This summer you can find 50 Books About Town benches dotted around London - an inspired idea and a fun way to enjoy the city's sites while inspiring some summer reading. The bench sculptures, designed by local artists and famous names, celebrate London's literary heritage, its famous authors and characters. Can you spot the Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson bench, Paddington Bear, or How to Train Your Dragon? They're all on the Riverside Trail which takes in Thames-side sights City Hall and The Shard, More London and the Globe. There are three further trails to explore: the City Trail, Bloomsbury Trail and Greenwich Trail - see if you can spot the Elmer the Elephant and We're Going on a Bear Hunt benches in Greenwich Park.
Summer Events in London for Families
Follow the four trails and find 50 Books About Town benches dotted around London.
City Hall, 110 The Queen's Walk, London, SE1 2AA
Tube: London Bridge Station
Dates: 2nd July to 15th September 2014
The London premiere of Tove Jannson's much loved Moomins with beautiful puppets by Little Angel Theatre.
Polka Children's Theatre, 240 The Broadway, London, SW19 1SB
Tube: South Wimbledon Station
Dates: 11th June - 16th August 2014
The excellent Polka Theatre presents the London premiere of an adaptation of one of Tove Jannson's famous Moomin stories, Moominsummer Madness. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of this famous author, this musical co-production with Royal and Derngate has beautiful puppets by Little Angel Theatre and follows the cute Moomin family on a humorous adventure where they encounter a strange floating theatre. The 100th anniversary celebrations continue with 'Moomin Summer Madness - A Birthday Party', a family day out on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th August in Covent Garden Market with readings, music and guest appearances from the Moomin puppets from this production plus fun activities for children on both days.
A family opera based on Lewis Carroll's famous rabbit hole tale.
Holland Park Theatre, Holland Park, Holland Park, London, W8 6LU
Dates: 19th July - 02nd August 2014
A highlight of Opera Holland Park in 2013, the specially commissioned family opera based on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with music by Will Todd, is revived this year. After the huge success of The Fantastic Mr Fox - staged as part of the opera festival for three consecutive years - this summer sees the return of the hour-long family opera, a site-specific production directed by Martin Duncan, designed by Leslie Travers and conducted by Stuart Stratford. Let's hope last year's strong cast, led by Fflur Wyn as Alice, returns. Tickets are only £3 for children and £8 for adults.
Sophie and her mummy open the door to a very thirsty and hungry Tiger.
Lyric Shaftesbury Avenue, Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho, London, W1D 7ES
Dates: 2nd July to 7th September 2014 - Various Times
The Olivier-nominated musical adaptation of Judith Kerr's picture book The Tiger Who Came to Tea returns to the London stage this summer. Last seen in the West End in 2012, this much loved tale of a tiger creating tea time mayhem is brought vividly to life on stage in a show packed with oodles of magic, sing a long songs and clumsy chaos. Adapted and directed by David Wood, "the national children's dramatist" (The Times), who has been behind more than 70 plays for children from Shaun The Sheep to Fantastic Mr Fox, The Tiger Who Came to Tea remains faithful to the well loved book about a thirsty, hungry tiger. Suitable for children aged 3 and over.
The National Theatre's play about a little girl and her ghost-elephant friend, in the West End.
New London Theatre, Drury Lane, South Bank, London, WC2B 5PW
Dates: 30th June to 6th September 2014
A tale of a little girl and her ghost-elephant friend, The Elephantom by Ross Collins is a charming family tale. Transferring from the National Theatre's The Shed to the New London Theatre in the West End, the play focuses on a little girl who is at first delighted to have her larger-than-life friend living with her - he makes everything so much fun! However, it doesn't take long before she starts to realise that Elephantoms are simply too big for houses and he starts to get into all sorts of trouble. Through clever puppetry and theatrical ingenuity, Ben Power successfully adapts this story for the stage. The children's show runs in the daytime at the New London Theatre, home of War Horse, from 30th June until 6th September 2014. Suitable for children aged 3 and above.
A story about the power of books and the bravery of a little boy who hates stories.
