Watching Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean together on the couch after dinner is one thing, but take your family celebrations to the next level this year. There are plenty of creative things to do in London with kids during the festive season, no matter what your budget is. Read on to discover some top recommendations from travel experts and local insiders.
Enjoy a special day with the family at London Zoo
ZSL London Zoo is quite magical at any time, but Christmas is where it really comes alive. This year’s special holiday event takes place between 30 November and 24 December, and features a trough-load of seasonal activities for the whole family to enjoy. Tucker the kids out with arts and crafts, enjoy some lovely Christmas stalls, and meet the big man himself at Santa’s Grotto.
The best part is that you can actually save money on admission during the holiday period, making it the best time to let the kids discover more about the world’s amazing biodiversity. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll be the ones rescuing endangered species and creating wildlife conservation programmes!
Step into a real-life fairy tale
Let the kids’ imaginations go into ogre-drive as they roam around a magical fairy tale kingdom and meet everyone’s favourite swamp dweller. Shrek’s Adventure is a wholesome and fun day out for the family, full of interactive performances featuring the all-star cast of the Shrek series.
Check out the special Christmas event between November 23 and December 24, featuring some truly Shrektacular seasonal celebrations. Enjoy twelve different live shows and transport your family into a world of magic, family-friendly life lessons, and sassy donkeys. It’s one of the best family experiences in London.
Go hog-wild at a petting zoo
You don’t need to spend money for the kids to have an amazing time. Petting zoos have all the excitement of a real zoo (well, almost) and none of the cost. The only financial decision you’ll need to make is whether to splurge on some carrots for the goats, or if you’re content to have them nibble on your jacket instead.
Hug a hog, rendezvous with rabbits, or say hello to some sheep. Kids are going to love the experience, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get some cute photos of them interacting with the resident animals. There are plenty of places around London – Spitalfields City Farm, Deen City Farm, and the petting zoo in Queen’s Park are all local favourites. Don’t forget to say hi to the donkeys! They’re very social creatures.
Check out the illuminations at the London Eye
If there are two things capable of getting a kid’s attention, it’s pretty lights and ridiculously large spinning wheels. Here’s your chance to combine the two. The London Eye is already an iconic part of the London skyline, but the winter months are when it really shines. This giant attraction is covered in bright lights, making it even more spectacular than normal.
Stroll along South Bank and admire all of the beautiful illuminations, and if you’re really looking to make the day memorable, take the family up in one of the observation pods! The Christmas event at the Eye lasts for the entire month of December, so you’ve got plenty of time to make a trip out there.
Travel back in time at Warwick Castle
While it’s not technically in London, Warwick Castle is only two hours away, and it’s 100% worth the journey. Picture yourself as the wise King Arthur or legendary Queen Guinevere while your little knights roam around the castle walls. Young ones with an interest in medieval times or Game of Thrones-obsessed teenagers will find themselves right at home here.
It’s also not far away from Stratford-upon-Avon, home to William Shakespeare himself. It’s the perfect time to get the kids educated on their own cultural history, and you might even be able to avoid some of the Christmas crowds by spending a day out of the big city. To make things easier, combine all of the above with return transport from London by booking a convenient tour.
Check out the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park
This annual event is another one of the best family experiences in London. Glide around on the ice skating rink, watch performances, or just roam around one of the most atmospheric Christmas markets in the UK. If you’re really daring, ride the glow-in-the-dark observation wheel and take your Christmas adventure to soaring new heights. The event runs until January 5, and is open every day except on Christmas Day.
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is free to enter, meaning you’ll have money left over to spend on some seasonal snacks, special souvenirs, or Christmas gifts for everyone. For those wanting something a bit more exotic, check out the Bavarian Hall for a taste of authentic German festivities – oompah band included! Rumour has it Santa himself will also be in attendance, having relocated his grotto into the scenic surroundings of the park.