London's Best Fun Palaces

Phillipa Ellis
By Phillipa Ellis Last edited 88 months ago
London's Best Fun Palaces

Earlier in the year, we rallied Londoners to get involved in the Fun Palaces campaign aimed at bringing people together to celebrate science and art for the good of their local neighbourhood.

So what is a Fun Palace?

Long before Meet Up and The Big Lunch, Fun Palaces were the original idea for fun community mobilisation. The brainchild of theatre director Joan Littlewood and Architect Cedric Price, today's Fun Palaces offer activities to inspire the community around art and science in a way that is locally relevant and promotes civic pride.

Here’s our pick of the best family-friendly Fun Palaces in London this October.

Half Moon Theatre Fun Palace

Susan Wadsworth at Half Moon Theatre

Extending the theme of their current gallery exhibition, this East London gem promises to bring art and science to life through Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Highlights include The Machine of Visual Delights (11am-3.45pm), an interactive art installation devised by artist Deborah Andrews, which invites you to feed in your 'throw away' thoughts and have them transformed into a unique illustration. Also on hand is artist-cum-recycler Susan Wadsworth, whose current exhibition Recycollages — Junk Transformed breathes new life into an array of discarded objects, from bottle tops to drinking straws and plastic bags. Create your own masterpiece or simply contribute to a communal hanging display. There are also 15-minute interactive storytelling performances throughout the day.
Where: 43 White Horse Rd, E1 0ND
When: 3 October, 10am-4pm
Booking: Admission free, suitable for all ages

Vestry House Museum Fun Palace

Housed in a former parish workhouse, later police station and private home, this pretty Grade II listed community museum pays homage to all things Waltham Forest. With a Victorian parlour, the first British car and a host of locally manufactured toys and games, this Fun Palace promotes the rich history of the local area under the umbrella of 'Local Inventions'. To mark the weekend, Vestry House hosts The Toy Maker, a piece of interactive theatre by local company Slap Haddock. Journey with an inventor into Walthamstow's past, capturing the stories of local toy makers and bringing the museum’s collection to life along the way. There's also live performances from Natural Voices Youth Choir and arts and crafts from The Mill Knitters, all served up with helpings of tea and cake.
Where: Vestry Rd, E17 9NH
When: 3-4 October, 12-5pm, performances are 45 minutes at 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm
Booking: Admission free, no booking required, suitable for all ages

STOPHIT Fun Palace

R'Otello, the rugby opera

With a rich history of bringing Londoners together, from the Festival of Britain to the first ever FA football game, Battersea Park is a fitting backdrop for this unique Fun Palace devised by GAFA Arts Collective. Look out for specialist talks, storytelling, vocal workshops, a mass haka and even a tug-o-war; the centrepiece will be the semi-staged Rugby Opera R’OTELLO (the 'R' stands for Rugby). Presented in the sports hall of local youth club Caius House, this unusual take on the operas of Otello and Carmen is set at the Rugby World Cup and features a powerful musical arrangement from the Wandsworth Symphony Orchestra.
Where: Battersea Park Millennium Arena, SW11 4NW
When: 3 October, 12-4pm
Booking: Admission free, suitable for all ages

Where: Caius House Youth Club, 2 Holman Road, SW11 3RL
When: 2-3 October, 7pm
Booking: Tickets £17, concessions available

Artsdepot's Fun Palaces

Set over three floors, this North London cultural hub is promising a varied host of Fun Palaces amid its many nooks and crannies. Combining art, anthropology and neuroscience, artist Maria Lopes invites visitors to play their part in the preparations for December’s interactive installation The Consciousness Field, by creating coloured pom poms and pooling ideas around the meaning of consciousness. If you’d prefer to explore the more creative side of science, join artist Liz Atkin in the Mad Art & Science Lab where you can experiment with colour, texture and sound, and create a work of art to take home. There’ll be tightrope performers, open-mic sessions, even an invention exhibition by local young people.
Where: 5 Nether Street, N12 0GA
When: 3 October, 11am-4pm
Booking: Admission free, no booking required, suitable for all ages

Microscopia! Fun Palace

Monster Soup

Boasting more than 10,000 books on all aspects of London history, the LMA is the perfect place to get close to the people and communities of a bygone era. One very special book Micrographia, published in 1665, captures an awe-inspiring collection of drawings featuring creatures and plants as seen through the lens of a microscope. To commemorate the illustrator, renowned scientist Robert Hooke, this inspired Fun Palace has a host of microscopic activities on offer. Mix up art and science and you’ll get Monster Soup, an activity which invites you to draw your own petrie-dish monster in a bid to recreate every weird and wonderful thing once found in a thirst-quenching glass of Thames Water. There’s also a chance to hear extracts from Hooke’s original diary and peruse the pages for yourself.
Where: London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Rd, EC1R 0HB.
When: 2 October, 10am-3.30pm
Booking: Admission free, no booking required, suitable for all ages

Look out for Fun Palaces across London over the weekend of 3-4 October. Visit to find out more, and find your nearest Fun Palace.

Watch the video of last year's Fun Palaces:

Last Updated 03 October 2015