What’s On For Families In November

Eva de Valk

From fireworks to fairy lights, there’s plenty going on in London to brighten up the dark November days for the whole family.

Crystal Palace Fireworks via FacebookSince Bonfire Night falls on a Monday this year, most displays are taking place on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 November instead. With fireworks being set off all over the place, there is bound to be a display near you, although the ‘free, just turn up’-type is getting rarer every year so make sure check out our list of free displays to find one near you. Crystal Palace Fireworks via FacebookParticularly promising ticketed options this year include Richmond Athletics’ 90s themed night; a ‘fewer bangs’ display for younger children followed by a light show in Crystal Palace Park; and Alexandra Palace’s always popular fireworks and circus combo.

Moving on to another British classic: although it seems almost unthinkable there is yet a person living in London who hasn’t seen it, War Horse is returning to the National Theatre to commemorate the centenery of the end of the First World War. Michael Morpurgo’s story about a boy who travels through war-torn Europe to find his beloved horse Joey remains a beautiful thing to behold on stage, in large part thanks to the extraordinary puppets by Handspring Puppet Company that bring Joey and friends to life. National Theatre via FacebookDespite the grim subject matter, it’s a life-affirming story that makes for an inspiring outing with teenage kids. This London run is short (8 November - 5 January) and availability is limited; if you don’t manage to bag tickets now, wait for the £15 day tickets and £20 Friday Rush tickets to be released once the show opens.
If you prefer your horses real, head to the Lord Mayor’s parade for a unique display of pomp and pageantry. The City of London’s annual shindig to celebrate their newly elected mayor takes place on 10 November this year. Marching bands, military regiments, the City’s ancient livery companies and floats will accompany the mayor’s gilded carriage, as the procession makes its way from Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice. The usual flotilla and fireworks have bitten the dust this year, but programme has been beefed up with a host of free family friendly activities: there is musical comedy by Les Grooms (expect ‘extreme Frenchness’), controlled chaos in the public realm courtesy of the Bureau of Silly Ideas, and amazing adventures to be had on Pif-Paf’s Flycycle and Submercycle.   

Oxford Street Christmas Lights via FacebookAlthough the festive season is not upon us quite yet, November is of course also the month of turning on the Christmas lights. The biggest one, of course, will be the Oxford Street switch on, which is expected to draw more than a million people on 6 November. The details are kept tightly under wraps, but the usual big concert has this year been replaced with a number of smaller popup gigs in various shops. Covent Garden is bringing back its mistletoe chandeliers as well as the massive, silver reindeer statue that lorded it over the east end of the piazza last year. The question of who will have the responsibility of flicking the switch on 13 November remains a surprise, but with Kylie doing the honours last year, the bar’s been set high. Marylebone Village via FacebookMeanwhile, Marylebone High Street’s switch on party on 14 November is a proper community get together, with market stalls, family activities and stage performances; not a bad option if you’d rather avoid the massive crowds.

Syon Park via FacebookAfter all that, if you still haven’t satisfied your fairy-light itch, book a trip to Syon Park’s Enchanted Woodland, which will see the historic gardens decked out in an almost indecent amount of colourful lights. Follow the trail around the lake to the spectacularly lit up Great Conservatory, have fun with the interactive light installations and don’t forget to take lots of photos. The Enchanted Woodland is only open for three weekends (9 – 11 November; 16 – 18 November; 23 – 25 November) and usually sells out, so make sure to book your tickets in advance. Adult tickets are £12, children’s tickets are £5.

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