May Half Term 2023: 100+ things to do in London with kids

Looking for fun things to do with kids in London over the May 2023 half term holiday? 

Note: May half term (or Summer half term) holiday this year falls from Monday 29 May 2023 to Friday 2 June 2023. Monday 29 May 2023 is a Bank Holiday in the UK.

Here’s my extensive guide to the best family friendly things to do over the May and June 2023 half term in London. With 100+ things listed, there’s something for everyone – from family-friendly exhibitions, crafty workshops, intriguing art, family-friendly art, special events for children with SEN and much, much more.

This list works for both London visitors and locals with its mix of big names, hidden gems and local saviours to avoid the crowds. Fancy a day trip? I’ve included family events close to the capital, including Kent, Sussex and South East England.

Every event has a link to more information. I’ve included plenty of free activities too – the cost of living crisis hasn’t gone away.

So read on for the ultimate guide to May Half Term 2023 with kids!

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CONTENTS

  1. CORONATION AND ROYAL THEMED FAMILY ACTIVITIES
  2. FAMILY DAYS AND FESTIVALS
  3. FAMILY EXHIBITIONS
  4. ACTIVITIES FOR ANIMAL AND NATURE LOVERS
  5. STORYTELLING
  6. FAMILY WORKSHOPS AND ACTIVITIES
  7. DROP OFF ACTIVITIES
  8. ART WITH KIDS
  9. UNDER 5s
  10. FAMILY THEATRE AND SHOWS
  11. SEND-FRIENDLY EVENTS


Coronation and Royal Themed Family Activities

May 2023 saw the historic crowning of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in the first British Coronation for 70 years. And there’s still some family-friendly activities to mark the occasion.

Travel back to 1661 in Restoration at the Tower of London. Meet some of Charles II’s close friends and discover how the Merry Monarch prepared for his Coronation procession. Take part in a treasure hunt to help find the missing Crown Jewels and watch as Samuel Pepys and Thomas Killigrew recount the story of the King’s daring escape whilst in exile. 13 May-21 July 2023, 10:00-16:00. Included with paid entry.

Whilst you’re there, look for all 14 illustrated benches in the Tower of London Coronation Bench Trail, specially designed by school children to celebrate the Coronation. 7 May- 1 September 2023. Paid, included with entry. 

Bring a picnic to England’s oldest garden in Family Day: Coronation celebration garden party at Westminster Abbey. Design your own crown, be regaled by tales of jewels and gems by storyteller Olivia Armstrong, take a ‘Sovereign Selfie’ and create a perfect portrait with the Society of Antiquaries.
27 May 2023, 10:00-14:00. Free, drop in. Best ages 3+, all welcome.

See the beautiful carriages used in the Coronation procession at A Coronation Celebration at The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace. Then head to the Livery Room to enjoy sparkling arts & crafts inspired by the big event. 27-29 May 2023, 11:00-15:00. Included with paid entry.

Celebrate King Charles III’s coronation with hands-on activities and fresh-air family fun in Kids Rule! at select English Heritage properties. 27 May-4 June 2023. Paid, included with entry.
Participating properties nearest London are:
* Eltham Palace and Gardens. Step back into time to May 1937 for the Coronation of King George VI, with fun, games and stories;
* Audley End House and Gardens. Sit on the throne and wear your royal coronation robes. Learn about the Kings and Queens through history with their coin collection and enjoy stories of the past; and
* Wrest Park. Join Time Will Tell Theatre to learn about the history of coronations. Create your own Coronation themed adventure story and design your own ceremony and regalia.
Read this post to find out how we get FREE English Heritage entry.

Create your own royal guardsman or cypher in Coronation Crafts at National Army Museum. 30 May-1 June 2023, 10:30-12:15 and 13:45-15:30. Free, drop in. Ages 5+.

Discover all about coronations past and present with a storyteller at Glorious Georgians: A Coronation Celebration at Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. 1-2 June 2023 at 12:30, 13:30 and 14:30 for 30 minutes. Included with paid entry, book.

Meet your favourite Tudor characters in Totally Tudor Tales: Royals, rascals and ruffs at Valence House Museum. Expect King Henry VIII and his wives, plus his famous fool Will Sommers. Take part in fun activities. ​2-3 June 2023, 11:00-17:00. Free, drop in.


Family Days and Festivals

Everyone’s invited to Ally Pally’s 150th birthday party! Free family-friendly activities include performances from Chicken Shed Theatre, Jackson Lane circus skills training, face painting, forest school, storytelling from around the world, workshops in family kemetic yoga, pinhole camera making and drumming – plus an arts & crafts tent and birthday card making station. 27 May 2023. Free/paid, drop in/book.

