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The Paddington Bear Experience, 2024
Photo: The Paddington Bear Experience

London’s massive new interactive Paddington Bear experience will open in May

And from March 1 you can shop in Mr Gruber’s Antiques Store

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski

UPDATE: full details and dates have now been announced for ‘The Paddington Bear Experience’

A decade ago, Paddington was yesterday’s bear: still beloved by the generations that had grown up on Michael Bond’s books and subsequent TV adaptations, but how could this polite, marmalade-loving avatar of a gentler age hope to appeal to cynical modern youth?

What a difference ten years makes. With two pretty much perfect films – and a memorable meeting with the late Queen – under his belt, Paddington didn’t evaporate in a cloud of harmless twee, but rather his twenty-first-century writers doubled down on his old-fashioned sense of decency in a way that left the character both comically out of sync and also perversely righteous: shaming us by having more faith in the world than we do.

Now, Paddington is probably as popular now as he’s ever been, with a third film opening late this year, a musical due next year – and before that a lavish new all-ages immersive experience opening in central London.

‘The Paddington Bear Experience’ will run at the former LCC County Hall building, currently host to semi-immersive Agatha Christie show ‘Witness for the Prosecution’, which will be continuing alongside it.

Beginning at ‘Paddington Station’ (not the real one, one in the exhibition), you’ll go on a whistlestop tour of Paddington’s cleaner, more twee version of London, before heading over to his adoptive human family the Browns’s house for the Marmalade Day Festival. We’re promised themed rooms, interactive games and a big party at the end. And, yes, you can have a marmalade sandwich.

The show is directed by the creative collective Immersive Octopus and written by Katie Lyons, who did the honours for the recent immersive hit ‘Peaky Blinders: The Rise’. Whether they’ll be able to capture the weapons-grade charm of the films is very much TBC, but it sounds like a delightful family day out.

The Paddington Bear Experience, 2024
Photo: Harry JohnsonMr Gruber’s Antique Shop

The show doesn’t open until the very end of May, but it will be preceded by the March 1 opening of Mr Gruber’s Antiques Store on the County Hall site, where you’ll be able to buy merch and tickets for the experience in advance of your meeting with the polite young bear.

‘The Paddington Bear Experience’ is at County Hall from May 31. Book tickets here.

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