Baker Street, since our local heroes Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (and the darling BBC of course) brought life back to Sherlock Holmes. Riding high on their hat-tails, The Museum of London is hosting their first exhibition about the detective since 1951.

The exhibition uses early film, photography and paintings plus original Victorian era artefacts to recreate the atmosphere of Sherlock’s London, and to re-imagine the places featured in Conan Doyle’s famous stories.

Fact-ish: the BFI and The Museum of London are on a worldwide hunt for a silent film about Holmes produced 100 years ago which is missing.The 1914 adaptation of A Study in Scarlet, directed by the London-born George Pearson, is the first British feature-length film based on the consulting detective. It is according to the BFI, high on their list of Most Wanted films. If you know where it is, or have information which you think might help, please email sherlockholmes@bfi.org.uk or spread the word on social media using #FindSherlock.

copyright : Visit London
copyright : Visit London

7. A Boris Bike, a pub lunch and a ride to Millbank

The Barclays Cycle Hire run by Transport for London, (although there is much controversy around the issue of them not issuing safety helmets with the bike hire) have been very popular since their introduction in 2012 the Olympic Year.

If you’re keen there are superhighway route maps you can follow. I would try out  the Wandsworth to Milbank one. Starting at the legendary ‘The Alma’ pub bang opposite Wandsworth Rail station with a pint of something cold, and a decent lunch. Then hire your bikes, pedal through Battersea, across Chelsea Bridge, and end up at Millbank. You get 5 points for every civil servant you spot, 75 points for any lost soldiers on horseback looking for sugar lumps, and 150 points if you pull up next to Prince William ‘undercover’ on his motor bike!

8. Play around the Southbank 

Is there anywhere as culturally happening as the Southbank Centre, and its surrounding family of venues? Let me know the answer after you have ticked off this list of 10. In the meantime, for those that have not hit the tarmac there yet, this is an almost of list of what to expect;

Southbank Centre. London’s home to the Royal Festival Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. They host Festivals, Music Shows, Circus Performance, Family Theatre, Art Exhibitions at The Hayward Gallery, Readings with leading personalities, Parties, Fashion Events, and have the best ever Summer water fountain and sculptures surrounding the buildings, which bring pleasure to young and old alike.

The National Theatre, dependant on your architectural bent, possibly a dodgy looking design, but still home to some of the UK’s leading theatre makers, and performers. Three theatres of diverse world stage programming, under Direction of the influential Nicolas Hytner. Check the What’s On page for the latest shows, and booking information.

The BFI (British Film Institute) shows over 2000 classic and contemporary films every year. On site you can access 1000 hours of free film and TV in the Mediatheque and two restaurant bars. They run screenings, events and monthly seasons (The Best of The Marx Brothers), feature screen actors (Dame Maggie Smith), or work with various industry awards and events like The London Comedy Festival amongst others.

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There are also loads of restaurants, pop up’s and bars with great views over the Thames. The London Eye, The Sealife Aquarium, a vintage book market (outside the BFI). Foyles the bookshop, art installations, and the legendary Skateboarding area under the Southbank Centre. For those die hard skateboarding fans, House of Vans have set up the Undercroft and transformed the historical tunnels that lie beneath Waterloo Station developing a warren of venues for art installations and skate boarding events.

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Not forgetting the Captain of Sand (www.beachcaptain.com) who can always be found creating masterpieces into the Sand banks when it’s low tide, near Gabriel’s Wharf. He’s a real London gem.

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9. Borough Market & Brindisa Spanish Restaurant

My idea of heaven is a late lunch (ideally with the girls for a gossip) at Brindisa (Tapas) restaurant just by Borough market, at London Bridge. It throws you into a Spanish swirl, with the best wine, seranno ham, gambas, and most importantly a glass of heart warming and cheek blushing red.

Borough Market is a foodie heaven. Though to be honest, it’s also a tourists/drinkers/walkers/locals/Aunties/Historians (delete as appropriate) heaven too. Borough Market is a wholesale and retail food market in Southwark. It is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, and these days although it’s almost impossible to walk freely through the market at the weekends, as it is so popular, if you stand back around the edges, plan your attack for paella, hand-made chocolate or Dorset Knobs, then you will be winning. I’d also recommend any of the pubs around the market, they are all rated high with pub lovers, and will treat you kindly.

