From free art activity trails to sundae building and a Moana singalong there’s plenty to keep all ages busy in the “home of entertainment”
Planning a trip into the city at half term? Promised the family a half term day out in London’s West End, but not sure what everyone will enjoy? Don’t fret – we’ve got your day covered, and it’s jam-packed with fab stuff for everyone. We’ve picked the favourite bits of our day in the West End last Christmas, and filled in the blanks with some kid-friendly art, an exhibition, plus ice cream at Fortnum & Masons (am I the last person in England to know this is a thing??). Oh, and we’ve not done the obvious theatre, either, instead we’re opting for the a 4DX cinema experience.
Half term day out in London’s West End – MORNING:
FREE ARTS TRAILS & WORKSHOPS AT THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
Come face to face with history at the National Portrait Gallery. Families can meet Henry VIII and Elizabeth I; say hello to Shakespeare and Jane Austen; and even discuss politics with Winston Churchill or have their photo taken with Ed Sheeran. There are also free family activity trails to enjoy.
Every day of the October half term between 11am – 4pm youngsters can visit the FAB (Family Activity Base) cart for free activities including a Pop-Up Gallery where they can create their own portraits and 3D models. Also, on 25thOctober, from 11am-4pm, there will be a free family art extravaganza for the annual “Big Draw” Festival, which celebrates the power of drawing. Families can drop in and join in the fun with a team of artists who will be taking part in collaborative activities across the Gallery.
TREATS FOR LEGO LOVING FAMILIES AND SWEET TOOTHS
Lego fans will not want to miss a visit to the largest LEGO Store on the planet in Leicester Square, home to a 200,000 brick model of Big Ben and the LEGO Mosaic Maker photo booth, a nifty machine that creates a personalised LEGO portrait. Explore the Star Wars Section of the store and create a Han Solo mini figure.
Opposite LEGO store, sweet loving families can spend time exploring Europe’s biggest sweet shop, M&M’s World. Large enough to house 100 double decker buses it’s home to the world’s largest chocolate wall. Where visitors can get their own personal mugshot on these delicious chocolates and grab a selfie with an M&M character.
LUNCH BREAK AT MOD PIZZA
Flagging families can then refuel at London’s hippest pizza joint – Leicester Square’s MOD Pizza – where every pizza is made on demand using fresh-pressed dough and signature sauces for one super low price, £7.87. Choose from over 30 different toppings, the price remains the same regardless of the number of toppings. Plus, there are vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options too!
Half term day out in London’s West End – AFTERNOON:
GET SWEPT AWAY ON A MOANA WAVE AT THE RA’S LANDMARK OCEANIA EXHIBITION
Children and families who enjoyed Disney’s Pacific island dwelling Moana, will love the Royal Academy’s 2018 Oceania exhibition – the UK’s first major show exploring Oceanic art, featuring 250 objects, including canoes, god figures and feast bowls from the South Pacific
Oceania marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, founded in 1768, the same year Captain James Cook set off to discover this part of the world. It provides a rare opportunity to be immersed in the art and culture of an area that represents nearly a third of the world’s surface, a region rich in history, ritual and ceremony.
Sing along to Moana as a family at the RA’s film screening on 26 October (£10 adults/ £5 children, booking opens 10 September), led by favourite characters from the film, in collaboration with dance troupe Beats Of Polynesia.
BUILD A SUNDAE AT FORTNUM & MASON
Children (and the young at heart) can create their own work of ice cream perfection in The Parlour restaurant at Fortnum & Mason. They can be as Dahl-esque as they dare, choosing up to three scrumptious flavours from the 22 available including rose ripple, crème caramel, chocolossus and new vegan flavours avocado & lime and chocolate & cashew plus pick from a range of sauces, toppings and sides all from £6.50. Families can then browse Fortnum’s famous food halls and gift floors, for a take home treat.
BOOK HUNTING IN HATCHARDS
While away an hour book or present hunting in London’s oldest bookshop: Hatchards. This Piccadilly stalwart was established by John Hatchard in 1797 and is bookseller to all the royal households. With 100,000 books in store and an impressive children’s section, complete with comfy sofa and book-loving staff on hand to inspire and suggest – even the most reluctant readers will be converted.
Half term day out in London’s West End – EVENING
CATCH THE LATEST MOVIE ACTION AT LEICESTER SQUARE’S CINEWORLD
Families can immerse themselves in the heart of the film action at Leicester Square Cineworld – if you’re lucky, you can view your film in 4DX (with high-tech motion seats and special effects including wind, fog, lightning, bubbles, water, rain and scents!). This autumn’s family-friendly films will include computer animated comedy Smallfoot, comedy adventure Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween and Rowan Atkinson will return as much-loved accidental secret agent in Johnny English Strikes Again.
End the day with a taste of Hollywood at family-friendly Planet Hollywood located just off Leicester Square. Packed full of eye-catching movie memorabilia including a Star Wars Stormtrooper Helmet, a pair of Rocky’s boots from Rocky III as well as a Bond themed room filled with real movie pieces. The menu caters for all tastes with dishes ranging from American classics such as burgers and wings to Italian and Asian plus a dedicated Kids Menu.