Find out what beer and cocktail festivals, art exhibitions and festive events are on in London this December.
It’s December! When it comes to events on around town, you can be guaranteed most of them will have a festive feel. At this time of year, a host of venues are hosting festivals and activities for both children and adults to enjoy as a family. Fans of Friends, Stranger Things or The Wolf Of Wall Street will also have a chance to live for real with special immersive experiences.
For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.
To find out where London’s Christmas pantomimes, ballets and shows are on, click here.
Discover London’s winter terraces, and Christmas cocktails menus.
- Now until 1 December : London Illustration Fair
Three-day event celebrating illustration, featuring artist-led stands, talks, workshops, music, DJs, live signings. Fri-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Entry: £10 in advance, £12.50 on the door, Children under 12 free. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bankside, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information, visit the London Illustration Fair website.
- Now until 1 December : William Blake’s ‘Ancient of Days’ projection
William Blake’s ambition of having his art exhibited on churches is realised as his masterpiece ‘Ancient of Days’ is projected on the dome of St Paul’s to mark his 262nd birthday. 4.30pm-9pm. Free. St Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, City of London, EC4M 8AD (best vantage point from the Millennium Bridge). Nearest station: St Paul’s or Mansion House. See Metro Girl’s blog post for photos and video.
- Now until 1 December : Architecture of London
Exhibition of 400 years of London architecture. Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-4pm. Tickets: Adults £10, concs £7. Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, City of London, EC2V 5AE. Nearest station: St Paul’s, Bank or Moorgate. For more information, visit the City of London.gov website.
- Now until 1 December : Enchanted Woodland
Follow an illuminated trail through the gardens and arboretum of Syon Park. Lighting will transform the trees, plants and lake. Hot food and drinks available for sale. Open Fri-Sun, entry times every 20 minutes from 5pm-7.40pm. Tickets: Adults £10 (Fri), £12 (Sat-Sun), Children £5. Syon Park, London Road, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest station: Syon Lane. For more information, visit the Enchanted Woodland website.
- 1 December – 25 January 2020 : Big Screen on the Ice
Watch your favourite movie on ice while cosying up with blankets and hot toddies. Screening on Saturday and Sunday evenings at 5pm (family films)or 8pm (adults films). Tickets: Ice skating + film (no seats) – Adults £12, Children £11. Ice skating + film (with seating) – Adults from £16, Children from £13. Skate hire £2.50. QUEENS, 17 Queensway, W2 4PQ. Nearest stations: Queensway or Bayswater. For tickets, visit the Big Screen on the Ice website. or the QUEENS website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post for more information.
- Now until 3 December : Antony Gormley @ RA
One of the Britain’s most famous living artists displays a series of large-scale artworks in this interactive exhibition. Open daily 10am-6pm, late opening on Fri until 8pm. Tickets: £18-£22. Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Royal Academy of Arts website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of the exhibition.
- 3 – 7 December : Pig’s Ear Beer And Cider Festival
Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA, featuring over 230 real ales plus ciders, perries and bottled beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Opening hours TBC. Tickets: (check the website). Round Chapel, Glenarm Road, Hackney, E5 0LY. Nearest station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. For more information, visit the Pig’s Ear website.
- 4 December : Christmas Lights Walk @ Baker Street Quarter
Explore the light installations of the Baker Street Quarter, telling the story of famous people and places from the district. 6pm. Free. Meet at 55 Baker Street, Marylebone, W1U 7DA. Nearest station: Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Baker Street Quarter website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on this year’s lights.
- 5 December : Marylebone Lane Christmas Shopping Evening
A festive evening of live music, activities, workshop, a free cocktail at the 108 Brasserie and exclusive discounts at the area’s retailers. 5pm-8pm. Free. Marylebone Lane, Marylebone, NW1. Nearest station: Bond Street. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.
- 5 December : Tower Bridge & the Thames on Film
Late-night opening of Tower Bridge, featuring an illustrated talk by British Film Institute curator Simon McCallum presenting clips from the BFI National Archive’s collection of footage about London, with a particular focus the Thames. Arrive at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets: £20pp (includes a welcome drink and a return ticket to visit Tower Bridge within 12 months). Tower Bridge Learning Space, Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, SE1 2UP. Nearest stations: Tower Hill, Tower Gateway or London Bridge. For booking, visit the Tower Bridge website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the 125th anniversary of Tower Bridge.
- 5 December : Imperial Lates – Winter Wonderlab
Evening of science and engineering, with live demos, workshops, interactive experiments and inspiring talks. Accompanied with drinks from the bar and liquid nitrogen ice cream. 6pm-9pm. Free. Imperial College London (Main Entrance), Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2AZ. Nearest station: South Kensington. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.
- 5 – 22 December : Enchanted Eltham
Late-night opening of Eltham Palace sees the Tudor and Art Deco buildings and gardens dazzle in a show of light, colour and sound. Follow the trail around the gardens. Also including fairground rides and hot food and drink on offer, including a roasting marshmallow pit. 4.30pm-9pm on Thu-Sun only. Tickets: Adults £12-£14, Children 5-15 yrs £7.50-£9.50. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit the English Heritage website. See Metro Girl’s blog post for photos.
- 6 December : London Christmas Beer Festival
Craft beer festival, featuring winter brews from Beavertown Brewery, The Kernel Brewery, Mikkeller HQ, Beer Merchants Tap (Belgian Specials), The Gipsy Hill Brewing Co., Brick Brewery SE15, and Partizan Brewing. Open Fri 12pm–8pm, Sat-Sun 12pm–6pm. Free entry. Canopy Market, West Handyside Canopy, 1 Wharf Road, N1C 4BZ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.
- 6 – 8 December : Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre
Festive food event in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, featuring shopping, live music, mulled wine, seasonal demos, tastings, choirs and more. Tickets: Adults £21.30, Children £10.70. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the HRP Food Festivals website.
