Top 10 events for kids this autumn

Crispy leaves, deep puddles and pumpkins mean a whole new variety of fun for the little ones



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© National Trust

The leaves, the conkers and the rain are falling; our picnic days are over. Bring on autumn's best kids events, where the whole family can rejoice in the autumn surroundings, even if it is a bit chilly...


Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Celebrating its fiftieth year, the renowned competition exhibition returns to the Natural History Museum with images of the most extraordinary species on the planet captured by professional and amateur photographers. Attracting record number visitors each year and over 40,000 entries you can preview the talent on show and even have your say with the People’s Choice Award that includes stunning under water views of Australian sea lion pups playing to the unlikely vision of a texting monkey.

  1. Natural History Museum Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD
  2. Fri Oct 24 - Tue Mar 31
More info

Deadly and Disgusting Plants and Fungi

Get a taste – not literally – of the natural world's most sneaky and dangerous flora with this collection of special tours, displays and workshops at Kew Gardens. Young visitors can follow clues and puzzles on a trail through the gardens to help save London from the evil Smedly Deadly and his poisonous plants, meeting some interesting characters along the way. A Deadly Poisons Trail will introduce you to terrifying plants, including the tree favoured by serial killers and the beans with the world's highest toxicity.

  1. Kew Gardens Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, TW9 3AB
  2. Sat Oct 18 - Sun Nov 2
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Once There Was... The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers

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.

  1. Discover Children's Story Centre 383-387 Stratford High St, E15 4QZ
  2. Sat Sep 27 - Sun Aug 30
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The Big Draw

The month-long, annual festival designed to provide opportunities for people of all ages to discover, or return to, the pleasure of drawing features hundreds of events, many of which are free to attend at venues countrywide. This year's theme is 'It's Our World', with events designed to encourage participants to consider the environment and its sustainability, including reportage sketching workshops, 3D 'drawings' of the city and exploring science through art. The festival kicks off with a party at the Museum of Childhood featuring Jacqueline Wilson, and other London venues hosting events include Rich Mix, The Royal Mews, Kenwood House and Greenwich Theatre.

  1. Various Venues
  2. Wed Oct 1 - Sun Nov 2
More info

The Art of the Brick

Former corporate lawyer turned master of tiny bricks, Nathan Sawaya never stopped. His touring show 'The Art of the Brick' has visited Asia, America and Australia and is now making its way to Brick Lane (where else?) for its UK debut at the Old Truman Brewery. Collectively the artworks, which are all made of Lego, took a painstaking 4,188 hours to build. Sawaya's colourful large-scale sculptures include recreations of famous artworks such as Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo as well as many original pieces including a six-metre long T-Rex skeleton constructed from over 80,000 bricks.

  1. Old Truman Brewery Brick Lane, E1 6QL
  2. Fri Sep 26 - Sun Jan 4
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Something Very Far Away

How far would you go to get one more glimpse of your lost love? Kepler, the hero of the Unicorn’s short but beautifully sweet puppet show, goes to the end of the universe. Mark Arends’s play never condescends its audience (for ages 8 +) and, just to warn you, there are some very sad moments. ‘She’s dead!’ one of the school children whispered, shocked, when I saw it, and yes, she was. It’s not an entirely sad story though, and while death is a focus, the play also looks upliftingly at one man’s devotion and how his love endures. As a scientist, Kepler knows that, because of the distance, when you look into space through a telescope you’re theoretically looking at it in the past. He therefore decides to build a space rocket and fly as far away as possible so he can look back on earth and relive the last moments of his love, who has been killed in a circus accident.

  1. Unicorn Theatre Tooley Street, SE1 2HZ
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Sep 28
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Fantastic Mr Fox

Roald Dahl's classic kids book about a naughty fox and his family outwitting a couple of idiotic farmers is made into a puppet show by north London's puppet theatre the Little Angel.

  1. Little Angel Theatre Dagmar Passage, Cross Street, N1 2DN
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Nov 9
More info

The Great River Race

  • Free

London's annual river marathon sees 300 crews try to become the UK's Traditional Boat Champions. It's a handicap rowing race, with the slowest boats leaving first (the faster boats have up to an hour to make up which often results in exciting racing). Participants range from serious athletes to recreational rowers in fancy dress, in vessels that are an eclectic mix of gigs, skiffs, Chinese dragon boats, Hawaiian war canoes, Viking longboats, Irish curraghs, shallops, wherries and whalers.

  1. Millwall Dock Isle of Dogs, E14
  2. Sat Sep 27
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Horseman's Sunday

  • Free

Attend the service at St John's Church on Sunday September 21 and you'll be treated to a surprising bit of ecclesiastical equestrianism: a cloaked member of the clergy on horseback before his congregation – who will also be atop their steeds. The annual event is now in its forty-seventh year, and remembers a 1967 protest that saw riders take to their horses to challenge the closure of the Hyde Park area's stables. The tradition has continued, and today the Reverend Stephen Mason leads a cavalcade of horses and riders in celebration of riding in the capital.

  1. St John's Church, Hyde Park Hyde Park Crescent, W2 2QD
  2. Sun Sep 21
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Family Sundays at the Royal Opera House

These regular family days are an opportunity to explore the Royal Opera House, its artists and the world of opera and ballet. Sessions will vary each month but will involve different creative activities as well as live musical performances including live make-up and stage combat demonstrations, costume dressing up, creative activities led by set designers and informal performances from Royal Ballet dancers. The sessions are aimed at kids aged six and over but children of all ages are welcome to join in.

  1. Royal Opera House Bow St, WC2E 9DD
  2. Sun Sep 28 - Sun Nov 30
More info

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