The festive season is upon us, and with this extra magic in the air, Santa’s visit on the cards, and the school holidays fast approaching, the kids in your life are probably buzzing with excitement. Make the most of family time and check out some of the fantastic things to do with kids in London this Christmas.
Whether it’s stepping into a bewitching new world, meeting a jolly man with a red suit, or getting their happiness fix at a dopamine-boosting museum, you can cram their days with festive fun and adventure. We’ve pulled together a few ideas to get you started…
Feeling a case of the winter blues? Why not round up the rugrats and escape into the joyful world of Dopamine Land. Located in South Kensington, this magical multisensory museum delivers a dose of happiness to anyone who strolls through the doors. The kids will be in their element clambering onto tree stumps in the forest room and, for any teen Instagram fiends, snapping selfies in the stunning infinity light room.
It’s not just the little ones who will emerge with giddy grins, there are decompression zones for you to unwind, including a stunning ‘Fire Lantern’ room where animal and water sounds will help soothe the soul. What’s more, Dopamine Land tend to have extended opening hours in school holidays, giving families ample time for a visit.
2. Pay Santa a visit at his grotto
Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa, and no doubt your kids have got a long list of wishes to pass on to the big man himself. Luckily, while there’s only one bearded man in the red suit, there’s plenty of Santas Grottos dotted around the city.
This includes Alexandra Palace, Camden Market and, if you’re looking to celebrate an Afro-Caribbean-inspired Christmas, Crooked Billet Yard in Shoreditch, where Noir Kringle, Mrs Kringle and their elves ‘spread diverse Christmas cheer for all to hear’.
The magic of Christmas side by side with the magic of Disney is a match made in heaven, making a visit to Disney100: The Exhibition one of the top things to do with kids in London this Christmas. The exhibition at London’s ExCel brings together hundreds of rare Disney artefacts under one roof, spanning the iconic storyteller’s 100-year history.
Younger ones will love the interactive installations dotted around the 20,000-square-foot exhibit, while older kids and adults alike will relish getting behind-the-scenes intel on their favourite characters and films. This is the ultimate Disney museum, and being up close and personal with all the artefacts will make you all feel a part of the Disney universe.
4. Indulge in a festive treat for all the family
This festive season, The Beaumont Hotel in Mayfair has added a special iteration of their afternoon tea to the menu – especially for kids. Priced at £30 per child, this festive children’s afternoon tea will have your little one feeling all grown up as they indulge in delicate sandwiches, sweet cakes, and warm scones. While you enjoy a glass of fizz or tea with your afternoon tea, younger members of the group can swig hot chocolate or cold-brewed herbal tea.
With bioluminescence glittering like Christmas lights, and the opportunity to inspire little scientist minds, a visit to Avora: Family Immersive Experience may be just what you and your kids need this Christmas season.
At this Hoxton-based immersive experience, children aged 6–13 will follow a storyline that’ll take them through a portal and into the world of Avora. Here, they’ll partake in interactive sensory games, create two cool (non-alcoholic) drinks, and indulge in this other-worldly adventure. The family experience is available every Sunday.
6. Glide (or shuffle) around an ice rink
There is no shortage of ice skating rinks scattered around London during Christmas. There’s something about gliding around on the ice (or clutching those handy penguins for support) that gets us feeling the festive spirit. Not to mention, it’s perfect if you’re hoping to burn off some of that seemingly bottomless pit of energy children seem to have.
Whether it’s a fun first-time experience or a much-loved tradition, kids of all ages are ensured a magical time whizzing around under the twinkling lights at ice rinks located at the likes of Somerset House, Alexandra Palace, and Canary Wharf.
7. Pop into a world full of bubbles
As a child, I had this garishly large, pink, plastic bubble maker that lit up, and relentlessly played sounds with every swish of the wrist. However, if you shudder at the thought of this kind of toy, instead take your little ones to Wembley for a visit to Bubble Planet.
Newly opened (November 24), the immersive experience will be home not only to regular bubbles, but also bubbles created with mirrored effects, VR, and other interactive elements. There are 11 different rooms, including a huge ball pit and a hot air balloon flight simulation. While this isn’t one of the traditionally festive things to do with kids in London this Christmas, I guarantee a visit will help them expel all their excess energy.
8. Take them Christmas shopping at Hamleys
Like seeing your kids’ eyes fill with wonder and excitement? Hamleys promises that with jingle bells on. This toy heaven is an ever-popular choice, especially if you’re at a loss for what to get them for a gift. It may be a giant unicorn plush, a science kit, or a lego car; whatever the case you can cross off some Christmas shopping while giving the kids a special day to remember.
9. See the spellbinding flurries of snow in Covent Garden
Don’t want to take the gamble on whether it will, or won’t, snow? If your kids are gazing out the window, adorned in woolly hats and looking at the high heavens with expectant eyes, make a beeline for Covent Garden. The area hosts their very own snow showers!
In 2022, the 115,000 twinkling lights, traditionally decorated sleigh, and London’s largest hand-picked Christmas tree were accompanied by daily magical snow flurries, once an hour, and the experience is back from December 1, 2023. Find out more about the Covent Garden flurries here.
An art exhibition may not be the first thing that comes to mind for a fun day out with the kids in London this Christmas, but hear us out. Delight: Media Art Exhibition is a rather unique art exhibition that brings together the past, present, and predicted future through 12 immersive zones.
Produced by Korean artist Gyoungtae Hong, the installation takes inspiration from the traditions and cultures of Seoul, as well as playing with a whole host of multi-sensory techniques. Delight is suitable for children 4+, and is both educational and enchanting. Expect floor-to-ceiling projections and 360-degree installations.
11. Get lost in the magical story of a West End Show
Yes, pantos may be the classic Christmas shows we typically go for, but the chorus of “He’s behind you” has a tendency to haunt a parent’s dreams. One way to skip the sleepless nights will be to direct your attention to a West End show.
There’s a handful of fantastic festive shows gracing the city this winter, including The Snowman, Elf! The Musical, and Frozen The Musical, not to mention some timeless classics like Matilda The Musical and Mary Poppins. Sounds supercalifragilisticexpialidocious if you ask me.
With words by Chloe Byrne.