Vaudeville Theatre, 404 Strand, London, WC2R 0NH
Dates: 08th - 31st August 2014
Michael Morpurgo's children's book about a little boy who hates stories is adaptated for the stage by the award-winning Wizard Presents Theatre Company. Set in a library, I Believe in Unicorns tells of the power of books and the bravery of Tomas who loves playing in the mountains where he lives but who hates reading and school. His world is turned upside down the day he meets the Unicorn Lady (Danyah Miller) in his local library. Ideal summer entertainment for children aged between five and eleven - and anyone who could be persuaded to believe in unicorns.
Jacqueline Wilson's much loved story follows Hetty after she escapes from the Foundling Hospital.
Vaudeville Theatre, 404 Strand, London, WC2R 0NH
Dates: 5th August to 6th September 2014
Jacqueline Wilson's Hetty Feather is brought to life on the Vaudeville stage this summer following a successful first run at the Rose Theatre in Kingston in April this year. Adapted by scriptwriter Emma Reeves - known for CBBC's The Story of Tracy Beaker - the story follows Hetty after she escapes from the Foundling Hospital. Following her adventures from a squirrel house to the streets of Victorian London as she searches for her real mother, it's a terrific story that's ideal for all the family. Fans of Jacqueline Wilson's writing can find out more about the author at the Museum of Childhood's Daydreams and Diaries: The Story of Jacqueline Wilson which runs until 2nd November 2014.
The Birmingham Stage Company presents a "theatrical romp" through British history.
Garrick Theatre, 2 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HH
Dates: 03rd - 31st August 2014
After last year's sell-out success this stage adaptation of Terry Deary's popular Horrible Histories children's books returns to the Garrick Theatre as the Birmingham Stage Company presents Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain - Part Two. Boudicca, William Wallace, Queen Victoria and the rest of Britain's horrible history is recounted at the "gallop" in this "theatrical romp" (The Guardian) which also features topical TV references so you get the Vikings invading in a bloody version of 'Relocation, Relocation' and Field Marshal Haig getting fired on the final of 'The Apprentice'. Altogether "pretty good entertainment if you are 10 years old", says Lyn Gardner in The Guardian. Recommended for children aged six and above.
Lewis Carroll's classic story told through an outdoors promenade performance.
National Trust: Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, Morden, London, SM4 5JD
Tube: Morden Station
Dates: 01st - 04th August 2014
Adapted by Bradley Cole and performed by Sixteenfeet Productions, Alice in the Walled Garden is a modern interpretation of Lewis Carroll's classic story, Alice in Wonderland. The production comes to Morden Hall Park from 1st to 4th August 2014, to Streatham Rookery Gardens from 7th until 17th August, and to the Walled Garden in Walpole Park, Ealing, from 21st to 25th August. Presented as a promenade performance, Alice in the Walled Garden gives children the chance to experience Alice's madcap adventures down the rabbit hole. As well as Alice herself, audiences will encounter all the familiar characters including the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpiller and, of course, the White Rabbit.
Kids are free at London's top West End shows throughout August.
The West End, , Soho, London, WC2H 7BP
Dates: 01st - 31st August 2014
It's now over a decade since the excellent idea of Kids Week was first conjured up. A truly inspired summer treat for families, Theatreland is available for free to excitable tots and teens for the whole month of August. Children aged 5 to 16 years can see an awesome selection of dazzling West End hits gratis - as long as an adult pays the full price - and another two children can go half price. The 2014 shows include Aliens Love Underpants, The Elephantum, The Tiger Who Came To Tea, What The Ladybird Heard, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion King, Hetty Feather, Horrible Histories, I Believe in Unicorns, Mamma Mia!, Matilda the Musical, Les Miserables, War Horse and many more. Tickets for the most popular shows go fast, so it's best not to make any promises until you've booked. Aside from the shows themselves, there's a whole raft of free children's activities. Kids can peek backstage, participate in workshops, dabble with make-up, learn to dance, scribble a few lines in writing classes and even sing with the cast. It's a fantastic initiative and one which can only inspire kids' enthusiasm for the stage in later life.
