Welcome to our brand-new monthly roundup of the best free things to do with children in the capital (and beyond). I am Emmy and I’ve been hunting down the best events and hangouts for Londoners with young kids and writing about them on my blog, Bablands.com, for the last five years. In that time, I’ve learnt a lot about kids’ activities, but one of my most surprising discoveries is that the free stuff is usually the best stuff.
So this month and every month, I will be partnering with MoneyMagpie to bring you some of the best free days out for families in London and beyond.
December can feel like an impossible time to stay thrifty where kids are involved – no thanks to the deluge of extortionate Santa’s grottoes and ‘unmissable’ festive experiences. So, thank the family-fun gods for all the pocket-friendly museum drop-ins, creative gallery workshops and child-friendly popups poised to keep us entertained and in the black throughout the festive period.
Head to Covent Garden throughout the month and behold the Christmas Carousel of Creativity, an immersive LEGO adventure featuring a cactus Christmas tree and firefighting dragon. Find the Frozen Forest on the North Piazza, where Frozen-themed Christmas trees will be dusted with flurries of snow every hour, accompanied by an instrumental rendition of Let It Go. Finish with a wander through the Infinity Chamber on Floral Street – it’s had a Disney makeover!
Museum of London
Museum of London is hosting frost-themed drop-in play sessions for 0-5s on weekends throughout December. Little ones are invited to think about how the frozen River Thames was used for frost fairs in days gone by, take part in sensory activities, run their own food stall or even put on a puppet show. Museum admission is free and there’s plenty to explore after the session.
William Morris gallery
William Morris Gallery is running a Young Poland Family Day on the 11th. Join in with a Christmas-themed paper-craft activity, exploring the art of paper folding and making your own decoration to take home. Then, settle down for a storytelling session from children’s author and spoken-word poet Uncle Kweks, or follow the Young Poland Family trail and win a prize.
Winter at greenwich peninsula
Winter at Greenwich Peninsula is packed with free festive fun: from Wave by Squidsoup – a spectacular voice and light experience consisting of 500 suspended orbs; to Lydia Chan’s Your Ship Has Landed at NOW Gallery – a dazzling immersive art exhibition in which children are invited to climb and play.
Tate Modern’s turbine hall
Anicka Yi’s In Love With the World commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall is free to visit until the 16th of January. Meet Yi’s floating machines, which reimagine artificial intelligence and draw inspiration from ocean life forms and mushrooms. Visit on a Wednesday or weekend and create your own futuristic work of art from recycled materials in Uniqlo Tate Play’s free Make Studio: Envision workshop.
Free days out across the UK:
National Museum Cardiff’s Christmas Trail is priced at £1 and available for the whole of December. Find the eight characters hidden around the museum, then take the trail home to make the craft on the back.
Head to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds from the 18th-23rd and enjoy live performances, combat displays, storytelling, treasure hunts and chance to meet real reindeer.
The South West:
The Festive Big Draw takes place at Hauser & Wirth in Bruton on the 4th, featuring carols from local musicians alongside food and creative activities.
webuyanycar.com is offering free ice-skating sessions for families at Waterfront Leisure Complex in Greenock on the 4th and 5th and at Dumfries Ice Bowl every day until the 5th.