Summer Holidays are SAVED with our Ultimate Guide
Parents: we hear your muffled cries as you stare into the Summer Holidays void, armed with just a bubble blower and a freezer full of Twisters.
And we have come to your rescue with the ultimate guide to 40 best things to do with kids this August, from Wild West towns, free West End shows, Crystal Maze camps, Peter Rabbit rescues, dinosaurs and freaky ice creams to wizards, space adventures and life-sized Monopoly.
Our top 40 picks include a gaggle of free events and there’s something to entertain (and wear out) every flavour of child.
Phantom Peak, Surrey Quays
The eagerly-awaited, immersive, open-world adventure opens in London this August, where families can lose themselves in a steampunk wonderland and enjoy an adventure of their own choosing.
The incredible Surrey Quays set will include a central waterway with real-life boat rides into the mountains, fully-working shops, restaurants and bars and even a waterfall. And you’ll be able to discover clues by grabbing the local newspaper, speaking to locals and even digging into their backstories to find out who’s trustworthy and who might be leading you on a merry dance.
Explore the 30,000 square foot ‘town’ that harks back to Victorian times, while also boasting futuristic technology. And by interacting with the locals and taking part in immersive games, you’ll find yourself at the centre of the unfolding story.
Phantom Peak promises to become one of the most exciting experiences to hit London, riding on the back of the ever-growing immersive theatre market brought to the mainstream by titans like Punchdrunk and Secret Cinema.
Phantom Peak, Canada St, Surrey Quays Rd, London SE16 7PJ. From 3 August
Peter Rabbit Garden Adventure
This summer at Blenheim Palace, join Beatrix Potter in the garden of old Mr McGregor and help save Peter Rabbit.
Through a magical mix of storytelling, live performance and puppetry the world of Beatrix Potter will come to life in Blenheim Palace’s walled garden as you take part in the rescue of Peter from Mr McGregor’s rabbit pie-shaped plan.
Young Miss Potter enlists your help in finding mischievous Peter, leading you through flower and vegetable gardens, greenhouses and potting sheds previously not open to the public. On the way you’ll meet Jemima Puddle-Duck, Benjamin Bunny, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and more, alongside a few surprises.
Check out our review here
The Peter Rabbit Garden Adventure The Walled Garden, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, UK, OX20 1PY. Until 3 September
Meet Puss in Boots at Shrek's Adventure
Take your kids ogre and out-out to Far, Far Away land, where Puss in Boots will be appearing for meet and greets at Shrek’s Adventure for the first time.
Young guests can join the immersive attraction’s new, interactive trail by collecting stamps as they explore the rustic taverna, before meeting the Spanish, swash-buckling cat and his compadres.
Puss arrives at the South Bank attraction this summer, ahead of his new DreamWorks movie, which hits cinemas next year.
The adventure also features 12 Fairytale-themed live shows, starring popular characters from the Shrek franchise, including Rumpelstiltskin, Sleeping Beauty, Muffin Man, Pinocchio and Cinderella.
Check out our Shrek’s Adventure review to find out more.
Shrek’s Adventure tickets. Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7P. 23 July - 4 September
Jurassic World: The Exhibition
End their summer holidays in roarsome style, with a trip back to the Mesozoic Era for Jurassic World: The Exhibition, opening on 25 August.
Step through the Jurassic World gates and come face-to-face with the prehistoric stars of the hit film franchise in this immersive experience across 20,000 square feet at London's ExCel.
Venture behind the glass into The Creation Lab, and experience what it would have been like to walk alongside these giant creatures, in this impressive, hour-long family experience.
Jurassic World: The Exhibition, ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock (Custom House, Elizabeth Line/DLR)
The Obliteration Room
Weary of sprogs covering every conceivable surface of your home with stickers? Then we have the perfect solution.
A pristine, white apartment they are encouraged to cover in stickers and afterwards, you can brag that they’ve created art for Tate Modern. Boom.
Yayoi Kusama’s free interactive artwork, The Obliteration Room is part of the brilliant, UNIQLO Tate Play series. Families are provided with enough stickers to fill you with horror, at home. But here, you can relax while they cover The Obliteration Room's walls, ceilings, furniture, floor and crockery with colourful dots
She’s perhaps best known for her Infinity Rooms exhibition at Tate Modern, which will have saturated your Insta feeds for the past few months.
