London is one of the world’s greatest and most dynamic cities, and it doesn’t skip a beat in winter. There’s plenty going on, from festive season celebrations and festivals to popular year-round attractions the whole family will love, and even better if they’re free! Here’s are just a few ideas to inspire your next family winter getaway in London.
1. Join the celebrations
For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, join in the Twelfth Night Celebrations. Held annually on 5 January on the Bankside by Shakespeare’s Globe, the event celebrates the New Year, mixing ancient traditions with modern celebrations, performed by wonderfully costumed characters. There’s festive food, performances, a procession, music, dancing and storytelling and it won’t cost you a penny.
You can also brave the crowds and head along to the world famous London New Year’s Day Parade on 1 January. Kicking off at noon near Piccadilly Circus, the parade heads towards Trafalgar Square before ending at Big Ben. With more than 10,000 participants and half a million spectators, the parade is one of the biggest in the world, so expect road closures and plan well in advance.
The festive cheer continues with Chinese New Year taking place somewhere between late January and mid-February. Loads of fun for the whole family, most festivities take place in the West End, Leicester Square and Chinatown, with parades, performances, decorations, music, yummy treats and a huge fireworks display.
2. Set off on an adventure
Families with a sense of adventure and curiosity will love The Big Barbican Adventure – a fun and quirky do-it-yourself adventure trail through the Barbican Centre. Simply pick up a free trail kit from the Information Desk and then use your clue solving skills and artistic talents to solve puzzles, mysteries and games as you discover the secrets of the Barbican and London and crack the code…there may even be a prize at the end.
3. Lighten up
Lumiere London is the UK’s biggest light festival which lights up the city in array of colourful light installations over four spectacular nights. Featuring the works of more than 40 artists from around the world, the installations are showcased along the north and south side of the River Thames. Held in mid-January, it is a wonderful excuse to get the family out and about on a crisp winter’s night to take in the dazzling sights.
4. Walk amongst dinosaurs
Located in South East London, Crystal Palace Park is a sprawling Victorian park featuring a museum, outdoor concert stage, children’s farm and playground, national sports centre and more than 30 incredibly life-like, giant dinosaur statues. Designed by artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs have been carefully preserved and can be seen ‘roaming’ the gardens and lurking behind trees, making for some great photo opportunities.
5. Must visit a museum
Whatever takes your interest, London has no shortage of free and fascinating museums for all ages, and they’re great for escaping the cold.
The Science Museum in Kensington is especially great for kids, offering a range of interactive exhibits and activities. Here you’ll also find Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery where you child’s imagination and sense of wonder will be ignited as they explore science, technology and maths in exciting hands-on ways.
Nearby, the Natural History Museum is sure to keep you enthralled for hours on end with its collection of 80 million specimens, making it one of the most important in the world. Spend the day learning about the living world, including its past, present and future.
Aimed at visitors of all ages, the Museum of Childhood, run by the Victoria & Albert Museum, features various displays, multimedia and installations showcasing childhood experiences from all over the world. There are also plenty of special events and programmes for kids as young as under five.