- 7 December : The Great Christmas Pudding Race
Watch or take part in the annual Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden, which sees participants dressing up and raising money for Cancer Research UK. From 11am. Free for spectators. Covent Garden Piazza, WC1. Nearest station: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and details on entering, visit the Great Christmas Pudding Race website.
- 7 December : The Film Fair
Shopping fair for film buffs, with stalls selling movie and TV memorabilia, such as DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS, books, magazines, posters, stills, autograohs, T-shirts, cards, collectables. This month’s fair’s theme is Hammer Horrror, with cult stars Madeleine Smith, Pauline Peart, Judy Matheson, Damien Thomas and poster artist Graham Humphreys meeting fans. 10am-4pm. Entry: Adults £5, Children £3. Electric Ballroom, 184 Camden High Street, Camden, NW1 8QP. Nearest station: Camden Town. For more information, visit the Midnight Media website.
- 7 December : Woolwich Winter Warmer
One-day of Christmas festivities, featuring live music, street performers, Santa Claus, an illuminated parade and Christmas shopping at the market. 12pm-6pm. Free. General Gordon Square and the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, SE18. Nearest station: Woolwich Arsenal. For more information, visit the Facebook page.
- 7 December : Stepping into Tomorrow presents a Mexican Christmas
Pop-up mezcal bar Dona invite DJ Stepping Into Tomorrow for a night of beats, mezcal cocktails and a curated selection of beers and wine. 8pm-4am. Free before 10pm, £5 after. Doña Bar, 92 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7NY. Nearest station: Rectory Road. For tickets, visit Resident Advisor.
- 8 – 24 December : Havering Christmas Land
A Christmas lights trail, Santa’s Grotto, hot food and drink, entertainment and money raised for to MIND. 5pm-9pm. Entry: £2.50pp. Harrow Lodge Park, Hornchurch, RM12 4PL. Nearest station: Elm Park. For more information, visit the Facebook page.
- 11 December : An Evening Of Cheese @ Borough Market
A celebration of cheese with over 20 cheesemongers offering menus, recommendations and tastings. 6pm-8pm. Free entry. Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post for more information.
- 11 – 13 December : Christmas Puds & Trees Market @ Cowcross Yards
Three days of festive food and drink and London’s first ever ‘Christmas Pudding Tree’ at London’s newest street food destination. Wander through the urban forest and check out the many street food vendors, before picking a pudding from the tree. 4.30pm-7.30pm. Free entry. Cowcross Yards, 9-13 Cowcross Street, Farringdon, EC1M 6DR. Nearest station: Farringdon. For more information, visit the Cowcross Yards’ website.
- 13 December : Speakeasy Gin, Bourbon & Cocktail Festival
Step back to the 1920s at this immersive, cocktail festival. Dress code: 1920s glamour. 6.30pm-10.30pm. Tickets: Standard £15.50, Diamond Club: £38.00. St Mary’s, Wyndham Place, York Street, Marylebone, W1H 1PQ. Nearest station: Edgware Road, Marylebone or Baker Street. For more information, visit the Speakeasy Festival website.
- 13 – 15 December : Forest Uprising
Forest Uprising is the finale of Waltham Forest’s year as the first-ever London Borough of Culture. Over three days in December, an illuminated installation of tree-like structures will grow into a beautiful urban winter garden… 6pm-9pm. Free. Leyton Sports Ground, 485 High Road, Leyton, E10 6PY. Nearest station: Leyton Midland Road. For more information, visit the Waltham Forest website.
- 14 December : Prosecco Festival
Festival of prosecco, featuring over 40 types of Prosecco and fizz, live festive band, Italian street food, dancing, and more. 12pm-4.30pm and 6pm-10.30m. Tickets: £15.50-£38.00. St Mary’s, Wyndham Place, Marylebone, W1H 1PQ. Nearest station: Edgware Road, Marylebone or Baker Street. For tickets, visit the Prosecco Festival website.
- 14 December : House of Illustration Christmas Fair
Dozens of illustrators will be selling their wares at a cosy indoor fair. You can also enjoy entry to the current exhibitions as well. 11am–5pm. Free entry. The Crossing, Central St Martin’s, King’s Cross, NC1 4AA. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the House of Illustration website.
- 15 and 22 December : Christmas Singalongs @ Skylight London
Winter rooftop destination Skylight are hosting Christmas singalong sessions led by Richard Swan – Founder and Director of London City Voices Choir. Guests can also enjoy other festive games, as well as usual choice of street food, hot cocktails and ice skating. 2pm-5.30pm. Tickets: £5-£55. Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell (DLR/TFL Rail) or Wapping. For more information, visit the DesignMyNight website.
- 16 – 22 December : Olympia Horse Show
The world’s biggest equestrian party, featuring displays, dressage, extreme diving and more. Times vary. Tickets range from £28 to £77. Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For tickets, visit the Olympia Horse Show website.
- Now until 21 December : FriendsFestive
A festive edition of the hugely-popular Friendsfest as the show celebrates its 25th anniversary year. Tour the set, dress up as Monica or Joey, visit the Armadillo’s Grotto, and enjoy festive food and drink. Open 11am-10pm. Tickets: £32 (includes a glass of mulled wine). The Old Truman Brewery, 83 Brick Lane, Spitalfields, E1 6QR. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street, Liverpool Street or Aldgate East. For more information, visit the FriendsFestive website. Check out Metro Girl’s review.
- 21 – 22 December : Frost Fair Festival
Weekend of festivities recreating the famous Frost Fairs on the Thames of the past. Featuring interactive games and workshops, performances and arts and crafts. 12pm-4pm. Free. Museum Of London Docklands, West India Quay, No.1 Warehouse, Hertsmere Road, E14 4AL. Nearest station: Canary Wharf or West India Quay. For more information, visit the Museum of London Docklands website.
- Now until 24 December : The Magic of Christmas @ London Zoo
London Zoo are hosting a series of festive events alongside the usual animal enclosures. Meet Santa, watch Christmas films, and more. Open 10am-4pm. Ticket prices vary depending on activities. London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.