Tate Modern, Turbine Hall, Bankside, London SE1 9TG. 23 July - 29 August. Free
The Ice Cream Project
Let’s face it, kids’ diets are 90% ice cream in the summer, so give them some variety with a trip to deliciously eccentric designer, Anya Hindmarch’s Ice Cream Project concept store in Belgravia, which is serving Heinz Baked Beans, HP Sauce, PG Tips, Ketchup, Soy Sauce and Mayo flavoured ice creams until 28 August.
The sleek, Chilly Wonka pop-up is described as "a minimalist temple to the joy of ice cream and sorbet, with a twist” and is inspired by the British designer’s new accessories collection.
Try surprisingly delicious, frozen freakiness including Kikkoman Soy Sauce (toasted sesame ice cream laced with umami-rich, soy sauce) the sweet, salty and tangy Heinz Tomato Ketchup, HP Sauce (fruity, with a spicy hit of tamarind and dates) the super creamy Mayo, with zesty lemon and tangy vinegar, the sweet and protein-rich Baked Beans or the PG Tips-infused ice cream.
And for those who prefer less daring contents in their cones, there’s Coco Pops, Bird’s Custard, Quaker Oats, Frosties or Lyle’s Golden Syrup ice creams and a minty sorbet, laced with smashed Polo mints.
The Ice Cream Project at The Anya Hindmarch Village, 11 Pont Street, SW1X 9EJ. Until 28 August, Mon-Sat
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. From £49.95
Medieval Season at Eltham Palace
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.
Eltham Palace Tickets, Court Yard, London SE9 5QE. From £10.60
Chimps are Family Trail
For some free monkey business in London this summer, follow the Chimps are Family trail from London Bridge to Tower Bridge to find 28 bronze chimp sculptures.
From now until October, Londoners can head into a real-life urban jungle to enjoy the free, public exhibition by artists Gillie and Marc Schattner.
Each sculpture represents 18 of the different behaviours chimpanzees express, from happiness and grief to friendship and conflict and covers all ages, from newborn to elderly. The trail shows that humans have a good deal in common with our hairy relatives, as well as 99% of our DNA.
WWF-UK’s Chimps are Family Trail runs until October from London Bridge to Tower Bridge. Until October.
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 until 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.
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.
Summer Sessions, Greenwich Peninsula. FREE
Stranger Things: The Experience
Join Eleven, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Max and Will on a multimedia, immersive experience which allows fans to live out a totally tubular adventure, inspired by the hit TV show
Netflix is tearing a rift into the fabric of reality, allowing you to step through the small screen and into 1980s Indiana as the star of a brand new Stranger Things episode.
For the full low-down on the Upside Down, check out our preview here
Stranger Things: The Experience Troubadour Brent Cross Studio, Tilling Rd, Brent Cross Town, London, NW2 1LW. August - 20 November
The Secret Garden
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
Go big or go home… or straight to jail at Monopoly Lifesized, an immersive, on-your-feet version of the classic, family game, played on a 15m x 15m lifesized Monopoly board
Enter the 4D experience and compete in challenges for your chance to buy properties. Stage a heist in Mayfair, compete against a clock to build some of London’s iconic buildings, solve a baffling murder mystery or step into the world of codebreakers.
The 80-minute experience is suitable for kids from 9 and older and is open every day except Mondays.
Monopoly Lifesized, 213-215 Tottenham Court Road, W1T 7PS. Tickets £49 pp
Pizzas Pilgrims Masterclasses at Selfridges
Professional chefs take children through the process of making a delicious Neapolitan pizza - the final step is eating it. Price includes two soft drinks, arts and craft activities, games and an ice cream sandwich.
The Little Slice Pizza Masterclass Level 4, Selfridges, 100 Oxford Street, WA1 1AB. £25. 25 July - 30 August
Crystal Camp at Crystal Maze LIVE Experience
Crystal Camp was designed to help young people regain their confidence following the pandemic.
The five-day London and Manchester camps (for 9-12 year olds or 8-12 year olds) teach young people how to be Richard O’Brien-esque Maze Masters.
Three of their top Maze Masters will engage children in fun activities to build confidence, imagination, improvisation and communication.
And at the end of the week, Crystal Camp participants invite their family and friends for a very special round of The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience with the student at the centre of the experience; hosting their family and friends as a bona fide Maze Master.
Crystal Maze Live Experience, 22 - 32 Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 7EU
London Camp Dates: 9-12 year olds: 1st August – 5th August. 13 - 16 year olds: 8th August – 12th August
Manchester Camp dates: 9-12 year olds 1st August – 5th August. 13-16 year olds: 15th August – 19th August
Room on the Broom, Lyric Theatre
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.
