The ten best winter activities for kids in London
Wrap up warm this winter for the season's most memorable family events
Mon Nov 3 2014
Trying to get some use out of those winter coats you bought them? Best get some outings in the diary, then. These wonderfully wintry London activities and events are a great way to distract from the chill this season.
Whether you dance on ice like Christopher Dean or simply scramble around like Bambi, the capital's outdoor ice rinks are some of the most magical locations you'll see all season. With fairy lights and Christmas trees set to the backdrop of London's stunning institutions, a trip to an ice rink is a must-do for the views alone. Several rinks offer kids' skating lessons.
Discover the furry Peruvian explorer's adorable history at this exhibition of first editions, props, illustrations and films. Paddington Bear was created by Michael Bond, who bought his wife a toy from a department store on Christmas Eve in 1956 and named it after their nearest train station. The collection of objects on display include a signed, first edition copy of Bond's first book about the gift, 'A Bear Named Paddington', which belongs to his daughter. A family activity space will allow younger visitors to discover Paddington's most famous trips, with a two-day festival on Nov 29 and 30, Paddington's Picnic.
Ever have the nagging feeling that your little ones are missing out on outdoor fun by living in the city? Free Range Urban Kids is a new initiative that aims to fill the yen for proper woodland pursuits, right in the heart of Hackney. Children aged three to five can be dropped off for a forest adventure that might include den building, mini-beast-hunting, foraging, wildlife spotting, singing and free play (tots aged two to three can attend with a parent).
Here's your chance to have a poke around somebody else's house and discover tales of marriage, parties, politics and crime – without feeling nosey. At the V&A Museum of Childhood's winter exhibition, 12 dolls' houses from the museum's extensive collection represent changes in architecture and design over the past 300 years and provide an insight into the lives of the characters that inhabit these delicate creations.
Bringing those movie moments to life for Disney's centenary, the tour reaches the O2 Arena with its mix of top-notch figure skating and more than 60 animated characters old and new – Mickey and Minnie introduce stars from The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Toy Story – to the backing of classic Disney film music. Aimed at children, these arena shows appeal to a wide age range, working well as a multi-generational outing if you're immune to pester power (those programmes, refreshments and souvenirs can really add up).
An interactive show celebrating the magic of children's illustration, aimed at children up to the age of 11. A specially designed art trail will help the characters in the drawings and cut outs on display come to life, with visitors reading, drawing and telling stories as they encounter new scenarios and images. A variety of artists' talks, guided tours and workshops will be on offer during the exhibition. Workshops will be aimed at under-11s before Christmas and at 11-to-18-year-olds in the new year.
Kew's annual seasonal makeover is returning. For 2014, a glittery, mile-long trail, guided by snowflakes, will wind its way through the landscape. The evening openings will also offer plenty of family-friendly attractions including a Victorian carousel and vintage rides, the snowflake grotto and live festive music.
Alongside its array of festive shows and performances the Southbank Centre will be celebrating the coldest season with a fistful of fun pop-ups and activities. The annual Christmas market will be bigger and better than ever, there'll be a Scandinavian Lodge courtesy of Rekorderlig Cider, the Christmas Tree Café will be serving treats for all ages and thrills come courtesy of the Festive Flyer ride. The Southbank Centre Express will be providing bankside train rides, and you can tell all your friends to get lost in the Christmas Tree Maze. Find out more in our guide to the Southbank Centre Winter Festival
Artist, author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers' has won over many imaginations with his charming 'the boy' books. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of his first, 'How to Catch a Star', Discover Children's Story Centre are launching an interactive exhibition that allows families to explore environments inspired by Jeffers' books. Penguins, aliens, a beach, a full-size rowing boat and a rocket can all be found in the bedroom of 'the boy', and live storytelling will accompany the exhibition so that visitors can enjoy the stories in their original form.
The kids are in charge at the Southbank Centre once more this February as their two-week children's festival returns. In 2015, expect a wide range of captivating theatre, dance, music, film and comedy plus readings form some of the Uk's favourite authors, with free and ticketed events for young people of all ages.