SUMMER 2023: FAB EVENTS FOR ALL THE FAMILY
SUMMER 2023: FAB EVENTS FOR ALL THE FAMILY
From a sleepover in a London museum to the best urban beaches, we have the lowdown on the best attractions to keep your family entertained for the summer holidays.
Top image: Climbing Wall at The Battersea Games – credit Charlie Round-Turner
1 London Wetland Centre: Drawn To Water with Quentin Blake, Barnes, 18th May – 14th July
As well as all the regular attractions at the Wetlands Centre, this year there will be an opportunity for children to look at nature through the eyes of the UK’s best loved illustrator.
2 Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, Barnes 24th – 25th June
There’s a fantastic line-up coming to Barnes for the Children’s Literature Festival including Sir Lenny Henry, Sir Michael Morpurgo, Cressida Cowell, Axel Scheffler and Lauren Child.
3 The Everywhere Bear, Polka Theatre, Wimbledon, 27th May – 13th August
From best-selling author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Rebecca Cobb, this adaptation at the Polka offers rhyme music and puppetry for children. Suited for children aged 3-7.
4 Visit London’s Secret Garden
Step into London’s very own Secret Garden comprising of dining pods and a pop-up summer beach. Tucked away in the back streets of Kensington, it’s a fantastic day out at the beach, if you want somewhere to bask in the sunshine in the city.
5 The Beach at Brent Cross, 13th May- 3rd September 2023
If you can’t face the hassle of travelling to the coast, then ‘The Beach at Brent Cross’ is back for you to drop into this summer. One of the UK’s largest urban beaches, it offers families a fun-filled day out, with fairground rides and games.
6Battersea Power Station
After a decade of being derelict, Battersea Power Station is about to embark on its first summer since a major regeneration programme. Prospect Park playground is now open, and you can enjoy crazy golf, virtual reality experiences, theatre and outdoor cinema, as well as the fabulous Chimney Lift experience for great views. There is even a Climbing Wall (until 20th August).
7Singing From The Rooftops At ‘Up At The 02’
Take an exhilarating outdoor climb over the world famous roof at The 02 and enjoy the incredible views of London.
8 Perform In The Park, 22nd July- 28th August
Perform In The Park is London’s first festival of children’s theatre. Productions will be shown in a 500-seat air-conditioned theatre in Coram’s Field, Bloomsbury, and offers live performances all day every day.
9 Camp Kindling, Sevenoaks, Kent, 18th– 21st August
If the sun is shining and you are looking for a festival for all the family which isn’t too far afield, Camp Kindling is billed as a summer camp for families. Activity camp by day and festival by night, with childcare on site.
10 Thames Rib Experience
This high-speed ride takes you along London’s top attractions in a rigid inflatable boat. Adrenaline-fuelled with speeds up to 35 mph, it’s a thrill-seeking ride for all of the family.
11 Try a Skateboarding Lesson
Bored of the bike ride? Why not try a skateboarding lesson. My Little Boarders teaches children aged 4-15 how to skateboard – offering weekend clubs, after-school clubs and holiday camps. Various locations, including Clapham
12 Ride a Shetland Pony in Richmond Park
There are 40 or so horses and ponies at this stables in historic Richmond Park, so enjoy a picnic and a trot on a sunny day or there are holiday camps for children to attend.
13 Horrible Histories on the Thames
Find out about London’s gruesome historical past whilst enjoying a boat trip on the Thames. Horrible Histories proudly presents its wicked river tour of the Terrible Thames!
14 Chiswick House and Gardens
This popular venue has a host of events to keep the family entertained throughout the summer, with a highly anticipated return of the ever-popular Giffords Circus.
15 Pick your Own at Garsons Farm in Esher
Garsons Farm has been growing fresh produce since 1871. Open from the beginning of June each year, it’s a lovely day out and a great way of picking your own family meal.
16 Walking In The Surrey Hills
Box Hill is the perfect place to discover a family walk and explore the Surrey Hills. There are lots of routes over the hill, which you can download, or collect on-site.
