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Welcome back to our monthly roundup of the best free things to do with children in the capital (and beyond). I’m Emmy and for the last six years I’ve been hunting down the best events and hangouts for Londoners with young kids and writing about them on my blog, bablands.com.
I’ve learnt a lot about kids’ activities since I started blogging, but one of my most surprising discoveries is that the best stuff is often free. With that in mind, I’ll be partnering with MoneyMagpie each month to bring you the best free days out for families in London and beyond.
Think summer, think festivals. No, we don’t mean Glasto or Bestival (although that would be nice too). We’re talking about museum festivals – the fun-filled programmes of often totally free events that many of our favourite cultural hangouts put on over the summer holidays in an effort to save our sanity, bank balances and chronically bored kids during the longest six weeks of the year.
Take, for example, Summer in the Square, the National Gallery’s open-air festival of creativity starring a stellar line-up of inspiring artist-educators. Or Arnolfini’s month-long celebration of textiles, which invites families to participate in giant collaborative weaving and dance ribbons into plaits. Or what about Nottingham Contemporary and Tŷ Pawb’s collaborative productions, which asks kids to work together throughout the summer, rehearsing and finally putting on an epic performance! The best bit? No scrapping over extortionate tickets. Enjoy!
Running from the 31st July-4th of August and then the 7th-11th August, this family-friendly festival will include chances to make masks and badges, create stop-motion animations and style your own Tudor-style portrait photograph.
Head to Trafalgar Square from the 1st-28th for a series of drop-in creative workshops, including a chance to interact with a tactile art installation, take part in pirate-themed collaging, and build a collaborative art gallery space.
Visit the museum any Tuesday in August and discover a collaborative, interactive play structure. Dive into a world of design and construction to extend and build your own pieces of the structure, as well as taking part in artist workshops.
Drop into the Young V&A on Fridays throughout August for chances to step onto the Stage and have a go at creating your own adventure story, take on design challenges in the Open Studio, and discover playful activities in the Portal Trust Community Room.
Head to London Mithraeum on the 25th-26th for a fun and interactive family day with Museum of London. Explore Roman Londinium using a special map to follow a trail around different Roman sites, and complete quests to win a prize.
National Galleries of Scotland: Modern One is offering its F.A.B. Family Art Baskets for use by families until the 13th. Each basket contains lots of creative, fun ideas and materials to help families sculpt, paint, perform and connect.
Nottingham Contemporary is hosting Summer Family Activities: Dress Rehearsals from the 1st-24th. Join in to write a script, make the props, rehearse and put on a show.
Running throughout August, Tŷ Pawb’s Exhibition: PLAY – The Movie! will see the gallery transformed into a film set, with children invited to collaboratively create an epic feature-length film exploring play in Wrexham.
Head to Arnolfini every day in August and take part in We Are Family: A Summer of Textile Fun, featuring chances to create a giant collaborative weaving, design fabrics, stitch your own purse and dance ribbons into plaits.