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October 17, 2022
The great thing about children is that most of them thrive on an apparently contradictory mix of cosy security and white–knuckle adventure. Happily, London has plenty of both. And while parents in the Northern Hemisphere may complain of Seasonal Affective Disorder, few children seem much bothered by the idea. Autumn leaves, nights drawing in, what’s the problem? And if there is one, London has the answer.
The months of October and November offer plenty of opportunity to light up the sky. Apart from the eagerly anticipated glee of Halloween with its pumpkin lanterns and Goth face paint, there’s the delight of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights which crops up on October 24 this year. It takes place when the Autumn moon seems to disappear from the sky, and ushers in new beginnings. After that there’s Britain’s own Bonfire Night (fireworks for November 5) and the growing appeal of Thanksgiving 2022, America’s contribution to comfort eating.
One of the earliest and biggest Autumn adventures is a free, all–day spectacular called The Golden Key/Destination City, which takes place across the City of London on Saturday October 15. From noon till 9.30pm there is music, dance, stories and street art. Just join the Fair at Guildhall, London Wall and St Paul’s Cathedral. There’s also a Maze of Adventures that invites you to follow 12 interactive routes, ending in secret locations and immersive surprises. Plus a treasure hunt. Over a hundred artists and 17 locations. Drop in any time. For maps and info click here.
Also in mid-October the revamped Battersea Power Station opens its doors for a Festival of Power, October 14 to 16. Arcadia’s “Lords of Lightning” perform a “duel of lights” and “volt bolts”. But if you miss the electric light show, or the kids are too young for it, there’s still eating and retail aplenty and views of the river. Plus from Turbine Hall A, you can take Lift 109 all the way to the top of one of the four monumental chimneys. A new panorama of the city.
Lots of reasons to look for those London Hotel offers. See below for more.
Cromwell Road SW7
Until 16 April 2023
Dynamism and global impact from the African fashion scene, from iconic 20th century statements to contemporary creatives. Photographs, textiles, music and visual arts.
Barbican Family Film Week
October 22 to 29
The best new movies from across the world, plus free workshops and activities. There are “bite–sized” films for the youngest audiences, plus “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (October 22). And on October 26 there is a preview of “My Father’s Dragon”, before its release on Netflix.
Black History Month 2022
Until 31 October
The World Reimagined follows the trail of 10 large globe structures, each one designed by an individual artist. From Bank to St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall and Aldgate, explore shared histories and the need for justice. Guided walking tour on 22 October at 1.30pm. Free but booking required. More information, talks and events:
Frieze Sculpture Park
Regent’s Park NW1
Until 13 November
Just around the corner from London Zoo, look out for 29 large artworks installed in the great outdoors. Curated by Clare Lilley, Director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
The Golden Key/Destination City
The City of London (17 locations)
Saturday 15 October
The Golden Key is a free immersive event, inspired by the hidden story of the Square Mile. And it’s not just for grown-ups. The City of London’s streets will be filled with immersive theatre, street festivals, walking tours, secret rooms and treasure hunts, with over 100 performers to guide you in the guise of historic or fantasy characters. You’ll discover places not normally open to the public, and encounter curious creatures. Solve the riddle of the Dragon (a smartphone–led treasure hunt) and win The Golden Key. It’s all free.
Blue Orchid Hotels is also providing giveaways on 15 October: visitors just state the code “GOLDEN KEY” to redeem Kids Eat Free at Cento Restaurant (one child with a paying adult, drinks not included); to redeem free coffee with any pastry cake or other beverage at Simply Fresh to Go; to redeem free jug of Pimms or bucket of beer (for the grown-ups!) at The Skyline London (for 8 diners or more). Use code ‘GOLDEN KEY10’ to make the most of this City of London spectacular and enjoy 10% off your stay.
Battle of Ideas Festival
15 and 16 October
Church House, Westminster SW1
A festival of debate where you will be actively encouraged to have your say on a variety of current topics, where the audience IS the festival. Ideal for older teens who are looking to be inspired. Serious, fun, enlightening and much more. Free thinkers welcome.
National Maritime Museum
22 to 30 October
The theme of the museum’s free October half term activities is inspired by Diwali. Make your own shadow puppets, learn about lighthouses and more.
On October 22 there is a family friendly Diwali event with live music, performance and art, curated by South Asian arts collective CommonGround.
Gunpowder Plot Immersive
Tower of London
New immersive experience within Tower Vaults, beneath the Tower of London, the UNESCO World Heritage site which was both a royal palace, and a prison where queens were beheaded. This is the story of the Gunpowder Plot, starring Tom Felton (aka Draco Malfoy) as Guy Fawkes, who was discovered attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Described as “fun, dramatic and exciting…” “thoroughly enjoyed the drama, the VR and learning about history…” Travel back to Jacobean London. “This will put you in the heart of history’s most daring conspiracy.”
