This post is sponsored by Fantastic for Families – a brilliant website for families to discover fun and affordable creative activities in their area.
Christmas is coming and you may not be gearing up for a fat goose, but you will probably want to organise some festive days out for you and your Little Ones. It’s the time of year for making memories and doing something special as a family but when people seem to have been booking up Father Christmas and the like FOR MONTHS you may think that everything Christmassy is fully booked and/or really expensive, but that, my friend, is not the case.
We’ve joined up with Fantastic for Families once more to find those December events around London that will help fill your heart with joy and get you full of seasonal cheer (without having to sing loud for all to hear).
1. The Show-Ho Ho Ho Must Go On
There are loads of fabulous family shows on this time of year and going to see them doesn’t need to break the bank. This whole blog could have been just about shows but here’s a quick rundown of some classic theatre your wee ones will enjoy:
As always The Unicorn Theatre by London Bridge Station has something on for your children whatever their age with a production of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost for 7 to 16 year olds, The Wolf, The Duck and the Mouse for 3 to 7 year olds and Scrunch for your under 1. Performances are happening throughout December and tickets cost £12 so it’s a great opportunity to go to see a show.
If those shows don’t tickle your Christmas fancy then The Albany in Deptford has a production of Humbug! The Hedgehog who couldn’t Sleep (3 to 6s) and Frozen Snow Queen (6 to 12s and on at Canada Water), The Polka Theatre has a puppet production of The Paper Dolls (4 – 10s), The Half Moon Theatre has the penguin tale Outside The Igloo (4-11s) and Under the Frozen Moon (3 to 11 years).
There’s also a production of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (we’re not scared) at the Stratford Arts Centre for EVERYONE from 2 to 16 and for your tiddlers under 6 there is Five Little Christmas Monkeys.
An amazing choice of beautiful theatre which doesn’t require you to yell out “He’s behind You!” if you’re not that way inclined.
2. Pantomime! Oh Yes It Is!
If you are in the hunt for a spot of Panto magic though there are lots of possible choices this year. Greenwich Theatre is continuing it’s distinguished Panto tradition with a production of Sleeping Beauty, Croydon’s Fairfield Halls has a new production of Cinderella with Tim Vine and Gem from Cbeebies, while artsdepot also has a production of Cinderella which has the subheading of The Rockin’ Panto filled with soul, pop and rock music. Aladdin comes to the Harrow Arts Centre whereas the Chickenshed does a 1960s version of Snow White and the Theatre Royal Stratford East welcomes Dick Whittington to town. And yes. He’s behind You!
3. What a feeling… Dancing On the Ceiling
Fabulous and magical dance productions are also a family option this December. If you want traditional Christmas ballet fare then The Nutcracker is on at The Coliseum but there’s also a production of The Snowman on at the Peacock Theatre. The Place also has a fantastic dance adaption of The Little Prince, it’s a beautiful touching tale so you may need to pack a hankie.
4. Let’s go to the Movies, Annie (Let’s Go See the Stars)
Don’t fancy live theatre – how about a special trip to see a Christmas film instead? The BFI on Southbank are hosting a whole season of Christmas classics from Gremlins, The Nightmare before Christmas, to Meet Me In St Louis and It’s a Wonderful Life. Meanwhile at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square you can watch Sing-a-long (or standard) versions of The Muppets Christmas Carol or quote-along (or standard) versions of Elf. Quite frankly 2 of my favourite films Christmas or otherwise!
5. Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells….
If you want to listen to some fantastic Christmas music this season then you could head to the London Symphony Orchestra’s A Choral Christmas at the Barbican on 15th December or one of the Carols at The Royal Albert Hall from 21st to 24th December. Alternatively you could head to one of the many venues from Hampstead to Docklands who will be holding a Bach to Baby Family Christmas Concert. Lots of fun for children young and old and young at heart to listen to some Christmas Music. Hall Place is also having its own Family Christmas Concert on 8th December.
