The Best Family Events in London this August

Eva de Valk

With the summer holidays in full swing, we’ve selected some of the best family friendly events to keep even the pickiest of kids entertained. Explore some of the options below, and it’ll be September before you know it!

This whole month it’s Kids Week in the West End. Yes, that is a slightly strange sentence, but once upon a time Kids Week actually only lasted a week. Over the years it has become more and more popular, and now runs for the whole of August each year. For those of you not familiar with the concept: during Kids Week, every adult buying a full price theatre ticket can take one child for free to participating shows. You can bring two extra children for half price too. There are lots of options to choose from, including Annie, Matilda and Aladdin. You can also book packages, which pair a show with a free activity, or get tickets for specials events such as a theatre tour, writing workshop or costume design session. Be quick to book though: this is a popular scheme and tickets can sell out fast.

Image credit: Pamela Raith
Starting from 9 August, there’s more free family-friendly theatre to be had. The annual London Bridge City Summer Festival takes over The Scoop outside City Hall until September, and part of this year’s offering is a new production of The Odyssey by Gods and Monsters Theatre Company. The show is divvied up into three different hour-long parts, and part one looks particularly good. A Great Big Ancient Greek Adventure sees our hero Odysseus leave Troy to make his way home, running into all sorts of monster-related trouble along the way. The Odyssey runs from Wednesday to Sunday until 3 September, with A Great Big Ancient Greek Adventure starting at 6pm.
From outdoor theatre we move to outdoor film, where there are lots of options thanks to the wide variety of pop-up cinemas that, well, pop up every summer. The Roundhouse is hosting Big Screen on the Beach, a new twist on their beloved Camden Beach. Plop yourself down on the sand or in a deck chair to enjoy a family classic such as Beauty and the Beast on August 6, or confuse your senses at Frozen on August 26. Adult tickets are £13.50; under 16s come in for £5. Alternatively, check out Luna Cinema for films in lots of different locations. Standout sreenings include Jungle Book at the Horniman Museum on August 6 and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at Kensington Palace on August 11. Tickets are £17.50 for adults and £13.50 for children under 16.

© Stuart Leech
Of course, the bank holiday weekend has lots to offer in terms of entertainment. Head over to Guildhall Yard for some slightly unusual fun, as you cheer on your champion during the Gladiator Games. Organised by the Museum of London, this is an elaborate show by Britannia – who also worked on the film Gladiator – which means it’s authentic, but not too authentic (in other words, you won’t have to worry about people being stabbed to death in front of your little ones). Visitors can also look around the adjacent Roman London exhibition, where they’ll get an idea of what it was like to live in old Londinium. The games are part of the City’s Londinium season, which also includes activities such as archaeology workshops, object handling sessions and guided tours. The Gladiator Games run from August 25 - 28; adult ticket prices start at £20, concessions from £13.

Finally, round off your month with the single biggest event on the London calendar every August: Notting Hill Carnival. Sunday 27 is family day at the Carnival, which means smaller crowds and a more family-oriented atmosphere and entertainment. There is a programme of workshops in Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance, a range of performances on the World Music Stage at Powis Square and, of course, the famous parade with its floats, costumes and steel bands. Getting to and around the area can be slightly overwhelming, especially with younger children, so make sure you check the organisation’s website for helpful advice before you set off.

© Richie Soans

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