Yes, London many be an incredible city to visit… for grown-ups. But what about for kids? What’s in it for them when their parents rope them into a short-break spent in the UK capital? Well, how about these awesome attractions for all the family…
The Wider Earth
(Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD/ 2nd October-30th December)
London’s latest theatre isn’t to in the West End or Victoria but in the Natural History Museum’s Jerwood Gallery – and its opening performance is set to be very fitting –going back to the origin of the Origin of Species. That’s right, it’s is all about the quest of a young Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle, as he travelled to the other side of the world and the incredible creatures of the Galapagos Islands – which are brought to life by seven sensational puppets, similar to those used in War Horse. Conceived by the Dead Puppet Society theatre company (its creators having travelled to the islands to research the indigenous animals), the resultant play’s looks likely to be a captivating watch featuring ingenious and inspiring recreations of sea creatures, fireflies and iguanas.
(35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH)
Whizz! Bang! Wallop! What better way to celebrate the 80th anniversary of surely one of the ultimate UK institutions, the Beano comic (yes, Dennis and Gnasher, the Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx, Billy Whizz and the rest are all still going), than with a visit to the Cartoon Museum? In fact, it’s a fascinating, eclectic place; featuring rare editions of the comic in question, it’s also home to works by Hogarth, Gillray, Tenniel, Heath Robinson, Pont, HM Bateman, EH Shepard and Ronald Searle, along with graphic-novel artists spanning decades. Great for grown ups into literature and satire too then.
(Science Museum, Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD)
Which of a trio of ‘friction slides’ will a kid get down fastest? Experiments to answer exactly those sorts of questions is what the Science Museum’s all about Wonderlab, also crackling, as it does, with electricity, orbits-around-the-sun and endless opportunities to get all tactile with shapes and pulses to feed child(like) natural curiosity. There are also shows on rockets, electricity and explosions (the latter fittingly noisy) several times daily. So, if you’ve ever pondered just how long a bit of fizzing dry ice shooting across water might entertain a little ’un (or the likes of that), here’s your chance to find out – actually, good news; it’s bound to entertain and captivate them for a very long time! Perfect then for little tykes (and illuminating too for their parents staying hotels near Hounslow Central station, such as the Park Grand London Heathrow Gateway).
(Kew Gardens, Richmond TW9 3AB)
Finally, something for all the family at one of those event venues not far at all away from (almost qualifying it as one of those ‘Heathrow events’ then, you might say) is this; the biggest Victorian glasshouse on the planet. Described by the legendary naturalist Sir David Attenborough as a ‘breathtakingly beautiful space’, it first opened in 1863 and comprises plant species entirely extinct anywhere else, like a tree that dates back to the dinosaur era and ornate bird-of-paradise flowers. Quite fascinating when you see it all before you; in all its beauty and potential wide-eyed wonder on a child’s face.