Summer Events in London for Families

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Matilda The Musical

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Matilda The Musical
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
Puppet Theatre Barge
Kids Week
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
London Mela
Our Teacher's A Troll
Prom 2: Ten Pieces Prom
Jeppe Hein: Appearing Rooms
City of London Festival
The Railway Children
London Wonderground
Bugsy Malone


Find out the best family friendly events this summer, from the LolliBop Festival to the City of London Children's Parade featuring over 1,000 children. Plus there's not one but two musicals by cherished children's author Roald Dahl.


Paines Plough - Our Teacher's A Troll

Dennis Kelly's play is "gleefully nasty" (Guardian) fun for the over-sevens.

Roundabout, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XZ

Tube: Embankment Underground Station


Dates: 07th June - 18th July 2015


Two terrible twins with a talent for turmoil rule their school with terror and tyranny - until the arrival of a new head teacher with green scaly skin, sharp fangs and a long spiky tail... yes, their new teacher is a troll. In this "Simple but cracking storytelling with lots of audience interactivity" (Lyn Gardner, The Guardian) Holly "played with nasty-pixie perfection by Sian Reese-Williams" (The Times) and her "sweeter twin" Sean (Abdul Salis) attempt to save the school from the child-eating troll. By Dennis Kelly, who wrote the book for the hit Matilda The Musical, "this gleefully nasty tale of triumph over adversity" (The Guardian) is great fun theatre for the over-sevens in the vein of Roald Dahl.


Prom 2: Ten Pieces Prom

Family friendly prom hosted by CBBC presenters Barney Harwood and Dick and Dom.

Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP

Tube: South Kensington Station


Dates: 18th July 2015


Join CBBC presenters Barney Harwood and Dick and Dom for an introduction to some of the greatest pieces of classical music and a celebration of children's responses to them. The programme features excerpts from John Adams's Short Ride In A Fast Machine, Beethoven's Symphony No 5 In C Minor First Movement, Britten's Storm Interlude, Grieg's In The Hall Of The Mountain King, Handel's Zadok The Priest, and Holst's Mars from The Planets for the family-friendly Ten Pieces Prom.


Bugsy Malone

Highly acclaimed stage version of the gangster film, continues until 1st September.

Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Square, 2 King Street, London, W6 0QA

Tube: Hammersmith Station


Dates: 11th June to 4th September 2016


With Sir Alan Parker giving rare permission for a professional production of his world famous musical Bugsy Malone, this highly acclaimed stage version of the gangster film reopened the Lyric Hammersmith in April 2015 after a 16.5 million redevelopment. Transforming the stage into Fat Sam's speakeasy, Olivier Award-winning director Sean Holmes brings the loving musical pastiche of the 1920s Chicago gangsters-and-molls' scene to life. "Children are the stars of Sean Holmes's ebullient, sassy, grab-you-by-the-tear-ducts production" writes Susannah Clapp in The Guardian, praising "the big sweep" of Drew McOnie's choreography and "smart touches" like the "gleaming, foot-pedalled car" and "the face of a pocket-sized, swanking star". In short, this is "razzmatazz perfection" as The Telegraph theatre critic Dominic Cavendish puts it.


The Railway Children

Mike Kenny's Olivier Award-winning adaptation reclaims the text from romantic notions and frilly petticoats.

King's Cross Railway Station, Euston Road, London, N1 9AP

Tube: King's Cross Station


Dates: 16th December 2014 to 30th October 2016


Mike Kenny's Olivier Award-winning adaptation of The Railway Children, staged at Waterloo three years ago, is now arriving at King's Cross Theatre. E Nesbitt's classic tale is specially adapted for the railway setting by Mike Kenny. A highlight of this site specific theatrical production in which the three children are forced to make do after their father's false imprisonment is a real steam locomotive, Silver Stirling, whose steam and noise certainly adds to the atmospheric setting. When the show premiered at the National Railway Museum, York, in the summer of 2008 it was described as "pretty spectacular" (The Guardian) with Kenny's "unsentimental adaptation" praised for reclaiming the text from romantic notions and frilly petticoats, returning to Nesbit's original Fabian message. The rest of the station has been put to good use too - while you're waiting for the play to start, you can browse an exhibition all about E Nesbit's original book, the history of the railways, the Railway Children Charity, and the play's Yorkshire setting. The train now departing from platform 5 may not be bound for Paris but it promises just as much drama and excitement - and a tear jerking climatic final scene.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Will Todd