What’s more here’s a decent secret to share, they have the best spanish recipes on their website here. If you have a foodie friend with a birthday soon, how about one of their wine tasting and/or personal carving tuition courses at their Ham School. It sounds like a fantastic evening out, £75 for 2 hours. That’s got to be a good scout skill to add to your CV on LinkedIn.

Hatfield House
Hatfield House

10. Get out of Town to Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (Henry VIII’s Favourite hideaway for his Children)

Hatfield House is one of our favourite choices of a family day out when we need to escape the smoke, and buzz of the city. Trains leave regularly from Kings Cross to Hatfield take 21 minutes.

We often visit the Bloody Hollow Play Area, and children’s farm. There is also a decent (not cheap) cafe, sweet village shops. Our kids adore the playground, and we have lost many a long afternoon there, just remember to dress in your ‘play’ clothes, as they like are likely to scramble up the steep hill surrounding the play area, so party shoes, and Elsa and Super-man dressing up might not survive the action.

For those that plan ahead, put a visit in your diary now for April** to visit the stunning Jacobean country Hatfield house and rolling park-land. The architects that designed the tudor house were Inigo Jones, Simon Basil and Robert Lyminge. When you venture out across the park, look closely you will find an oak tree that marks the place where the young Princess Elizabeth first heard of her accession to the throne.

**Note** The House, Park and Garden are closed for the Visitor Season. They will reopen on Saturday 4th April 2015.

Fact Time : During World War I, the grounds were used to test the first British tanks

 

Bus Stop Review of Goodnight Mister Tom

Last week, Thea one of our Bus Stop Kids went to see the recently opened theatre show Goodnight Mister Tom at the Duke of York’s Theatre, (St Martins Lane WC2). She had a great evening out with her lovely Dad, and has given us a sparkling review below.

(ps. thank you Hannah and the Press Team).

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Goodnight Mister Tom is an emotional and entertaining theatre production by David Wood, from the novel written by Michelle Magorian for ages 8+. It follows the story of a boy who was sent away from London to escape the bombs, and went to the country where he finds new friends and a family.

8. (L-R) Hollie Taylor (Ginnie) and Martha Seignior (Carrie) in Goodnight Mister Tom 2015 Credit Dan Tsantilis.jpg.jpg

I liked all of the words that Zach made-up especially ‘scrumpdeliumtious’ a cross between scrumptious and delicious.

I found the story funny in some places and sad in others and has made me think a lot about how William felt. He lived a very very different life compared to us. It is interesting and sad to think that this happened over 70 years ago and sometimes still happens today.

4. Alex Taylor-McDowall (William) and Elisa de Grey (Puppeteer for Sammy the dog) in Goodnight Mister Tom 2015 Credit Dan Tsantilis.jpg.jpg

Even though it was quite grown-up I understood most things and my dad explained some of the things to me like what some of the words meant and things that happened in the war.

9. David Troughton (Tom Oakley) and Alex Taylor-McDowall (William) in Goodnight Mister Tom 2015 Credit Dan Tsantilis.jpg.jpg

I would tell my friends to go, especially the Bus Stop Kids because I think they would like all the made up words.

Synopsis

Celebrating the 35th anniversary of Michelle Magorian’s much loved children’s classic, Chichester Festival Theatre’s Olivier award-winning production of Goodnight Mister Tom returns to the West End just in time for Christmas. Set during the dangerous build up to the Second World War, Goodnight Mister Tom follows young William Beech, who is evacuated to the idyllic English countryside and forges a remarkable and heart-warming friendship with the elderly recluse, Tom Oakley, played by David Troughton.  All is perfect until William is suddenly summoned by his mother back to London.

