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Keeper for a Day London Zoo
Jemma Ridley

7 great giftable experiences

Find the best London days out that money can buy this Christmas

Written by
Sonya Barber

Physical presents are out, memorable things to do are in. Everyone has that one friend or family member who is just impossible to buy for, so instead of trawling around Christmas markets and getting squished on Oxford Street, why not get them an unforgettable London day out instead? 

Send the Londoner who has everything to a group harmonica class, turn them into a London Zoo keeper for a day or pay for them to abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Maybe check how they feel about heights before you splash out on that last one…

7 memorable days out in London

The relaxing one
  • Health and beauty
  • Spas
  • Vauxhall

Know someone who needs to seriously chill out? You can’t get further from the stress, noise, pressure and commotion of city life than floating in salt water for an hour in a soundproofed box at a Floatworks flotation tank. It might sound bonkers, but it’s a surprisingly great way to relax your mind and body as you effortlessly bob about feeling weightless. Try not to be jealous of how Zen they are when they emerge. 
Floatworks. Tube: Vauxhall. £50 for a single float or £105 for three. 

  • Attractions
  • Olympic Park

If you have a friend with a head for heights, give them the gift of pumping adrenaline that comes courtesy of abseiling down the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Thrill-seekers can whizz all the way down Anish Kapoor’s twisty sculpture in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. As you descend the 262-feet-high tower, you’ll be able to spot London landmarks and see for more than 20 miles in all directions. Just try not to look down. 
ArcelorMittal Orbit. Tube: Stratford. Reopens for abseiling in March 2019. £85 for the abseil or £100 with GoPro footage.

The melodic one

The melodic one

Got a musical mate who’s looking to form a one-man band? A 90-minute group Harmonica Masterclass will teach you all the mouth organ basics and help you master the three Bs: breath, bars and blues. You’ll learn to play notes, chords, a ‘harmonica blues train’ and a 12-bar blues riff, plus tips on the art of improvisation. Harmonicas aren’t provided so pick up a good one to complete the gift. Next year: knee cymbals.
Various venues. Sat, roughly every six weeks. £20, book at

The foodie one
  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Tottenham

Give a person a block of cheese and they’ll enjoy a brief cheesy snack. Teach a person how to make cheese and they’ll be able to keep their (and hopefully your) fridge full of fromage for a lifetime. This one-day Urban Cheese Making Course in north London will equip you with all the dairy-wrangling skills you need to make delicious cheese in the comfort of your own home. Lunch, cakes, a tour of the ‘cheese cave’ system, cheese samples and the owner’s excellent jokes are all included in the price. 
Wildes Cheese. White Hart Lane Overground. £135 for a one-day cheese-making course or £50 for a halloumi-making class. 

The wild one
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Attractions
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Regent’s Park

If you’ve got a friend who spends their working day sending you animal gifs and reckons they could be the next David Attenborough, treat them to the next best thing to a slot on ‘Dynasties’ – a Keeper for a Day Experience at ZSL London Zoo. This is a chance to get up close and personal with some of London’s wildest inhabitants and find out what it really takes to look after them, including the less glamorous parts such as mucking out the enclosures. It’s not cheap but it’ll definitely be more memorable than another pair of penguin socks. 
ZSL London Zoo. Tube: Camden Town. £240, book at 

The theatrical one
  • Theatre
  • Public and national theatres
  • South Bank

Instead of getting tickets to a West End show for the thesp in your life (they’ve probably got them already), give them the gift of behind-the-scenes insights at the National Theatre Backstage Tours. They’ll see preparation for the shows, set-building, prop-making and all the other day-to-day happenings. They might even bump into Cate Blanchett at the Dorfman if they time it right… 
National Theatre. Tube: Waterloo. £11, £9 concs at 

Want something you can wrap? Try these Christmas shops

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