Opera Holland Park's adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic children's story.

Holland Park Theatre, Holland Park, London, W8 6LU

Tube: Kensington (Olympia) Station


Dates: 16th July - 01st August 2015


The City of London Sinfonia accompany an opera adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic children's story, featuring Fflur Wyn as the title character. 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 for a third 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.


Hetty Feather (Over 7s)

Jacqueline Wilson's much loved story follows Hetty after she escapes from the Foundling Hospital.

Artsdepot, 5 Nether Street, Tally Ho Corner, London, N12 0GA

Tube: Woodside Park Station


Dates: 02nd - 06th December 2015


Jacqueline Wilson's Hetty Feather is brought to life on the Duke of York's Theatre stage this summer following a successful first run at the Rose Theatre in Kingston in April last year. Phoebe Thomas reprises the role of Hetty Feather, a Victorian girl who embarks on a search to find her real mother, in this adaptation by scriptwriter Emma Reeves - known for CBBC's The Story of Tracy Beaker. The story follows Hetty after she escapes from the Foundling Hospital and follows her adventures from a squirrel house to the streets of Victorian London as she searches for her real mother. A terrific Olivier Award nominated adaptation of a much loved story.


Kids Week

Kids are 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: 01st - 31st August 2015


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. 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.


Puppet Theatre Barge

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


The Puppet Barge Theatre moves to its Richard mooring once again for summer 2015, with three productions suitable for a range of ages taking place across the two months. Children as young as three are invited to hop on board the brightly coloured barge for The Three Pigs and the Wolf, a lively version of the Three Little Pigs with the addition of Captain Grimey, the dirtiest sea captain in the world. Suitable for the family down to three and four year olds, Fowl Play is a farmyard adventure with music composed by Oscar winning Stephen Warbeck. For families with older children, End Games is suitable for anyone 14 and over and uses puppetry, poetry and music  to create a marionette production based on the verse of poet Finuala Dowling. 


London Wonderground

Ali McGregor's Jazzamatazz! and Monski Mouse's Baby Disco are among the family friendly shows.

London Wonderground Spiegeltent, Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX

Tube: Waterloo Station, Embankment Underground Station


Dates: 07th May - 27th September 2015


Each summer, from May to September, a Speigeltent is set up in the shadow of the Southbank Centre, to host the wierd and wonderful London Wonderground circus and cabaret acts. Family friendly shows at London Wonderground in 2015 include Ali McGregor's Jazzamatazz! (11th - 19th July 2015, 12noon), Boris and Sergey: Origins (20th June until 5th July 2015, 2pm), Brat Kids Carnival (29th July to 2nd August 2015, 2pm), James Bustar: Hilarious Antics and Mayhem (11th - 25th July 2015, 2pm), Monski Mouse's Baby Disco Dance Hall (3pm on Sunday afternoons between 10th May and 27th September 2015) and Shlomo's Beatbox Adventure for Kids on 31st August 2015 at 3pm, brilliant beatboxing all the family will enjoy, no matter what their age.


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 - 29th May 2016


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."


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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

Tube: Covent Garden Station, Holborn Station, Temple Station


Dates: 22nd May 2013 to 7th January 2017


Nominated for a staggering seven gongs in the 2014 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 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. A huge West End hit since May 2013 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 success story for the British author behind classic children's books including The BFG and James and the Giant Peach.