6. Father Christmas – I know him, I know him!
That age old perennial question: Where do we go to see Father Christmas? There are lots of options depending on your budget. You could head off to the Museum of London in Docklands to see Father Christmas in his Victorian Grotto while also exploring their Victorian Christmas Walk and exhibition. If you are visiting central London then you might want to have a special treat in the form of a visit to Father Christmas at the Hall at the Royal Albert Hall or visit Santa’s Grotto at Christmas in Leicester Square.
7. Christmas Storytime, Wintery Snuggle (‘Twas the night before Christmas…)
The experience of Father Christmas at Leicester Square includes listening to him tell a jolly Christmas story. A good story is a fabulous excuse to snuggle and be transported elsewhere so how about a trip to the Horniman Museum and Gardens to listen to The Elves and The Shoemaker Storytelling during the weekends of 7/8th and 15th/16th December.
The Globe Theatre is hosting Christmas at The (Snow) Globe a tale of believing in magic and trusting each other. The Discover Centre in Stratford has Christmas Storytelling in the form of The Back of The Toybox for 4 to 11s as well as their normal special storytime for the under 3s. The Christmas holidays are also the last opportunity to see the amazing The Tiger Who Came to Tea Exhibition at Knole before it leaves for good.
8. Razzle Dazzle them
A lovely activity to do that costs nothing apart from your train fare is to wander round the streets of London looking at all the glorious decorations, Christmas lights and window displays on offer. It’s a great way to break up a day if you have been sitting down watching a show, enjoying a Christmas lunch or visiting a museum. Failing that it’s a great low cost day trip in between more expensive treats. You never know what you might find on your travels and where you might end up!
9. Christmas Makes and Christmas Crafts
While on your hunt of Christmas decorations you might end up at The Foundling Museum which is having a season of Christmas Craft activities on throughout the school holidays. The Postal Museum also has opportunities to take part in workshops to make “Festive Wrapping Paper Printing”, “First Class Sacks” and “Festive Post Boxes” during weekends in late November and December. They are even going to decorate their famous Mail Rail to turn it into a Christmas Ride. London Zoo is also having Crafts together with films and a Father Christmas too!
10. Slipping and a-Sliding as graceful as Bambi on Ice!
Ice Skating in interesting locations in London has developed into a bit of a tradition now. You can Ice skate at the Natural History Museum, Canary Wharf, Somerset House and this year there is a new kid on the (ice) block with an ice rink coming to The Queen’s House in Greenwich. How Exciting! A new place to show off your Torvill and Dean moves in a stunning location. It’s great too if your Little One is ready to move on from places like the great Ruxley Garden Centre rink in Bexley.
11. We’re Walking in the Air!
Lots of rich food and chocolate means it’s time for a walk to get some fresh air and exercise.
IF you are going to see The Snowman at Sadler’s Wells then you could team it up with an outing to search for the 12 Snowman decorated statues that make up The Snowman Winter Trail around London Bridge City over the holiday period. Or if you dance in between each sculpture then it could be a cheaper priced alternative if it’s all sold out!
Failing that you could head to Hall Place in Bexley to take part in The Christmas Garden Trail and discover what’s being baked in the South Pole over Christmas while you search across the grounds.
12. All’s Fair in Christmas Shopping
Buy all your presents in interesting locations this year with independent retailers and makers at Christmas markets. You could head up to The Southbank to explore the Winter Wonderland little wooden huts each with a different business to tempt you with their wares. For the first time you can head to the Bow Arts Makers Market or places like the Horniman Museum will be having Christmas Fairs so you can shop and then head to the Aquarium after.
Failing that there’s always Fairs like the FUSS at Hither Green Christmas Fair on Staplehurst Road (7th December) where you can be immersed in the Christmas Spirit with music, Father Christmas and beautiful goods!
We think you’ll agree we’re spoilt for choice for days out this season, but as ever we would love you to let us know if you come across any that should be added to the list.
Wishing you some very merry Christmas days out, one and all!
By Laura Cheek
This post is sponsored by Fantastic for Families – a brilliant website for families to discover affordable and relevant quality arts and cultural activities from trusted organisers in their local area. Fantastic for Families is run by the Family Arts Campaign, a national collaborative programme funded by Arts Council England.