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Summer holidays in London

Keep the kids entertained with these fail-safe ideas for things to do over the school holidays

© Peter Csongedi

Six weeks is a long time to keep anyone entertained, let alone your toughest critics. Don't panic though, we've got this year's school summer holidays totally sorted. Let the younger ones go wild at a city farm, send your teens to swot up at one of London's top museums, or take your pick of our favourite family-friendly events going on in the capital from July 19 - August 31 2016. For more inspiration, check out our bumper collection of 101 things to do in London with kids and keep them busy all year round. 

Our summer holiday London highlights

Things to do

Archikids Festival

Let your kids run riot in the Square Mile at a festival that hopes to turn five-to-eleven-year olds into 'architectives'. Some of the City's most iconic buildings are opening to families once again in 2016 for workshops and activities that will help children explore aspects of design and construction. This year's free programme will be announced soon. Check the Archikids website for updates.

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Things to do

Zoorassic Park

Come face to face with a life-size dinosaurs as they're resurrected for six weeks only at Whipsnade Zoo. Families can meet the dino keepers and learn more about the t-rexs, and brachiosaurus that roamed the planet 65 million years ago. There will also be plenty of fun dino-themed activities for little ones to get stuck into.

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Things to do

ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide

Belgian artist Carsten Höller (who set up a pair of spiral slides outside the Hayward Gallery as part of his 2015 exhibition) has designed this new addition to the Olympic Park's sculpture-cum-attraction. Guests will be able to fly down the world's longest and tallest slide as part of their visit from Friday June 24 2016. Visit the ArcelorMittal website for advance booking.

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Things to do

Alexandra Palace Summer Festival

After its successful launch last year, the Palace's summer festival returns with DJ Yoda and a 100m waterslide. The day-long festival also offers a silent disco in the woods, family raving, and an outdoor screening of ET. Tickets are free (booking recommended; some activities extra)

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Things to do

Beach East

Life's a beach once again at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with over 2,200 square metres of sand deposited at the site for endless sandcastle competitions and balmy evening walks. This year's tropical offering will have a Rio theme in celebration of the Olympics and there will be big screens to watch it on from Aug 6-21. A gigantic paddling pool and funfair rides will entertain the kids, and two beach bars will keep the adults suitably refreshed.

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Things to do

Beatrix Potter's London

2016 marks the 150th anniversary of celebrated children's author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter who was a frequent visitor to the museum where she would often sit and sketch. This exhibition celebrates the date with artworks, original sketches and her earliest published works on show.

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Things to do

Sensational Butterflies

The Natural History Museum's butterfly house returns for an eighth year in 2016 to a specially constructed tropical enclosure on the Museum's east lawn. Visitors can come face-to-face with tropical butterflies, including the swallowtail, blue morpho, the moon moth and many others originating from Africa, Southeast Asia and North and South America, and take part in games, activities and challenges that teach more about the sensory world of the fluttering creatures. Most of the creatures in the Natural History Museum have been dead for a very, very long time. But here, in this humid tent on its lawn, you can see the most beautiful birth sequence in the natural world: a butterfly wriggling out of its chrysalis, pumping up its damp wings then taking flight and landing – if you're lucky – on you, instead of a flower. Each year, hundreds of tropical chrysalises arrive at Heathrow from all over the world, destined for the tender care of the Museum’s expert lepidopterist Luke Brown – also a skilled butterfly midwife, who watches lovingly over their metamorphoses, and steps in with a pin to help the little insects free of their leaf-shaped pods if they’re struggling. In the wild, only 10 to 15 percent of them will make this extraordinary transformation from hairy caterpillar to nectar-sipping glider: here, the success rate is more like 85 percent.  Even if you don’t catch one in the act of emerging, this is a truly sensational environment: the damp, hot air is thick with colourful

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The biggest stage event of 2016 – and conceivably of all time – is coming. Officially confirmed as the eigth Harry Potter adventure, 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' picks up immediately after 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' left off (ie, 19 years after the end of the main story), this epic two-part stage play by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany is the eighth official Harry Potter adventure, and follows the adventures of both a middle-aged Harry and his son Albus as starts life at Hogwarts. Tiffany and Thorne are the team behind the dazzling stage adaptation of 'Let the Right One In', so expect something suitably magical and swoonsome. Initial casting has been announced for the 'big three' roles: Jamie Parker will play Harry, Noma Dumezweni as Hermione and Paul Thornley as Ron.Set up to be viewed in two parts, with a four-month initial booking period, tickets are going to be like gold dust for the initial run. But don't despair if you don't bag any: clearly the run will be vastly extended at some point, plus there will be a daily ticket lottery to get day seats to both parts (£40 for both), plus fresh tickets will go on sale at 1pm each Friday of the run, selling 20 tickets to each of the following week's performances (also £40 for both parts). Though the initial booking period is almost all sold out, advance tickets are ony available from the official website harrypottertheplay.com. RECOMMENDED: All the latest 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' news and

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FIND MORE THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN THE CITY

Outdoor fun for kids this summer

Things to do

Lidos and outdoor swimming pools

Escape the summer heat with the dip in the open air

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Things to do

Major parks to explore in London

Take the little ones for a picnic in one of London's green spots

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Things to do

City farms in London

It's baby animal season!

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Kids

Outdoor activities for kids

From adventure playgrounds to bouncy boat trips

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See more outdoor activities in London

Indoor fun for kids this summer

Theatre

Top ten kids' theatre shows this summer

Sick of kids squirming for two full acts? Try one of these energetic theatre shows

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Film

Top ten films for kids this summer

A rainy day is the perfect excuse to have a popcorn party instead

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Kids

Indoor play centres in London

Let the kids loose in the city's best indoor play areas

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Museums

Top ten museums for kids

London's museums put loads of effort into making their exhibits accessible to children

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