The school holidays are finally here and whether you are a working parent like me or not, making the school holidays fun packed without breaking the bank can be a challenge! Whilst six weeks seems like a very long time to keep children entertained, planning a list of affordable activities in London may help. It’s going to be mad busy out there at all the favourite haunts so get there early to beat the queues and with this amazing weather it would be a crime to have to buy water out so stock up before you go.
As offers vary from day to day, don’t forget to check out vouchers for freebies and discounts before you set out as some vouchers need to be printed out. The following websites may be useful.
1. London is known for having a rich history and culture; our museums are filled with it! There are many museums in London you can visit including V&A, Science Museum, Natural History Museum and British Museum, all which have free entry. Keeping children entertained is high on their agenda with most on the list offering interactive displays and free activities and sessions to children of all ages with exciting themes to pick from. So take your children on a fun, free and educational trip out. Just be careful when planning your trip as there are often exhibitions within the museum which you have to pay for. See links below for what is on offer this summer.
2. More London Free Festival happens every year and provides a range of live performances including theatre, fringe, music, dance, community events and films in The Scoop (an outside amphitheatre venue on the river by London Bridge). The events claim to appeal to all tastes, ages and most importantly they are all free! Between July 9th-25th music is the main focus, with a range of lunchtime and evening performances. So why not enjoy a walk down London Bridge, watching street performances and then catching a lunchtime music act. For the period of August 6th- 31st the award-winning Gods and Monsters Theatre present The Ring Cycle Plays for the theatre, definitely worth a visit.
3. We are spoilt for choice in London with theatres but it can be one of the most expensive family outings on offer. Kids Week, strangely titled as it lasts a month 1st – 31st August, is an initiative which aims to make theatre more accessible. It appears that with every adult ticket a child aged 16 or under can experience one of up to 30 shows for free, plus two additional children can go at half price. The shows range from The Tiger Who Came to Tea (3+) to Les Misérables at Queen’s Theatre. Kids Week also hosts free activities for children to experience in London, providing them with the opportunity to explore the exciting world of theatre; they host lunch parties, drama workshops and National Theatre family tour. If you would like to take your child to a theatre production during the summer I would suggest going through Kids Week to get the best possible deals.
4. As temperatures rise in London our parks are the perfect place to spend time. Many are free with child focused activities like Battersea Park with its children’s zoo and the Princess Diana memorial playground with a huge wooden pirate ship as its spectacular centre piece. Most have café’s but a picnic is both practical and saves the pennies. I don’t know what it is about picnics but it seems children will eat just about anything if it delivered through the magical medium of picnic! Regents park and Coram’s Fields are also parks with children’s play areas worth a visit.
5. Whilst Kew Gardens is not free for adults it is for children under the age of 17 which really helps. Kew also provide family-friendly activities throughout the day including, Castles to visit, a Bee Garden, Climbers and Creepers (Britain's first interactive botanical play zone) and Marine Aquarium, Treetop Walkway stands and Treehouse Tower. This garden is easily accessible with trains from Waterloo to Kew Bridge, on the Richmond branch of the District Line and also on the London Overground from Stratford.
6. Spitalfield City Farm host exciting events throughout the year and many of them are free of charge. This summer they have organised a Summer Market and Cafe selling artisan coffee, cold drinks and cakes. There will be delicious food and drinks stalls, fresh vegetables grown on the farm, live folk music, DIY craft stalls, spinning and sheep shearing demonstrations, a celebration of all things woolly for the children whilst I get to have a decent coffee and cake what’s not to like!