Summer Events in London for Families

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Puppet Theatre Barge

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Puppet Theatre Barge
Jeppe Hein: Appearing Rooms
The Star Seekers
Sea Creatures
Circus Sampler, Marawa's Majorettes
Circus Sampler
World Gallery opens at the Horniman Museum in June 2018
World Gallery opens at the Horniman Museum in June 2018
Life in the Dark
Aladdin is one of 43 participating shows for free during Kids Week
Monstrous Festival
Greenwich and Docklands International Festival
School of Rock
Free Open Air Theatre at The Scoop
J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan
Here be Dragons at Kew Gardens
Walking With Dinosaurs
British Summer Time: Open House
Notting Hill Carnival
Discover Children's Story Centre
Giffords Circus: My Beautiful Circus
Harmonic by Cirque Bijou in Kew's Temperate House
Gnomus the Conservation Giant will be at the Temperate House this summer
The Tiger Who Came To Tea


Find out the best family friendly events this summer, from the Monstrous Festival to floating theatre on the Puppet Theatre Barge. Explore open air theatre and find free shows with our handy online guide.

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J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan

Liam Steel's Olivier Award-nominated production returns to the magical outdoor theatre.

Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, Inner Circle, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4NR

Tube: Regent's Park Station


Dates: 17th May - 15th June 2018


The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre 2018 season launches in May with a return of their Olivier Award-nominated production of Peter Pan. Based on the re-discovered original play written by J M Barrie, Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel's production tells the story of George Llewelyn Davies, one of the children who inspired the author to create the character of Peter Pan. Using puppetry in places, the drama reveals how the wounded soldiers of World War One used the fantastical lagoons and pirate ships of Never Land as an escape. Recommended for ages 9 and above, not suitable for children below 4.


Life in the Dark

Peer into the dark and see how different breeds of animals thrive without light.

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD

Tube: South Kensington Station , Gloucester Road Station


Dates: 13th July - 06th January 2019


A new exhibition at the Natural History Museum, Life in the Dark explores how different breeds of animals thrive without light. From the middle of the night to the darkest of caves and into the deepest oceans, there are entire worlds that are left completely in the dark and undiscovered. Using the latest scientific and technologic advances, the exhibition delves into the deepest corners of the earth to show visitors everything from fish to foxes, bats to boas and moles to moths, illustrating how ecosystems can thrive even without the presence of sunshine.


Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

Family-friendly shows include Bicycle Boy, part of the Greenwich Fair.

Greenwich, , London, SE10 9HF

Tube: North Greenwich Station


Dates: 21st June - 07th July 2018


The whole of Greenwich comes alive for the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, a two-week free festival of street performances, art and dancing in the streets. It kicks off with Fly By Night, which sees over 1500 trained pigeons soar into the skies above the Thames. Family-friendly shows include Bicycle Boy, a free musical for children aged between six and ten at the†Old Royal Naval College. It's part of Greenwich Fair, on 23rd and 24th June, a weekend of theatre, dance, street arts and circus which children of all ages will enjoy.


World Gallery

New gallery showing over 3,000 objects from around the world opens at the Horniman in June 2018.

Horniman Museum, 100 Road, London, SE23 3PQ

Tube: Denmark Hill Station


Dates: 29th June - 30th September 2018


The culmination of a five-year, £4.7 million project, the free World Gallery opens at the Horniman Museum in June 2018, showing over 3,000 objects from around the world that celebrate creativity and explore what it means to be human. Presented as a series of encounters with cultures from across the continents, the displays include a beautiful camel saddle from North Africa, Chinese paper offerings, the prow of a Libyan refugee boat, a Native American tomahawk and a sword made of sharks' teeth. New acquisitions and commissions as well as different ways of categorising objects coincide with the transformation of the gallery space, reconfigured to let daylight in and with kites and banners hanging overhead.


Sea Creatures

Delve deep into the ocean and see real-life sea creatures.

