The best summer activities for kids in London

Make this summer one to remember with these fantastic family-friendly days out

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Summer in the city is made for families with London's reliably full calendar of fun. Browse our list of the season's best kids' activities to find a day out that everyone will be happy with.

  1. Countdown our top 10 summer activities
  2. See the top 10 as a list
  • Francis Upritchard, Long (2009)

    Children's Commission: Francis Upritchard

    A papier-mâché dinosaur is such an enticing element to include in an art installation for children that it's a wonder this is the first to appear in a work produced for the Whitechapel Gallery's annual Children's Commission. As well as the two-metre long prehistoric lizard, London-based New Zealand artist Francis Upritchard's exhibition includes a series of playful figures made from a Brazilian rubber-like material called balata, and many of the works are inspired by craft traditions from both Brazil and her native New Zealand. A day of free family activities and workshops with artists and composers chosen by Upritchard will take place on June 21.

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  • © Ian Tilton

    British Summer Time Family Day

    On today's British Summer Time festival bill in Hyde Park alongside headliner Tom Jones is a smorgasbord of entertainment for all ages. For teenage girls there's Little Mix; for former teenage girls there's Boyzone; for ’70s dads there's 10cc; and for the most demanding audience of all there'll be live stage shows and arts and crafts workshops by Horrible Histories (pictured), Shaun the Sheep, Go!Go!Go! and Mr Men and Little Miss.

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  • Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

    Royal Childhood at Buckingham Palace

    Doesn't every little girl dream of being a princess? Find out what it's really like to be a mini royal in this exhibition of toys, outfits and treasured family belongings at Buckingham Palace, during the summer opening of the Royal residence. Some of the exhibits date back as far as 250 years, and many were the prized possessions of our monarchs-to-be, such as a set of dolls made by a young Queen Victoria, and little Queen Liz's rocking horse.  Multi-media guides for children aged five-to-twelve will be available, as well as a family tent on the palace's West Terrace. Tickets should be booked in advance.

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  • Free Entry to Discover for Newham Families

    Grown-ups who live or work in Newham can visit Discover with their families for free as many times as they like for two whole weeks from July 28-August 13. Just take proof of address. Discover is a magical world where children up to the age of 11 can embark on an indoor story trail, aided and abetted by fantastic characters whose role is to help kids invent their own stories. Dressing-up outfits, finger puppets, drawing materials and the Story Garden outdoor play area – with slides, greenery, monsters and funny mirrors – help fuel young imaginations.

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  • The School of Life: Summer School for 15-19s

    Based on their adult Summer School the School of Life has devised a five-day course for 15-19 year olds. Each day will have a different emphasis, Building Confidence, Developing Creativity and Curiosity, Making a Difference, Focus on Career and Exploring Potential. The course is made up of four half-day sessions ending with a full day and graduation ceremony. Participants can choose to sign up to morning or afternoon sessions, both lead by Gaylene Gould and David Barker.

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  • Kids Week

    This annual event promoting West End theatre for children returns – though in 2014 it has upped its game (and contradicted its title) by running for a whole month (August 1-31). Part of the month sees participating shows offer one child (under-16) per adult to see the performance for free, and up to two extra children can go for half price with no booking fees. The shows you can see include 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' and 'The Elaphantom' (for ages 3+); 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'Matilda the Musical' (age 5+); 'Billy Elliot the Musical' and 'War Horse' (PG), among others. See our Kids Week page for more. Various theatres will also be organising free activities and events on stage and backstage, including puppet-making classes, storytelling, young writers workshops and more. Tickets go on sale at 10am on June 17.

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  • RideLondon FreeCycle

    A weekend-long feast of cycling sport and leisure that sees an eight mile loop of roads around central London closed to regular traffic so that bike-enthusiasts can get a clear run at it. The family-friendly RideLondon FreeCycle takes place on August 9 (9am-4pm) and enables cyclists of all ages and abilities to take a safe spin around town. It costs nothing to join in, but register in advance at www.prudentialridelondon.co.uk/freecycle. Later the same day (at 5pm) there will be a Grand Prix event around St James’s Park with races for young Olympic hopefuls and professional female cyclists. By the Monday we’ll have forgotten what cars look like.

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  • Wild Sleepover in the City

    Growing up in London doesn't mean you can't be outdoorsy, and this camping expedition to the wild meadows of Morden Hall Park will be a treat for kids (and their parents) who can't get enough of the countryside. An afternoon of nature activities will be followed by a night walk, then stories and toasted marshmallows by the campfire. Tea, dinner and breakfast are provided, but adventurers should bring all their own camping gear, including walking boots. Book ahead on 020 8545 6850.

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  • Muse of Fire

    Learn about the Globe's fiery history at a story-based treasure hunt that will engage children aged six-to-11 and their parents alike. The experience is directed and produced by Globe Education with the help of Punchdrunk's Matthew Blake, sound artist Melanie Wilson and Little Angel puppet theatre, so best to expect the unexpected as you explore the fascinating nooks and crannies of this bankside reconstruction of Shakespeare's favourite seventeenth-century theatre. Book well in advance.

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  • Notting Hill Carnival Family Day

    The more family-friendly Sunday is the best day to take children to Notting Hill Carnival. Since it debuted in 1964, the event has grown and morphed, attracting ever more revellers with its spectacle of floats featuring calypso, mas and pan bands as well as a series of soundsystems for alfresco dancing. You can be sure of dense crowds and a vibrant celebration of music, movement and masquerade together with Caribbean food stalls serving up jerk chicken and fried plantain.

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Francis Upritchard, Long (2009)

Children's Commission: Francis Upritchard

A papier-mâché dinosaur is such an enticing element to include in an art installation for children that it's a wonder this is the first to appear in a work produced for the Whitechapel Gallery's annual Children's Commission. As well as the two-metre long prehistoric lizard, London-based New Zealand artist Francis Upritchard's exhibition includes a series of playful figures made from a Brazilian rubber-like material called balata, and many of the works are inspired by craft traditions from both Brazil and her native New Zealand. A day of free family activities and workshops with artists and composers chosen by Upritchard will take place on June 21.

READ MORE

  1. Countdown our top 10 summer activities
  2. See the top 10 as a list

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