Get a feel for the experience here.
Hallyu! The Korean Wave
First exhibition about the influence of the Korean Wave. South Korea’s popular culture impacts global creative industries –cinema, drama, music, fandom and fashion.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Shaftesbury Avenue W1
Booking to: 30 July 2023
The movie actors have grown up, some have even left us for good, but the magic persists.
Prolong the spell with a Full Wizarding Experience in a luxury Blue Orchid Tower Suites apartment. Harry Potter themed walking tour, Potions class, movie night and 20% discount on additional food and beverage outlets, and treatments.
Horrible Histories Live
Onboard! Terrible Thames
Tower Bridge Quay
Booking to: 1 Jan 2023
Horrible histories and its wicked river tour. Climb aboard. Close to the iconic Tower of London and one of the best placed hotels in London England, Tower Suites.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Gillian Lynne Theatre
166 Drury Lane WC2
Until 8 January 2023
One of the UK’s favourite stories returns: for ages 6 and up. “Spellbinding” (Telegraph), “Uplifting” (FT), “Magical” (Guardian).
The Lord Mayor’s Show
12 November 2022
Dating back to early 1200’s this parade came about when King John decided that the City of London could appoint its own Mayor, with the proviso that every new Mayor had to come to Westminster to swear allegiance to the Crown. So for the last 800 years that’s exactly what they’ve done. It’s got nosier and more colourful with time, and it’s now known as the Lord Mayor’s Show. The Elizabeth Line station at Farringdon is nicely placed for travel, or if you stay at Blue Orchid’s Tower Hotel London you can walk through traffic–free streets on the day.
Mexico Family Fiesta
22 to 31 October
Throughout October Kew is hosting a Mexican style festival, with special family friendly events over half term, including dance workshops, dressing up and parades, in anticipation of Dia De Los Muertos in early November.
My Neighbour Totoro
Silk Street EC2
Oct 8 to Jan 21 2023
The magic of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli transfers to the Barbican stage courtesy of the RSC. The music, the enduring appeal of the creatures including Totoro, protector of the forest. Puppets and actors. Grown-ups and children. Irresistible.
Radio Nonsense Live
London Literature Festival
Southbank Centre (Purcell Room)
26 October at 2.30pm
For families and young people: ages from 6–99. Hilarious answers to children’s “most important” questions. A live edition of the Comedy Club 4 Kids podcast, with Tiernan Douieb, Athena Kugblenu and Joz Norris.
Tongue Fu for Kids
28 October at 3pm
Family show (ages 7–11) “where anything is possible.”
MCM Comic Con
28 to 30 October
Three days of pop culture, including anime, TV and film. Meet the stars, listen to the panels, play the games, enjoy the cosplay, browse the merch. Not everything here will be suitable for children, but there is a family friendly experience with the Treehouse: family lounge for quiet time, programme of family–friendly interactive sessions and performances (details tbc at time of writing).
1 Vane Street SW1
There’s a growing trend among our teens to go vegetarian/vegan, so carnivore parents might be interested in a new addition to vegan dining – The Vegan Brasserie, housed within the stately Wellington Hotel. Tasty dishes for vegans, flexitarians, health conscious foodies, and anyone looking for a good meal. Vegan samosas, Tofocotpoz, zucchini fries and vegan burritos as well as carrot salmon. Vegan cheesecake a hit. All within a 4 star hotel in London, on Westminster’s leafy Vincent Square.
Voices in Action
The Clore Ballroom, Level 2
Royal Festival Hall
23 October at 11.30am
For families and young people (best enjoyed by ages 5 and up). Runs for 4 hours 30 minutes. Storytelling, workshops and performance. How your voice can make a difference.
The Wind in the Willows Wilton’s
Wilton’s Music Hall
Grace’s Alley E1
24 November to 31 December
Wiltons, the oldest Grand Music Hall in the world, is hosting another magical event from British children’s writer Piers Torday. His book The Dark Wild won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (2014) and he has a powerful and inventive imagination. This year Torday has updated the Wind in the Willows and it’s set in modern–day London. As with his other works, there’s a message about the natural world here, but he’s never preachy. Songs, puppets and Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad: another five star winner for Torday and Wilton’s Christmas productions. Wilton’s is near Tower Hill Tube or Fenchurch St. Station, and Blue Orchid’s Tower Suites apartments.
Follow this link to the website booking page and use the discount code: BLUE15
The Woman in Black
Russell Street WC2
Until 29 April 2023
Susan Hill’s chilling tale of Eel Marsh House and the shadows of the past. An audience of seven million have been scared by it so far. Teenage kicks for the less nervous youngster.
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