Mother's Day will soon be here again (Sunday 31 March for those of you hurriedly scanning your diaries). Feel like you've done all the usual clichéd stuff and are looking for more unusual, but just as special, Mother's Day activities in London? That's where we come in.
The flowers and the card though? That's all you.
Cultural Mother's Day ideas
HIDDEN LONDON: If your Mum is a regular at London's museums and galleries, why not treat her to a voyage into the London that lies behind closed doors? London Transport Museum's Hidden London tours take in disused stations, secret sites and hidden tunnels around the capital. Just a handful of people at a time can explore the lost tunnels of Euston, subterranean shelters in Clapham and even restricted filming locations for James Bond. Perfect for the Mum who has already "seen it all".
MUSEUM LATES: If culture trumps history, opt for one of London's many museum lates instead. After the crowds go home, a lucky few can gain after-hours access to world-renowned museums and galleries such as the Science Museum, Wellcome Collection and Tate Galleries, as well as many smaller museums. Most offer food and drink alongside special events like expert talks, interactive workshops and tours, so your Mum can learn all about her favourite exhibition with a glass of bubbly in hand.
HIGH FASHION: The V&A Museum’s much-awaited Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition has already been a sell-out success, but limited tickets continue to be released online around the middle of every month, as well as on-the-day in person. Snag a couple of tickets and you'll be set to revel in the extraordinary life and creations of one of the 20th century's most influential fashion designers. Booking until 1 September 2019.
POP-UP CINEMA: Movie-loving matriarchs are spoilt for choice in London, with an onslaught of outdoor cinema offerings every summer. Check out the 2019 pop-up cinema season here, with films springing up on London's rooftops, museums, courtyards, palaces and parks. And if the weather isn't being kind, you could try one of these amazing independent cinemas in London instead.
UNLIKELY MUSEUMS: Clowns, eyeballs, tennis, cocktails... if a bit of quirk is right up your Mum's street, take her to one of London's lesser-known museums.
HISTORY OF THE DAY: Is your Mum more interested in the history of Mother's day, than the event itself? Then this talk on Mother's Day's portrayal over the years through advertising at the Museum of Brands and Packaging is right up her street. 31 March
Finish off your day with a trip to one of London's artiest bars, where you can enjoy cocktails or coffee while soaking up the culture.
Foodie Mother's Day ideas
Obviously, our best of London food and drink page is your first port of call when it comes to planning any sort of restaurant trip. If you seek further inspiration...
BOROUGH MARKET: Arguably the best foodie destination in London, Borough Market offers a wealth of options for lunch, as well as some special events for those who want to dig a little deeper. It's a great spot for eating on the go, but seating options around the market are limited, and it's particularly busy at weekends. Alternatively, head to the produce section and pick up some ingredients to cook her a slap-up meal back at home.
CHOCOHOLIC HEAVEN: London's chocolate scene is as rich and indulgent as the good stuff itself. From chocolate-centric restaurants to choccie walks and talks, the capital has gone loco for coco. Check out our chocoholics' guide to London.
CHEW WITH A VIEW: Taking your Mum for a slap-up meal on Mother's Day isn't anything new, but how about treating her to a dinner at one of London's highest-up restaurants? The views from these spots are spectacular but they do get booked up months in advance - make sure to get your reservation in asap.
PICNIC: If you want to brave the March weather and dine alfresco, London is rife with top-notch picnic spots. Whether you're north, south, east, or west, a woodland wanderer or a hilltop hiker, simply bung a party size pork pie and a couple of rain jackets in your backpack and job's a good'un.
MOTHER'S RUIN: Don't be put off by the name, as many a mother would be delighted for an excuse to guzzle some gin (which is technically a food group, right?). London has its fair share of excellent gin and tonics, as well as dedicated gin bars. Many of these also do special talks and tastings, where you can distill your own gin-based potions.
Crafty Mother's Day ideas
FREE CRAFT: Drink, Shop, Do in King's Cross are long-time purveyors of crafty workshops and their Mother's Day offerings are no different. They have two free (when you buy a drink) events in honour of the special occasion: Mother's Day card making and biscuit decorating. Other, paid, events include bookbinding, throw knitting and, if you have a particularly close relationship with your Mum, nipple-tassel making.