Tickets

Performance Times ; Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm, Wed*, Thu & Sat mats at 2.30pm : Tue 22 Dec & Tue 29 Dec at 2.30pm *Except Wed 20 Jan, Wed 27 Jan, Wed 3 Feb, Wed 10 Feb at 1.30pm

Prices : start from £15

Running Time : 2h 15mins

UK TOUR LISTINGS:

23 – 27 February 2016

Manchester Opera House
3 Quay St, Manchester, Lancashire M3 3HP http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/opera-house-manchester/

1 – 5 March 2016

Milton Keynes Theatre
500 Marlborough Gate, Buckinghamshire MK9 3NZ http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/milton-keynes-theatre/

8 – 12 March 2016

Glasgow Theatre Royal
282 Hope St, Glasgow G2 3QA http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-glasgow/

15 – 19 March 2016

Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre
Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands B5 4DS http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-alexandra-theatre-birmingham/

22 – 26 March 2016

Oxford New Theatre George St, Oxford OX1 2AG

29 March – 2 April 2016

York Grand Opera House
Cumberland St, York YO1 9SW http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york/

5 – 9 April 2016

Richmond Theatre
Little Green, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1QJ http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/richmond-theatre/

12 – 16 April 2016

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Exchange St, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP20 1UG http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre/

19 – 23 April 2016

Woking New Victoria Theatre
The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre, Woking, Surrey GU21 6GQ http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-victoria-theatre/

Booking line for all ATG venues: 0844 871 3051

26 – 30 April 2016

Bath Theatre Royal
Theatre Royal Bath, Saw Cl, Bath BA1 1ET http://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/
01225 448844
*Will go on sale on December 2015 – check website for details

3 – 7 May 2016

Cambridge Arts Theatre
6 St Edward’s Passage, Cambridge CB2 3PJ

01223 503333

*Will go on sale on 14 December 2015 – check website for details

10 – 14 May 2016

Cardiff New Theatre

Park Pl, Cardiff CF10 3LN

029 2087 8889

17 – 21 May 2016

Newcastle Theatre Royal

100 Grey St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6BR

0844 811 2121

Weekends at Winterville for London Kids

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Every weekend in December The House of Fairy Tales are hosting The Make It Market at Winterville in Victoria Park in East London.

Winterville (free entry, yipee) is your alternative ‘pop up’ festival in East London this year. It has been created by a crowd of independent and clever people, who know a few things about partying in a park.

My bus stop team (that’s the 3 of us, as everyone went out for a long lunch yesterday and have yet to come back…) are excited that the charity The House of Fairy Tales, is running the kids quarter. Each weekend they are delivering magical workshops, sing a longs, crafting sessions and have sweet-talked some the UK’s best Designer-Makers ato sell their goodies at the Make It Market. Think twinkly stalls full of artistic treats, the odd crazy performance, (the kind of crazy that kids can’t get enough of), and a few too many mulled wines, because it would be rude not to.

Naturally a festival wouldn’t be a really ‘amaze-bauble’ festival without a range of other stuff for grown ups (mainly). At the main part of the festival you will find steaming street food, loads of craft beer, a roller disco, the wall of death and ferris wheel, horse and carriage rides, another market, a freezing ice rink, Robin Hood the pantomime, A cosy grotto, real hippity hop music, late night clubs for those that can’t find the tube home, a Kids rave, mad life photo booth, a cider bar, and a good old fashion PUB OF COURSE!

 

Check the HoFT facebook page for more info on their brilliant-creative-we-love-kids stuff and here if you want to book the kids workshops. You should sign up to their website too, as their chief-whips Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis are devoted to bringing creative magic to our little people, so it’s good to be the first to know about what events they are planning.

Winterville honestly looks like the place to be this Christmas. It’s a festival with a lot of soul, some serious tunes in the DJ tent, and lots of glitter and glue for the kids. More love and less… ‘Bah Humbug, I just charged you £7.50 for a ‘swedish-style’ mulled wine‘ that happens at some other Winter-y festivals in London that we know about. Tag me if you love me over on instagram #busdaysout or just @creativebusstop. xo

5 Best Magical Christmas Events

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1. Horse Drawn Carriage Rides : Richmond Park

This has to be a dreamy experience, that will impress even the most cynical of Christmas critics. After a visit to the working stables at Holly Lodge at Richmond Park, having sipped warming drinks and munched a few snacks you will venture out wrapped in cosy blankets, in a Landau horse drawn carriage for four. Your night will be surely magical as the charming Grey’s whisk you through the whispering beautiful surrounds of Richmond Park, and if you’re really lucky, they might even show you how they can fly over their reindeer buddies too. Don’t forget your sugar cubes…

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout December, at 12pm or 1.30pm, experience Richmond Park like never before on a Landau carriage drawn by beautiful greys. £125 for 2 people including carriage blankets and warm refreshments.

