Top 10 things to do with the kids this bank holiday

Stuck for things to do with the kids this May bank holiday? Panic over, we've got plenty to keep them sweet



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This year's first May bank holiday falls on Monday May 5 2014 and, as always, we've got some fail-safe family-friendly ideas to keep the kids happy over the long weekend. Forget staying at home in front of the television, London's got a lot to offer the little ones over the bank holiday weekend.

Keep the kids entertained all weekend long


Canalway Cavalcade

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The 2014 edition of this colourful gathering of canal boats organised by volunteers from Inland Waterways Association (IWA) makes a great family outing. It’s a properly English affair, complete with real ale, morris dancers and lots of activities for children. The Canalway Cavalcade, which has taken place in Little Venice every year since 1983, sees around 130 boats moored along the stretch of the Grand Union Canal between Blomfield Road, Warwick Avenue and Warwick Crescent.

  1. Little Venice between Blomfield Rd, Warwick Avenue and Warwick Crescent, W9 2PB
  2. Sat May 3 - Mon May 5
More info

Children's Choice Weekend at Pick Me Up

As part of the Pick Me Up graphic arts festival, these family days feature a fun roster of guests and activities. Rastamouse creators Michael de Souza and Genevieve Webster host drawing workshops and a reading on May 3. May 4 is 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' day, with the chance to hear author Judith Kerr in conversation with her art director Ian Craig. The 90 year old writer is admirably continuing to work and has a new picture book coming out later this year. You can take part in tiger tea-parties for families and the young at heart throughout the day.

  1. Somerset House Strand, WC2R 1LA
  2. Sat May 3 - Sun May 4
More info

The Great Hampstead Bark Off

With a dog-themed-cake bake off, a dog show, and prizes awarded in categories like ‘cutest pup’ and ‘best rescue’, this day out promises to be a treat for man’s best friend and their owners alike. The event, in association with charity All Dogs Matter, will also give you the chance to meet some lovely mutts in need of a new home. Entrance tickets for the dog show will sell out fast – don’t paws for thought, you’d be wise to book your pooch a £5 place in advance (pre-register by emailing

  1. Parliament Hill Hampstead Heath, East Heath Rd, NW3 2SY
  2. Sat May 3
More info

New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival

  • Free

Lewisham is one of only two London Boroughs without a cinema and the NXDFFF is screening films in some very unusual places including a pool hall, a housing co-op, a library, and an old police station. Events include two open-air bike-powered screenings of Attack the Block (Fordham Park.7pm. Saturday April 26) and Grease (Telegraph Hill Upper Park. 8pm. Saturday May 3) as well as family screenings and mainstream feature films. Look online for a full line up of events.

  1. Various venues around Lewisham
  2. Fri Apr 25 - Sun May 4
More info

Vaisakhi Festival

  • Free

Twenty million people worldwide celebrate Sikh New Year, and as many as 30,000 of them have attended the Trafalgar Square festivities in past years. Family-friendly entertainment includes turban dressing, henna art and Bhangra Boogie Woogie dance classes, plus Bollywood dance shows, Dhol drumming, and Asian bazaar and vegetarian food stalls.


Mariella Mystery Investigates

Join author Kate Pankhurst to find out about Mariella Mystery, an amazing girl detective (aged 9 and a bit) and her adventures. Suitable for ages 7+ this event is part of a bank holiday weekend themed around the immersive 'Secret Agents' exhibition (Saturday May 3 till Monday 5). Rastamouse creators Michael de Souza and Genevieve Webster also make an appearance to solve the MiceSpace Mysery (age 3+; 12.30pm Saturday May 3 and Monday May 5).

  1. Discover Children's Story Centre 383-387 Stratford High St, E15 4QZ
  2. Mon May 5
More info

Royal Music for a Family Occasion

Handel’s Water Music provides the soundtrack for this family-friendly concert exploring the Thames of Georgian London. Held in the composer’s old rehearsal room, flute, harpsichord and recorder trio Flautotonic will be playing music Handel wrote for the royal family. The concert will feature interactive elements to encourage mini maestros to get involved.

  1. Handel House Museum 23 & 25 Brook St (entrance in Lancashire Court), W1K 4HB
  2. Sun May 4
More info

First Family Sundays at Kenwood House

Monthly creative family workshops run by artists bringing Kenwood's paintings to life. Families can try different arts and crafts whilst exploring the house and finding out more about its collections. Drop in any time to these free activities.

  1. Kenwood House Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR
  2. Sun May 4 - Sun Feb 1
More info

Come Worship at the Toast Temple

A vessel for many of life's great spreads, a filler of tummies, a bringer of comfort. Toast is the oft-overlooked hero of the breakfast table, but at last there's an appropriate outlet for the worship of crispy bread. The Toast Temple invites you to 'rejoice in the golden majesty of The Slice' by paying the shrine a visit as it travels around south-west London as part of the Wandsworth Arts Festival. Discuss the fine art of toast-making with like-minded enthusiasts, share your favourite ways with the carb-packed snack, and generally marvel at the ways in which toast can lead us to happiness.

  1. St Mary's Church Putney High Street, SW15 1SL
  2. Sat May 3 - Sun May 18
More info

Screaming with Laughter

Parents with very little ones need a good laugh more than anyone, so this afternoon comedy club will be a welcome addition to the calendar. Bring your under-one-year-olds – valid ID probably won't be required – and settle in to enjoy the best of the London comedy circuit as chosen (and MC-ed) by Lucy Porter. Doors open at noon to allow time for settling in and ordering lunch, and each show runs from 1pm-2.30pm with a twenty-minute interval.

  1. The Earl Haig Hall 18 Elder Avenue, Crouch End, N8 9TH
  2. Fri May 2
More info
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Users say


Basement of the science museum is best for under fives.


Not much for under fives