Royal Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, London, SW1P 2PE

Tube: St James's Park Station , Victoria Station


Dates: 20th July - 30th August 2018


This summer, Lawrence Hall at the Royal Horticultural Halls hosts a groundbreaking new exhibition that delves deep into the ocean. Displaying 50 ethically sourced, real-life specimens, Sea Creatures explores the secrets of life beneath the waves by showcasing cross-sections of animals such as whales, penguins and Great White sharks. Visitors can get up close and personal with the complex organs, which reveal how a life in the ocean is possible. The exhibition also includes VR experiences that give a glimpse into the deepest parts of the world's oceans.


Circus Sampler

Two weekends of free circus shows in the spectacular 18th-century courtyard of Somerset House.

Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA

Tube: Temple Station


Dates: 28th July - 05th August 2018


In the year that circus celebrates its 250th birthday, Somerset House presents the biggest free outdoor contemporary circus event in central London. Taking place across two weekends - one in July and one in August - Circus Sampler will premiere exciting and distinctive shows in the spectacular 18th-century courtyard. One the first weekend, Far From The Norm and a group of international and London artists will perform the London premiere of Union Black, which combines fast-paced footwork and physical floor-work with Chinese pole and tight-wire. On the second weekend, Gandini Juggling give the world premiere of a special commission, Cascade. Performing in tandem with the rise and fall of the 55 water jets of the courtyard fountain, 30 jugglers will send balls flying through the air in a magnificent display. Running concurrently with Circus Sampler, Somerset House will also host the Circus Originals exhibition, exploring the history of contemporary circus.


The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Sophie and her mummy open the door to a very thirsty and hungry Tiger.

Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street, London, W1D 7DY

Tube: Piccadilly Circus Station , Leicester Square Station


Dates: 28th June - 09th September 2018


David Wood's Olivier award-nominated musical adaptation of Judith Kerr's picture book The Tiger Who Came To Tea returns to the London stage after a successful revival last year. 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. Reviewing this production last year, The Guardian noted approvingly the " delightful sleight-of hand (or should that be sleight-of-paw?) magic tricks" and popular " pratfalls" from dad and the clumsy milkman and postman.


Kids Week

Kids go free at London's top West End shows throughout August.

The West End, , Soho, London, WC2H 7BP

Tube: Leicester Square Station , Piccadilly Circus Station, Covent Garden Station, Charing Cross Station


Dates: 1st to 31st August 2019


A truly inspired summer treat for families, Kids Week makes West End hits available to youngsters for free - as long as an adult pays the full price. For the whole of August, a child aged between 5 and 16 can go to any of the 43 participating shows for free and they get some top shows taking part. This year's line up includes School of Rock, Strictly Ballroom the Musical, 42nd Street, Disney's Aladdin, Wicked, The Lion King, Mamma Mia! and more. There are options for under-fives with a programme of shows and activities specifically for the very young. Tickets for Kids Week 2018 go on sale in June 2018 and adults can also buy up to two extra children's tickets at half price while paying no booking fees. Bargain!


The Star Seekers

Explore the limitless majesty of galaxies, the solar system, shooting stars and planets.

National Theatre: Dorfman, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX

Tube: Temple Station , Waterloo Station


Dates: 08th August - 01st September 2018


Children aged between three and eight are invited to join The Star Seekers, Alph, Betty and Gammo on a journey through space. Inspired by a childhood wonder of the universe, this theatrical experience explores the limitless majesty of galaxies, the solar system, shooting stars and planets through songs, silliness and anti-gravity antics. The many interactive elements ask children to make suggestions for what to bring on a space journey and what planets might be made of. Visit the NT space station an hour before the performance to take part in free family activities, or book in for a family workshop and create space-tastic songs in a music making workshop. You can also hear from the star seeking cast in a special post-show Q&A.


British Summer Time: Open House

Free cinema screenings, food, music and daytime family entertainment.

