What’s On: London’s Best Free and Affordable Weekend Family Events

Nov 12, 2015 by

This Weekend for the Whole Family


Lord Mayor’s Show and Fireworks: Head into town on Saturday to take part in the 800th Lord Mayor’s Show.  9am River Pageant; 11am Lord Mayor’s Procession of 7,000 participants, 20 bands, 150 horses and much more.  5:15 Lord Mayor’s Fireworks between Blackfriars and Waterloo station, display lasts 15-20 minutes.


Granary Square, Rapha Super Cross: head over to the Granary Square after the Lord Mayor’s Show and check out the unique urban racing course set up around Kings Cross.  In addition to Super Cross (bike racing) there will be a DJ, food, beer and a demo fleet of kids Islabkies.

This Weekend for Younger Children (and perhaps their older siblings)

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National Theatre, I Want my Hat Back: Jon Klassen’s brilliant, dry wit has been turned into a stage adaptation.  For children ages 3- 300.  Tickets £12 adults, £10 for children.


Half Moon Theatre, Circles in the Sand: Saturday 15th, 10am, noon and 2pm, ages 4-7, £6.50. Join a world of buckets, castle building, spinning and tumbling.  Bring babies and toddlers age 0-3 to Half Moon Theatre for a a performance where they will play with the sand at the end of the performance.

This Weekend for Older Children (and perhaps their younger siblings) 


Kings Place, Ulla’s Odyssey: A family-friendly opera based on the Odyssey using live music and puppetry to bring the story to life.  For ages 7+ (younger siblings welcome) Saturday, 2pm £19.50 adult, £12 children, £36 family of 3, £54 family of 4.


Museum of London Family Weekend – Celebrating the City: Head over to the Museum of London and continue celebrating the Lord Mayor’s show with dragon mask making, performances, storytelling and a special Minecraft spectacular.  Ages 5-14, free, drop-in


Institute Francais Game Lab: Saturday 2:30-4pm.  This is not what I would ideally choose to do with my son, but he LOVED it.  The Game Lab was set up for kids to play Minecraft; the boys conversed in French and English swapping Minecraft secrets.  Free, ages 7+

Somerset House, Ben Uris Gallery Presents: Family Passport – As part of the Out of Chaos exhibition, being the kids to come and explore identity and migration through art and digital media.  Kids will make a family moment with artist Edwin Mingard.

Grant Museum of Zoology: Get up close and handle animal specimens like elephant tusks, sharks’ teeth with the help of enthusiastic museum educators.  All ages, 1pm-4:30pm, free and drop-in.

National Gallery Studio Sunday Changing Perspectives: Sunday 15th 11am-12:20pm and 2pm-4pm.  Take part in an artist-led workshop focusing on Hobbeman’s Avenue of Middlharnis, make your own perspective view.  Free, ages 5-11, tickets allocated one hour before arrival.  Noon – 4pm, ages 6-12, free.

This Weekend for Much Older Children

BFI Family Cinema: Sunday 8th November, Scars Glasskar (English subtitles, ages 10+) 1:50pm.  Kids £4, adults £11.75.

Royal Academy, Ai Weiwei: now until the 13th of December.  I took my daughter for her big 10th birthday to the exhibit and cannot recommend it more highly.  The artwork is provocative, reactive, concrete and some works incredibly abstract.  The installation includes life-sized models of his time in prison.  The exhibit is not at all appropriate for young children as the installations are too easy to touch.  £16 for adults, children are free.

Babies and Toddlers 

Pimlico Toy Library: Pimlico Toy Library has a new web site showcasing all their wonderful children’s workshops and baby playtimes.  This is a fantastic resource for any parent or carer, the toys are fastidiously cleaned and the art workshops are brilliantly planned with high quality materials

Electric Cinema, Electric Scream: Mondays, 10:30.  This week’s feature: Spectre. Bring babies under 12 months to this amazingly plush cinema, relax with some coffee and catch a flick.

Everyman Belzise Park, Baby Club: Head up to Belsize Park and catch a film.  Tuesdays, 10am, watch He Named me Malala

Clapham Picturehouse, Big Scream: Head to Clapham and see Lady in the Van.  Sundays and Thursday, 10:30, £7.50.

Ritzy, Brixton, Big Scream: Fridays, 11am, £7.50.  This week’s features: Lady in the Van

Family Cinema 

Curzon Cinema, Victoria:  This week’s programme, The Big Knights.  Saturday and Sunday, 10:30. £3.50 per person.  On Saturday at 11am and 4pm, there will be a screening of He Named me Malala, PG (full price).

Gate Picturehouse, Kids Club: This week’s programme: Matilda.  £1 with £4 membership, popcorn and juice £2. (best £3 you will ever spend on a rainy Saturday)

Bloomsbury Curzon: 10:30 Saturday, this week’s screening is The Big Knights. £3.00 per person.

Rich Mix Bethnal Green: This week’s screening, The Lego Movie.  Saturday, noon. £1.75.

Barbican Family Film Club: This week’s feature Maya the Bee. Tickets are £2, bring the kids and escape the cold while you chill and watch a movie. Great price. 11am, all ages.

Ritzy, Brixton, Kids’ Club: Fridays, 11am.  £1.50.  This week’s features: London International Animated Film Festival, shorts.

Electric Cinema, Kid’s Club: This week’s feature, Hotel Transylvania 2, 10:30am. Check out the Electric Cinema with its plush, red velvet beds, sofas and armchairs. Looks like a great way for Dad to occupy the kids on a Saturday morning.

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