Top Picks for the week ahead 20th – 26th August

Actual real life events are back and museums are still re-opening. So if you’re up for getting out and about, here’s our pick of the best things to do in and around London, from water fountains and peach leaf ice cream at Somerset House to the last few performances of Horrible Histories at the Drive In. The Making of Harry Potter reopens on Thursday 20th August and did you know that you can now pre-book your free ticket in readiness for when the British Museum opens 27th August. 

Check out our previous blog on what opened and when From theme parks, cinemas, museums and attractions. 

But there’s lots of virtual fun to be had too; learn how to draw with Cressida Cowell, settle down for storytime with David Walliams, let the Philharmonia bring the orchestra to your living room or write your own video game – there’s lots to do, see and have fun with. 

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Warner Bros Studio Tour The Making of Harry Potter reopening, Thursday 20th August

Step back into the world of Harry Potter again and experience the magic. To acquaint yourselves with the new safety measures, click here and there’s a video to watch too. 

All the Studio Tour sets will be open to view as normal, including the brand new Slytherin common room.  Due to social distancing, it won’t be possible to step inside the Hogwarts Express train carriage or inside Privet Drive and if you’re wondering whether butterbeer is still on the menu – yes it is! You can find it at the Backlog Cafe. 

Find out more and to book tickets, click here

Somerset House Fountains Reopen, plus Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi the Strand

The Somerset House Fountains in the magnificent Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court have reopened. The 55 fountains offer plenty of water themed fun for kids to play and cool off in. Somerset House will be managing capacity to ensure visitors can enjoy the fountains safely. 

Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi continues until 13 September in the Terrace Rooms (pre-booking and face covering required). Bringing together the work of over 40 leading artists, designers and musicians, Mushrooms looks at fungi’s colourful cultural legacy, as well as the promise it offers to reimagine our relationship with the planet.

Plus, a new pop-up food experience housed inside a pale pink shipping container offers ice cream with flavours like peach leaf, jostaberry ripple and blackberry, brioche ice cream sandwiches, granitas and lollies made with fruit from Fern Verrow farm in Herefordshire.  

Plan your visit here

Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year, National Maritime Museum reopening, Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum is celebrating its reopening by offering free access to the 2019 Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition. In 2019 the competition attracted 4,602 entries from 90 different countries, with just over 100 awe-inspiring images making the cut to feature in the exhibition. From spellbinding skyscapes and galaxies to extraordinary photographs of aurorae, the exhibition showcases the world’s greatest space photography. The exhibition is open until 13th September. 

Tickets are free but you’ll need to pre-book here

Watch Horrible Histories at the Drive in, until 23rd August 

Enjoy Horrible Histories from the safety of a Drive in Experience! 

Can you beat battling Boudicca? Would you be shaken or stirred by Richard III? Will you lose your heart or head to horrible Henry VIII? Can Parliament survive gunpowder Guy? Would you stand and deliver to dastardly Dick Turpin? Escape the clutches of Burke and Hare and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria! 

It’s the horrible history of Britain with the nasty bits left in – tickets are £35 per car. Find out more here

Wind and the Willows at Hever Castle,  Wednesday 26th August, 2pm & 4pm 

Part of the Festival Theatre at Hever Castle, catch an open air performance of Wind and the Willows. 

Mole yearns for adventure, Rat adores boats and Badger likes peace and quiet. Into their lives bursts Toad who loves very fast cars and just can’t seem to help getting into trouble. But can the animals reform Toad’s character and evict the squatters from his ancestral home to restore justice to the world? Kenneth Grahame’s perennial classic is brought to the stage in Illyria’s inimitable style.

For kids 5+, 60 minutes, no interval, tickets from £19.65, to find out more and book, click here

British Museum, reopening Thursday 27th August, with tickets available to book now 

Book your ticket and reunite with two million years of human history. Reopening on Thursday 27th August you can pre-book your free entry ticket now. All visitors require a ticket apart from the under 4s. Face coverings are required and there will be a new one-way route signposted through the Museum, which is easy to follow. Some cafés and shops will be open with contactless payment preferred.

Book your free ticket here


Draw along with Cressida Cowell, Thursday 20th August at 9.30am 

Calling all budding young illustrators! Every day of the Edinburgh International Book Festival Online (running 31st August) at 9.30am they’ll be streaming a Drawalong session from their Facebook page. 

Get your pens and pencils ready to follow in the footsteps of some of the world’s best children’s book illustrators and draw characters and scenes from your favourite stories: featuring sessions from Axel Scheffler, Nick Sharratt, Nadine Kadaan, Eilidh Muldoon, Allen Fatimaharan, Kate McLelland, Dapo Adeola, Polly Dunbar, Kate Leiper, Sara Ogilvie, Lydia Monks and Dunja Jogan with Cressida Cowell featuring this Thursday 20th August. 

Follow on Facebook (@edbookfest) to watch, or watch on demand on the website or YouTube channel the following day. 

Stay tuned to watch Magical Moggies with Philip Ardagh & Rob Biddulph at 10am and don’t miss Polly Dunbar & Michael Morpurgo – Owl or Pussycat? on Sunday at 10am. 

