Live music, theatre, interactive experiences and workshops - your kids have got a jam-packed month ahead of them
School's out for summer, and now it's down to YOU, dear parents, to fill the gaping void in their lives. But don't worry, we've done the research so you don't have to! Work your way through this kick-ass list of the best kids' activities taking place this month.
Woolwich Words & Sounds in the Park
Gallions Reach Park, July 16
Woolwich has undergone something of a transformation in recent years, with the promise of Crossrail leading to the influx of cultural events like the incredible Dream Machine and the opening of Woolwich Works cultural hub and art space, the latter of which is hosting its first festival this year. Woolwich Words & Sounds runs from July 15-31 and on July 16 a standalone event - Woolwich Words & Sounds in the Park - aims to give a family-friendly taster of what the festival has to offer.
Running from 12-7pm, the schedule includes a hula-hoop and circus skills workshop run by Guinness World Record-holding hoopers, The Majorettes; children’s mindfulness workshops with theatre ensemble, Tangled Feet; performances from lively jazz group, Kalpadruma Collective, Dollars Trio and world renowned drummer and composer, Myele Manzana and plenty more to keep the whole family entertained against the beautiful backdrop of the River Thames.
Gallions Reach Park, Woolwich
Peppa Pig: My First Concert
July 24 & 31
Introducing kids to the wonders of live music can be trickier than you’d think. Do you buy gig or festival tickets knowing you’ll need to be tucked up in bed long before the headliners walk onstage? Have you checked the *whole* back-catalogue for expletive-heavy B-sides?
Well, Peppa Pig has come up trumps, with the help of George, Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and the Aurora Orchestra. They’ll be tearing through a greatest hits set featuring “everything from Mozart to muddy puddles” (we think that was an early Beethoven number) and promise to shine a light on every one of the orchestra’s instruments throughout the show, teaching budding young musicians everything they need to know to take their own leap into the world of live music.
Show times are 12pm, 2pm and 4pm and the performance lasts for 60 minutes.
£21 BUY TICKETS
London Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4ES
Mandrakes and Magical Creatures at Warner Brothers Studio Tour
Fans of Harry Potter will be welcomed into the Great Hall to the Frog Choir scene this summer, featuring Warwick Davis’ Professor Flitwick costume. But there’s plenty more hiding in the shadows, too - Cornish Pixies, Dumbledore’s Fawkes and even the animatronic Monster Book of Monsters will be dotted around the Studio Tour, and Visitors will learn how Thestrals and Mandrakes were brought to life using models and CGI in the Creatures Workshop. As if that wasn’t enough, the doors of Professor Sprout’s greenhouse will be opened for the very first time and visitors will be able to explore the exotic and magical plants before pulling out a potted Mandrake as part of an interactive display. Just be sure to avoid the Venomous Tentacula hanging from the ceiling…
Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR
Summer Sessions at Greenwich Peninsula
Once a relative wasteland of flats and pricey restaurants, the area around the O2 Arena has become a destination in its own right in recent years, and events like Summer Sessions are the perfect way to experience everything it has to offer.
Running from June to September, the cultural festival brings together art, food, sport and music into a jam-packed schedule of mostly free events and experiences. There'll be mini golf designed by Yinka Ilori, outdoor table tennis tables painted by Camille Walala a colourful exhibition by JeeYoung Lee and the fantastic looking Fandangoe Skip - a sustainable therapy kiosk aiming to smash taboos around mental health, grief and loss.
For sport lovers, the Wimbledon finals and the entirety of the Tour de France will be shown on big screens, so grab a bite to eat and settle down in the sunshine.
Speaking of food, if you want to enjoy a lunch in peace, the Design District Canteen will take care of the little ones in their 'Kids Table', where a team of childcarers will entertain nippers with arts and crafts while you relax and grab a bite to eat.
Festival of Happiness
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Artist Stuart Semple knows a thing about happiness. He spends his days making art, creating bizarre products like the World’s Blackest Black, Brightest White and Coluriest Powder paints and winding up misers like Arnish Kapoor with brilliantly petty beefs. How could you NOT beam from ear to ear with a life like that? Now, he’s ready to pass his happiness on to you, via his festival at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Encouraging hope, recovery and joy through colourful and imaginative events, workshops and family trails, the fest will also premiere Semple’s new work, Something Else, and will feature his famous Happy Clouds, which will be on show in the UK for the first time in a decade.
Kids can learn how to make pin badges, join creative writing workshops listen to a the City of London Sinfonia Comfortable Classical Concert.
The festival is FREE and there’ll also be refreshments, ice creams, cocktails and pizzas on sale. See? That’s happiness, right there.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21 7AD
Family Festival of Flight
Budding young fighter pilots can test their coding skills, fly paper rockets and launch home-made parachutes as part of this free festival of all things flight.
The RAF Museum in Collingdale, north London already boasts a collection of flying machines spanning World War I, the Battle of Britain, Cold War and the Falklands, which is enough to occupy any sky-gadget fan, but with two days of interactive workshops and experiences, the Family Festival of Flight should be a must-visit for families in the summer holidays.
RAF Museum, Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL
The Secret Garden
From July 6
The secret’s out - your children can make their way straight into the pages of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s book as part of the Garden Museum’s summer exhibition.
Kids will learn how different artists’ illustrations from the past hundred years have brought the story to life, as well as learning about the many benefits of a good, old-fashioned stroll in an English garden.
The immersive exhibition will feature interactive games and trails, where guests will learn about the plants, animals and stories included in the book, and those who are suitably inspired can finish up by trying their hand at gardening - think of it as an apprenticeship for the children, and one step closer to them clearing up your back yard in time for summer.