- 26 December – 5 January 2020 : Disney On Ice – 100 Years of Magic
Some of your favourite Disney characters take to the ice for a show for all the family. Show times vary. Tickets: £33-£43. The O2, Peninsula Square, Greenwich, SE10 0DX. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the Disney UK website.
- Now until 31 December : A Christmas Carol – An Immersive Dining Experience
Enjoy an immersive, re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic tale along with a three-course festive feast. Times: 7.15pm-9.15pm. Tickets: £64.50-£71.50. Immersive LDN, 56 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 5HR. Nearest station: Marble Arch. For tickets, visit DesignMyNight.
- Now until 3 January 2020 : Winterfest
A new immersive light festival comes to Wembley Park. Featuring huge light and sound installations, an LED Christmas tree, live bands, community choirs, DJs, and the hit West End production of Fame coming to the new Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre. Free admission. At Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post for further details.
- Now until 5 January 2020 : Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life
Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson brings his interactive installations to the Tate. Times vary. Tickets: £18 (free for members). Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG. Nearest station: Blackfriars. For more information and tickets, visit the Tate Modern website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of the exhibition.
- Now until 5 January 2020 : Winter Wonderland
The south east corner of Hyde Park is transformed into a Christmas fair with rides, food and drink stalls, ice rink, Zippos Christmas Circus, Cirque Berserk, The Sooty Christmas Show, The Magical Ice Kingdom and more. Open 10am-10pm daily. Free to enter. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Knightsbridge or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.
- Now until 5 January 2020 : Walking with The Snowman
Follow an art trail around the London Bridge district. Twelve Snowmen have been customised by 12 different artists, each inspired by a verse from the 12 Days of Christmas. At London Bridge City, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge. To download a map of the sculptures, visit the Walking with The Snowman website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post to find out more..
- Now until 5 January 2020 : Christmas at Kew
A one-mile glittering trail which weaves its way through Kew Gardens with stunning sights lit up upon the way. There will also be Santa at the North Pole Village, a Tunnel of Light, the singing Holly Bushes, a light dance show, vintage rides, festive food and drinks. 5pm-10pm. Tickets (advance): Adults from £18, Children from £11, Under 4 free. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.
- Now until 5 January 2020 : Christmas In Leicester Square
The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows including Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel, La Clique, the Showstoppers’ Christmas Show, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass and more. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.
- Now until 6 January 2020 : Winter Night Garden @ Backyard Cinema
Backyard Cinema’s new permanent home has been transformed into a magical festive garden for its new winter cinematic experience. Walk through a magical wardrobe and travel through a mysterious kingdom to reach the big screen, which will be showing festive favourites and new releases. Tickets from £18.99. Backyard Cinema’s Capital Studios, 13 Wandsworth Plain, Wandsworth, SW18 1ET. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town.For more information and booking, visit Backyard Cinema’s website.
- Now until 11 January 2020 : Chromotherapy Christmas
An interactive light and sound show, inspired by the ancient healing concept of Chromotherapy. 4pm-10pm. Free. Eccleston Yard, (off Eccleston Place), Belgravia, SW1W 9AZ. Nearest station: Victoria. For more information, visit the Mayfair & Belgravia website.
- Now until 12 January 2020 : Windrush – Portrait of a Generation
Photography exhibition by Jim Grover exploring the lives and history of the Windrush generation – Caribbean migrants who moved to Britain in the 1940s-1960s. Free. Arnhem Foyer, Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, Croydon, CR9 1DG. Nearest station: East Croydon. For more information, visit the Fairfield Halls website.
- Now until 15 January 2020 : Aladdin and the Feast of Wonders
Darling & Edge return to The Vaults with an immersive, adult pantomime, dining experience. Doors open 6.30pm, Show starts 7.30pm. Tickets from £30. The Vaults (entrance via Leake Street tunnel), Launcelot Street, Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. For tickets, visit The Vaults website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of Darling & Edge’s 2017 production Beauty And The Feast.
- Now until 18 January 2020 : Poetic Abstration
A new solo exhibition from Shanghai-based artist Li Lei. A series of academic forums and talks in collaboration with the Royal Drawing School and Unicorn Publishing will also be taking place. Open Mon-Fri 10am-6.30pm, Sat 11am-2pm. 3812 Gallery, 21 Ryder Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6PX. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the 3812 Gallery website.
- Now until 19 January 2020 : The Immersive Wolf Of Wall Street
Enjoy a taste of ’90s high-flying Wall Street hedonism with an immersive theatre production, adapted from the hit film. Expect a restaurant, bars, supercars and more. Over 18s only. Dress code: 90s American office attire. Times vary. Tickets: £58-£100. 5-15 Sun Street, City of London, EC2M 2PT. Nearest station: Moorgate or Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Immersive Wolf website.
- Now until 23 February 2020 : Secret Cinema presents Stranger Things
Step into the Upside Down as Secret Cinema bring this ’80s sci-fi horror to live for an immersive, cinematic experience. Times vary. Tickets: £52-£120. At a secret east London location to be revealed to ticket holders. For more information and tickets, visit the Secret Cinema website.
- Now until 31 March 2020 : Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds – The Immersive Experience
A new immersive experience from DotDotLondon. Inspired by the classic story, travel back in time to Victorian London and the Martian invasion of 1898. Experience immersive theatre, virtual reality, augmented reality, holograms and other cutting-edge technology. Times vary. Tickets: £39.50-£84.50. The Old Metal Exchange, 56 Leadenhall Street, City of London, EC3A 2BJ. Nearest station: Aldgate or Fenchurch Street. For more information and booking, visit DotDotLondon. Check out Metro Girl’s review of the DotDotLondon’s previous experience Somnai.
- Now until 3 May 2020 : Tutankhamun – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt, an exhibition features over 150 priceless treasures from the boy King. Opening hours vary. Tickets: Adult: £28.50/ £24.50. Children: £19.50/£16.50. Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 4RY. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For tickets, visit the Saatchi Gallery website.