Hyde Park, Rangers Lodge, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH

Tube: Knightsbridge Station


Dates: 09th - 12th July 2018


Between two long weekends of big British Summer Time gigs, Hyde Park hosts Open House, a week of free outdoor films, live music and entertainment. As well as Wimbledon Championship screenings from 12noon every day, two films will be shown each evening at 5.30pm and 8.30pm. There's live music from 6pm through to 10pm with Mister Kanish and Daytoner, a six piece band with a baritone, tenor sax, flute, keys, bass, drums and DJ. Freddie & The Freeloaders is followed by The London Gay Big Band, a twenty piece jazz orchestra, while on Thursday 12th July House Gospel Choir presents house-meets-gospel and the Old Dirty Brasstards perform their unique take on drum and brass. Try out the flying trapeze for free with Upswing, go retro at hip hop bingo and catch the Chickenshed Theatre for free daytime family entertainment.


Notting Hill Carnival

Hundreds of youngsters take part in a huge procession on Children's Day.

Notting Hill, , London, W11 3AG

Tube: Holland Park Station


Dates: Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August 2019


Held since 1966, the Notting Hill Carnival was originally a local affair for west London's homesick Caribbean community, this has evolved into Europe's biggest street party. This year there's a renewed emphasis on reclaiming Sunday as children's day when children parade through the streets in their flamboyant costumes dancing along the carnival route to the rhythms provided by the mobile sound systems or steel bands. There are an additional 10 children's bands participating this year, and Meanwhile Gardens will be solely dedicated to children's entertainment and families. Children of all ages will enjoy the calypso and soca performances, Caribbean food, drinks and 38 sound systems strategically located around the streets of west London.


Puppet Theatre Barge

A unique, 50 seat floating puppet theatre for children as young as three.

Opp 35 Blomfield Road, London, W9 2PF

Tube: Warwick Avenue Station , Royal Oak Station


The Puppet Barge Theatre†presents three productions suitable for a range of ages taking place across the two months of the summer. Children as young as four are invited to hop on board the brightly coloured barge for†Red Riding Hood as the much-loved story of Little Red Riding Hood is given a humorous twist in the tale by prize-winning author Deborah Jones. The barge is moored in Little Venice†from 9th June until 8th July and moves to Richmond from 8th August until 30th September 2018.†The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse and†The Butterfly's Spell, both in Richmond, complete the trio of puppet theatre on the barge.


Events at Puppet Theatre Barge

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse Now On Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

9th February to 24th March 2019 | £13 (Adults), £10 (Concs), £9 (Children)

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse Puppet Theatre Barge 2019-02-092019-03-24 Where:
Puppet Theatre Barge, Opp 35 Blomfield Road London, W9 2PF
Category: Theatres

These two famous cousins visit each other and both experience new sights and sounds as the Town Mouse goes to stay with the County Mouse. The Country Mouse then, in turn, heads into town and ...more

The Insect Circus On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

30th March to 28th April 2019 | £13 (Adults), £10 (Concs), £9 (Children)

The Insect Circus Puppet Theatre Barge 2019-03-302019-04-28 Where:
Puppet Theatre Barge, Opp 35 Blomfield Road London, W9 2PF
Category: Theatres

The floating Puppet Theatre Barge invites you to The Insect Circus where grasshoppers, beetles, wasps and dragonflies flit and buzz about, brought to life with puppets, wit and humour. Staged in Little Venice by String ...more

All events at Puppet Theatre Barge

Free Open Air Theatre at The Scoop

Enjoy free theatre as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is staged in the open air.

The Scoop at More London, The Queen's Walk, Bridge City, London, SE1 2DB

Tube: London Bridge Station


Dates: 08th August - 02nd September 2018


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and King Arthur are the stories told as the free open air theatre returns to The Scoop for its 15th year, presenting outdoor theatre every Wednesday to Saturday evening throughout the summer. Join Dorothy and her dog Toto for an adventure down the yellow brick road and see a new adaptation of Sir Thomas Mallory's 1485 retelling of King Arthur, focusing on the love triangle between a king, a queen and a handsome young knight. The outdoor theatre season, part of the London Bridge City: Summer By The River festival, is supplemented by free community activities including workshops, concerts and talks. Free riverside theatre to dip your toe into, set against a backdrop of London landmarks like City Hall and Tower Bridge.