A free party in Covent Garden to celebrate the much loved Moomins.
Covent Garden Piazza, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
Dates: 09th - 10th August 2014
Celebrations of the 100th anniversary Moomin author, Tove Jannson, culminate in Moomin Summer Madness - A Birthday Party, a weekend of storytelling and Moomin music on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th August at Covent Garden in the Piazza (on the north east side by the Royal Opera House). Philip 'Beardy' Ardagh, the award-winning author of the Eddie Dickens adventures begins the weekend-long celebration at 12noon on Saturday, and the puppets from the Polka Theatre's production Moominsummer Madness will also be putting in an appearance at 5pm. There will be extracts from favourite Moomin books, and on Sunday Finnish entertainer Benny Tornroos, best known for singing the Moomin animated theme song, performs. Added to all this there will be Moomin character costumes as well as face painting on both days between 11am and 4pm.
A hip hop twist to the story of The Wizard of Oz.
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
Dates: 05th - 26th August 2014
ZooNation's young dancers, aged 10 to 19, perform this hip hop twist to the story of The Wizard of Oz. ZooNation Dance Company and Kate Prince put their distinctive and energetic spin on the classic children's tale made famous by the 1939 film starring Judy Garland. A big hit when it premiered at the Southbank Centre last summer, Groove on Down the Road returns inviting audiences aged five and over down the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion to a soundtrack of Jose Gonzalez, Janet Jackson, Miguel, Janelle Monae, Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder.
A unique, 50 seat floating puppet theatre for children as young as three.
83 Petersham Road, Opposite Terrace Gardens, London, TW10 6UT
Tube: Richmond Station
From 26th July 2014 and for the next two months, during August and September, the Puppet Theatre Barge moves to its Richmond mooring, about 500 yards from Richmond Bridge close to Gaucho's restaurant. Hop on board the Puppet Barge - it's easy to spot with its red and yellow awnings - for summer shows for children as young as three. The three 2014 summer shows are The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, the two cousins who visit one another's homes and find each has a very different way of living, A Child's Garden of Verse followed by a delightful adaptation of the 14th century poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the best know tales of Arthur and his knights of the Round Table which is presented for adults and young people.
Events at Puppet Theatre Barge
30th August to 27th September 2014 - 7.30pm-8.45pm | £12, child £8.50, concs £10
The Puppet Barge takes audiences to the court of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table for the 14th century masterpiece, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, presented for adults and young people ...more
13th August to 28th September 2014 | £12, concs £10, child £8.50
Shadow puppets and marionettes combine with specially composed music to make this a programme of beauty, poignancy and fun, which captures and nurtures the imagination. The poems have been chosen so that both adults and ...more
London's South Bank is filled with fringe theatre and has a wonderfully relaxed vibe in the summer.
Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
The South Bank and London Wonderground Speigeltent are a great way to entertain the kids this summer. Bringing Coney Island-style attractions, fairground rides, circus and cabaret with them, kids of all ages will enjoy the shows and other entertainment on offer. Tap Tap Theatre presents 'Handmade Tales' (12th to 17th August 2014), six original children's stories suitable for kids aged 5 and above. 'Ready, Steady, Ceilidh!' (20th August to 3rd September 2014), gives young bravehearts a chance to get up and dance Scottish style. And talented mother of two Ali McGregor presents 'Jazzamatazz' (13th to 28th September 2014), an hour of jazzy beats to get kids aged 0 to 7 singing. At London Wonderground, which is part of the Southbank Centre's Festival of Love, world record-breaking human beatboxer Shlomo presents a Beatbox Adventure for Kids for two afternoons in August (Thursday 7th and Friday 8th August), and there's disco fun for the under 5s with DJ Monski Mouse. Take the family to the South Bank, enjoy a show, ride on the fairground attractions or simply put down a picnic rug, let the kids wear themselves out at the outdoor adventure playground in the shadow of the London Eye, and take in the atmosphere on a sunny summer's day.
