Things to do in London with kids this Christmas in London and beyond

·5-min read
High-flying fun: Circus 1903 at the Southbank Centre  (Dan Tsantilis)
High-flying fun: Circus 1903 at the Southbank Centre (Dan Tsantilis)

The Christmas holidays are fast approaching and your little ones deserve a treat after last year’s Covid-curtailed festivities. Give kids some memories to cherish with our pick of the most family-friendly, festive days out.

Shrek’s Grotto at Shrek’s Adventure

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Tucked away in London’s South Bank, the lovable, big green ogre’s lair sees him team up with Santa for a festive adventure. Guests who visit Shrek’s Adventure on selected dates from December 4—24 will get the chance to meet and pose for a picture with Santa and Shrek (who will be sporting his seasonal outfit) and take home a sweet treat.

The interactive story adventure begins with boarding a magical 3D flying bus alongside the cantankerous Donkey. Guests will journey through the slimy Swamp, then down Drury Lane to drop by the Muffin Man’s hous, meeting classic characters including Puss in Boots and Pinocchio along the way. Pre-booking is essential for Shrek’s Grotto and entry is included in the standard ticket price.

SE1, shreksadventure.com

Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall

 (Annabel Moeller)
(Annabel Moeller)

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the tale of The Nutcracker. Running until December 31, the quintessential Christmas classic is brought to life by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s world-class dancers and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia orchestra. You’re guaranteed to get into the Christmas spirit with Tchaikovsky’s romantic score rippling through the hall, a dazzling light display and glorious fake snow that falls upon the dancers and audience.

Alternatively, The Muppet Christmas Carol in Concert is always a great pick for younger kids. The heart-warming Disney movie will be projected on the big screen, while Miles Goodman’s original score will be performed live by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. Father Christmas once again returns (until December 21) with his winter grotto for a Christmas storytime session; each child takes home a gift.

SW7, royalalberthall.com

Hotel Chocolat children’s chocolate workshop at Somerset House

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Based in the West Wing of Somerset House, Hotel Chocolat’s children’s chocolate workshops are ideal for entertaining five to 13 year-olds. Parents can drop kids off to the hour-long workshop: budding chocolatiers will learn the history of chocolate, including how cocoa grows and how chocolate is made. They then get to hone their chocolate crafting skills by decorating their own chocolate slab with indulgent toppings such as marshmallows, sprinkles and biscuits.

WC2R, somersethouse.org.uk

A Christmas Carol at the Old Royal Naval College

 (The Other Richard)
(The Other Richard)

Catch this thrilling performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol amongst the magnificent surroundings of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Navy College. Goblin Theatre have created an atmospheric, funny and fast-paced show narrated by a spooky choir who tell the story of mean-spirited Ebenezer Scrooge. Expect singing and live music. Performed throughout December, the hour-long show will be a memorable experience for those aged five and over.

SE10, ornc.org

Children’s festive afternoon tea at the Dorchester

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Christmas is a time for treats and this afternoon tea is perfect for sweet-toothed youngsters. Created in collaboration with children at Manorfield Primary School in Tower Hamlets, delicacies include winter gingerbread, Christmas tree cupcakes and festive hot chocolate with marshmallows. On the savoury menu, you’ll find star-shaped sandwiches filled with ham and cheese, cucumber and cream cheese, plus jam and cream. Sink into the comfy sofas and listen to the choir in the grand surroundings of The Promenade. £10 from each Children’s Afternoon Tea will be donated to Manorfield Primary School.

W1K, dorchestercollection.com

Legoland at Christmas

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Just half an hour from Paddington, Legoland in Windsor is transforming into a winter wonderland. As well as new attractions like the flying theatre ride, Flight of the Sky Lion, there’s plenty of festive fun to experience. Spectacular lights, snow dusted trees and a huge Duplo Christmas tree are amongst the attractions. Other entertainment includes a puppet pantomime, a holiday harbour lights show and look out for Father Christmas as he rides around the park in his magical sleigh. Those who want to meet the man himself can head over to his log cabin where he will be handing out gifts. If you wish to continue the festive fun overnight, book a “Santa Sleepover” in one of the resort’s hotels.

SL4, legoland.co.uk

Circus 1903 at Royal Festival Hall

 (Manuel Harlan)
(Manuel Harlan)

Thrills and entertainment are guaranteed at this two-hour spectacular featuring incredible acts from across the world. With a contortionist, acrobats, knife throwers, high-wire walkers, jugglers and a spectacular wheel of death at the end, this riveting show will leave the entire family gasping in delight. Originally from Las Vegas, the show returns to the Royal Festival Hall from December 16 to January 2.

SE1, circus1903.com

Frozen the Musical at the Theatre Royal

 (Johan Persson © Disney)
(Johan Persson © Disney)

Elsa and Anna fans will be in their element at this musical extravaganza based on Disney’s animated phenomenon Frozen. The performance at Drury Lane’s Theatre Royal is every bit as magical as the film. The stage adaptation is deep, theatrical and emotional, closely following the plot of the original film. Expect mesmerising choreography, special effects and powerful ballads, including the hit Let it Go and a few new songs to surprise fans.

WC2B, frozenthemusical.co.uk

Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail at Blenheim Palace

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(Handout)

Fancy a change of scene from the city? A magical evening is guaranteed at Oxford’s Blenheim Palace. Thousands of lights, lasers and sounds fill the air at the historical and picturesque grounds. Stroll through glittering tunnels of light and illuminated trees. Don’t miss the stunning fire garden lit up with flickering flames. During the 90-minute trail, kids can catch a glimpse of Father Christmas along the way. This year, guests can head inside the Palace to explore The Story of the Nutcracker Reimagined, featuring festive-themed rooms, including the toy maker’s workshop and kingdom of sweets; filled with adorable larger-than-life gingerbread men.

OX20, blenheimpalace.com

Pantoland at the Palladium

 (Handout)
(Handout)

You can’t beat a boisterous afternoon at a Christmas panto (oh no you can’t). Donny Osmond and Julian Clary lead a star-studded cast at the Palladium, the capital’s spiritual home of pantomimes. Expect a load of jokes, dancing and songs, with some familiar characters and tales. Throw in the iconic dance troupe the Tiller Girls, and you can expect a festive, frivolous, feel-good extravaganza in this hour-long show.

W1F, palladiumpantomime.com

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