For anyone with kids, half term isn’t just about having fun with them - it’s about finding ways to keep them amused for the week they’re off school. Luckily, we’re in London, one of the world’s greatest cities when it comes to art, museums, zoos, museums and workshops for kids. This means that you’re spoilt for choice when picking activities.So if you need some ideas, just keep reading. Whether your child is fascinated by animals, sculpture, buses and trains, books, storytelling or getting muddy outdoors, we’ve got you sorted in our list of what to do this February.
1. London Transport Museum
If your child is curious about buses, trains and horse-drawn trams, this is the place to take them. The London Transport Museum gives children the chance to learn about the stories of people who have travelled and worked in this city in the last 200 years.
This February they have a new exhibition called ‘Legacies” which celebrates the Caribbean people that have shaped London’s transport history and culture through new films, archive photography, posters and never-before-displayed objects.
There’s also singing and storytime sessions for the younger family members, and this is free with the admission ticket.London Transport Museum, The Piazza, Covent Garden, London WC2
Imagine Festival, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/festivals-series
The London Zoo is always a top choice for kids but this half-term it’s even better - they’re running a programme called ‘Vets in Action’ (which is included in the ticket price). Your child will be able to see what a vet’s work is all about, first hand - from watching staff microchip a chimp, to ultrasounding a pregnant meerkat. They’ll be able to help the experts examine, diagnose and carry out treatments - on soft toys! There will be demonstrations and talks all week long - learn about lions in India and llamas in Peru and for the young kids (5 and under) there are storytelling sessions every day at 11.30 am.
It’s the perfect way to spend a day - and the ideal place to take any child who’s thinking about becoming a vet. And when you’ve had enough of learning, you can go and have fun - the London Zoo has over 20,000 animals, including penguins, tigers, bears and reptiles.London Zoo, Outer Circle, Regents Park, London NW1
4. Beatrix Potter Exhibition at the V&A
Missed out on Mrs TiggyWinkle and Jemima Puddleduck when you were young? Well don’t worry, it’s not too late to learn - in the heart of South Kensington. The famous British author-illustrator Beatrix Potter wrote a wonderful series of books, over 100 years ago, which kids the world over still love today - and all of her animal characters in them were inspired by her passion for nature.
Potter was a scientist and conservationist too and this exhibition, entitled ‘Drawn to Nature’ is a collaboration between the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Trust. Using letters, sketches and photographs, you’ll be taken on a journey through the Lake District, which was where she started writing - indeed ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ originated from an illustrated letter she had sent to her old governess.A great exhibition for older children and, of course, you can explore the V&A afterwards.
“Drawn to Nature”, V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7
5. Light Festival, Battersea
They include Origami Tigers (to celebrate the Chinese New Year) Eternal Sundown (an apocalyptic sunset, using fluorescent lights) and Run Beyond - featuring a series of illuminated figures running, leaping and rolling. Oh yes, and if you weren’t convinced, there’s even a greenhouse on display, made of glowing uranium glass.
Entrance is easy on the pocket - well, actually it’s free. All you need to do is show up. What are you waiting for?
‘Light Festival’ Battersea Power Station, 188 Kirtling Street, London SW8
6. Sculpting at the Tate Modern
Everyone loves the Tate Modern, right? It’s a great location, on the banks of the River Thames, it’s free to enter and it’s full of the coolest new art around. So why not take your kids to the ‘Uniqlo Tate Play Holiday Studio?’ There, they can use recycled materials to create futuristic life-sized sculptures, all inspired by Anicka Yi and her mystical floating forms which are on display in the Turbine Hall.
With so much to do not just in the Tate but also in the surrounding area (think Gabriel’s Wharf, Borough Market and Tower Bridge) this is a wallet-friendly day out.
Tate Modern, Bankside, Holland Street, London SE1 https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/festival/uniqlo-tate-play/holiday-make-studio
7. Exploring the London Wetlands
The London Wetlands is the perfect day out for any intrepid child (and adults will like it too). There, your children can learn more about these habitats, why they’re endangered, what animals live in them and why it’s critical to support conservation efforts.
This half-term, they are running an Adventure Workshop, which is perfect for curious youngsters. There, they can learn to light a fire safely, tie knots, survive tough weather conditions and even build a secret shelter. The event will conclude with some marshmallow toasting (yum!) They also have a map challenge and ‘track and trail’ activity.
This is always popular for older kids (usually aged 7 above) so be sure to book in advance.London Wetlands, Queen Elizabeth Walk, London SE13 book a hotel room online in our new booking system.