Birds: Brilliant & Bizarre, Natural History Museum, 2024
Photo: Lucie Goodayle

The best May half-term activities in London

Keep the kids busy and entertained this May 2024 half-term with some fantastic activities around London

Andrzej LukowskiRosie Hewitson
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The Easter holidays are still a recent memory, the summer holidays are looming in the background: and now here comes half-term again, with the kids getting a whole week off – and entertainment will be required. 

Fortunately, this is London, and there’s a near-infinite number of things for kids to do, from enjoying the city’s many kid-friendly museums and galleries that really come into their own when school is out, to enjoying the possibilities of the warmer weather and the return of outdoor theatre season.

Please enjoy our top suggestions for the half-term, from brand new exhibitions and plays to your last chance to see a couple of excellent attractions for younger audiences.

When is May half-term this year? 

This year, London’s May half-term falls between Monday May 27 and Friday May 31. Other parts of the country will have half-term a different week.

Whether you’re after some rainy day fun, outdoor play or some budget-friendly free activities for families, London absolutely has you covered. Here’s our roundup of all the best things to do with your children this May half-term. 

Things to do in May half term with kids in London

  • Immersive
  • South Bank

At last, London has a Paddington Bear exhibition! This lavish interactive experience sounds like it has everything a fan of the polite young bear could possibly want, from a journey through Paddington’s idealised London to a marmalade festival at the Browns’ house. It only opens on the Friday of half-term, but if you can’t get down these holidays it’s surely going to be around for a while.

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • South Kensington

The Natural History Museum’s big exhibition for 2024 is this massive new celebration of our avian pals. As you can doubtless glean from the title, ‘Birds: Brilliant and Bizarre’ focuses on the weirder end of the feathered spectrum. While some of the NHM’s permanent exhibitions can look a little tired these days, its big temporary exhibitions are typically cutting-edge, interactive and hugely fun.

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  • Attractions
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Regent’s Park

It’s all change for ZSL’s cold-blooded inhabitants: gone is the old school Reptile House; in for 2024 is The Secret Life of Reptiles and Amphibians, a massive new upgrade that aims to offer perfect habitats to 33 species across 11 zones. Admire mountain chicken frogs, big-headed turtles, panther chameleons and so much more.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Forest Hill

You can rarely go too long at the Horniman without encountering some form of prehistoric life: following its recent ‘Permian Monsters’ and ‘Brick Dinos’ exhibitions, 2024 sees it play host ‘Dinosaur rEvolution’. It’s based around five showstopping animatronic models,including a seven-metre-long T-Rex.

  • Art
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

The British Museum’s excellent exhibition ‘Legion: Life in the Roman Army’ details the day-to-day reality of life for soldiers throughout the Empire. It on through most of June, but May half-term marks your last chance to see it during the school holidays.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Bethnal Green
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

The first temporary exhibition at Young V&A is a real delight, and should appeal to grown-up Nippophiles just as much as school kids. ‘Japan: Myths to Manga’ is a grab bag of the more eye-catching highlights of the past few centuries of Japanese pop culture, taking in everything from Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’ to copious Studio Ghibli appearances, to a draw-your-own manga craft corner.

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