- Now until June 2020 : Sculpture In The City 2019/2020
Free public art exhibition, bringing contemporary pieces to the streets and spaces of the City of London. Free. At various sites around the Square Mile. Nearest stations: Fenchurch Street, Monument or Liverpool Street. For more information and a map of the artworks, visit the Sculpture in the City website. Check out Metro Girl’s gallery of the 2019/2020 exhibition.
For a guide to London’s outdoor ice rinks this festive season, click here.
Find out what fairs, club nights, film screenings, late-night museum openings and other Halloween activities are on in October and November, including half-term fun.
Get ready for the scariest season of the year! As well as Halloween, there has been a rise in popularity of Day of the Dead festivities from Mexico.
This year, Halloween comes after the half-term holidays, so plenty of London attractions are kick-starting their spooky events early. If you’re a parent, there’s plenty of Halloween events on during the daytime and early evening.
Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best daytime and nighttime – for both children or adults – Halloween and Day of the Dead activities on in the capital this October and early November.
For a guide to what else is on in London in November, click here.
- 27 September – 10 November : Dark Arts @ Warner Bros Studio Tour
Dark Arts returns to the Harry Potter experience for the Halloween season. The Great Hall is full of 100 floating pumpkins, while the table features a Halloween feast on red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Watch a live duel between the Death Eaters. Tickets: Adults £45, Children £37. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LR. Nearest station: Watford (then a shuttle bus to studios). For more information, visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour website.
- 1 – 31 October : The Home of Halloween @ London Dungeon
One of London’s most ghoulish destinations offers a Halloween experience. Meet some of London’s most notorious characters such as Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd, The Plague Doctor and The Torturer, watch an exclusive Halloween show and enjoy the rides. Tickets: Adults £30, Children £24. London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website.
- 19 – 27 October : Halloween @ London Zoo
A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo, featuring Grim Keeper tours, creepy crafts, spooky animals and more. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £27.00, Child £17.55 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.
- 19 – 27 October : Spooky Cats @ the London Museum of Water & Steam
Listen to a cat story every weekday at 11am, make your own cat craft, explore our Splash Cat trail, find the Museum’s hidden cats. Children in cat costumes enter for free. Tickets: Adults £12.50, Children £5.50. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website.
- 19 – 27 October : Halloween @ Battersea Power Station
A host of Halloween family activities are taking place over the half-term holidays, including Halloween scavenger hunt, eerie ear-making workship, pumpkin carving, Wicked Witches and Wizard Worshop. Dates and times vary for each activity. Free. Battersea Power Station, 188 Kirtling Street, Nine Elms, SW8 5BN. Nearest station: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road Battersea. For more information, visit the Battersea Power Station website.
- 19 October – 3 November : Ascarium @ London Aquarium
A Halloween experience at Sea Life London with the Sea Witch asking visitors to help unlock her treasure chest. Tickets start from £21 (online), £26 (on the day). Sea Life London Aquarium, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Sea Life website.
- 19 – 23 October : Pumpkin Carving @ Morden Hall Park
Carve your own pumpkin at the National Trust grounds and property of Morden Hall Park. Children must be supervised by an adult. 11am-4pm. Small pumpkin £4, medium pumpkin £5. Stableyard, Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, Morden, SM4 5JD. Nearest station: Morden or Phipps Bridge (Tramlink). For more information and opening times, visit the National Trust website. For Metro Girl’s blog post about Morden Hall Park, click here.
- 21 October – 3 November : No Tricks Just Treats – Halloween @ London Designer Outlet
A host of events and activities will be taking place over half-term and Halloween, including complimentary face-painting, ghoulish actors, film screenings @ Cineworld, and a replica of the Ghostbusters Cadillac (1-3 Nov) to pose alongside for photos. Times vary. London Designer Outlet, Wembley Park Boulevard, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest station: Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the London Designer Outlet website.
- 22 October : Family Day: Halloween @ Benjamin Franklin House
A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games and crafts for 5-11 year olds. 4pm-5.30pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, Westminster, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website.
- 23 – 31 October : Spooky Storytime @ London Eye
Families will love the Halloween experience on the London Eye. Enjoy fast-track entry and step into a capsule for a 30-minute rotation while listening to spooky stories and leave with a Hotel Chocolat goodie bag. Tickets: £35 (adult and child combi). London Eye, Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For tickets, visit the London Eye website.
- 24 October – 1 November : Spooktacular Kids Tour
Let your children see the sights of a capital with a 45 minute bus tour of the capital with live guided commentary for chidren. Departs at 4pm. Tickets: Adults £15, Children (5-15) £8. For more information and departure points, visit the Original Tour website.
- 26 – 27 October : Horniman Halloween Fair
A Halloween fair for the whole family, featuring creepy crawlies, Halloween trail, spooky storytelling, arts and crafts stalls, and food stalls. 10.30am-4.30pm. Free. Horniman Museum & Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Nearest station: Forest Hill. For more information, visit the Horniman Museum website.
- 26 October – 3 November : Halloween @ Ham House
Scare yourself silly on a family ghost tour of the 17th century house, which is said to have 15 different ghosts. Ages 7+. Tours from 6pm. Tickets: Adults £15, Children £15. Ham House & Gardens, Ham Street, Ham, TW10 7RS. Nearest station: Richmond Station. For more information, visit the National Trust website.
- 28 October – 3 November : Halloween @ Backyard Cinema
Travel through the Winter Night Garden to watch one of your favourite Halloween films at Backyard Cinema’s new permanent home in Wandsworth. Films include Beetlejuice, Scream, Shaun of the Dead, Hocus Pocus, Casper, The Witches and more. Matinees and evening screenings. Full bar and street food stalls available. Tickets: Adults £18.99, Children £9.50. Capital Studios, 13 Wandsworth Plain, Wandsworth, SW18 1ET. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
Things that go bump in the night
- 26 September – 10 November : Journey to the Underworld
An immersive, theatrical dining experience on a luxury train carriage on a journey to the Underworld. Featuring a four-course meal and interactions with characters. Time slots vary. Tickets: £57-£60. Pedley Street Station, Arch 63, Pedley Street, Bethnal Green, E1 5BW. Nearest station: Bethnal Green. For more information and tickets, visit the Funincular Productions website.
