Right in the heart of London’s bustling Covent Garden is one of London’s most family friendly museums, the London Transport Museum. It tells the story of London’s transport from 1800 to present, with hands-on interactives and historic vehicles, housed within a Victorian flower market. We’ve visited countless times as a family, but it never crossed my mind to make a Christmas visit before. So when Santa* invited us to try the London Transport Museum Christmas activities, I was intrigued as to how festive it would feel. Read more to find out what there is for families to enjoy there this season.
*well, that’s what he said his name was!
What can we do at London Transport Museum this Christmas?
Meet Santa (and get a little treat!)
Dates: 1 to 23 December 11:00 to 15:00
On the ground floor of the museum we found a winter woodland, complete with trees and twinkling lights, and a soft white floor covering. When she saw who was there, Museum Girl’s eyes were like saucers – it was Father Christmas! We had only a short wait, less than five minutes, before it was our turn to perch on his sleigh. As you would hope, the man in red was friendly and engaging – the kids were happily telling him their age, and promising they had been (mostly) good! We weren’t rushed at all and could take as many photographs as we wanted. They even started the stories a little late so that everyone in the queue would get their chance to speak to Santa, meaning no child was disappointed. Father Christmas gave them both a special festive badge, which they couldn’t wait to get on. A sign at the grotto tells you if he is exploring the galleries – but don’t worry, he takes his sack of badges with him! I was extremely impressed with the Father Christmas experience, especially as it is included in your entrance ticket. I had planned to take the children to a paid for grotto later this month, but I think the London Transport Museum has already ticked that box!
Festive songs and story telling
Storytime and Singalong
Dates: Until 6 January 2019, 11:30 and 13:30 (for approximately 30 minutes)
The winter woodland also hosts singing and storytelling sessions, with reindeer hats, shakers and song sheets for everyone to join in. At 6 years old Museum Boy was one of the older children and determined to show EVERYONE where every single one of the elves were hiding in the story. They took his over-enthusiasm in the spirit it was intended, making us feel welcome rather than embarrassed.
Make transport themed bunting
Winter Bunting Making
Dates: Until 6 January 2019, 10:30 to 17:30
Next to the wintery woodland is a wooden cabin dedicated to crafting. Everything is provided to make transport themed bunting and decoration, from templates to sparkly pom-poms. We made A LOT of bunting, the staff happily topping up our supplies as needed. Our bunting is now home and proudly on display, our first decorations of the season. The museum suggest the activity is most suitable for families with children aged 3 to 12 – but as long as you keep your little ones away from the scissors, I’m sure younger ones can take part. And as you can see from Museum Dad’s efforts above, it’s fun for the adults to join in too!
What else is there to do at London Transport Museum with kids?
There’s so much more for families to do at London Transport Museum, that it’s a good job their entrance ticket lasts a whole year! Really, the rest of the museum deserves a blog post in its own right, but in the meantime, here’s a taster of some of its other activities.
All Aboard soft play
Handily situated next to a cafe is the All Aboard soft play. Despite its compact size, kids can spend lots of time here – ‘driving’ the bus, dressing up, and serving food in the ‘Thames Nipper’ cafe. It’s so child-sized that fishing them out makes me feel a little claustrophobic, but I’m guaranteed a hot drink in peace. Throughout the museum there are plenty of other places to rest, read and play.
A free stamper trail takes you through the galleries, telling the story of London’s transport history through shapes you punch in your card. Searching for the stations kept Museum Boy busy, which he proudly worked himself. Under fives, like Museum Girl, will need adult help.
Travel in time
All aboard! It’s much easier to imagine what it must have been like to travel in the past when you’re sat inside a historic vehicle. There are plenty of coaches, train carriages, trams, and buses for children to climb into – and not just old ones! Museum Girl couldn’t wait to take the driver’s seat in this modern bus. Watch out London!
Enjoy a hot chocolate with a London twist
Above the shop is another small cafe, which offers hot meals, a reasonably priced children’s menu and a selection of cakes. The highlight for us was a simple touch – the London Transport roundel sprinkled on top of the kids’ hot chocolates! You can visit the cafe without a ticket.
Stock up on Christmas presents
The shop at London Transport Museum has lots of great gifts, from pocket money priced stocking fillers to poster prints for the home. They have a dedicated children’s book area and lots of toys. We were gifted these adorable hat and scarf sets, which win extra points for being unisex and made in the UK. I may have to ask Santa to drop a pair of folding binoculars into the kids’ stockings. Museum Dad was very envious of the personalised notebook I was gifted. Again, you don’t need a ticket to visit the shop, and it’s open until 7pm some evenings – perfect for me to pop to after work.
Covent Garden at Christmas
There’s plenty to see in nearby Covent Garden, from festive floral displays to street entertainers. We even got to see some of London’s famous Christmas lights on the way back to the tube. The market sparkled with its giant disco baubles and mistletoe chandeliers. But Museum Girl’s biggest delight was the giant Christmas tree, decorated with a whopping 30,000 lights!
We loved our visit to London Transport Museum this Christmas, and would recommend it as an alternative to a busy, expensive grotto visit. Before we left, Museum Boy said earnestly ‘I want to come to the London Transport Museum every Christmas’. I think we just might.
London Transport Museum is open every day, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Adults £16.00 online (£17.50 on the door), children aged 17 and under FREE. Your ticket gives you unlimited entry for a whole year.
For more information visit their website: https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/
We visited London Transport Museum in December 2018 with Museum Boy (6) and Museum Girl (4). We were given free entry, gifted a goody bag and provided with lunch. All opinions remain my own.