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Take your family on a perfect half-term outing in London

From festivals to inspire little imaginations to dino-themed mini golf, there’s loads of off-peak family fun to be had in London over the school holiday

by Time Out in association with Transport for London
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Need some ideas for entertaining the little ones during half-term? We’ve selected a bunch of exciting, hands-on activities – many of which are free. You can get to them all during off-peak hours (that’s during the day, evenings and weekends), which means you’ll be saving on travel too. For grown-ups, Transport for London’s off-peak fares start at just £1.50 for a single adult pay as you go fare. All kids under 11 can travel free at any time on buses and trams. Up to four kids under 11 can travel free at any time on Tube, DLR, London Overground, and TfL Rail services when accompanied by an adult.

Remember to check TfL Journey Planner before you travel.

Erumpent horn
Photograph: Jeff Spicer, Getty

2. Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature

Museums Natural history Natural History Museum, South Kensington

Scarcely believable real-life creatures mix with the eccentric outpourings of JK Rowling’s imagination in the NHM’s much-interrupted blockbuster.

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Tower of London (c) Historic Royal Palaces
Photograph: Tower of London (c) Historic Royal Palaces

3. Knight School: The Show at the Tower of London

The Tower of London’s half-term show is a 30-minute fun performance giving youngsters a taste of life as a medieval knight – specifically one in the service of Margaret of Anjou, looking to free her husband Henry VI from the Tower.

4. Six the Musical

Theatre Musicals Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue

This sassy – and, crucially short – musical romp through the afterlives of Henry VIII’s six wives is an absolute blast and very much suitable for secondary school aged kids.

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The Smartest Giant in Town, Little Angel, 2021
Photograph: Little Angel

5. The Smartest Giant in Town

Theatre Children's Little Angel Theatre Studios, Canonbury

A bona fide piece of IRL kids’ theatre from the Little Angel, which gets back into the swing of things with a socially distanced take on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’, which concerns a scruffy giant who receives a swanky makeover. Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane adapt this puppet take on the story, which is sure to be a delight.

S3767-006
Photograph: Tina Warner/Photodronesheritage

6. Surviving the High Seas at the National Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum’s half-term theme is an uplifting exploration of how sailors kept their spirits up on voyages. Worry not, parents: the answer isn’t ‘grog’, but storytelling and sea shanties. There are four sessions a day May 30, June 1, 3 and 6 – they're free but can be reserved for £1.

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar at ZSL
Photograph: ZSL

7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar at ZSL

From May half-term until mid-July, ZSL is playing host to a series of kids’s activities celebrating Eric Carle’s beloved picturebook ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. Tackle an assault course of giant fruit and veg, take in a storytelling session in a giant egg, and lots more themed fun, all free with entry.

Wonderlab at the Science Museum, 18 things to do before you're 18
Photograph: Plastiques Photography Limited

8. Wonderlab at the Science Museum

Museums Science and technology South Kensington

Up in The Equinor Gallery, on level three of the museum, you’ll find more than 50 exhibits split into seven zones. In this space, visitors will experience the maths and science behind everyday situations. Get hands-on at the chemistry bar, witness a controlled lightning strike and see something go bang in one of four daily demonstrations. £10 adults, £8 children, under-threes free.

Getting there: District, Circle or Piccadilly line to South Kensington.
Local bus routes: 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430, C1.

Get there for less!

T001-00775
© Transport for London

Get there for less!

TfL’s off-peak pay as you go fares mean that you’ll save more pennies this half-term. Off-peak fares apply on all Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail services. You can tap into the wonderful world of off-peak every weekday before 6.30am, between 9.30am and 3.59pm, and after 7pm. Off-peak fares also apply all day at weekends and on public holidays. Always touch in and out with the same card or device to pay the right fare. Touch in only on buses and trams. To check a fare, visit TfL’s single fare finder.

Kids travel free!
All kids under 11 can travel free at any time on buses and trams. Up to four kids under 11 can travel free at any time on Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail services when accompanied by an adult. An adult is anyone 16 and over using an adult rate ticket (but not a Group Day Travelcard), pay as you go or travel concession.

Travel in Zones 2-6 for £1.50
Fare shown is for an adult off-peak pay as you go journey not going via Zone 1 on Tube, DLR and most London Overground services.

Travel into Zone 1 from £2.40
Fare shown is for an adult off-peak pay as you go journey from Zone 2 into Zone 1.

Travel by bus and tram for £1.50
TfL’s Hopper fare lets you make unlimited bus and tram journeys within one hour of first touching in for just £1.50.

TfL Cultural Map placeholder
© Transport for London

Your key to London adventures

The Cultural TfL Map is your key to finding more of London's family friendly hidden gems. This interactive map reveals more than 500 Time Out-recommended museums, galleries, street art and more, all within a short walk or bus ride of each station. Many of these experiences are free!

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Wonderful World of Off-Peak Winter badge
© Transport for London

Discover more of the wonderful world of off-peak

We know that affordable, convenient public transport is the key to accessing the best that London has to offer – and thanks to TfL’s affordable off-peak fares and other discounts across the network, the possibilities for adventure are wider than ever. Here, you'll find plenty more unexpected and exciting off-peak outings.

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