Events at London Wonderground Spiegeltent
Friday 19th and Saturday 27th September 2014 - 9.30pm | £15.50
The cabaret performer Lili la Scala stars in this variety show of comedy, magic and cabaret. Featuring the comedian The Boy With Tape On His Face and the juggler Mat Ricardo, and special guests at ...
28th August to 28th September 2014 - 7.30pm | £15.50
An entertaining mix of cabaret, burlesque, modern circus theatre and drag from the seven-strong troupe, presenting a sequined-filled, fun show. Featuring Shivahhah, 'Captain Kidd', Dallas Dellaforce, and from the Tom Tom Crew and CIRCA ZOO, ...
6th August to 28th September 2014 - 9am-8pm | £10-£20
20th & 21st and 27th & 28th Sep 2014 - Various Times | £10
Snappy beats to get the kids singing, prancing, twisting and dancing.
Saturday 20th September 2014 - 9.30pm | £15.50, concs £14
Miss Behave presents this part variety, part gameshow, part disco, slice of late-night entertainment, featuring performers in comedy, burlesque and music. Not suitable for ages below 16.
Saturday 20th September 2014 - 4pm | £21.50
The pensioner, hip-hopping, ex-Music Hall performer, Ida Barr, presents her unique Bingo show, in which you can compete for some dazzling prizes.
Children can see how the royals spent their childhood and enjoy activities in a new Family Pavilion.
Buckingham Palace , Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1A 1AA
Tube: Victoria Station
Dates: 26th July to 28th September 2014
The eagerly awaited announcement of the birth of Prince George of Cambridge at 4.24pm on 22nd July 2013 is one of 150 objects spanning more than 250 years on display at Royal Childhood, this summer's special exhibition at Buckingham Palace. Well-loved toys, treasured family gifts and tiny outfits belonging to nine generations of royal children, as well as previously unseen photographs and film footage, are among the objects from the Royal Collection, the Royal Archives and the private collections of members of the Royal Family. The spectacular silver-gilt Lily Font, commissioned by Queen Victoria for the christening of her first daughter Princess Victoria in 1841 and used at almost all major royal baptisms since, is part of the display and can be see in the Music Room alongside the silk-satin and lace christening robe worn by Prince George of Cambridge. Families visiting the Palace can enjoy a new multimedia guide for children aged 5 to 12 and join in a host of activities in the new Family Pavilion on the Palace's West Terrace, overlooking the garden.
This fantastic storytelling centre in Stratford East is open every day of the summer holidays.
383-387 High Street, Stratford, Stratford, London, E15 4QZ
Tube: Stratford Station
Discover, the brilliant storytelling centre in Stratford East, is open every day of the summer holidays, from Monday 21st July until Sunday 7th September 2014. Kids can become sleuth detectives this summer at the Secret Agents Academy for Spies (until the end of August). The children's story centre, which caters for children up to the age of 11, turns this little corner of east London into Stratford on Sea and invites babies and children up to 6 to listen to seaside stories and sing along to sea shanties with Captain Sam. Join the Story Builders for seaside tales with a different story each week of the summer holidays. From Monday 4th until Sunday 10th August the story will be 'Tiddler', the little fish that "blows small bubbles but tells tall tales", by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, followed by 'Commotion in the Ocean' by Giles Andreae from Monday 11th until Sunday 17th August 2014.
Events at Discover Children's Story Centre
13th to 26th September 2014 - 11.30am-2pm | £5, child £5, concs £4.50, family £18
Join our Story Builder for a fun, interactive session with songs and stories.
Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st September 2014 - 12.30pm-3pm | £5
Join our Story Builder to see this classic book come alive as a beautiful shadow puppet show.
27th September 2014 to 31st August 2015 | £5, child £5, family £18, concs £4.50
Saturday 4th October 2014 - 11am-5pm | Free
Mark the 100th birthday of theatre director and cultural innovator Joan Littlewood with Fun Palaces, a communal celebration of arts, culture and science.
Saturday 11th October 2014 - 11am-5pm | £5, concs £4.50, family £18
Join publishers DK and meet Darth Vader.
Hangars full of historic aircraft and summer activities laid on, most of it for free.