London Mela

Free, family-friendly annual celebration of Asian music and culture.

Gunnersbury Park, Popes Lane, London, W3 8LQ

Tube: Acton Town Station


Dates: 06th September 2015


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.


London Transport Museum

Go on a bus or tube simulator and listen to free storytelling.

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 or climb into the new All Aboard play zone.


Events at London Transport Museum

London's First Fonts
On Soon

Tuesday 10th May 2016 - 7pm-8.30pm | £10, concs £8

London's First Fonts London Transport Museum 2016-05-102016-05-10 Where:
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza London, WC2E 7BB
Category: Museums

The importance of lettering from a designer's point of view.

designology On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Friday 20th May 2016 | £16 (Adults), £13.50 (Concessions) | On the door £17 (Adults), £14.50 (Concessions), includes admission to museum

designology London Transport Museum 2016-05-20 Where:
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza London, WC2E 7BB
Category: Museums

Your everyday commute will be transformed from dull to inspiring when you discover the art and aesthetics behind the functional and familiar at designology . The exhibition ...more

On Soon

20th to 27th May 2016 - Various Times | £17, adv £16, concs £14.50, adv concs £13.50

Designology London Transport Museum 2016-05-202016-05-27 Where:
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza London, WC2E 7BB
Category: Museums

The exhibition explores how design is encountered in our everyday journeys and how this has evolved over the last century.

May Half-Term Family Fun Activities: The Poster Party
On Soon

28th May to 5th June 2016 - Various Times | £16-£17, £13.50-£14.50

May Half-Term Family Fun Activities: The Poster Party London Transport Museum 2016-05-282016-06-05 Where:
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza London, WC2E 7BB
Category: Museums
New Johnston: New Font: Eiichi Kono In Conversation

Tuesday 7th June 2016 - 7pm-8.30pm | £10, concs £8

New Johnston: New Font: Eiichi Kono In Conversation London Transport Museum 2016-06-072016-06-07 Where:
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza London, WC2E 7BB
Category: Museums

The Japanese graphic designer discusses his work and updating Johnston's iconic alphabet.

All events at London Transport Museum

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: 02nd June - 27th September 2015


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.


Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain

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.


Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

Nine day festival of street performances, art and dancing in the streets.

Greenwich, , London, SE10 9HF

Tube: North Greenwich Station


Dates: 24th June to 2nd July 2016


The whole of Greenwich comes alive for the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, a nine day free festival of street performances, art and dancing in the streets. The festival always opens with an epic outdoor spectacular and this year highly regarded French street theatre company La Compagnie Oposito performs on the opening weeked presenting the UK premiere of Kori Kori, a processional theatrical journey through Greenwich. Other highlights include Southpaw Dance Company with their choreographed fairground Carousel, slackrope walker Stefano di Renzo, and Stopgap Dance Company who pay tribute to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, all part of the two-day Greenwich Fair. In addition, over in Bethnal Green Gardens, 451 is a spectacular, immersive show, inspired by Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.


City of London Festival

Pif-Paf Theatre Company and Scarabeus Aerial Theatre perform free shows.

Various Venues London, , City, London, W1J 9LN

Tube: North Greenwich Station


Dates: 22nd June - 13th July 2015


The City of London Festival, a summer programme of music, visual arts, film, walks and talks all across the City, has plenty of family fun to keep children of all ages entertained. In 2015 the Pif-Paf Theatre Company and Scarabeus Aerial Theatre perform free shows in the newly revamped Broadgate Circle. Hampstead Heath Family Day brings samba drummers and gospel choirs to the bandstand on Parliament Hill on Sunday 28th June. And the Children's Parade which runs from Guildhall Yard via Cheapside and Paternoster Square to the steps of St Paul's Cathedral on Friday 10th July is an annual festival highlight and follows a 'Myths and Legends' theme this year.

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