Top Picks for the week ahead 27th August- 2nd September

Actual real life events are taking place once again 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 this Bank Holiday weekend; from Dinosaurs at The Drive In to Luke Jerram’s new 3D installation Gaia, from Hugh Bonneville reading The Tiger Who Came To Tea to free alfresco performances by the Royal Ballet plus there’s an ice cream festival too.

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

And there’s lots of virtual fun to be had; Join London’s biggest street party from home, as the Notting Hill Carnival goes digital, make a mosaic menagerie with Westminster Abbey, tune in to the action packed Play at Home Fest with headline acts PAW Patrol and Bing, explore the weird world of dinosaur hands with NHM and find out how to escape the grip of a crocodile’s jaw with Emily Grossman – there’s lots to do, see and have fun with. 

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The Covent Garden Cool Down Ice Cream Festival, Thursday 27th – Monday 31st August

Covent Garden will be celebrating the last summer bank holiday once again with a five day ice cream festival but this year we are including all things frozen. From sorbet to frosé, iced tea to mochi balls to help you soak up the last of the summer sun in the open air Piazza.

Find out who’s taking part and what’s on offer here

Dinosaur World Live at The Drive In,Troubadour Meridian Water, London, until 30th August

Catch the last few performances of this interactive children’s theatre show at The Drive In that brings dinosaurs to life on stage including every child’s favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, along with a Giraffatitan, Microraptor, Segnosaurus and Triceratops. 

Suitable for ages 3+ with a running time of 50 minutes. Tickets, with saving, from £28 per car

To find out more and save up to 42% on tickets, click here

Chichester Theatre’s Family Fun Day in the Park, Monday 31st August @ 11am

This bank holiday, Chichester Festival Theatre are hosting a day of outdoor performances in Oaklands Park. Hugh Bonneville headlines Family Fun in the Park live on stage, reading Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog the Forgetful Cat, with actors using puppetry to bring the stories to life. Families are then invited to get their dancing shoes on and take part in our Family ‘Dance-Along’. 

Suitable for ages 4+ with a running time of one hour.  Tickets start at £10 for two people, to book, click here

British Museum, reopen from Thursday 27th August, pre-book your free tickets and download family activities and trails before you go

To support the newly created one-way route around some of the most popular galleries, the British Museum has created a selection of fun family activity sheets and trails as they are no longer able to distribute them. 

You can download them onto your phone or tablet and discover the collection as you track down objects and learn about their history. Alternatively, you can download and print copies of the activity sheets and trails prior to your visit and bring them with you. 

All visitors require a free ticket apart from the under 4s and face coverings are required. Some cafés and shops will be open with contactless payment preferred. Book your free ticket here and to download your family activities before you go, click here

Gaia, presented by Luke Jerram, Painted Hall, Greenwich, Friday 28th August until 6th September 

Part of the Greenwich + Docklands International Festival (running from Friday 28th to 12th September), discover Gaia.  Luke Jerram’s illuminated 3D installation with surround sound from award winning composer Dan Jones, offers a vision of our world floating in space, with detailed NASA imagery of the earth’s surface, offering a unique contemplation on the interconnection and fragility of life on earth, uniquely presented in the spectacular setting of the Painted Hall.

To find out more and book your ticket, click here

Plus, during the Bank Holiday weekend, catch free performances, live music, comedy and acrobatics including physical comedy Get Happy , a weaving workshop Nesting and Luke Jerram In Memoriam ceremonial art installation created as a memorial to those lost in the COVID-19 pandemic. The artwork has also been made in tribute to the NHS staff and volunteers who have worked so tirelessly to care for so many.  

To find out more about the Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, what’s on and when, click here 

DistDancing, Hoxton Docks, adhoc performances

It’s one of the only places you can see live dance at the moment and it’s free. DistDancing offers a , Instagram-advertised series of alfresco performances alongside the canal in Hackney from members of the Royal Ballet. As furloughed performers, founder Chisato Katsura and her Royal Ballet colleagues have taken to a makeshift stage alongside Regent’s Canal for a series of live shows that take place at the weekend (afternoons). 