17Go on a Treetop Adventure
Take to the trees at Skywalk Adventure in Esher. The adventure will take you tiptoeing along ropes, balancing on logs and racing down zip wires.
18 Through the Keyhole at Kew Gardens
A day out at Kew Gardens never fails to provide entertainment for the entire family. This year there are activities for little explorers, a theatre production of ‘Alice In Wonderland’, as well as outdoor cinema experiences.
19 Morden Hall Park
Open all year, Morden Hall Park is an urban oasis where you can enjoy a family walk or picnic in the Rose Garden, or there are a string of theatre events over the summer and even wood and stone carving events and workshops.
From owls to penguins, families can marvel at the wonderful range of birdlife at this Surrey zoo.
21 Bocketts farm
Get up close to hundreds of animals including sheep, goats, llamas, donkeys, ponies, pigs and cows, as well as guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, degus and more.
What to do on a rainy summer’s day: The best indoor days out
22 Work Together To Escape The Room
Escape the rain outside with some family time inside at one of London’s many escape rooms. You’ll get to fully immerse yourselves in an imaginary world, while solving clues and puzzles to escape. Cluequest in King’s Cross offers a great range of family-friendly activities.
23 Gambado, Chelsea
This top indoor play centre offers soft play, dodgems and a carousel as well as a toddler area.
24 Horniman Musuem, Under The Sea Soft Play, 5th May – 3rd September
Make a splash with the creation of the first soft play experience in the Horniman Museum. Slide, balance, climb and bounce at the Horniman’s Under the Sea Soft Play. Perfect for young children.
25 Covent Garden Sandbox VR
A futuristic VR experience for groups of up to 6 where you can see and physically interact with everyone in exclusive worlds and feel like you’re living inside a game or movie. For families, note that players must be over 1.2m. For guests under 18 years, a parent/guardian must be present. From June 30, there will also be Seekers of the Shard, where players can choose their own path, visiting different locations whilst encountering unique enemies, characters, and challenges as they attempt to find a mysterious ‘shard’ – a toggle function to switch off violence makes it suitable for all types of players.
26 Clip ‘n’ Climb
Another fun thing to do in London with children who are looking for something active is a climbing session at Clip ‘n Climb Chelsea. A large indoor arena of 21 exciting climbing challenges and activities.
27 Pottery Café, Kingston
This café offers an array of children’s ceramic painting sessions, workshops and party packages, and there is an also an adult workshop and hire space if you feel that you want to join in with the clay!
28 Lego Café, Leicester Square
This is the biggest LEGO store in Europe, and even if you’re not in the mood to shop, it provides an excellent window shopping experience, exhibiting different themes like Harry Potter or reproductions of Big Ben and Star Wars.
29 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, 13th June- 20th August 2023
The Summer Exhibition is the annual celebration of art and artists, run without interruption since 1769. Anyone can submit their work and if your work is selected by the panel of artists, it will go on display in the Main Galleries. Provides accessible art for all ages.
30 Drop in and Draw Sessions at The John Madejski Fine Rooms, Burlington House
Inspired by the Summer Exhibition, young people are encouraged to get creative with a free drawing evening on the first Friday of every month over the summer. The workshops will be led by London Drawings, who are on hand to give drawing tips. All abilities are welcome.
31 Victoria and Albert Museum Exhibition DIVA – Opens 24th June
The Exhibition DIVA will celebrate the power of iconic performers, exploring and redefining the role of ‘diva’ and how this has been embraced over time across opera, stage, popular music and film.
32 Museum of Home
Rebranded after an £18 million overhaul, the Museum of the Home is well worth a trip with children. Exhibitions over the summer include ‘No Place Like Home’ and ‘The Front Door Photography Exhibition’.
33 The London Eye
Still one of the most popular paid tourist attractions in London, the London Eye is worth a trip in all weathers. On a clear day, you can see as far as Windsor Castle, which is over 20 miles away. Even in bad weather, it’s worth the ride.