Discover Children's Story Centre

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 is a fantastic storytelling centre in Stratford East where Julia Donaldson is the current focus of a special installation on A World Inside a Book: Gruffalos, Dragons and Other Creatures. Story Trails and Garden Trails run frequently and vary from carnival costumes to Capoeira moves, from wizards and witches to pirates or plants. Some of the most effective and most used exhibits here are the simplest, such as a dressing up chest, or a puppet theatre. Established in 1998, Discover provides creative, play and learning opportunities to enable children aged 0 to 11 and their carers to develop their potential. There is also a series of changing exhibitions to enjoy and events at the weekends and during school holidays.


Events at Discover Children's Story Centre

The Tiger Who Came To Tea And The Adventures Of Mog The Forgetful Cat

16th February to 1st September 2019 - 10.10am | £1.50-£8

The Tiger Who Came To Tea And The Adventures Of Mog The Forgetful Cat Discover Children's Story Centre 2019-02-162019-09-01 Where:
Discover Children's Story Centre, 383-387 High Street, Stratford London, E15 4QZ
Category: Attractions for Kids
All events at Discover Children's Story Centre

Matilda The Musical

The Royal Shakespeare Company's musical thrills and delights both adults and children alike.

Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, Seven Dials, Soho, London, WC2H 9HU

Tube: Covent Garden Station , Leicester Square Station, Tottenham Court Road Station


Dates: 18th October 2011 to 24th May 2020 - Various Times


The Royal Shakespeare Company's multiple award-winning musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's celebrated children's book Matilda is a big hit at the Cambridge Theatre in London's West End. Directed by Matthew Warchus and adapted by seasoned playwright Dennis Kelly and the award-winning Australian musical comedian Tim Minchin, Matilda puts its child stars at the heart of the show. Described by WhatsOnStage as "a piece which is by turns riotously funny and gut-wrenchingly poignant", the much praised production - which tells the story of a special little girl with an extraordinary imagination - lives up to expectations and thrills and delights both adults and children alike. Book tickets now to see Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre London. Back when it first opened in London in 2011 Telegraph theatre critic Charles Spencer gave Matilda five stars, claiming it was "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."


School of Rock

Lloyd Webber's feel good musical based on the smash hit 2003 film.

New London Theatre, Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PW

Tube: Holborn Station , Covent Garden Station


Dates: 24th October 2016 to 20th October 2019


Students at a prestigious prep school "stick it to the man" with encouragement from their substitute teacher - wannabe rock star Dewey Finn - in the feel good musical based on the smash hit 2003 film. "The kids are genuinely talented" says Michael Billington in The Guardian in this Olivier Award winning musical adaptation of School of Rock - Andrew Lloyd Webber's "most exuberant show in years". With lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Julian Fellowes, the story unfolds as Finn manages to make a rocking band out of his class of straight-A students but the big question is: can he get them to the Battle of the Bands without their parents and the school's headmistress finding out?


Giffords Circus: My Beautiful Circus

Wonderfully unique, Nell Gifford, Tweedy the Clown and the whole of Giffords Circus make a welcome return

Chiswick House and Gardens, Burlington Lane, London, W4 2RP

Tube: Turnham Green Station


Dates: 28th June - 09th July 2018


Nell Gifford, Tweedy the Clown and the glorious Giffords Circus make a welcome return to Chiswick House with My Beautiful Circus - and what a beautiful circus it is. A new big top welcomes Italian circus performers, The Curatola Brothers, Diana Vediashkina and her adorable dachshunds and Lisandra Austin performing her aerial silk act. Like a scene from Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem, Tweedy enters in a vintage caravan, pushed by Pozo the Strongman who later shows his strength, carrying not just four children but a grown man. The Portuguese Dias Family of eight perform gymnastic and balancing acts, Dany Reyes impresses with some amazing juggling and guiding us through the show is Nancy Trotter Landry, a glamorous 1930s flapper who sings, dances and does a fabulous comedy double act with Tweedy. Everyone's invited into the circus ring at the end... don't be shy, dancing with the troupe is a joy and will leave you with a yearning to join the circus.


Walking with Dinosaurs

Get up close to the terrifying Tyrannosaurus-Rex with Michaela Strachan.