- 8 October – 2 November : London Horror Festival
Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel; or Pleasance, Carpenters Mews, North Road, Islington, N7 9EF. Nearest station: Caledonian Road. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.
- 18 October : Halloween Late @ London Dungeon
After-hours fun for adults-only, featuring a darker experience and drinks. Over 18s only. Arrival from 7pm-9pm. Tickets: £29. London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.
- 19 October : Festival of the Dead
Mexican-style festival comes to Limehouse. Expect full pageantry, giant skull processions, acrobats, dancers, decorative art, amazing costumes, confetti, CO2, light shows, live music and DJs. 9pm-2am. Tickets: £29.59. Troxy, 490 Commercial Road, Limehouse, E1 0HX. Nearest station: Limehouse. For more information, visit the Troxy website. Read the rest of this entry
One of the country’s most exciting sporting competitions is returning to the capital this summer. The London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is back at the London Regatta Centre on Sunday 30 June 2019. Around 10,000 visitors from the UK and internationally will be heading to the banks of the Thames for a free family-friendly celebration of sport and culture.
The annual LHKDB Festival offers the chance to experience Chinese culture in London. Over 40 competing club, corporate and amateur teams will be battling it out on the river. Novices will be bravely taking on some of the UK’s most experienced paddlers in the bid to win one of the six cups.
Meanwhile, on dry land, visitors can sample some of the culinary delights at a South East Asian food festival while being entertained by live music, martial art displays and traditional Chinese lion dancing on the East West Festival stage.
Dragon boat festivals date back to the banks of the Yangtze River in ancient southern China around 2,5000 years ago. The 2019 festival is the 24th in London and is organised by the London Chinatown Lions Club and is supported by Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, The Hong Kong Executives Club and The London Chinatown Chinese Community Centre.
- London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival takes place on Sunday 30 June 2019 from 10am-6pm. Free entry. At Royal Docks Adventure/London Regatta Centre, Dockside Road, Docklands, E16 2QT. Nearest station: Royal Albert or Prince Regent (DLR). For more information, visit the Dragon Boat Festival website.
For the latest what’s on guide in London in June, click here.
Find out what’s on in London over the Easter weekend and school holidays, including family events and activities, Easter egg hunts and even adults-only fun.
This year, the Easter weekend takes place in the middle of April with Good Friday on 19th and the Easter Bank Holiday on 22nd. As ever, this religious holiday coincides with at least two weeks of school holidays, so there will be plenty of parents looking for ways to occupy their children. To many people, Easter is associated with chocolate, so expect to see the mighty cocoa bean dominating menus and events over the period. Fortunately, Easter isn’t just for kids, there’s an adults-only guide to offers and events at the bottom.
Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to what’s on in London over the Easter period.
- 30 March – 29 April : George Irvin’s Funfairs
Travelling funfairs will be setting up camp at Crystal Palace Park (30 Mar – 14 Apr), Clapham Common (5 – 28 Apr), Hampton Court (19 – 23 Apr) and Shepherd’s Bush Green (5 – 22 Apr) over the Easter break. Rides include Big Apple Coaster, Dodgems, Bungee Trampolines, Tea Cups, Waltzer, Inflatable Slide and Carousel, among many others. For more information, visit the Irvin Leisure website.
- 6 – 22 April : Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt @ Hampton Court Palace
Hunt for the Lindt gold chocolate bunny in the house and gardens at Hampton Court. Other family activities include a digital adventure around the palace, the magic garden and maze and workshops. Tickets (events inc with general admission): Adults from £21.30, Children from £10.70. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information, visit the Historic Royal Palaces website.
- 6 – 22 April : Easter @ Battersea Park Zoo
Take part in a host of Easter-themed activities, including an Easter Egg hunt, hedgehog day, honey bee day, cocoa fun day and a host of other events. Open 10am-4.30pm. Visitors can purchase a £1.50 (including prize) quiz sheet upon entry and follow the trail. General admission: Adults £9.95, Children 2-15 yrs £7.95. Battersea Park Zoo, Battersea Park, Chelsea Embankment, Battersea, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park. For more information, visit the Battersea Park Zoo website.
- 6 – 22 April : Easter @ WWT London Wetland Centre
Take part in Dusty’s Giant Easter Duck Hunt, enjoy a spot of pond dipping, a Wild Play session and Animal Track Detectives. 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults from £11.70, Children 4-16 yrs from £7.93. London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT. Nearest station: Barnes or Barnes Bridge. For more information, visit the London Wetland Centre website.
- 6 – 22 April : Easter @ Kew
Check out the beautiful gardens and attractions of Kew, as well as other activities. Including the Tower of Colour, Sunday Stories, Log Trail, Woodland Walk and Giant Badger Sett. Free to take part with normal admission. Tickets: Adults from £16.50/£18, Children 4-16yrs from £4.50/£6, Under 4s free. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information and tickets, visit the Kew Gardens website.
- 8 – 22 April : Easter @ National Army Museum
Over the Easter holidays, the museum will offer a variety of family activities, including make your own cap badge, tiny troopers (posters), digital poster design and poster printing. 10am-5.30pm. Free. National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, SW3 4HT. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the National Army Museum website.
- 10 – 17 April : Hotel Chocolat Easter Eggs-travaganza @ London Eye
Enjoy an Easter experience on the London Eye with Hotel Chocolat. Including fast track entry, Hotel Chocolat tasting guide and Q&A session, 30 minute rotation, soft drink and Hotel Chocolat Easter goodie bag. Tickets: Adults £35, Children £28. London Eye, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Lambeth North. For booking, visit the London Eye website.