To find out more, click here 

ComedySportz Online!Friday 21st August at 12.30pm

Part of the reimagined 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and tune into ComedySportz as it goes for gold with competitive improvised comedy that is fast, fun and family friendly. Two teams go toe to toe (sort of) with quick-witted gags, games, sketches and songs inspired by audience suggestions. There’s a referee on hand to ensure a good clean match with penalties for bad behaviour and bad jokes. Who wins? You decide!

ComedySportz UK has been entertaining audiences of all ages since 2001 and will be joined by players from ComedySportz teams worldwide during the festival.

If you can’t make Friday, there’s another show on Saturday 22nd August at 7pm. 

To find out more about the reimagined 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival click here  and to check out whats on click here. The festival runs until 30th August.  

Philharmonia Sessions: Family Concert, Saturday 22nd August at 11am 

Who says you have to sit still to listen to classical music? Jump to the rhythm of Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst, wander through a fairytale world with Ravel, or just lie on the sofa and chill while the sounds of George Walker’s gorgeous Lyric for Strings wash over you. And join in with the music whenever you want to, as presenter Lucy Drever helps to bring the wonderful world of the orchestra to life in your living room.

The concert will be available on Philmarmonia’s YouTube channel here

Storytime with David Walliams, Saturday 22nd August at 2pm

Join David Walliams as he reads an extract from his children’s stories as part of the Royal Albert Home sessions.

David published his first children’s book The Boy in the Dress, illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake, in 2008. His novels have since been translated into 53 languages and sold over 37 million copies worldwide. 

Tune in here

Little Angel Theatre There’s a Bear on my Chair, Sunday 23rd August  

A puppet retelling of Ross Collins’s picture book, There’s A Bear On My Chair, created by Toby Olié. Watch as Mouse employs a series of hilarious antics to remove an unwitting polar bear from his favourite chair. Olié’s retelling comes ahead of the hotly-anticipated sequel, There’s A Mouse in My House, this autumn. 

This show follows on from Toby Olie’s adaptation of Ross’s book What Does An Anteater Eat? in May.

The Little Angel Theatre is offering  online shows for free, but if you’re able to make a donation it would be much appreciated.

Find out more here

Intro to street dance with Sophie Guariglia-Smith, Monday 24th August at 3pm

Street Dance is both graceful and powerful, and will challenge your body – plus you’ll leave with some hot new moves you can whip out at any occasion!

This class will take a look at the foundations of street dance, comprising both commercial and urban street styles and grooves, combining basic moves and techniques to form fun routines suitable for 10 – 16 year olds (tickets £4.50). 

To find out more and book, click here

Virtual Family Workshop – Sounds bingo with Tower Bridge, Tuesday 25th August at 11am

London has changed a great deal over Tower Bridge’s 126 years, and sounds very different today to how it used to! Can you identify all the sounds of modern and Victorian London? Join this game of sounds bingo and see if you can identify all the different sounds of London from the past and today.

Families of all ages are welcome but this event, run through zoom,  is most suitable for children aged 5 – 8, find out more here


Little Inventors Mini Challenge 

Little Inventors is a creative education organisation that inspires imagination by taking children’s amazing ideas seriously. During lockdown they were posting a new mini challenge each week. There are 107 in total and they are available for you to explore and discover what sparks the inventor in you! If you can’t decide, click on the random challenge button and have the decision made for you. 

Take the challenge here

Explosion of colour: a Gastronaut adventure

Made for the Big Bang Digital Festival that ran on 14th July, BBC Gastronaut Stefan Gates and his daughter Poppy embark on a scientific adventure through the colours of the rainbow in a show filmed in the Gastrolab. Dedicated to key workers, the show is packed with spectacular, colourful science demos using glowing drinks, colour-changing breath, sugar explosions and edible insects. Stef and Poppy explore the visible spectrum and beyond, using infra-red cameras, UV lights, marshmallows and quite a lot of rockets.

Watch it here and to find out what else you might of missed, click here 

Write your own Video Game 

The National Literacy Trust challenges you to write your own “choose-your-own-adventure” game. Anyone who loves gaming knows the importance of a great story. The best video games use exciting plot lines that keep players hooked from start to finish.

Create your own game where players will be on a quest. You get to decide the setting, the obstacles they might face and the path to victory; will your players fight dragons on a fiery mountain or have they crash-landed on an unknown planet, with only one way to get home.

It’s up to you! 

Find out more here and to download your activity pack and get started, click here here

Wild in Art World Virtual Art Trail 

Wild in Art has created a virtual art trail that everyone can take part in. They have selected over 30 of their sculpture templates, from elephants and bears to owls and snails which you can download, use to create your own designs and add to their global gallery. Find out more here

World of Stories Audiobooks 

Access World Book Day’s World of Stories audiobooks for free.

Young readers can hear their favourite tales, including The Bolds by Julian Clary and The Nothing To See Here Hotel by Steven Butler and older readers can discover fantastic books in the fiction category including A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison and Rumble Star by Abi Elphinstone. These free audiobooks are read by famous voices such as Ade Adepitan, Konnie Huq, and Ben Miller.

Choose your favourite here

Make edible Dinosaur Poo

Ever wondered what Dinosaur poo tastes like…well this one is delicious! Check into Colchester + Ipswich Museums activity library to find out how with this simple (and maybe a little messy) foody craft.

Find the recipe here and to explore the activity library, click here – there’s 19th century ice cream, cannonball truffles and stain glass biscuits too. 

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