Lyric Theatre, 29 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 7ES. From £10
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 to 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 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
Kew 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
Shakespeare's Globe Bankside
Banish the bored with the Bard at Shakespeare’s Globe this Summer.
With interactive theatre shows, tailored to a young audience, Elizabethan dress-up, sword fighting demos and storytelling, Shakespeare will keep little ones entertained.
There’s even a special, CBeebies adaptation of As You Like It for ages three and up, with plenty of songs, dancing, interaction and slapstick.
Shakespeare's Globe: 21 New Globe Walk SE1 9DT. Dates, times and ticket prices vary.
Discover Children’s Story Centre - The 100 Story Hotel
Stratford's immersive, sprog-storytelling Mecca is brimming with amazing August events.
Highlights include The 100 Story Hotel. Clive the polar bear concierge can take your bags. And fellow guests include lions, tigers, dinosaurs and bears. Some sausage dogs are having a party on the hotel beach. The porters are penguins. And the housekeeping team is headed up by a handy octopus.
There’s just one problem – although the hotel is usually full of 100 amazing stories, one story has just gone missing. They need your help to follow the clues and find the culprit. Created with bestselling, multi award-winning author and illustrator Rob Biddulph, this world of play and storytelling has something for everyone aged 0-8.
Discover Children's Story Centre 383-387 High St, London E15 4QZ
KidZania's Summer of Fun Festival
Shepherd’s Bush’s indoor kiddie city throws its Summer of Fun Festival throughout August, including parades, a new summer trail, face painting, streetmosphere and activities inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk.
They can kick off the festival by designing their own summer biscuits or even sign up to audition for the KidZania stage production of Jack and The Beanstalk, with top tips from West End stars and producers from Future Spotlight Productions.
KidZania: Westfield London Shopping Centre Ariel Way W12 7GA. For 4-14 year olds
Snot, Sick and Scabs at the Centre of the Cell
Deliciously disgusting and sneakily educational centre in a futuristic, light-studded pod suspended above the laboratories of the Blizard Institute in Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Children can learn about the heart, teeth or senses, see scientists at work and enjoy their delightfully vile ‘Snot, Sick and Scabs’ session.
Centre of the Cell, 4 Newark St, London E1 2AT
The Pirate, The Princess and The Platypus
Get yourselves down to southwest London’s kiddie gem, Polka Theatre and wrap your eyes and children around its £8.5 MILLION makeover, including theatre for babies, toddlers, indoor playspace, playground with treehouse, sensory room, a large café and more.
Its new play is about a pirate who wanted to be a princess, a princess who wanted to be a pirate and a platypus who was happy being exactly that.
The brand new comic, fairytale is about choosing your destiny, discovering your identity and finding your friends and has all the pirate kings, queens, frogs, tall towers and shipwrecks they could possibly need.
Polka Theatre, now until 20 August, 240 The Broadway, London SW19 1SB
Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
Brigit’s Bakery and Entertainment One’s afternoon tea bus tour of London has booze for the parents (woo) properly cute food, from Rebecca Rabbit’s Carrot Cupcake to Mummy Pig’s Strawberry Macaron, sing-a-longs and Peppa-guided animation, while you take in landmarks including Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral.
Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea Bus Tour Departing from Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA. Thursdays - Sundays
Thomas the Tank Engine at Whistlestop Valley
Take unlimited train rides on Thomas, Toby and Mavis, meet Sir Topham Hatt and Sodor Station Sweepers Rusty and Dusty for singalongs and performances at Huddersfield’s Whistlestop Valley.
Kids can also enjoy an Imagination Station play zone with Thomas and Friends activities, jumping pillow, bubble zone, storytelling sessions, giveaways for every child and themed activities.
Thomas at Whistlestop Valley Park Mill Way, Clayton West, Huddersfield HD8 9XJ
Cutty Sark Rig Climb Experience
Originally climbed when the ship first arrived to Greenwich in 1954, visitors are now also invited to clamber up the famous masts of the Cutty Sark.
The Rig Climb Experience invites kids and brave parents to step up from the main deck onto the ship’s ratlines and climb up its top mast, as hundreds of sailors did during the Cutty Sark’s heyday. Once at the top, climbers will experience a controlled descent from the rigging. Participants will be rewarded with some of the best views in London, overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and Tower Bridge.