The arrival of autumn means darker, colder nights and the coming of Halloween. Although traditionally just one night, there tends to be days, or sometimes weeks, of spooky celebrations. over the October period, sometimes creeping into early November. As it coincides with half-term, there’s some Halloween themed daytime fun on offer for children. However, when it comes to the nights, there a range of activities for those who want to celebrate – from simple film screenings or immersive, fancy dress parties.
For a guide to what’s else is on in London in October, click here.
Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best Halloween events and parties on around London this October:
- 1 – 31 October : Screamfest @ London Dungeon
Special Halloween event at the London Dungeon, featuring 20 spooky tales, two rides and a Jack the Ripper show. Tickets from £27 (online), £31 (on the door). London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.
- 20 – 27 October : Spookfest @ London Museum of Water & Steam
Learn the secret history of the engine houses, enjoy a ride on the ghost train, a trip through the creepy wood and Halloween craft activities. Tickets: adults £12.50, children £5.50 (10% discount for children’s in Halloween costume). London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website.
- 20 – 28 October : Gruesome Nature Live @ London Zoo
A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo, featuring interactive musical show. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £24.50, Child £18.00 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.
- 20 – 31 October : Ascarium @ London Aquarium
A spooky adventure at Sea Life London with the Sea Witch asking visitors to help unlock her treasure chest. Tickets start from £21 (online), £26 (on the day). Sea Life London Aquarium, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Sea Life website.
- 22 – 30 October : Wizard and Witch Woodland Walk @ Strawberry Hill
A spooky walk for little wizards and witches and their families, then cast a spell in the ‘cauldron room’ and hear a spooky story. Times: 4pm-5pm (4-6yrs), 5.30pm-6.30pm (7-10yrs). Tickets: £8. Strawberry Hill, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4ST. Nearest station: Strawberry Hill. For more information, visit the Strawberry Hill website. For Metro Girl’s review of Strawberry Hill, click here.
- 23 October : Family Day: Halloween @ Benjamin Franklin House
A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games for 5-11 year olds. 4pm-5pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, Westminster, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website.
- 24 – 28 October : Halloween Horrors @ Sutton House
Halloween fun and games in a Tudor manor designed by Tea Break Theatre. Fancy dress encouraged. Halloween activities are with normal entry. 12pm-5pm. Tickets (general admission): Adults £7, Children £3.50. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E9 6JQ. Nearest station: Homerton. For more information, visit the National Trust website.
- 27 – 28 October : Horniman Halloween Fair
Meet creepy crawlies, spooky storytelling, arts and crafts markets and food stalls. Halloween costume encouraged. 10.30am-4.30pm. Free entry. Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Nearest station: Forest Hill. For more information, visit the Horniman Museum website.
Things that go bump in the night
- 7 October – 3 November : London Horror Festival
Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.
- 12, 16-19 and 30-31 October : The Silhouette in the Smoke
An immersive theatrical experience with a murder mystery written especially for the London Museum of Water and Steam. Victorian high tea included. You must solve the mystery in groups of six. Over 16s only. 7.15pm. Tickets: £28. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website. Read the rest of this entry
Launching this October is a rather special afternoon tea for families. Judith Kerr’s beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been charming readers since 1968. Like many, I owned the book as a children and loved my parents reading it to me.
From this week, The Savoy hotel has teamed up with publishers HarperCollins to create a unique children’s afternoon tea inspired by the classic book as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. This food and drink extravaganza will be the five-star hotel’s first dedicated children’s afternoon tea offering in its 129 year history. The variety of treats are drawn from the tea that Sophie and her mum shared with the visiting tiger. The Savoy’s pastry team have dreamed up an enchanting menu served on bespoke chinaware inspired by the book. The stunning china will also be available to buy from Savoy Tea.
The menu is as follows:
- Sophie’s Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Jam Bites; Red Leicester Cheese Whirl; and Honey Roast Ham Finger Sandwiches.
- Tiger Scones
Freshly-baked stripy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
- Treats with the Tiger
Sophie’s Tights (Blue and pink Battenberg), The Milkman Special (Vanilla yoghurt, raspberry compote), Mummy’s Cookie Crumbs (Dark chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate); Tiger Food (Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting); and Owp! (Handmade marzipan tiger).
Accompanying the food will be a choice of hot or cold drink, including Vanilla Black Tea; Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Tea; Tiger Hot Chocolate (Served with cream and tiger stripes) or Orange juice.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea menu will be available for children at the first two sittings of Afternoon Tea in The Savoy’s iconic Thames Foyer. Adults may prefer the Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea and High Tea, which will continue to be offered.
- The Savoy’s special edition The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest station: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Available Mon-Fri afternoons for the first two sittings from 8 October 2018. Price: £40 per child (aged 5-12years). Dress code: Smart casual. For more information booking, visit The Savoy’s website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in February, click here.
This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.
I’ve long recommended a boat trip down the River Thames as a ‘must do’ to friends and family visiting London from abroad. It’s a great place to get an overview of the capital and some of its most iconic landmarks. such as the Tower of London, the London Eye and Cleopatra’s Needle. Personally, I’ve been down the river many times over the years on the Thames Clippers, party boats or the tourist cruises. However, the one Thames experience missing from my personal history was a speedboat ride… until now.
I had occasionally seen Thames Rockets on the Thames over the years as a pedestrian on dry land. Finally, last week, I got the chance to experience a trip on a Rocket myself. The company, which launched in 2006, offers six different experiences, ranging from a 15 minute ‘Thames Taster’ to the 80 minute Thames Barrier Explorers Voyage. I was on the Ultimate London Adventure, which aims to provide a “fun-filled adrenaline-fuelled 50 minute” journey. Ahead of my trip, I was intrigued how they would combine a sight-seeing tour and speed.
Arriving 15 minutes before departure, I was greeted by the friendly Thames Rockets team, who fitted my lifejacket at the pier just by the London Eye. Next, we were given a safety briefing before climbing in. The Thames Rockets boats are speedboats with seats for about 12 people, each with a driver and guide abroad during your journey. I managed to get a coveted spot at the front of the boat, which was perfect for me as I was planning to photograph and video a lot of the journey. We were introduced to our driver Doug and our guide Bill and prepared to set off.
