Top 10 outdoor activities for kids this summer
Suncream at the ready – there are tons of great outdoor activities in London to amuse the kids all summer long
© Simon Jacobs
It's time to switch off the telly, put down the games console and relocate outdoors. This summer is jam-packed with fantastic family-friendly outdoor events taking place in the capital, so there's no excuse to stay inside. Keep the kids entertained all summer long with food foraging, water works and disco dancing.
In celebration of 75 years of The Beano, the Southbank Centre is creating Beanotown – a Beano neighbourhood decked out with related memorabilia and featuring a Beano museum and social club. Housed in the Festival Village – a spacious venue under the Queen Elizabeth Hall – Beantown will host a series of events including drawing workshops led by The Beano illustrators and sessions revealing the history of Dennis the Menace's pranks complete with demonstrations. The museum will showcase an archive of comics together with the history of DC Thomson & Co's enduring characters and stories. The social club, meanwhile, offers games including Table Dennis (yes, that's table tennis) and the Beano Breville Bar serving themed food.
Perfect family fun, go and support the hundreds of people taking part in the Sumo Run around Battersea Park. The pre-event sumo warm up will be a big fat laugh for anyone out for an early morning stroll in the park, and the optional fancy-dress competition themed 'tropical summer' – think inflatable parrots, grass skirts, oversized sunnies – will provide plenty of race-side entertainment.
Spitalfields Farms' weekly craft fair is back for the second year running, bringing food, donkey rides and all sorts of family-friendly fun to this cheerful corner of East London. You'll also have the chance to snap up redesigned, up-cycled furniture, vintage clothes, jewellery and homeware. Donkey rides start at 3pm.
Various Dalston businesses and art collectives take part in this summer-long children's festival, which features family-friendly activities in music, sports, theatre, literature, arts and crafts, film, food and play. Gillett Square will play host to The African Market, with original and ethical fashion items, homeware, books, music and more.
Westminster Abbey's popular series of summer holiday events returns, with Tuesday and Thursday workshops on making a crown or helmet, illuminating a manuscript, and learning to be a knight. Along with the workshops are storytelling sessions, performances and singalongs for all ages, on subjects as diverse as the Elizabethans, great explorers, saints, and plants and patterns. All events take place in the College Garden or, if it rains, in the education centre.
This year's kids' festival LolliBop makes its home at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, but with the same mix of live acts, disco, arts, crafts, science and dance workshops and competitions. The full line-up is yet to be confirmed, but areas and activities include 'Lollipalladiam', a theatre tent and entertainment space featuring international acts; LolliBop Liive, playing host to some of the biggest names in childrens entertainment, the LolliBop Kitchen, where creative minichefs can take part in interactive workshops, and a mass of arts and crafts workshops in the Imagination Stations.
Since Notting Hill Carnival debuted in 1964, the event has undoubtedly 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. The more family-friendly Sunday is the best day to take children to the Carnival.
This year Kew’s summer festival highlights the extraordinary diversity of edible plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens. The centrepiece – ‘Tutti Frutti’ – is the work of architectural foodsmiths Bompas & Parr. The pair have come up with another of their trademark bonkers concepts: a giant ‘fruit salad’ boating lake complete with a floating pineapple island. Tickets are available from the kiosk by the pond and all the boats have been designed to look like slices of papaya, melon, durian or pear.
The annual Thames Festival (which takes place from the river's source to the mouth, though mainly between Lambeth Bridge and St Katherine Docks) is super-sizing this year, expanding its usual weekend event into a ten-day festival. With an extensive programme of entertainment on and beside the Thames, the fest hopes to encourage visitors to connect with the river through art installations, music concerts, sailing events and more. Most of the events are free, but some are ticketed.
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For great food, great entertainment and all-round great family fun, head to one of the capital's festivals.