Cutty Sark King William Walk, London SE10 9HT
Small is beautiful, Miniature Art Exhibition
This small but mighty exhibition has proved so popular, its run has been extended until 4 September showcasing the work of 32 local and international miniature artists. On display are 130 tiny artworks, creating a small-scale universes full of artistry and poetry – figures playing tennis on a watermelon or skateboarding down a ramp made from coloured pencils. This is a family-friendly event with kids' DIY workshops.
Small is Beautiful tickets, 81 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LD. Until 4 September.
Summer at Hawley Wharf, Camden
Fill you weekends with free family events this August, at Camden’s Hawley Wharf where their canal-side quay will be filled with deckchairs and live music, and they’ll be joined by bubbleologists, balloon artists, face painters, puppet shows, circus performers and princess meet-and-greets.
They will also have a range of global food vendors to appease even the pickiest of little eaters.
Camden Market, Camden Lock Place NW1 8AF. Free. Aug 6-7, 13-14, 20-21
Kensington and Chelsea Festival
Back for its second year, Kensington and Chelsea Festival is taking to the streets with theatre, circus, opera, dance, music, outdoor arts, family shows, interactive activities, talks and public art shows..
Highlights include Shakespeare's Globe's production of Julius Caesar and the world premiere of Hannah Sandison and Opera Holland Park presents Green Spaces: A Celebration in Song
Kensington and Chelsea Festival,Various locations. Until August 31.
Birdies’ shiny, new crazy golf branch has just opened in Angel, just in time for the summer holidays.
The Insta-worthy, nine hole course features three completely new holes - Wing it, Green and Bunker 2.0 - as well as tried and tested fan favourites Hazard, Kinetic, Steps, Infinity and Roulette.
Cheeky Burger will keep the kid’s happy, while the coral pink cocktail bar will please the parents.
Birdies Level 1, Angel Central, 31-32 Parkfield Street, N1 0PZ
This summer, younger sprogs can get involved with Sunday arts and craft sessions at BOXPARK or Saturday sporting sessions at The Yellow.
Teens and bigger children can take on the zombie apocalypse at meetspaceVR or have a round on neon crazy golf course at Pop Golf.
And Union Park has a kids’ splash park, games court and a bee hotel to keep them entertained.
Wembley Park London
Holiday to Space at Royal Observatory Greenwich
Join Ted and Plant as they explore the Solar System in search of the best place to take a holiday in an intergalactic morning adventure, including a planetarium show and interactive workshop.
Recommended Age: 3 - 6 yrs. Open 10am-5pm daily
Royal Observatory Greenwich Park, Blackheath Avenue SE10 8XJ
Soho's magic-themed Wizard Exploratorium is a five-storey, geek wonderland, offering a 4D wand-making workshop, immersive trick shop and suitably magical afternoon tea encompassing tea brewing, molecular gastronomy, and technology.
Wizard Exploratorium, 26 Greek St, London W1D 5DE
There aren’t many places for a family to enjoy a butterfly house, aquarium, 16 acres of stunning gardens, alpacas, a merman, gorillas and a giant, overstuffed walrus for less than a chippy tea. So thank chuff for Horniman Museum and Gardens.
The brilliant, South-East London attraction is one of the capital’s hidden and most eclectic gems and is a huge hit with kids of all ages, as well as grown-ups.
The vast gardens are completely free, dog-friendly and have a variety of trails and activities. Children can make a racket on giant instruments in the Sound Garden, explore the Bee Garden or visit alpacas, goats and sheep on the Animal Walk.
The museum is also free and includes the wonderfully weird and fascinating Natural History Gallery, packed with taxidermy, skeletons and fossils including Forest Hill's most famous resident, The Horniman Walrus - generously stuffed by Victorians who had (clearly) never seen a real walrus before.
Horniman Museum 100 London Road, Forest Hill SE23 3PQ
Peppa Pig: My First Concert.
Your kids will be happily snorting at this interactive introduction to a live orchestra for ages 18 months and older.
Peppa and George learn all about different sounds that instruments make together, and enjoy some of their favourite music from the show played by an orchestra as well as discovering other exciting orchestral pieces.
Little piggies can join in with Peppa and her family and make music of their own.
Peppa Pig: My First Concert at Edinburgh Assembly Hall 4 - 21 August
Kid's Week at London Theatre, West End
*FREE SUMMER HOLIDAY CHILD TICKETS TO ALL WEST END SHOWS, KLAXON*
That’s right, with London Theatre’s annual ticket sale, sprogs under 17 go free with an adult and there are discounts for additional children.
The perfect time to snap up tickets to shows like Frozen, Matilda and The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.
Dates: August 1-31
Official London Theatre - Kid's Week
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