The first part of our journey was a musical trip past some of London’s most famous sights, such as Shakespeare’s Globe, Waterloo Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. We slowed down a bit just before Tower Bridge so we could get some good photos. Soon after we passed under Tower Bridge and passed the River Police Station at Wapping, it was time to crank things up a gear. With this eastern passage of the Thames being wider and less busy than central London, Doug was free to increase the speed. Soon enough, we were holding on tight to the railings as we twisted, turned, and jumped over the waves at speeds of up to 30 knots (35mph). There was plenty of whooping and screaming as the group reacted to the various stunts. Sitting by the port side of the boat, I did get a little wet from the spray, but I was well prepared in a raincoat and it was all part of the fun. As we raced towards Canary Wharf, there were times I couldn’t even see the skyscrapers as the bow rode up in front of us as we leaped over the waves. The side turns were particularly hair-raising and certainly showed our skipper’s impressive skills at the wheel. Read the rest of this entry
When the sun comes out, most of us have the urge to head to a park, rooftop bar or… the beach. However, this can cause issues with the capital being a couple of dozen of miles from the nearest seaside. Fortunately, in the past few years, urban beaches have been cropping up around London. Some are patches of sand accompanied by water, while some have a full-blown beach club so you can close your eyes and imagine you’re on the French Riviera. However, if sand isn’t your thing and you just fancy a swim, you can always visit one of the city’s lidos or swimming ponds.
- 3 May – TBA September : Fulham Beach Club
The popular Neverland has had a summer makeover, featuring day beds, private beach huts and cabanas, two bars, Jimmy Garcia’s BBQ Club pop-up, live DJs, croquet, beer pong, shuffleboard and ping pong. They also host special events include bottomless brunches, yoga classes, fancy dress parties and sports screenings. Open Wed-Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-9pm. Entrance starts from £5 (free to SW6 residents all days except Sat). Neverland, 364 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, SW6 2TY. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For more information, visit the Neverland Fulham website.
- 21 May – 21 September : Beach Bar @ The Montague Hotel
Pop-up beach bar returns to the gardens of The Montague Hotel. Featuring real sand, beach hut, tropical cocktails, palm trees, BBQ and jet ski selfie area. Open Mon-Sun 12pm-10pm. Packages start from £50. The Montague Hotel, 15 Montague Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 5BJ. Nearest station: Russell Square or Holborn. For more information, visit The Montague Hotel website.
- 25 May – 9 September : Southbank Centre Beach
The popular mini beach returns to the South Bank opposite the skate park. The area is surrounded by food and drink vendors. Open 10am-10pm. Free entry. Southbank Centre Beach, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- 26 May – 2 September : The Beach Brent Cross
Pop-up beach returns featuring a huge beach of imported sand, water to paddle in, rides, entertainment and food and drink vendors. Open Fri 4pm-9pm. Sat-Sun: 12pm-9pm. Entry: £3. Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Hendon, NW4 3FP. Nearest station: Hendon Central or Brent Cross. For more information, visit The Beach Brent Cross website.
- 1 July – 2 September : Hampstead Beach
The Jewish Community Centre is hosting a two month-long pop-up beach, featuring lots of sand, cocktails, food and special events. Open Sun-Thu 9.30am-8pm, Fri 9am-3pm. Sat closed. Free entry. JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, Hampstead, NW3 6ET. Nearest station: Finchley Road and Frognal or West Hampstead. To book, visit the JW3 website
- 18 July – 2 September : Urban London Beach
Sandy beach by the River Thames underneath the Emirates Air Line cable car. Sit on a deckchair, watch your kids play in the sand or enjoy an ice cream. Open daily 10am-8pm. Free entry. Urban London Beach, 27 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Docks, E16 1FA. Nearest station: Royal Victoria (DLR). For more information, visit the London’s Royal Docks website.
London’s lidos and swimming ponds
If you’re not a fan of sand, perhaps you’d like to cool down in one of the capital’s alfresco swimming spaces instead.
Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, SE24 0PA. Nearest station: Herne Hill.
Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting Bec Road, Tooting Bec, SW16 1RU. Nearest station: Streatham.
Charlton Lido, Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Road, SE18 4LX. Nearest station: Charlton.
Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park, South Carriage Drive, W2 2UH. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner, South Kensington, Marble Arch.
Parliament Hill Lido, Heath Lodge, Highgate, NW5 1NA. Nearest station: Gospel Oak.
Hampstead Mixed Bathing Pond, Hampstead Way, Hampstead Heath, NW5 1QN. Nearest station: Hampstead Heath.
Finchley Lido, Chaplin Square, Finchley, N12 0GL. Nearest station: West Finchley.
Park Road Pools & Fitness, Park Road, Crouch End, N8 8JN. Nearest stations: Hornsey or Highgate.
London Fields Lido, London Fields West Side, Hackney, E8 3EU. Nearest stations: London Fields or Hackney Central.
Hampton Pool, High Street, Hampton, TW12 2ST. Nearest station: Hampton.
For a guide to London’s pop-up and roaming cinemas this summer, click here.
For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.
Find out where London’s nearest lavender fields are.
Sci-fi is one of the most popular film genres today, with the huge success of the Star Wars franchise and Avatar as prime examples. While many people buy downloads or DVDs of their favourite films, nothing compares to seeing those sweeping space vistas on the big screen.
This spring, Backyard Cinema have created an immersive cinematic experience to watch your favourite sci-fi movie. Known for their themed screenings of both new and classic movies, their latest offering, Mission To Mars is their most ambitious yet. Following on from previous themes such as their most recent Snow Kingdom, as well as Miami Beach and The Lost World, this experience takes film fans literally out of this world.