Grahame Park Way, Hendon, London, NW9 5LL
Tube: Colindale Station
The RAF Museum impresses children with over 100 full-sized aircraft and three flight simulators and this summer they're laying on a series of activities and themed weeks specially created for younger family members, most of which are free. Temporary art exhibition 'Biggles and Chums - First World War watercolours and works on paper by Captain W.E. Johns and his contemporaries' documents the very significant role The Flying Services - Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service - played in the Great War including previously unseen paintings and drawings from the First World War. It's one of a series for First World War inspired events which include 'First World War, Once Upon A Time' (2nd to 5th August 2014), storytelling sessions for the whole family; 'First World War Make and Take' activities (16th to 22nd August); and 'Knit for Britain' (25th to 29th August) a week of knitting and crochet with Britain from Above. You don't have to be an expert to join in - all levels are welcome and children as young as 5 can have a go.
Events at Royal Air Force Museum London
26th May 2014 to 4th January 2015 - 10am-6pm | Free
25th to 31st Oct 2014 - Various Times | £2, per kit
The Royal Shakespeare Company's musical thrills and delights both adults and children alike.
Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, Seven Dials, Soho, London, W1D 7DY
Dates: 18th October 2011 to 24th May 2015 - Various Times
The Royal Shakespeare Company's musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's celebrated children's book Matilda has proved to be a huge hit, running in London's West End since 2011, picking up a record breaking 7 Olivier Awards in 2012 and still going strong. Directed by Matthew Warchus and adapted by seasoned playwright Dennis Kelly and the award-winning Australian musical comedian Tim Minchin, Matilda has been described by WhatsOnStage as "a piece which is by turns riotously funny and gut-wrenchingly poignant". The eagerly anticipated production - which tells the story of a special little girl with an extraordinary imagination - stars Lauren Ward as Miss Honey, Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchball, Joise Walker as Mrs Wormwood and Paul Kaye as Mr Wormwood. Book tickets now to see Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre London. The show lives up to expectations and thrills and delights both adults and children alike, and is winning plaudits as this winter's must-see theatrical event. The Telegraph theatre critic Charles Spencer gave Matilda five stars, claiming it to be, "the best British musical since Billy Elliot that will surely be the toast of the West End. I predict that this show will be unstoppable."
Sam Mendes directs this sweet treat of a musical exploring the wonderful world of Wonka.
Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5JF
Dates: 22nd May 2013 to 30th May 2015
Nominated for a staggering seven Oliviers in this year's Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tells the heart-warming tale of Charlie Bucket and his fortunate discovery of a life-changing golden ticket. First we meet his poverty stricken but happy family, his four grandparents huddled together for warmth in one double bed and his parents struggling to feed the family. The tale takes a dramatic turn when Charlie pulls back the wrapper of his favourite chocolate bar to reveal the coveted ticket. This much loved Roald Dahl story was recently revived in a Tim Burton movie starring Johnny Depp, and now makes the bold move from screen to stage in a critically acclaimed production directed by Sam Mendes, with original music from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Theatre Royal Drury Lane is filled with "dazzling light displays and projections" (The Telegraph), a surreal mix of giant lollipops and human blueberries. But "by far the greatest fun is to be had from the Oompa Loompas," says The Telegraph. "They alone are worth the price of admission." Tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are on sale now. After the successful transition of Dahl's Matilda The Musical to the West End, this equally joyous and bizarre Dahl tale has become another hit for the British author behind classic children's books including The BFG and James and the Giant Peach.
Uncover the deadly world of spies at this interactive exhibition for families.
Over the next decade the IWM London flagship branch will be transformed by a Â£35 million project. The 'Horrible Histories: Spies' exhibition reopened as part of the first phase, launched in July 2014 with the opening of new First World War Galleries to mark the 100 year anniversary of the start of the First World War.
