The Best of Family Entertainment in May

Eva de Valk

Get ready for a full programme this May: from street parties to space explorations, there’s no shortage of ways to keep the kids engaged this month.

We kick off on an educational note, with the Royal Albert Hall’s very first Science Festival. Centred around the theme of ‘space’, the festival, which is a collaboration with the UK Space Agency, will present a programme chock-a-block with stellar activities for all ages. Some of the highlights include My Great Orchestral Adventure, in which a symphony orchestra will travel to space to save the world; a showing of Moomins and the Comet, which is accompanied by a live score performed with, among other things, a box of cornflakes; and a free screening of Pixar’s family favourite WALL-E. Events will be taking place throughout May and June.

Protei autonomous sailing ship that cleans up oil spills 2014. © Scoutbots LTD Cesar Jung-Harada

More fun for science enthusiasts can be found around the corner, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is hosting a new exhibition about the world of tomorrow. Visitors can marvel at more than 100 objects that together will paint a picture of the problems, and possible solutions, the future might hold. Artificial intelligence, satellites and smart appliances will all make an appearance; you can find out more about Masdar City, the first zero-waste city designed by Foster + Partners, or meet Protei, an autonomous sailing vessel that can clean up oil spills. During the May half term, the exhibition will be complemented by family friendly activities courtesy of Arup engineers. The Future Starts Here opens on 12 May, and tickets are £15 for adults. The half-term family activities are free of charge.

From back to the future to blast from the past: theatre institution the Old Vic is celebrating its 200th birthday this year. The occasion is being marked on 12 May with a free street party and open house suitable for all the family. The proceedings will get going at noon, with a procession from the South Bank to the Old Vic itself. Once there, partygoers can enjoy street performances, crafts and a GIF photo booth, as well as a complete programme of talks and activities including puppetry workshops, interactive storytelling and a kids’ comedy club. Although all activities are free, you do need to book tickets in advance.

Peter Pan at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, Photo: Tristram Kenton

Even more theatre fun can be had at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, which is kicking off its season by bringing back its properly magical production of Peter Pan. Making Neverland into an escape for wounded World War One soldiers may sound rather dark, but this show wowed the critics when it first opened in 2015. Children (and adults) will certainly be enchanted by the puppetry, as well as the theatre’s fairy tale atmosphere in general. Start your evening off with a picknick in the park for maximum summer vibes. Peter Pan runs from 17 May - 15 June, with ticket prices starting at £23.

Meanwhile Old Spitalfields Market is hosting a series of children’s workshop and supper club combos, running every Monday in May. The evening starts at 5 PM with an hour-long crafty workshop. Those who fancy a bite to eat after can then stay on for dinner, which is created specially for children by the chefs of some of the local restaurants. The programme is different each week; pop-up card making followed by dumplings are on the agenda for 14 May, for example, while 28 May will be all about crepe paper flowers and popcorn chicken. Tickets for the workshops are £12, and there’s an additional charge of £8 if you’re staying for dinner.

Those who are eager to get their offspring involved with the cooking as well as eating from an early age could consider a trip to Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, which runs a monthly sushi and nigiri making class for children ages six to twelve. In this hour-long workshop, children are introduced to the joys of making sushi by a professional sushi chef, and they will get to take some of their creations home at the end. This special children’s class runs on 26 May at Sticks ‘n’ Sushi’s Wimbledon branch, and on 27 May at their Greenwich location. Tickets are £30.

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