Backyard Cinema is located in the corner of foodie haven Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle. After a quick dinner of spaghetti al vongole, we headed to BC’s box office to grab our tickets before preparing for Phase One of our intergalactic experience. The entrance has been suitably decked out as a mission control or a space centre, which reminded me of film sets from many classic space movies. Your journey starts with being security scanned, before proceeding through a metallic corridor to board the shuttle to the spacecraft launch pad. The shuttle is similar to ones you ride at the airport, with vibrating special effects creating the feeling of moving fast and a video featuring a space stewardess advising you on what to expect. The whole entrance process really builds up the spacey atmosphere and adds a sense of excitement to what would usually be a fairly normal entertainment experience.
Finally, you arrive at the ‘spacecraft’ itself, full of bean bag seating, the flight deck screen and the space station bar. We headed to the latter to purchase some of the brilliantly branded drinks and snacks, such as the ‘Martian Mai-Tai’ and space invader sweets. Not only did the cocktails fit the theme perfectly, the pouch serving was so handy and practical for a dark cinema as I have been known to spill a few drinks in the past.
After settling down into our beanbags, we had some pre-flight entertainment as an astronaut actor hauled an audience member to the flight deck to help prepare for launch. The space safety demonstration, followed by ‘take-off’, made sure anyone who wasn’t already in the sci-fi mood by now, certainly soon would be. While the adults surrounding me were certainly enjoying the introductions, I think children will particularly love the drama of it all. Finally, it was time for the movie, with the one in question being 1996 classic Independence Day. I’ve seen the film a few times over the years, more recently on TV, and it’s so much better on the big screen. The horror of watching international landmarks like the Empire State Building being blown to smithereens by aliens is fully realised in wide-screen. The US President’s patriotic ‘our Independence Day’ speech and the British Army’s ridiculous ‘oh blimey, tally ho’ accents had us all in stitches, two comedy moments I don’t think the director had in mind.
Backyard Cinema has certainly delivered with their most ambitious theme yet. Children and adults alike will enjoy this immersive build-up to watching a sci-fi film. There’s plenty of classics and new releases coming up in the next few months, with matinees available during the Easter holidays and weekends so I certainly recommend booking soon, as they’re likely to sell out.
- Backyard Cinema: Mission To Mars is on from now until 6 September 2018. Backyard Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle or Borough. Tickets: Adults from £17.50, Children (under 12) from £9.50. Date night package for two: £75 (includes snacks, bottle of Prosecco and blankets). For booking and listings, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
For a guide to London’s roaming and pop-up cinemas this summer, click here.
This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Diary Of A Londoness for getting me involved.
It was only recently it was minus degrees and snowing so no doubt you may be shocked it’s approaching Easter already. With Easter Weekend bridging the end of March and beginning of April, we can only hope for some warm weather and sunshine. With schools on holiday for two weeks, parents everywhere will be looking for ways to entertain their little ones. Meanwhile, showing Easter isn’t just for kids, there’s an adults-only guide to offers and events at the bottom.
- 25 March : Easter Egg Hunt @ Parsons Green Market
Pick up some clue questions and search the market for the Easter Eggs, with the chance to win chocolate prizes or a box of farmers market eggs. 10am-2pm. Thomas’s Academy, New King’s Road, Parsons Green, SW6 4LY. Nearest station: Parsons Green or Putney Bridge. For more information, visit the London Farmers Markets website.
- 26 March – 15 April : Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt @ Hampton Court Palace
Hunt for the Lindt gold chocolate bunny in the house and gardens at Hampton Court. Other family activities include a digital adventure around the palace, the magic garden and maze and workshops. Tickets (events inc with general admission): Adults from £19.20, Children from £9.60. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information, visit the Historic Royal Palaces website.
- 29 March : Kids Easter Egg Painting @ Bluebird
Take the kids to an Easter egg painting class. For ages 3 and up (parents required to supervise). 3.30pm. Tickets: £15 per child. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.
- 29 March – 2 April : Easter Egg Hunt : St Katharine Docks
A special egg hunt around St Katharine Docks, which celebrates its 190th anniversary this year. Families can pick up Easter egg colouring-in sheets and a ‘Hunt Pack’ that will consist of crayons and activity sheet as they search for eggs around the central basin. From 10.30am-4pm (closed Easter Sunday). Free. St Katharine Docks, 50 St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway. For more information, visit the St Kats website. To find out about the history of St Kats, click here.
- 29 March – 7 April : My First Ballet – Swan Lake
Introduce your child to ballet with the English National Ballet and English National Ballet School production of this classic fairytale. Performance times vary. Tickets: £10-£25. Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT. Nearest station: Holborn or Temple. For more information and booking, visit the Sadler’s Wells website.
- 30 – 31 March : Family Weekend @ Sadler’s Wells
BalletLORENT present their production of Rumpelstiltskin, follow a self-guided journey or enjoy a host of activities. Prices vary depending on event. Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell, EC1R 4TN. Nearest station: Angel. For booking, visit the Sadlers Wells website.
- 30 – 31 March and 1 – 2 April : Easter Quest @ Kenwood
Follow the clues to claim your chocolate reward in house and gardens of historic Kenwood House. 11am-3pm. Tickets: £1 per child. Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR. Nearest station: Hampstead or Highgate. For more information, visit the English Heritage website.
- 30 March – 2 April : Easter @ Battersea Park Zoo
Take part in a host of Easter-themed activities, including an Easter Egg search amongst the animals and a host of activities on Easter Bunny Day on 30 March. Open 10am-4.30pm. Visitors can purchase a £1.50 (including prize) quiz sheet upon entry and follow the trail. General admission: Adults £9.50, Children 2-15 yrs £7.50. Battersea Park Zoo, Battersea Park, Chelsea Embankment, Battersea, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park. For more information, visit the Battersea Park Zoo website.
- 30 March – 15 April : A Big Day Out With Peter Rabbit @ Kew
Beatrix Potter and her animals come to Kew Gardens, featuring games, Peter Rabbit trail, and the late author’s links with Kew. Free to take part with normal admission. Tickets: Adults from £17.75, Children 4-16yrs £4. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information and tickets, visit the Kew Gardens website. Read the rest of this entry