IWM London (Imperial War Museums), Lambeth Road, Southwark, London, SE1 6HZ
Tube: Lambeth North Station
Dates: 19th July 2014 to 4th January 2015
The IWM London (Imperial War Museums) in London re-opened on 19th July 2014, having closed its doors for redevelopment in January 2014, and with it came the return of family exhibition, 'Horrible Histories: Spies'. Based on the popular children's book series by Terry Deary, the display immerses visitors into the world of World War Two espionage, including codes and ciphers, disguises, camouflage, forgeries and gadgets. The display includes James Bond style gadgets like a tear-gas fountain pen used by Tommy Yeo-Thomas, one of the most famous agents from the Special Operations Executive (SOE), and a pair of false feet to wear over boots so disguising footprints. There are interactive elements including a camera which takes a passport photo which can then be disguised with false beards, hats and the like, and a trail to follow - collect stamps for your essential spy kit by unveiling the invisible ink and cracking the codes.
Magical stories are told in this large-scale summer show by Tales from the Shed.
Chickenshed, Chase Side, London, N14 4PE
Tube: Cockfosters Station
Dates: 31st July - 09th August 2014
Story-collector Jackto Factotum lives on one of London's many bridges and is on a quest to collect the magical stories brought to his city from around the world. London Bridges is an interactive summer show by Tales from the Shed at the famous Chickenshed Theatre aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 7. If your little ones are inspired by the tale of Jackto's London Bridges take them to see the Bridge exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands which looks at how London's bridges have inspired artists and includes Thomas Heatherwick's proposed Garden Bridge. The museum has lots of fun activities for kids including Fuzzy Felt Fun for the over 5s, a free workshop where budding architects can create a bridge-inspired artwork from felt, from Tuesday 29th July until Tuesday 5th August 2014.
Latest scientific methods reveal the stories behind the lives of eight mummies.
British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 3DG
Dates: 22nd May to 30th September 2014
Under 16s enter free at the British Museum's Ancient Lives: New Discoveries exhibition, a chance for young historians to explore stories in the lives of eight mummies, all from a period of 4000 years between 3500BC and 500AD. Using scientific analysis of the mummies via X-ray and CT scanning we can discover a wealth of information about how individuals lived and died in Ancient Egypt and Sudan. From a priest to a temple singer to a child, get up close and personal with these individuals by understanding the food they ate, their mummification, their health and beliefs. The Anicent Lives: New Discoveries exhibition is one of literally hundreds of things that kids will love about the British Museum. There's a chance to handle the objects, daily from 11am until 4pm in the designated rooms. Or pick up an activity backpack (available 10.30am to 3pm at weekends and during school holidays) and let your kids, aged 5 to 12, explore the world under one roof.
Two days of fun packed activities for families at the Old Deer Park, Richmond.
Old Deer Park, 187 Kew Road, Richmond, London, TW9 2AZ
Tube: Richmond Station
Dates: 16th - 17th August 2014
Bounce is what children like to do and during the summer holidays they've got the weekend-long Bounce Festival to both inspire and wear them out. Partnering with the Science Museum and Peppa Pig, there's something for all little adventurers, whether they're into science or arts and crafts. There's a create and craft section for budding artists, a dig it! zone full of cuddly and slithery creatures, and a Baa-rmy Sheep Show. Added to these are lots of wandering entertainers and a host of main stage shows which last year included international human beatboxing superstar Shlomo, juggling duo Rosie and Chaz, and THE GO!GO!GO! Show - new pop songs from five young performers. It's mainly designed for 4-12 year olds, hence under 3s go free, but younger siblings are catered for too with a Little Bouncers Corner which includes a soft play area, sand pits, mini-climbing wall, a playhouse and other toys. Find Bounce within the Old Deer Park next to the tennis courts behind Pools on the Park. If you're using satnav or Google maps - the postcode is TW9 2SL.
Music, dance and some CBeebies favourites feature at the festival for under-10s.