To find out when the next performance will be, click here 

BFI Southbank reopens Tuesday 1st September 

The BFI Southbank open its doors again on Tuesday 1st September offering it’s eclectic selection of big screen classics, latest releases and special events. Pre-booking is essential and face coverings are required. The Restaurant and bar will be open with reduced capacity and BFI Mediatheque, where you can entertain the kids with animated gems, journey back to Victorian and Edwardian eras or rediscover classic films – all for free  – is also open again, with new opening times; Tuesday – Sunday 12:00pm -5:30pm by appointment only. 

Find out more here 


Glorious Gardens: Family Day, Westminster Abbey, Friday 28th August 11am & 2pm 

Join Westminster Abbey as they explore the power of plants in England’s oldest garden. 

Everything’s coming up roses in this action-packed digital family day of stories and crafts, exploring gardens galore. Using Zoom breakout rooms families are invited to join the Abbey’s  friends from St Paul’s Cathedral and the Museum of London, and let the fun unfurl. 

Make a mosaic menagerie, investigate growing gardens, and indulge your senses through story as you plant the seeds of your creativity. 

To find out more and book, click here

Guided online tour of the Palace of Westminster, Friday 28th August @ 11am, 2pm & 4pm

Explore the Palace of Westminster in a detailed tour taking you inside several rooms including the Commons Chamber, Lords Chamber and Central Lobby with its magnificent octagonal ceiling.

Your tour guide will share some of the fascinating history of the building, and talk about how each room is used today to support the work of the UK Parliament. Also included is Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the building and scene to many historic occasions including the trials of Guy Fawkes and King Charles I.

Hosted on Microsoft Teams Live Events, there’s the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the talk. To find out more and to book, click here

Notting Hill Carnival Access All Areas, Saturday 29th – Monday 31st August

Join London’s biggest street party from home, as the Notting Hill Carnival goes digital. Dance to the sound of steel bands and calypso music, join food and drink shows and learn more about the carnival and its people in interviews, over three days of live streams on four dedicated channels.  There’s Culture on Channel One, Parade on Channel Two, Sound Systems on Channel Three with Channel Four connecting you to the Main Stage and you’ll need to register to live stream the channels. With warm up events from 9am–12pm and 6pm-midnight on 29th August, events will run from noon until 11pm on 30th and 31st August. 

Register here

AND…. if you happen to be in Piccadilly Circus at 7am on Friday 28th August the festival will launch with a special film being shown on the big screens, hosting a countdown with video trailers for the digital festival throughout the day. 

Play at Home Fest 2020, Saturday 29th August, 10am – 5pm 

Get ready for an action-packed, virtual play festival which you can live-stream and watch on-demand. With headline acts including Nick Jr. Blue’s Clues & You, Cat Sandion and Bing, 

Nick Jr. PAW Patrol, Sisi from Sisi’s World and Sylvanian Families. Check out the full line up click here

For action packed family fun, click here 

Cooking and Drawing up a Storm with Julia Donaldson, Lydia Monks & Sara Ogilvie, Saturday 29th August at 10am

Part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival (runs until 31st August), you are invited to a performance of The Cook and the King with bestselling children’s author Julia Donaldson, where a very hungry king is struggling to find the perfect chef. The Gruffalo author is joined by a fabulous bunch of talented illustrators.

Lydia Monks, illustrator of What the Ladybird Heard series, will show you how to draw Hefty Hugh, Lanky Len and some of the sea creatures the Ladybird encounters in What the Ladybird Heard at the Seaside. Later there’s another chance to get your pens out when illustrator Sara Ogilvie shows you how to draw book-loving Nell from The Detective Dog. And if that’s not enough, there’s singing from A Squash and a Squeeze and poetry from Crazy Mayonnaisy Mum. At the end, you can settle down for The Smeds and The Smoos storytelling.

Aimed at 4+, you can join the event  here

To find out more about the book festival and their family friendly events,  click here 

RAF Virtual Spitfire Family Run, Sunday 30th August until 15th September 

The popular Spitfire Family Run is going virtual! This 1K run is perfect for the younger ones but can also be completed by the whole family. 

The virtual race allows you and your family to tailor the racing experience to fit your schedule. 

Why not dress up? We’d love to see photos of you completing the race. Dress up as a pilot, superhero, engineer, spitfire, or a dinosaur. We want you to have fun!   

