London-born theatre director Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price dreamed up a fantastic idea in the 1960s — a Fun Palace. The "laboratory of fun" was never realised before Littlewood's death, but for the last few years, dozens of Fun Palaces have popped up across the country for one weekend each October.
This weekend, art galleries, museums, libraries, theatres and other venues transform into Fun Palaces, where everyone is invited to get involved in arts and science for free. Here are our picks of places to visit in London:
Fun Palace at ArtsDepot, North Finchley
This family-friendly theatre in north London hosts a giant planetarium — bigger than the one it's built in previous years, apparently — along with a paper aeroplane race, science experiments, and interactive sounds workshops. Take along an old book or two as well — there's a kids' book swap, just in time for them to pick up a new read or two ahead of October half term.
ArtsDepot, 5 October. Free.
Fun Palace Festival at National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Work your hips at a hula-hooping workshop, try your hand at playing the steel drums, and listen to a piece of music inspired by the current ecological crisis. Protecting the oceans is the focus of a family-friendly crafting workshop, while the Caribbean Social Forum hosts a board games championship. And that's before you get to the rest of the museum...
National Maritime Museum, 5 October. Free.
Fun Palace at Discover Children's Story Centre, Stratford
To little minds, Discover must always seem like something of a fun palace — it consists of story worlds and a story garden with caves, ships, spaceships and monsters to discover. For Fun Palaces weekend, things get ramped up an notch, with the construction of a giant story machine. What happens inside it? That's up to visitors and their imaginations. Children’s Forum and Moulded Theatre join forces to help you put your story ideas into the all-singing, all-dancing story machine, complete with button presses, light flashes and lever pulls.
Discover Story Centre Stratford, 5 October. Free.
Fun Palace at Sadler's Wells, King's Cross
Dance theatre Sadler's Wells takes part in Fun Palaces for a second consecutive year. Unsurprisingly, dance activities take centre stage, with a silent disco, Egyptian dance workshop, and hip-hop for the over 55s.
Not much of a mover? There's plenty else going on; the Men’s Social Club Holloway Neighbourhood Group teaches visitors how to play darts, dominos and chess — it's open to complete beginners, so don't worry if you're new to it. An African singing workshop, story corner, and massage lesson are also on the programme.
Sadler's Wells, 5 October. Free.