Hatfield House, Great North Road, Hatfield, London, AL9 5NQ
Tube: High Barnet Station
Dates: 15th - 17th August 2014
Glastonbury for the under-12s, the LolliBop Festival - "the big bash for little people" - returns for another packed weekend in 2014, this time taking place at the grand Hatfield House in Hertfordshire (a 20 minute train journey from London's King's Cross). The festival is renowned for welcoming some of the biggest names in children's entertainment to its live stages and this year is no different with a whole cast of CBeebies favourites including Justin Fletcher, Andy, Mr Bloom, and Mister Maker all taking part. The festival organisers are promising it will be "more diverse, exciting and extraordinary than ever before" with the Southbank Centre, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Disney on Ice, and Bear Grylls Survival Academy providing plenty of choice. As well as the live acts, there will be a number of sporting activities, creative workshops, nature talks and new areas to explore.
Award-winning immersive theatre takes children around the unseen areas of the Globe.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT
Tube: Mansion House Station
Dates: 18th - 27th August 2014
Shakespeare's Globe's award-winning immersive theatre piece for children and families, Muse of Fire, returns taking audiences on a journey around the unseen areas of the Globe. Backed by an impressive team of creatives including Matthew Blake from Punchdrunk, performer and sound artist Melanie Wilson, and Little Angel puppet theatre, the story-based treasure hunt was originally staged in October 2013 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Globe burning down. Now it returns with a new twist, reaching its finale in the newly opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Children aged 6 to 11 (and any brave parents or guardians) can discover an Elizabethan hermit hiding under the stage, have tea in an abandoned library, and discover the last spirit of Fire deep beneath the streets of London, hidden for 400 years by the cooling waters of the Thames.
Free, family-friendly annual celebration of Asian music and culture.
Gunnersbury Park, Popes Lane, London, W3 8LQ
Tube: Acton Town Station
Dates: 31st August 2014
The London Mela in Gunnersbury Park is a wonderful celebration of Asian music and culture which always draws a big crowd - 80,000 visitors attended last year - with its line-up of British Asian music, Bollywood figures and traditional and classical performances. Entertainment is spread over nine zones, all showcasing different types of music with urban, classical and experimental music, DJs, circus and comedy as well as dance, arts and a Magic Mela family area. There will also be a fun fair and hundreds of stalls selling food and crafts, all of which makes the London Mela a magnet for a multitude of Londoners out for a good time.
See 'Plantasia', the Healing Man, and climb to the top of the Pagoda.
Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AB
Tube: Kew Gardens Station
Children aged 16 and under go free at Kew Gardens where 'Plantasia' presents the perfect summer holiday fun for all the family giving children the chance to go on a Barefoot Walk, to explore the 17th century Queen's Garden, and discover the Healing Man - a raised planting bed in the shape of a human body showing a fascinating mix of medicinal plants. This World Heritage Site and former royal residence - Kew Palace is located within the grounds - extends to over 300 acres and is home to thousands of rare and beautiful species. Kids will enjoy the climb to the top of the 50-metre high Pagoda (£3.50 per person, not suitable for children under five) - opened to the public for the first time in eight years - once they've climbed all 253 steps they'll have a great bird's-eye view of the Healing Giant and the gardens beyond.
Events at Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens)
18th, 19th, 20th and 21st Sep 2014 - 10am-5pm | phone for prices
A conference building upon 100 years of Thai-European botanic cooperation.
30th August 2014 to 1st February 2015 - Various Times | Free
Saturday 27th September 2014 - 10am-4.30pm | £140, concs £120, adv booking essential
A practical session looking at how to photograph trees and plants.
18th October to 2nd November 2014 - Various Times | Free, plus admission £15, OAP/NUS/disabled £14, under 16s/disabled carer Free, under 16s must be accompanied by an adult
A season of events dedicated to the natural world's most lethal and alluring flora.
Go on a bus or tube simulator, listen to free storytelling, and ride on a steam train.
Covent Garden Piazza, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7BB
Tube: Covent Garden Station
The London Transport Museum has more than 80 buses and trains, from horse-drawn trams to steam trains, showing how public transport in the city has changed over the last two centuries. But the Covent Garden musuem also lays on some excellent summer holiday activities for young children (free when accompanied by a paying adult). Drop in for free storytime (suitable for families with children aged 3 to 7) on various themes including 'The Adventures of Constance the Clippie' as Constance the 'conductorette' teaches you her clever tricks for catching fare dodgers, and 'Pigeon Post', a tale of two pigeons in love but kept apart by their code-carrying wartime missions. Summer family fun runs until 29th August 2014 and includes make-and-take sessions where little ones can use clay to make old coins, or make secret messages and take them home via a specially made carrier pigeon. London Transport Museum is also organising steam train heritage runs this summer, on Saturday 2nd and Saturday 9th August, and Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th August, where passengers can find out what it was like travelling underground for the first time, 150 years ago.