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2. Storytelling with Mr Claus : Fortnum and Mason

Have you made it to the 4th floor Christmas shop at Fortnum’s yet? Check out my Instagram, and you will see that we popped over on the first day it opened in August, (I hope you are impressed with my level of commitment this festive post).  If you fancy a truly memorable ‘Santa’ moment for the kids, and remember that Harrods was totally sold out in early September, then this is the one for you. You will be in a stately part of town, and can take a trip along Piccadilly to Waterstones for a browse, or cocktail on the top floor bar. Look forward to bragging to your BFF’s that you sat on the knee of a well groomed hairy man, whom is the Queens very favourite Lord Santa Claus OBE.

Storytelling in the Board Room, at 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm. Tickets: £20.00 per child. For reservations please call 020 7734 8040

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3. ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ : Pop Up Movies : Hyde Park‘s Cosy Hideaway ‘ The Lookout’

Step into Hyde Park and be drawn into a world of yuletide joy with a little help from George Bailey and the people of Bedford Falls.

The LookOut, a haven in the heart of Hyde Park, will be transformed into a magical venue for this festive film screening of It’s a Wonderful Life (also showing on other dates in Dec, Edwards Scissorhands, The Gremlins and Nightmare Before Christmas). Settle into the warm cocoon in this award winning building (with underfloor heating!) to enjoy this beautiful story of despair turning to hope, apparently one of director Frank Capra’s favourite films, and one of the best-loved Christmas films ever made.

Doors open 7.30pm; screening 8.30pm : Ticket price of £25 includes a glass of mulled wine and supper, and a seasonal quiz and Christmas decoration making for the craft lovers. Seating is provided but you may like to bring a cushion or goose-down duvet socks (drinks and snacks will be on offer too).

4. A Glittering Trail, Grotto and Fairground : Kew Gardens

Everyone, who knows about jingly sparkly and family fun Christmas events is bragging about having booked their tickets to Kew this year. It is probably up there on Santa’s top 5, of events to actually add to his rather busy calendar, well that’s what his P.A Miss Jingle-Belle tweeted me last night.

When you get there, you will be dazzled by glowing waterside reflections, illuminated fountains and grand glasshouses. Along the way gaze at giant light sculptures, walk the shimmering Tunnel of Lights and warm up around the holly bushes and Christmas trees. Not forgetting the festive music inspired by The Nutcracker set against a frosty, snow-flaked Palm House panorama.

Of course there will be buckets of mulled wine, spiced cider or hot chocolate and a few well selected gifts to buy at the Christmas Market, and shops. What else? Well there is the Victorian carousel, the family rides and an outdoor adventure playground provide fun for the younger ones – and don’t forget to make time for a memorable visit with Santa in his Snowflake Grotto.

Event dates : 26 November 2014 to 3 January 2015, 5pm to 10pm
Event details: 5pm to 10pm (Closed on 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 24 and 25 December 2014). Timed entrance between 5pm and 8.15pm.
Venue: Main entrance – Victoria Gate. Tickets with pre-paid parking – entrance at Brentford Gate. Entry price excludes Santa’s Snowflake Grotto and rides.

5. Carols by Candlelight : The Royal Albert Hall

This evening is one that is 100% perfect for the in-laws. The night is full of cheer, sing-alongs with a mere 5000+ people singing the most heart warming, and popular carols, and an orchestra dressed in full 18th century period costume. Oh! I nearly forgot the icing on the cake is that Robert Powell (that fella that was stuck on Big Ben remember?!) will be running the show. Now that’s what I call Christmas.

Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP. (Closest tube: Kensington or Knightsbridge) : 13th, 20th, 21st December 2014 at 8pm; 23rd December 2014 at 7:30pm; 24th December 2014 at 2:30pm – 7pm. : Ticket prices vary from £13.50 – £52

Best Christmas Shows To Book Now

 Elf | The Dominion Theatre London : All Ages

ELF is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Starring the winner of ITV’s Superstar Ben Forster as Buddy the Elf and Girls Aloud‘s Kimberley Walsh as Jovie, the production will also feature Joe McGann as Walter Hobbs and Jessica Martin as Emily Hobbs. They will be joined by Jennie Dale as Deb, Mark McKerracher as Santa and Graham Lappin as Store Manager. Further casting is yet to be announced.