From £7 (kids go free). BUY TICKETS
Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7LB
UNIQLO TATE Play: The Obliteration Room
Opens July 23
We’re currently unsure of the benefits of teaching your children that stickers look great when they’re all over the walls, but let’s be clear: Stickers look GREAT when they’re all over the walls! The Obliteration Room is here to prove the point by inviting your children to plaster the blank canvas of the Tate Modern with colourful dots and become part of a huge, collaborative piece of art.
It’s the brainchild of eccentric, 93 year-old artist, Yayoi Kusama, who has previous with multicoloured polka dots, having risen to fame in the 60s by hosting ‘happenings’ where naked participants were painted like moving Twister boards and sent out to be gawped at. Fear not, though, there’ll be no nudity here - just a whole load of manic excitement and at least an hour on the train home explaining why it was OK at the Tate Modern but it’s absolutely not OK in your newly painted living room.
Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
From July 23
With fuel prices and household bills rising, perhaps it’s high time your children learned how to live a simple, Medieval life - and thankfully, Eltham Palace is on hand to dish out a few handy life lessons this summer.
Having been a childhood home of King Henry VIII, it’s the perfect backdrop for lessons in courtly etiquette (thankfully, no beheadings are planned for children who fail to pass the tests), storytelling and Medieval games. With a constantly changing schedule of activities, visit for archery sessions, hobby horse jousting, lessons in how to design the perfect palace, defence skills workshops and even the chance to learn siege tactics. It’s not ALL glitz and glamour though - you can also find out about the worst jobs of all time and grimace through an A-Z of medieval torture methods.
From £10.60. BUY TICKETS
Eltham Palace, Court Yard, London SE9 5QE
Join English Heritage for year-round members prices
A Very Victorian Weekend
July 23 - 24
If archery floats your boat, but you don’t fancy all that torture and war, head to Audley End’s A Very Victorian Weekend instead. The beautiful country estate in Suffolk regularly hosts incredible events on its miniature railway, invites children into its gardens for an extravaganza of family fun including jesters, interactive plays and stories, and a host of Victorian games including a coconut shy and hoopla
From £12.60. BUY TICKETS
Audley End House and Gardens, Audley End Rd, Audley End, Saffron Walden CB11 4JF
Join English Heritage for year-round members prices
Pirates of England
Why are pirates so popular with children? They just arrrgh! Head to Dover Castle, where a group of history’s best known pirates will tell tales of bounty, booty and barnacles - and hopefully some better jokes than we managed. It promises to be a high-octane affair, with close-quarter combat, demonstrations of sea-faring skills and hands-on activities that’ll edge your children one step closer to becoming soldiers of fortune on the open seas.
From £2.10. Walk-ups accepted but online bookings also available. BUY TICKETS
Dover Castle, Castle Hill Rd., Dover CT16 1HU Join English Heritage for year-round members prices
Room on the Broom
From July 21
There’s room for you in the Lyric Theatre this summer, when Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler’s much-loved witch takes to the stage alongside a host of animals and a dastardly dragon. Two shows a day at 11am and 2pm give you the chance to fit a performance around nap-times and kids aged 3+ are welcome, so expect a raucous sing/shout along with plenty of excitable children in attendance. The perfect way to ease kids children into the wonder of live theatre.
From £10 BUY TICKETS
Lyric Theatre, 29 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 7ES
Theatre on Kew: The Jungle Book
Whether you’re a King of the Swingers or just a regular Jungle VIP, Kew Gardens’ interpretation of the Jungle Book should be on your t-do list this summer. Join Mowgli as she (yep, Mowgli is a she now) meets Bagheera, Akela and Baloo in the lush surroundings of London’s finest garden.
It’s a 70 minute-long performance with no interval, but Kipling’s most loved children’s story - plus a whole host of songs - should be enough to hold the attention of even the most fidgety kids.
The ticket price includes entry to the gardens, so make a day of it and enjoy the Bear Necessities of Life as you stroll through the fauna of Kew Gardens in the sunshine.
From £12.90. Under 2s go free BUY TICKETS
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE
Flip Out Hounslow
If your children are of the ‘charmingly indecisive’ type, then a trip to Hounslow’s newly-opened Flip Out might be the answer to your prayers. Cramming mini-golf, arcades, laser quest, bumper cars, inflatables, a ninja assault course and soft play under a single, cavernous roof, the beauty of Flip Out is that you pay for entry to the venue and not for individual activities. We’re yet to discover whether you can drive a bumper car around the laser quest arena, performing drive-by shootings with a slushy in your hand, but there’s only one way to find out.
Entry is a very reasonable £19pp (dropping to £14 for children under 1.1m tall) for three hours in the ‘Arena’ and if you’re not local to the brand-spanking new venue in Hounslow, Flip Out has similar offerings all over the country.
From £4. BUY TICKETS
Flip Out Hounslow, Units 3, 4 & 5 High Street Quarter, 8 Smithy Ln, Hounslow TW3 1EH
Jurassic Island Golf Harrow
It’s a scientifically proven fact that golf is better in the presence of dinosaurs. If we had our way, the US Open would see Rory McIlroy attempting to sink a 20ft putt while being chased by a hungry danger lizard, but seeing as our suggestions keep getting ignored by the people in charge, we’ll have to make do with places like Jurassic Island Golf, which opens on July 2.
The 18-hole mini-golf course claims to be entertaining for “all ages from 3 to 103,” which leaves us desperately wondering what happened to the 104-year-old in the focus group, but those of you within the age range are guaranteed to enjoy a game surrounded by gushing waterfalls, a jungle marsh and awe-inspiring beasts including a ferocious-looking T-rex.
From £7.50 for adult and child. BUY TICKETS
Jurassic Island Golf, Bannister Outdoor Sports Centre, Uxbridge Rd, Harrow HA3 6SW