Friday, 27 March 2015

Family-Friendly London through the Seasons

Families visiting the dynamic city of London will not be disappointed, whatever time of year they choose to visit.

Every corner of this great city offers something for the family: from the Museum of Childhood in the East End, to the mind-blowing Warner Brothers Studio Tour ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ on its northern outskirts. To Legoland out West and Theatreland at its very heart!

London is definitely not a quiet city, with the streets busy every day, but during January the streets in central London become quite manic with hundreds of thousands of shoppers searching for a bargain in the New Year sales. The first two months of the year are also a great time to pick up some accommodation deals as many hotels try to fill the empty rooms left by the absent corporate market.

That is not to say there are not any places for some family rest and relaxation; whether that is finding a hotel with an indoor swimming pool such as the four star Holiday Inn Bloomsbury Kings Cross, or a leisurely cruise down the River Thames seeing all the historical buildings situated along its banks.

The weather at any time of year can be famously changeable, so there is little wonder that there is a lot to do inside with many museums having free entry.

In North West London there is RAF Hendon packed to the gills with all types of aircraft guaranteed to keep any aspiring pilot amused for a few hours; there’s the aforementioned Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, East London which has lots of activities for children to join in and also in the same vein, the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, South East London holds free children’s workshops from toy making to the history of musical instruments where making noise is thoroughly encouraged!.

Coming into the centre of town families are spoilt for choice with the world famous Madame Tussauds on Baker Street currently exhibiting the extra-ordinary 4D Marvel Experience; the amazing collections of Egyptian and Roman artefacts at the British Museum in the leafy area of Bloomsbury; before crossing over the Thames to the Southbank where you will find the Sealife London Aquarium, the London Dungeon and the London Eye all situated next to each other and definitely three attractions that could just about fill your whole day. 

In South London in the area of Kensington you will find the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum next to each other - both of which will visually stimulate your child’s brain no end and again these two museums could indeed take between four to six hours to explore fully.

During the Spring and Summer months, London comes into full bloom with huge expanses of green spaces including the unique seven acre Coram Fields playground (close to Russell Square underground) where only children under 16 years old and accompanying guardians are allowed to enter; there’s also Regents Park which houses London Zoo and the Open Air theatre, plus Green Park and Hyde Park – the latter of which has the marvellous Princess Diana Memorial Playground.

For those of you thinking of taking a flight on the London Eye or going to the summit of the newly constructed Shard (currently Europe’s tallest building) I would suggest not booking ahead and waiting for a clear day. Of course that does mean you will have to join everyone else queuing on that fine day, but you will be completely rewarded by the terrific views across London’s skyline and beyond.

Theatre in London is always an explosion of colour, music, laughter and drama. Family-friendly shows which look in no way here closing for many a year are “Disney’s The Lion King” at the Lyceum theatre; “Matilda” at the Cambridge theatre; “Wicked” at the Apollo Victoria; “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and for families with older children there’s the dramatic and moving production of “War Horse” at the New London theatre or Les miserables at the Queen's Theatre as well as the comic silliness of “Elf the musical" coming to London later in the year. 

Should you be on a Mum and Daughter visit then “Mamma Mia!” will find your inner dancing queen whilst Father and Sons can enjoy the derring-do of “The 39 Steps”.

So whatever brings your family to London, rest assured that you will be visiting a friendly city with lots to do.


Authors Simon Harding and Sara Benn have been writing for a variety of travel websites specialising in culturally-led tourism for over 30 years including TheatreBreaks and Good To See. They also tweet for TheatreBreaksAngels