Wondering what there is to do with kids in London during October 2021? The short answer: so much – from Black History Month to family festivals, new art openings and more. It’s so busy I’ll bring you a separate half term and Halloween guide.
Here’s my pick of cultural activities for London families throughout October:
Follow a powerful laser beam carrying music across the Thames. Sonic Ray encodes the sound of 1,000 year-long musical composition Longplayer into light and transmits it from the Faraday lighthouse on Trinity Bay Wharf to a temporary listening post aboard Richard Wilson’s nautical sculpture Slice of Reality, on the Greenwich peninsula. A short ferry ride connects the two locations. Until 21 November 2021. Paid.
Veronica Ryan unveils the first public sculpture to honour the Windrush Generation in the UK. You’ll find Ryan’s three sculptures of Caribbean fruits – Custard Apple (Annonaceae), Breadfruit, (Moraceae) and Soursop (Annonaceae) – in Narrow Way Square on Mare Street. From 1 October 2021. FREE.
Fun Palaces are a free, nationwide celebration of culture at the heart of community. London venues this year include National Maritime Museum, Arts Depot London and Half Moon Theatre. Search here to find an event near you. 1-3 October 2021, FREE.
Find fiery foliage and impressive art installations at Kew Gardens Japan festival. Our highlight is the spectacular One Thousands Springs by Chiharu Shiota in Temperate House. Five thousand haiku are suspended within red strings hung from the Victorian conservatory’s vaulted beams. Visit on weekends for a Japanese one-man band and live giant calligraphy performances. 2-31 October 2021, paid.
Temple Station Roof Garden opens to the public for the first time with an eye-popping artwork by Lakwena MacIver. The technicolour garden also boasts spectacular Thames views. 6 October 2021-30 April 2022, FREE.
Design your very own fantastical dodo mask at the V&A Museum. Tree-mendous Adventures takes three to five year olds on an interactive storytelling journey from the roots to the leaves at Science Museum. Part of The Great Exhibition Road Festival, a celebration of science and the arts. 9-15 October 2021, FREE.
Head to Silvertown for massive empty warehouse spaces filled with a medley of contemporary art exhibitions. Factory Project features sculpture, painting, drawing, video, performance and installation from emerging and mid-career artists. Part of Frieze Official. 9-22 October 2021, FREE.
This year’s eagerly anticipated Tate Modern Turbine Hall installation is by Annicka Yi. She experiments with unorthodox materials and activates different senses to explore the links between art and science. 12 October 2021-16 January 2022, FREE.
Handle ephemeral scented bubbles released from tree-like automata at new, immersive Superblue Art London. Silent Fall is a new, site-specific installation by artist duo A.A.Murakami. From 12 October 2021, paid.
It’s your last EVER chance to skate at the Natural History Museum ice rink. Skate surrounded by fairy lights nestled in frost-covered trees, against the backdrop of the iconic Waterhouse building. 12 October 2021-16 January 2022, paid.
Psst: Bring your toddler for a skate by 14.00 on select weekday sessions and you’ll both enjoy a free mini hot chocolate, tea, coffee or soft drink for just £11.50, plus £1.75 transaction fee.
Forest School meets puppetry, world-class theatrical storytelling and clue-based adventure in Autumn Treasure Hunt with Percy the Park Keeper at Chiswick House. Help him get his animal friends ready for winter. 14 October-14 November 2021, paid.
Fiery spectacle, neon sculptures by Chila Burman, live video projections and performances herald the start of Bloomsbury Festival in Lights, Banners, Tigers on Cromer Street. There’s even a Fire & Light Marble Run from the Bureau of Silly Ideas in Bramber Gardens. 15 October 2021, FREE.
Step into the pages of the comic and take a trip into Beanotown in Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules at Somerset House. Explore how this beloved icon of British comics has fired up successive generations to break the rules, while discovering artists who push boundaries in their own original and wonderful ways. 21 October 2021-6 March 2022, paid.
New light trail Illuminature lights up WWT London. Explore the after-dark trail through habitats of owls, geese and otters. Walk past reed beds, lagoons and the grazing marsh and see larger-than-life illuminations of iconic wetland wildlife. 22 October 2021-9 January 2022, paid.
Giant Syrian girl refugee puppet Walk With Amal is welcomed to London with performances of poetry, music, theatre and dance at Somerset House, Royal Opera House and The Roundhouse. You can even join her on her 10th birthday party at the V&A Museum. 23-24 October 2021, FREE and paid.
Travel through time and meet Olaudah Equiano, Mary Seacole and London’s first black bus driver at both Museum of London sites. 23-30 October 2021, FREE. See their full events programme here.
Find out what it was like for Black personnel to leave their home country and join the Royal Air Force during the Second World War in Black airmen storytelling at RAF Museum. 28-29 October 2021, FREE. Best ages 7-11.
Live performances, a Saturday night disco, inspiring art and fun activities abound in Royal Docks Family Weekender. Highlights include storytelling adventures with Patchlarks, workshops from the Institute of Imagination, and a visit from YARA + DAVINA’s Pet Balloon Service, who want to hear your stories of how pets got their names. 30-31 October 2021, FREE.
Celebrate Diwali at the National Maritime Museum. Create your own lantern and decorations and watch a rangoli be created. Learn dance moves ready to join in with performances by Bhavan Gallery, Bollywood Co, and 4×4 Bhangra. End the day with a lantern parade. 31 October 2021, FREE.
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And if you’re looking for some last minute weekend ideas, check out my Instagram stories. Every Friday I’m posting a what’s on weekend guide to family friendly cultural events. You can find the most recent edition in this Story Highlight.
And if you want to see what we get up to this month, I’ll be updating my stories and feed on Instagram regularly with our family days out.