Welcome back to our new monthly roundup of the best free things to do with children in the capital (and beyond). I’m Emmy and for the last five 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 so 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.
January can feel like a bit of a no-man’s-land when it comes to planned activities, with venues having seemingly poured all their energies into their festive events, and neglected the bit that comes next. If anything, though, we need more free fun in January than at any other time of year thanks to our collective post-Christmas comedown, the seemingly endless dark days and early December paydays. Thankfully there’s still plenty of wallet-friendly family merriment to be had this month, from blues-busting creative workshops to lively Lunar New Year celebrations, and electrifying light shows worth braving the cold for.
Free Family Days out in London.
Winter Lights in Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf’s award-winning Winter Lights trail returns from the 19th-29th, featuring 25 spectacular light installations by some of the world’s most innovative light artists. Highlights will include a family of mammoths, a greenhouse brought to life through stunning projections, and 12 illuminated swans performing a mesmerising ballet.
Lunar New Year at the National Maritime Museum
Welcome in the New Year with a day of celebration, performances and activities in Greenwich on the 29th. See performances at The Great Map, learn traditional printing techniques, take part in a tea ceremony and join in with a range of hands-on family workshops, from Qigong and Tai Chi to dragon dancing, lantern-making and Mah-jong.
Little Feet at the British Museum
The British Museum’s popular drop-in for under-5s returns on the 17th with a session inspired by the Museum’s Peru: A Journey in Time exhibition. Little Feet: Animal Antics will explore Peru’s varied environments and the many creatures who live there. Little ones can learn all about llamas, whales and wild cats, before creating a clay animal to take home.
Family Workshops at the William Morris Gallery
William Morris Gallery is running two free workshops for kids this month: Creative Kids: Weave Some Magic! for 0-5s on the 20th and Young Poland Family Day: Wood Block Printing for all ages on the 22nd. Work on woven wall hangings using a wool and other textiles, or learn how to make wood block stamps, inspired by patterns in the Young Poland exhibition.
Family Takeover at Camden Art Centre
Camden Art Centre’s Sunday family takeovers for 3-12s return with Building as Body with Amy Leung on the 16th and 30th. The first session will explore the ‘skin’ of the centre through experimental mark making using different surfaces and media, while the second explore the ideas of connections, movement and how we can transport materials along a network.
There’s lots of free fun to be had at Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham this month, from Print Your Own Calendar and Recycled Wrapping Paper Creations workshops to play worker-led Play Sessions.
Head to The Tetley in Leeds on the 5th and 19th for Tiny Tetley with Stephanie Jefferies and explore Steph’s ideas for her new dedicated space for young children at The Tetley, opening in February.
The South West
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery is currently hosting Grayson’s Art Club, a blockbuster show and poignant chronicle of lockdown, spread across three floors and featuring artworks made by the public, established artists and celebrities.
Dundee Contemporary Arts will host Family Art Lab: Tako Taal & Rae-Yen Song on the 29th. Expect lots of materials, creative ideas and projects to finish on the day or to take home, with activities led by local artists.
For more free family days out, check out last month’s blog here.