With October half term on the way, it’s time to start planning fun days out for children. These autumn activities for families in London are a good place to start.
Including manga, musicals, new exhibitions and wildlife trails in the heart of the capital, these are some of the best things to do with kids in London this autumn.
VISIT Japan: Myths to Manga at the Young V&A
Japan: Myths to Manga is a colourful and inspiring celebration of Japanese culture. The new exhibition at the Young V&A museum will explore how popular stories, myths and legends have shaped art, design and technology in the country across the centuries. From visual art, animation and origami to curious creatures, robots, fashion, film, and photography, the exhibition will make a really fun and educational day out for children who can also explore everything else this fantastic space – that is entirely dedicated to young minds – has to offer.
SEE The Witches the Musical
If you loved Matilda the Musical (and frankly who didn’t) then the latest Westend adaptation of another Roald Dahl classic is one to book. The Witches Musical arrives at the National Theatre on 7 November and tickets are already selling fast. The extraordinary tale, first published in 1983, follows an English boy and his Norwegian grandmother in a world where a child-hating society of witches secretly exists in every country. The witches are ruled by the vicious and powerful Grand High Witch who arrives in England, planning to turn all of the children into mice. But despite succumbing to her spell, the young hero of this show bravely takes on a gaggle of these awful creatures. Expect great things from an award-winning producer and star-studded cast.
PLAY Gooptopia Slime Making Workshops
Sometimes you just want to say yes to mess – especially if it’s not in your own house. Make your child’s day with a visit to Gooptopia in Wandsworth for the ultimate slime experience. Try out a workshop and make your own type of slime in bright colours which you can customise with sparkle, foam beads and scents. Learn all about slimy creatures and work with others to create a giant stretchy slime. But don’t worry, even though it looks somewhat revolting, Gootopia slime is certified to CE standards, non-toxic and child-friendly. Kids aged three and up can join in and will love the gooey gloop, they even get a pot to take home. The best bit? You don’t have to tidy up afterwards.
SEE Disney100: The Exhibition
Whether you prefer classics like Cinderella and Snow White or recent hits such as Toy Story and Encato, fans young and old will be mesmerised by Disney100: The Exhibition. Arriving at London’s ExCeL just in time for half term, this magnificent installation is the largest exhibition the Walt Disney Archives has ever created, all to mark the company’s 100th anniversary on 16th October, 2023. The 20,000-square-foot exhibition is packed with ten wonderful and imaginatively themed galleries that will allow visitors of all generations to immerse themselves in the wonder of it all – and to rediscover their favourite Disney stories and characters. On this nostalgic journey you’ll find moving stories, historical artefacts, original costumes and unique, interactive installations that will transport you to the magical world of the famous filmmaker.
EAT Arcade Food Hall and Bar at Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station is a great day out with the kids. Try crazy golf, head to the on-site cinema and soar above the London skyline in Lift 109, but after it all be sure to pop into the new Arcade Food Hall and Bar. With seating for 500 people, two bars and 13 cuisines served, even fussy little eaters will find something they like. Options include Indian fast food from Hero, Japanese at Sushi Kamon and a cool take on the American diner at Manna. The perfect family-friendly place to expand children’s tastes with new (and yummy!) dishes in a super-fun atmosphere.
SEE Skateboard Exhibition at the Design Museum
Skateboarding has always been cool, and this awesome new exhibition at the Design Museum tells the story of how it got its reputation and evolved into an internationally-recognised sport. Skateboard, the first display of its kind in the UK, is curated and designed by author, designer and skater, Jonathan Olivares. The installation explores the history of skateboard design from the 1950s to the present day, starting with its homemade, humble beginnings through to today’s professional and technologically advanced modes. It also explores how skateboarding developed its cult following. Older kids and teens will enjoy seeing the display of around 90 rare and unique boards, from 1950s homemade skateboards to Tony Hawk’s first ever professional model skateboard.
EXPLORE Quentin Blake Drawn to Water Trails at the London Wetland Centre
Feel like you’re in the countryside without leaving the city at the Wetland Centre in Barnes. Part of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, a conservation charity that saves wetlands in the UK and around the world, this fantastic outdoor oasis is one of nine dedicated centres in the UK. There are several different wildlife habitats to see throughout the West London reserve, including lakes, marshes, reedbeds and gardens – all home to a huge variety of wildlife such as kingfishers, sand martins and otters. Wander along the pretty trails and let little ones enjoy pottering around in this lovely rural-like setting. This autumn the centre has teamed up with well-known children’s illustrator Quentin Blake to produce the Drawn to Water trail guides that will help youngsters enjoy their surroundings even more. There is a superb adventure play area on site as well as interactive displays and a café, making the Wetland Centre the ideal spot to take kids of all ages.
WATCH Everyman Cinema
Step out of the rainy autumn weather and into one of the many cosy Everyman cinemas across London. New movie showings include Trolls Band Together, the third instalment of this catchy trilogy: expect great tunes to sing along to in your seat, nationwide from 20th October. Or check out Disney’s Wish: a musical comedy about the magical power of wishing – sure to be a hit with young audiences when it arrives in cinemas on 24th November. Teens (and parents) will enjoy the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, a recording of her live performance being screened at the Everyman. With comfy sofas to relax on, just add popcorn and a milkshake for the ideal family day out when the weather outside is grey.
LISTEN Turn It Up: The Power of Music at the Science Museum
For a truly toe-tapping experience head to the Science Museum for the tuneful extravaganza arriving at the family-friendly space this autumn. Turn It Up: The Power of Music explores how music is made, how it makes us feel, and its important role in our lives. Visitors can step into a newly-commissioned musical playground to create beats and harmonies; meet Haile the musical robot; and discover weird and wonderful instruments like the Pyrophone, an organ powered by flames! Looking at how technological advances can make music more accessible, Turn It Up also challenges us to decipher between human and AI generated tunes. An exciting, immersive day out for all the family.
CREATE Pumpkin Carving at the Chelsea Physic Garden
Halloween is the sugar-filled highlight of autumn for little ones, but it’s also a great time for some outdoor crafts. Head to the beautiful Chelsea Physic Garden for a fun pumpkin carving session. As well as getting creative with ghoulish designs for their jack-o-lantern, children will learn about pumpkin plants and explore the garden’s seasonal delights. The experience takes place in a spooky shed where kids can transform their pumpkins into Halloween masterpieces. All materials and tools are provided, and each participant will get one pumpkin to take home. For ages six and up, all children must be accompanied by an adult who can help them use the sharp tools safely.
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