The O2 Arena, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0BB

Tube: North Greenwich Station


Dates: 14th - 19th August 2018


A follow up to the hugely popular 1999 BBC television show, here comes another chance to go Walking With Dinosaurs. The arena spectacular has now been seen by over 9 million people worldwide and will be stopping by The O2 this August to depict the dinosaurs' evolution with almost cinematic realism. The updated show includes spectacular and colourful changes to dinosaurs based on the latest scientific research and present nine species from their entire 200 million year reign. You can get up close to the terrifying Tyrannosaurus-Rex, who towers over us at an impressive 39ft, and walk alongside Allosaurus - one of the largest carnivores of the Jurassic period.


Monstrous Festival

Football, games, fancy dress and the world's largest inflatable obstacle course.

The Printworks, 1 Printworks, Surrey Quays Road, London, SE16 7PJ

Tube: Canada Water Station


Dates: 29th July 2018


A new family festival arrives in London in 2018 with seven zones of fun at Printworks for children aged four to 14. The Monstrous Festival offers football coaching from by the Chelsea FC Foundation team, over 1,000 classic console favourites, fancy dress, photo booths and The Beast - the world's largest inflatable obstacle course, at an unbelievable 272 metres long. Monty's Monstrous Disco is the place to go dancing with live music and performances from stars of stage and screen. The Magical Fun Fair Town hosts a mini theme park filled rides from Tea Cups to trampolines while The Big Outdoors is where arts and craft workshops take place, alongside a petting zoo and an urban beach. Young ones, aged four and under, have their own Baby Garden zone with Baby Sensory, soft play, story-time and a chilled out atmosphere.


Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens)

See the newly reopened Temperate House, hunt for dragons 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 the Temperate House has just reopened in time for summer 2018 where†Harmonic by Cirque Bijou perform†aerial stunts in the rafters on weekends and bank holidays from May to September. You can also follow the Here be Dragons trail from†Kew Palace†and hunt down dragon sculptures around the gardens at this World Heritage Site. From 13th July 2018, kids will enjoy the climb to the top of the 50-metre high Pagoda (£4.50 for adults, £3 for children, not suitable for children under five). Once they've climbed all 253 steps they'll have a great bird's-eye view over 300 acres of beautiful gardens and†thousands of rare species.


Events at Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens)

Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on nature On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

13th April to 27th October 2019 | Included with entry to the Gardens: £16.50 (Adults), £14.50 (Concs), £4.50 (Children 4-16)

Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on nature Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens) 2019-04-132019-10-27 Where:
Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond London, TW9 3AB
Category: Parks and Gardens
Kew Children's Garden Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

18th May 2019 to 18th May 2020 | Included with entry to the Gardens: £16.50 (Adults), £14.50 (Concs), £4.50 (Children 4-16)

Kew Children's Garden Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens) 2019-05-182020-05-18 Where:
Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond London, TW9 3AB
Category: Parks and Gardens
Craig David's TS5

Wednesday 12th June 2019 - 5pm | £45, child £27

Craig David's TS5 Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens) 2019-06-122019-06-12 Where:
Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond London, TW9 3AB
Category: Parks and Gardens

R&B and grime from the Grammy-nominated singer and MC.

Beverley Knight + Billy Ocean

Tuesday 9th July 2019 - 5pm | £45 & £70, child £27 & £52

Beverley Knight + Billy Ocean Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens) 2019-07-092019-07-09 Where:
Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond London, TW9 3AB
Category: Parks and Gardens

The legendary singers come together for a co-headline show, singing material from both their back catalogues.

Kew the Music Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

9th to 14th Jul 2019 | From £45 (Adults)

Kew the Music Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens) 2019-07-092019-07-14 Where:
Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond London, TW9 3AB
Category: Parks and Gardens

Craig David, Beverley Knight and Billy Ocean, Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra and Rick Astley play at Kew the Music in 2019, a week of summer picnic concerts, from 9th to 14th ...more

All events at Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens)

Jeppe Hein: Appearing Rooms

Splashing fun on the South Bank during the summer.

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX

Tube: Waterloo Station , Embankment Underground Station


Dates: 26th May - 09th September 2018


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.

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