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The Best Family Events in London this October

3 October 2017 Eva de Valk

With autumn in full swing, it’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up at home and not venture outside unless it’s absolutely necessary. On the other hand, you live in London, so doing that would mean missing out on lots of fun family activities. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the best things on offer this month.

The Southbank Centre is hosting their annual London Literature Festival, which is on from 13 October until 1 November. While grownup visitors can enjoy appearances by the likes of Hillary Clinton and Philip Pullman, there is an extensive, mostly free, programme for families as well. Light Up Your Dreams (14 and 15 October) is a poetry workshop in which families can record their hopes and dreams in light under the guidance of an artist. In puppetry show Vikings and Valkyries (23 October), audiences learn about heroes and monsters in Icelandic folklore, and from 23 until 27 October, you can use recycled materials to make your own time capsule to take home with you.
Just around the corner at the Old Vic, The Lorax is making a return to the stage after a successful run and an Olivier nomination two years ago. This colourful adaptation of the popular tale by Dr Seuss features puppetry and some very catchy songs, and was the heralded by the Guardian as ‘the best family show since Matilda’. The Lorax is playing from 15 October until 5 November, with ticket prices starting at £10.

Rehearsals for The Lorax - Manuel Harlan

One event this month that’s sure to attract many adults and children alike is the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Library. Celebrating the twentieth birthday of the first book in the series, this new display will include both ‘magical objects’ from the library collection and original drafts and drawings by J.K. Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay. Visitors will learn more about some of the stories and science that inspired the Harry Potter series, such as a 16th century formula to create the philosopher’s stone or a medieval map of the night sky. The exhibition will be on from 20 October until 28 February, but with tickets for weekend days selling out fast, we recommend booking well in advance if you’re planning a visit. Adult tickets are £16, and special concessions are available for families.

Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library - Tony Antoniou

Another exhibition that’s opening on 20 October is Power UP at the Science Museum. Although ‘exhibition’ is perhaps not the right word: it’s more of an interactive event, based around the theme of gaming. More than 180 consoles will be put into place so that every visitor can try their hand at the best games from the last 40 years. Marvel at the latest inventions, or introduce your kids to the pleasures of Pong and Pacman. Alongside the exhibition, the museum has arranged workshop and other activities that will teach children about careers in the gaming industry. Power UP is recommended for ages five and older, and runs until 31 October. Tickets start at £10 for adults and £8 for children, and a special family discount is available.
And while you’re in the Exhibition Road area, why not pop into the ice rink at the Natural History Museum next door? We couldn’t quite believe it’s already that time of year either, but one of London’s most picturesque ice rinks is opening again on 27 October. It usually gets pretty busy closer to Christmas, so you might as well brush up on your rusty skating skills now when it’s still a bit quieter! Adult tickets start at £12.65, and family concession tickets are available.
But let’s not get carried away with the Christmas spirit too much yet: first up is Halloween! Venues and attractions across the capital are putting on special Halloween-themed activities to coincide with half term. Have a spooky sleepover at the Museum of London (27 October), where you can solve crime by torchlight, and meet the likes of Sweeney Todd and Dr Jekyll. Go for a double dose of Harry Potter, and learn all about the Dark Arts at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour (1 October 12 November). Really brave families can even volunteer to tackle some really dirty jobs at court, with Hampton Court Palace’s Horrible Hampton (21 – 29 October). So get out there, and get stuck in… if you dare!

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