Ticket Prices range from £30.00 to £240.00*  *All tickets include a £1.25 restoration levyand a per ticket booking fee of £3.30 up to £15.00, dependent on the ticket face value, is applicable to online & telephone bookings only. There are no fees when buying in person at the theatre’s box office.

Not all prices are available on all performances; prices vary according to availability. For parties of 10 or more, please visit their groups page

Town Hall Cherubs : Age 2-5 : Battersea Arts Centre

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Fallen from his place in the sky, a sleepy cherub needs your help to find his way home….

Follow his garland through Battersea Arts Centre’s beautiful old rooms and discover what makes this old Town Hall so magical in a tender journey with surprises along the way. With hidden rooms to explore and play in, children are encouraged to take part. Lively adventurers don’t have to sit still!

Running Time: approx 60 mins, To book for the BSL performances, please email boxoffice@bac.org.uk or call 020 7223 2223. Limited capacity so early booking is recommended. Please note that both adults and children require a ticket

For Older Adventurers: Mr Mountford’s Kaleidoscopic Christmas

Older siblings aged 6-9 can go on their own fully-supervised adventure in Mr Mountford’s Kaleidoscopic Christmas while little ones and grown-ups enjoy Town Hall Cherubs.   Mr Mountford’s Kaleidoscopic Christmas is just £3 when booked with Town Hall Cherubs. Simply put a child ticket for both performances in your basket and the discount will apply automatically. Advance booking is essential due to limited spaces.

Beauty Baby : Polka Theatre : Ages 3-6

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Welcome to the playfully yucky world of Beasty Baby. Mayhem and laughter await around every corner as three people embark on a wild adventure to bring up a very mischievous and totally lovable child.

Beasty Baby is a lively celebration of family, growing up and the rituals both children and adults go through in those extraordinary early years of life. Using an inspired mix of puppetry and live music the renowned Theatre-Rites transform Polka’s Adventure Theatre to create a funny and magical shared experience.

Join us for a spirited, wintry tale for everyone who is wild at heart. You might even discover your inner beast…

Tickets ; £12 for adults and children | Concessions £9 ; (£1.50 transaction charge per booking) : Concessions are available by calling the Box Office on 020 8543 4888 for those registered unemployed or receiving benefits, includes Pension Credits.

Red Riding Hood : Ages 5+ : Greenwich Theatre

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Andrew Pollard marks his tenth pantomime at Greenwich Theatre with a spectacular take on the classic fairy tale…

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There could not be a better part for Andrew Pollard as he celebrates a decade of Greenwich Theatre pantomimes than the grandmother beset by a wolf, protected by a woodcutter, and loved by Red Riding Hood – expect stunning special effects, high octane singing and dancing, and a side-splitting script as we celebrate the festive season in style.

Prices:Adults £29 (£28 ticket plus £1 booking fee) & Concs £20 (£19 ticket plus £1 booking fee) & All children’s tickets half price! Running time:Approx 2hr 20mins including one interval

The Giraffe and The Pelly and Me : Little Angel Theatre  : Ages 4-11  (3+ admitted too, see website for baby performances )

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The Little Angels’ beloved musical spectacular returns this Christmas. Adapted from the acclaimed book by Roald Dahl, this is the story about a young boy who befriends a Giraffe, a Pelican (or “Pelly”) and a Monkey. Join them on their unexpected adventures when they create the ‘Ladderless Window Cleaning Company’. This joyous musical show is brought to life by the creative team behind Little Angel favourites including ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ and ‘The Mouse Queen’. You’ll be singing the songs all the way home.

Tickets ; £14 / £12 children and concessions : Family ticket offer: £48 (2 adults, 2 children OR 1 adult, 3 children) Friday Fives: all tickets £5 for shows at 5pm on Friday : £1.80 booking fee applies to all card transactions (no fee for members – click here for details)

Matilda the Musical : The Cambridge Theatre : Ages 6+ advised : Ends 29 May 2016

Matilda The Musical is the multi-award winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the beloved book by the incomparable Roald Dahl. With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to tak