34 The Clink Prison Museum
The Clink takes you on a journey back in time, exploring what prisons were like and how they have changed over the centuries. A fully interactive trip, with sounds, themes and archaeological implements to give you a vivid idea of life ‘inside’.
35 Museum Sleepovers at The British Museum
Enjoy a sleepover in the Egyptian and Assyrian galleries, and experience the museum after dark with Young Friends Sleepovers. There are workshops and activities to keep you entertained during your night visit.
An interactive indoor city made for children aged 4-14. Work, play and learn about all the different kind of professions from being a pilot to a radio DJ.
37 London Transport Museum
There is plenty for families at this fabulous attraction covering the history of the capital’s transport. Drive a tube train or a bus, and see how transport has evolved, from a horse-drawn omnibus to some of the first Tube carriages. There’s also a themed playzone for children up to 7.
38 National Army Museum
Free to visit and giving a fascinating insight into the Army and conflicts in history, this museum is definitely worth a visit. A new gallery called ‘Conflict in Europe’ is now open and an exhibition ‘Foe to Friend: The British Army in Germany’ since 1945 runs all summer. Geared towards older children.
39 Imperial War Museums
Take a look at the guns, planes and tanks in the main galleries, and then see the exhibition ‘A Family In Wartime’ which tells the story of a family who lived in Stockwell, London during WW II.
40 Cycling at Lee Valley VeloPark
At the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, you can enjoy a ride on the iconic velodrome track, or race on the road, or take on the BMX track.
Best theatre to watch out for….
41 Richmond Puppet Barge
The Puppet Theatre Barge has been putting on a programme of unique and magical puppet shows on a covered Thames barge for over 30 years. The Selfish Giant and The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse are planned productions for summer 2023.
42 SIX, The Musical
This vibrant Tudor tale of marital woes sees the six wives of Henry VIII take to the mic in Six The Musical.
43 Take a trip to The Rose Theatre, Kingston
South West London’s largest producing theatre, The Rose, offers a selection of entertainment for children for another summer. From ‘Hey Duggee’, to ‘Zog’ and favourites like ‘Fireman Sam’, there’s a choice of productions to give young children a great introduction to theatre.
44 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at The New Wimbledon Theatre
Based on the iconic story, this stage show combines songs from the 1970s movie ‘The Candy Man’ with many new numbers written by the award–winning songwriters of Hairspray.
45 Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe Theatre- Until August 2023
The Globe’s outdoor season kicks off with its fourth in-house production of ‘ A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in ten years and sees Michelle Terry starring as spirit Puck.
46 Alice in Wonderland – Theatre on Kew, 22nd July-28th August
Follow Alice down the rabbit hole and enter a fantastical world inhabited by curiouser and curiouser characters including the grinning Cheshire Cat, the beautifully dressed Mad Hatter and the bad-tempered Queen of Hearts.
And the best of the rest….
47 Steam Into Summer
Enjoy a day out with Thomas at the Watercress Line with ‘ThomasTM: The Colour Tour’ running from May 27th to June 4th.
48 Hobbledown in Epsom
Hobbledown offers numerous adventure playgrounds, zip wires, Zorbing, high ropes and a sandpit area with slides. Not to mention the play villages. There’s also the new Imaginarium – ‘ a wonderland filled with interactive water features and creepy–crawly caves’ for visitors this summer.
49 RHS Wisley: Explorer Quest, 23rd July – 29th August
Enjoy this self-led explorers’ trail of adventures and exciting outdoor activities to try.
50 Visit the Playgrounds and Lake in Wimbledon Park
Fancy some urban boating and play? Take a trip to Wimbledon Park, where there are two playgrounds, and cafés for kids and parents to sit and enjoy the sunshine.
51 Battersea Park Children’s Zoo
A classic and old favourite, but if you’re looking for an animal experience in the heart of London, the children’s zoo in Battersea is always a good bet.