Top 10 half-term activities in London

Spend the week with the kids doing some of the coolest and quirkiest activities London has to offer this October half-term

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As much as we love telly and video games, we have to admit: a half-term spent hunched on the sofa is one wholly wasted. With that in mind, here’s our round-up of London’s best events, activities and even more this half-term (Monday October 27 – Friday October 31 2014). Batteries not included – or necessary.

1

Extremes

The Horniman's major exhibition for 2014 looks at how plants and animals survive in extreme heat, cold, dryness and darkness. The answer? By adapting some downright wacky traits. Feel the air-conditioning inside an ostrich's beak, try to drink as fast as a camel and see how fat you are –compared to a seal.

  1. Horniman Museum 100 London Rd, SE23 3PQ
  2. Mon Sep 15 - Sun Nov 2
More info
2

Daydreams and Diaries: The Story of Jacqueline Wilson

  • Free

Jacqueline Wilson is one of Britain's best-loved children's authors, serving as Children's Laureate (2005-2007) and - perhaps even the Queen's a fan - being made a Dame in 2008. More importantly, her nearly 100 books have sold 35m copies, so such characters as Tracy Beaker, The Suitcase Kid and Hetty Feather - all featured in this exhibition - are probably familiar. But interestingly, the exhibition also focuses the author's life and inspiration: in fact, it is bookended by reconstructions of her childhood bedroom (along with early short stories and diaries) and of the study where she now writes. The importance of Nick Sharratt's illustrations is also recognised, with plenty of drafts and finished pictures on display.

  1. V&A Museum of Childhood Cambridge Heath Rd, E2 9PA
  2. Mon Sep 15 - Sun Nov 2
More info
3

Up at The O2

  • Rated as: 4/5

This attraction at the O2 gives visitors the chance to go on a guided expedition across the arena roof, via a tensile fabric walkway that peaks at 53m above ground level. At the summit there's an observation platform, giving views right over London: the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, the Shard and Canary Wharf. This outdoor challenge begins at 'Base Camp', where participants are kitted out in jumpsuits, shoes and safety harnesses before being guided in groups along the walkway. It is suitable for most people aged ten years and over and at least 1.2 metres tall; accessible tours for those with disabilities, including wheelchair-users, are planned.

  1. The O2, Peninsula Square, SE10 0DX
Book online
4

Cutty Sark

Badly damaged by fire in 2007, Cutty Sark – the last surviving tea clipper – re-opened after extensive renovation in 2012. On-board displays are dedicated to the ship's history and various cargos during her 140-year lifespan, from tea to wool to buffalo horns. Visitors can also venture underneath the three-masted sailing ship, which has been raised three metres above her dry dock to afford views of the elegant hull that made Cutty Sark the fastest clipper of her time. The Cutty Sark is one of the attractions clustered as the Royal Museums Greenwich: the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and the Queen's House.

  1. King William Walk, SE10 9HT
More info
5

London Eye

Your guide to visiting the world's most famous observation wheel.

6

Battersea Park Children's Zoo

In the meerkats’ enclosure children can make their way down a tunnel to pop out on a level with the creatures. Battersea Park Children's Zoo also has indoor and outdoor play areas, picnic tables, a coffee shop and nappy-changing facilities.

  1. Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ
More info
7

London Zoo

Regular events include 'animals in action' displays, feeding sessions, keeper talks and the glorious sight of birds in flight on the display lawn. 'Rainforest Life' recreates a tropical forest where you'll find red titi monkeys, marmosets, tamarins and sloths. This leads down to 'Night Life', filled with nocturnal creatures including scorpions and the slender loris (a small primate). At 'Gorilla Kingdom' you can get surprisingly close to the zoo's colony of western lowland gorillas.

  1. Outer Circle, Regent's Park, NW1 4RY
More info
8

V&A Museum of Childhood

  • Free

There are plenty of hands-on activities for kids and special events at weekends and during school holidays, while the café helps to revive flagging grown-ups.

  1. Cambridge Heath Rd, E2 9PA
More info
9

Discover Children's Story Centre

Discover is a magical world where children up to age 11 can embark on an indoor story trail, aided and abetted by fantastic characters whose role is to help kids invent their own stories.

  1. 383-387 High St, E15 4QZ
More info
10

Horniman Museum

  • Free

The Horniman Museum provides extensive facilities for families, including a nature trail, weekend workshops and a hands-on base where children can touch museum objects. The gardens offer spectacular views over London.

  1. 100 London Road, SE23 3PQ
More info


Users say

5 comments
lilibartley
lilibartley

Thanks ThomasCrock, I am going to take you up on the Lincoln thing! My daughter is weirdly obsessed with him so that will definitely wile away a few hours...

ThomasCrock
ThomasCrock

great selection. thank you, has been invaluable. Did also go to the new Tiger space at London Zoo, unfortunately was a very rainy day and the tigers (as with most of the animals) were in hiding. Have also been using www.lincolnfingerpuppet.com as a companion to keep the kids amused!

Daniela Dellacqua
Daniela Dellacqua

hello i am very impressed with your choices of children half term activities only i would like to suggest to include a few for the under 5 years old many thanks

Anne Bradley
Anne Bradley

Half term for some parents outside of London started on the 11 February 2013. London should take into account this.

Maureen
Maureen

I do feel sorry for more than 2 kids in family as I feel they do miss out I know my 4 grand children do I want to take them to places but just cant afford places of interest as 4 comes so expensive.