FLOWERS: Nothing says Mothering Sunday quite like flowers, and crafty Mums may be extra delighted to construct a bouquet with their very own hands. Such is the offering at The Covent Garden Academy of Flowers, where mother-daughter team Gillian and Fleur (really) will help you and your Mum make the ultimate floral creation. 29 and 31 March 2019
CANDLE MAKING: Craft your own literature themed candle at Penguin Classics' pop-up store in Shoreditch. You and your Mum can either go for a Wuthering Heights themed scent or a Pride and Prejudice one. No idea, how a candle can smell like a 19th century romance novel? Here's your chance to find out. 31 March 2019
Outdoorsy Mother's Day ideas
ANIMAL LOVERS: If the main woman in your life is an animal lover, visit a city farm. Many of them are free, leaving you plenty of change to treat her to a meal afterwards. Choose from Hackney, Stepney, Vauxhall, Surrey Docks, Spitalfields, Lee Valley, Kentish Town and Crystal Palace.
CANAL CRUISE: Hidden Depths Canal Cruises offer private, hour-long trips in the King's Cross and Islington area, often starting and finishing at Granary Square. The smaller of their two boats takes up to 12 people, so the entire family can get involved in the Mother's Day celebrations and take a scenic tour of Regent's Canal, including the 200 year old Islington Tunnel.
TRAIL-BLAZING: Sometimes a lavish spread isn't necessary. Instead, simply grab your trusty outdoor shoes and head out on one of London's picturesque walking routes, including the seven Walk London routes which will take you between parks, palaces, landmarks, lakes and more.
GARDENS: Kew Gardens is the big momma when it comes to London's outdoor foliage (and the Exotica collection of unusual tropical plants is opening shortly after Mother's Day). For an alternative, try the rose garden in Regent's Park, the Japanese Garden in Holland Park or Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. If the weather's against you, visit the outdoors indoors at Barbican conservatory which is open most Sundays (including Mothering Sunday, win).
The classic Mother's Day ideas
While it's nice to do unusual things, sometimes the obvious options are the best way to go.
AFTERNOON TEA: Chocolate afternoon tea, ice cream afternoon tea, musical afternoon tea. London is arguably the capital of afternoon tea, but don't go for plain old vanilla when all of these glamorous afternoon teas are on offer. We've also collected the best boozy afternoon teas, family afternoon teas and all-round favourites, check out the afternoon teas section on our Best Food and Drink page here. Booking recommended for all. There are a few special Mother's Day afternoon teas for 2019, like Dominique Ansel's luxurious offering that includes a ridiculous sounding butter poached Canadian lobster roll.
TOURISTS: If you're keen to do the tourist hotspots, try The Shard, The London Eye, The Orbit or Sky Garden for views across the capital. Westminster is home to a bunch of attractions such as Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Downing Street, while London's South Bank is also a sightseeing hotspot with London Aquarium, London Dungeon, Southbank Centre, Florence Nightingale Museum and the aforementioned London Eye all in the area.
THAMES BOAT TRIPS: City Cruises offers afternoon tea or dinner sightseeing cruises on the Thames, especially for Mother's Day.
THEATRE/MUSICALS: London's West End is buzzing with incredible stage shows — Wicked, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Matilda, the list goes on. See what's currently playing here, but don't forget to check out the capital's amazing fringe theatre scene too. Take a look at what we've recently enjoyed (or not).
Ideas for Mums with young kids
FREE FROLICS: If you're looking for a family activity that doesn't break the bank, try one of these free family activities in London, including a trip to feed pelicans, meeting dinosaurs and building sandcastles on a beach in the woods.
RAINY DAYS: Mother's Day is often a washout, but that doesn't mean you and the kids need to stay cooped up indoors. Head out with the family to enjoy some perfect rainy day activities.
EATING OUT: Just because you're eating out with little ones, it doesn't mean that a certain chain pizza restaurant is your only option. From burgers to Mexican food, we've got child-friendly restaurants covered. Booking recommended on Mother's Day.
NERDINESS: At Londonist we love a good geek-out. If you and your little ones are the same, schlep along to one of the more nerdier attractions in London. Our personal favourite is the London Transport Museum. Pretending to drive tube trains never gets old.
THEATRE: For a family theatre trip, we don't think you can beat Unicorn Theatre, which is tailor-made for young theatre lovers with ever-changing stage shows for all ages. Disney's Aladdin The Musical is also currently playing the West End at Prince Edward Theatre, while a little further afield is Little Venice's beloved Puppet Barge Theatre. On Mother's Day it's hosting The Insect Circus.
Written by Laura Reynolds and Ruth Hargreaves.
Any other events going on for Mother's Day that people need to know about? Let us know in the comments below!