Things To Do In London In The Christmas Holidays With Kids

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Things To Do In London In The Christmas Holidays With Kids
Take to the ice all over town

Looking for family-friendly things to do in London in the Christmas holidays? Check out our guide to Christmas fun in the capital, including child-friendly theatre shows and exhibitions, and London's winter ice rinks.

Note: Venue opening hours tend to vary over Christmas. Plus, the ever-evolving Covid situation means things are likely to change at short notice, so do check before you travel.

ICE SKATING: After a hiatus last year, London's festive ice rinks are back for Christmas 2021. Take to the ice at impressive settings including Somerset House, Queen's House Greenwich and Hampton Court Palace. Some of the rinks have skate aids to help kids get their balance, or offer classes for budding Torvills or Deans, and most have cafes alongside where you can warm up with hot chocolate (or mulled wine for the grown-ups) after your session.

PANTOMIMES: Panto season is back (oh no it isn't, etc, etc...), and London's full of the classics including Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty. Here's out guide to where to see pantomime in London this Christmas.

Pick from these family-friendly theatre shows. Photo: Robert Day

CHRISTMAS THEATRE SHOWS: Peppa Pig, The Snowman and The Tiger Who Came To Tea are among the recognisable characters treading the boards this Christmas. Our pick of family-friendly festive theatre shows in London also includes traditional fairytales, gingerbread men and, our own perennial favourite, Disney On Ice. If you've got older kids or teenagers, these fantastically festive theatre and dance shows, including A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker, make for a great Christmas day out.

FESTIVE FILMS: Elf, Home Alone and The Muppet Christmas Carol are among the family-friendly films being shown at these festive film screenings across the capital. Kick back with the whole family in a Snow Kingdom, a Winter Night Garden, an historic ballroom, or at one of London's best-loved independent cinemas.

LIGHT FESTIVALS: Plenty of London's winter light festivals run through Christmas and into the new year. Christmas at Kew is a favourite of ours, with enchanting lights choreographed to music, and a laser show finale, but Enchanted Eltham is also particularly family-friendly. Here's the full list of light festivals this winter.

Christmas at Kew is one of the best light festivals in London each year. Photo: Kew Gardens

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Sometimes it's the smaller (parents, read: less expensive) things which makes the biggest impression, and many adults talk of their memories of seeing the London Christmas lights as a child. If that sounds like something your family would enjoy, here's our guide to when, where and how to see London's Christmas light displays this year. Plus, if little legs are getting tired, we've put together some information on how to see the lights by bus — just remember to avert their eyes as you pass Hamley's, or that list for Santa might get even longer.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND: Time's running out to see the V&A's blockbuster Alice in Wonderland exhibition. Curiouser and Curiouser takes visitors through the looking glass for a trippy look at Alice's world, including background on author Lewis Carroll and the world in which he lived. Toss hedgehogs through croquet hoops in a virtual reality experience, and see how Alice's adventures have inspired other creators across the worlds of fashion, art, music and food. Probably better for older kids and teenagers, though worth noting that under-12s go free. We absolutely loved it — here's our 5* review. Until 31 December 2021

Winter Wonderland is open until January. Photo: Winter Wonderland

WINTER WONDERLAND: The huge festive funfair has taken over Hyde Park once again, with fairground rides, circus shows, an ice kingdom, skating rink, Christmas market and Santa Land, complete, of course, with the man himself. If that all sounds a bit overwhelming, our handy guide to visiting Winter Wonderland 2021 breaks it down a bit. The most important thing to know is that you must book an entry ticket in advance this year, even if you're just browsing. Until 3 January 2022

FANTASTIC BEASTS: You're also running out of time to see Fantastic Beasts at Natural History Museum, an exhibition to interest and impress Harry Potter fans of all ages. It cleverly weaves fictional characters and monsters from the Wizarding World with bizarre real-life creatures, looking at topics such as evolution. Why not pair it up with a trip to the Natural History Museum ice rink, located right outside the museum? It's the last year the rink will open. Until 3 January 2022

Fantastic Beasts. Image courtesy Natural History Museum.

MONKEY BUSINESS: Also closing soon is Horniman Museum's Monkey Business exhibition, which takes a look at primates, including how they evolved, and how they live, move, eat and interact. Films, photos and models feature, but we suspect the 60+ taxidermy specimens will draw the most attention from younger visitors. Until 3 January 2022

GINGERBREAD CITY: Gingerbread? Lovely. Model towns? Cute. A combination of the two? Absolutely charming (and delicious-smelling) festive fun. Gingerbread City is exactly that — a scale city made from gingerbread and other sweet treats, designed and built by architects and engineers. This year's build can be seen in Belgravia, until 9 January 2022

BEANO: Introduce your kids to the world of Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, Gnasher and co at Somerset House's Beano: The Art of Breaking Rules exhibition. Find out how the comic has fired up the spirit of rebellion and rule-breaking in several generations of young readers, and see original artworks and artefacts from Beano's archives. Until March 2022

For more festive inspiration, take a look at our guide to spending Christmas 2021 in London.

Last Updated 07 December 2021

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