To find out more and register, click here

Brain-fizzing Facts with Emily Grossman, Monday 31st August @10am

Part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, discover why is your elbow called your funny bone? How could you escape the grip of a crocodile’s jaw? Which animal can breathe through its bottom? Marvel as much-loved broadcaster, STEM ambassador and all-round science superstar Dr Emily Grossman uncovers the amazing scientific explanations behind all sorts of questions that pop into our heads daily. 

Emily is interviewed by author and former Blue Peter presenter, Konnie Huq.

Aimed at 7+. To find out more and book your place, click here 

PLUS, Oliver Jeffers; What We’ll Build @ 1pm

Aimed at students and art lovers and parents that love Oliver Jeffers books, join the man himself at the later time of 1pm as he talks about the power of storytelling through art, discussing and demonstrating his working practice in an event aimed at students and art lovers.

You’ll also be introduced to Oliver’s new title, What We’ll Build, a poignantly relevant and enchanting story of a father and daughter who set about laying the foundations for their life together, building memories to cherish, a home to keep them safe and love to keep them warm.

To find out more and join, click here 

Natural History Museum’s Virtual Race for Nature, sign up by Monday 31st August 

This year the Natural History Museum is challenging you to complete the Race for Nature in your local habitat. Instead of a dash to the finish line, the NHM would love to see what creatures you can draw with the mapped path of your route.

The event is free to take part and there will be prizes for those who hit our fundraising targets. Run, walk, jog or wheel and see what you can create. If you can, use a route tracing app to record the route you are pacing out (Strava and Map My Run are good examples).

To find out more, click here

London Bridge Experience, from Tuesday 1st September 

Part of the Totally Thames Festival that runs throughout September, enjoy a virtual visit to the South Bank between London Bridge and Tower bridge through this fun web based game world. The Thames is bustling with activity, jump right in and take a boat trip down the river or enjoy the brightly decorated sails of the small boats created by schools from the local area as they fly by. Onshore also has a lively atmosphere, wander up and down and visit the sites or simply enjoy an outside exhibition while mingling with the resident AI population characters. 

To start the experience, click here

The animation will be available for the whole of September. 

Totally Thames is an annual season of unique, diverse and accessible arts and culture throughout the month of September with activity taking place on, beneath, and along the River Thames. The Festival runs until 30th September, to find out what’s on and when click here

Science Sleuths, Chelsea Theatre, Tuesday 1st September @ 10am

Use simple equipment to explore how scientists solve crimes. This fun session explores what makes us all unique.

Brought to you by The Chelsea Theatre’s Virtual Venue, this activity has been made for families as part of a series of free explore at home workshops, delivered by Science Made Simple. 

Aimed at 8 – 12 year olds and families. To join the science workshop and find out what you need if you’d like to participate along with the host, click here. To explore the Virtual Venue and find out else is going on, click here

Nature Live Online: The Weird World of Dinosaur Hands, Tuesday 1st September @ 12pm 

T. rex hands were famously small… but T. rex isn’t the only dinosaur that had strange hands.

Part of the Natural History Museums Nature Online Series, join researcher João Leite as he explores the evolution of dinosaur hands and discovers some truly weird and wonderful specimens.

If you or the kids have a question you’d like to ask while the talk is happening,  head to the video on YouTube and type your question into the chat box during the broadcast.

Join here and for more dinosaur themed fun, click here


Learning from Architecture 

A series of at-home creative activities, developed in collaboration with Celebrating Architecture. 

offering a programme of design-based activities for home learning. 

Get stuck into these creative activities exploring design, architecture and engineering. Find out how to make a paper city, design a vehicle for the future or make your own pasta empire. 

Find out how here

Play Opera 

Catch up with this series of interactive family shows aimed at ages 3-8 looking at the stories from opera and featuring music from Welsh National Opera’s singers and orchestra members.  You’ll meet members of WNO Orchestra and Chorus who will perform some special tunes just for you, as well as people behind the scenes who tell you all about what it’s like to work for a real life opera company including how wigs and costumes are made, how to do make-up, get the opera onto the stage and more. 

Start watching here  and discover some hands on activities here 

Story Club by Bounce Theatre

Story Club is for anyone who loves stories! Using the power of your imagination, get ready to take yourselves on wild adventures around the world!

There are 12 mini magazines full of creative tasks to make stories, art, and play. Find out more, click here

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