Events at London Transport Museum
16th May 2014 to 8th March 2015 - Various Times | £15, under 12s must be accompanied by an adult child Free, concs £11.50
16th May 2014 to 8th March 2015 | £15 (Adults), £11.50 (Concessions), Free (17 & Under), allows unlimited entry to the Museum for a year
Tuesday 14th October 2014 - 6.30pm-8pm | £10, concs £8
The author and journalist talks about her book on the First World War.
Saturday 18th October 2014 - 10am-4pm | £40, concs £35, NUS £20
The symposium will bring together authors, curators and history enthusiasts and present engaging discussions, debates and stories focusing on diverse topics.
Saturday 15th November 2014 - 10am-4pm | £40, concs £35, NUS £20
Talks to compliment the Goodbye Piccadilly exhibition.
Splashing fun on the South Bank during the heatwave.
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX
Dates: 1st June to 8th September 2014
To the art world Jeppe Hein's 'Appearing Rooms' is a delightful mix of sculpture and architecture, playing with the viewers perception of solid forms. To the many kids and families who flock to the South Bank in the summer, the Danish artist's water jets provide a great way to cool off, dashing in and out of the unpredictable spurts of water. Watch for a few minutes and you'll soon be tempted to join in, especially on a hot day. As the 'walls' of water which return to the usual spot outside the Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall appear and disappear you can try walking through the 'rooms' without getting wet - chances are you won't manage it but it's fun trying.
Puppet making, parades, cakes and performances.
The Little Angel Theatre, 14 Dagmar Passage, Islington, London, N1 2DN
Tube: Angel Station
Dates: Sunday 7th September 2014
Join Islington's Little Angel Theatre for their Summer Party, an afternoon of theatre tours and puppetry. You'll get to learn how this renowned puppet theatre company puts on its performances, from making the characters to animating them through puppetry demonstrations and performances. This year the party will be held a little later than usual, on Sunday 7th September 2014, marking the launch of their brand new autumn season. There's a focus on all things Roald Dahl with the opening of their Fantastic Mr Fox show. You can help make a giant Willy Wonka puppet throughout the day, search for the BFG hiding somewhere in the gardens, and if you come to the morning session you can make a puppet to parade with during the afternoon.
Children can cool off in the circular fountain in Hyde Park.
Hyde Park, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
Tube: Knightsbridge Station
The £3.6 million Princess Diana Memorial Fountain is a stunning creation, and a suitable tribute to The People's Princess. A great ring of Cornish granite, through which the water swirls and twists in both directions, surrounds a complex, contoured water feature. In marked contrast to many public monuments, this is unobtrusively beautiful and in perfect harmony with its surroundings. Bring the kids' costumes and let them get wet. Staff are on hand throughout the summer to ensure that children messing about in the water do not injure themselves. A wonderful way to entertain the little ones when it's hot, hot, hot. You can try the Serpentine Lido and cafe next door, or go to the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion for art and tea afterwards.
20th September 2014
IN THIS ARTICLE
Books About Town
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The Tiger Who Came to Tea
I Believe in Unicorns
Hetty Feather (Over 7s)
Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain - Part Two
Alice In The Walled Garden
Moomin Summer Madness - A Birthday Party
Groove On Down The Road
Puppet Theatre Barge
London Wonderground Spiegeltent
Royal Air Force Museum London
Matilda The Musical
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Horrible Histories: Spies
London Bridges - Tales From The Shed
British Museum for Families - Ancient Lives: New Discoveries
Muse of Fire
Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens)
London Transport Museum
Jeppe Hein: Appearing Rooms
Little Angel Summer Party
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
Summer 2014 in London
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