Spring Family Day at Royal Academy of Arts explores the theme of people and portraits, Walk, talk, and draw as a family whilst uncovering new corners of the RA and the art around the building. Make costumes, animations, sculptures, performances and more in Body Doubles. Get dressed up and draw a self-portrait in Mirror Image. 28 May 2023. Free, drop in on a first come, first served basis.

Brockwell Bounce is a day of music, entertainment, workshops, arts and crafts, street food, dance classes, funfair rides and much, much more! 31 May 2023. Free.

Join the British Museum to celebrate the art and culture of ancient Greece and Persia in Persia and Greece: Family art and tales. Help create a wall of mythical animals, make a luxurious art piece to take home and listen to a storyteller weave her ancient tales. 1-2 June 2023, 11:00–16:00. Free, book museum entry.

Enjoy the gift of sound system culture in Windrush 75: celebrating Caribbean sound system culture across generations at British Museum. Immerse yourself in this vibrant world through DJ and dance workshops, talks, film screenings and much more to discover this culture’s enduring impact on British society and beyond. 4 June 2023, 11:00-16:00. Free, book museum entry.

Spirit of Invention festival day celebrates innovation and imagination at The National Archives. Explore space in an inflatable planetarium. Play in a sound garden with The Junk Orchestra. Create a record-breaking automaton and make your own peg puppet. Plus storytelling, Lego, origami, engineering challenge, Japanese plant printing and more. 4 June 2023. Paid, book.


Family Exhibitions

Step into the world of one of the largest creatures to have ever walked our planet in Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur at Natural History Museum. Hug a giant cast, help hatchlings to safety in digital games and learn how this colossal creature survived and thrived on Earth. 31 March 2023-7 January 2024. Paid, booking recommended. Best ages 5+.
Click for my ultimate guide to visiting the Natural History Museum with kids.

Travel on an intergalactic adventure in The Box Rocket at Discover Story Centre. Arrive on a peculiar planet where you must complete an important mission in this immersive exhibition. From 1 April 2023. Paid, book ahead. Ages 0-8 and their families.

Discover more about the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods with Brick Dinos at Horniman Museum. Meet dinosaurs and other prehistoric giants face to face, each one built using LEGO® bricks. There’s plenty of hands-on activities for under 5s, but less for older children. Until 29 October 2023. Paid, booking recommended.

Wonderlab at the Science Museum is one of the Museum Kids’ favourite London places. Get hands on with real scientific phenomena – play with forces on giant slides, see lightning strike before your eyes, or watch live science shows. Daily. Paid, book ahead.
Watch our Wonderlab Reel here


Activities for Animal and Nature Lovers

Take a tour through woodland in Families in the Forest at Orleans House Gallery. Encounter lots of creatures to guide your movements in the woods and help you reflect on your role in the natural world. 27 May 2023 at 10:30 and 11:45. Free, book. Best ages 3-8.

Reimagine the wonder of wetlands and nature through the eyes of the UK’s best loved illustrator in Quentin Blake: Drawn to Water at WWT London Wetland Centre. Blake’s prints will be on show until 14 July 2023. Join a mural painting workshop with Studio Cultivate (29 May-2 June 2023) or make and draw with charcoal (27-28 May & 3-4 June 2023). Included with paid entry.

There’s plenty of family fun at the Spring Family Festival in London Zoo. Head to the tulip tent for Animal Noise Bingo and Musical Animal Statues. You’ll find baby sensory and story time in the lilac lounge whilst kids aged 10+ can learn bushcraft skills in foxglove fortress. Plus arts and crafts and brand new animal talks. 27 May-4 June 2023. Included with paid entry.

Have a hoot with Jambs Owl Experience at Hall Place. Get to know live owls, including the opportunity to hold one. 27-28 May and 2-4 June 2023, 10:00-17:00. Paid, just turn up.

Become a habitat protector in Nature Heroes: Habitat Hero mission at Wakehurst. Find out what a healthy habitat needs and earn a badge. Plus you can make a bee hotel in a drop-in session using materials foraged from the gardens. 27 May-4 June 2023. Paid, ages 4+.

Zoom in on the plants in Chelsea Physic Garden and discover a range of textures in Kids Lab: Hairy Flowers and Fuzzy Plants. Learn how plants thrive and enjoy a walk around the Garden. 30 May 2023, 11:00-12:30. Paid, book. Ages 5+.

Learn more about cosy habitats for birds as you make a bird box at Valence House Museum. 30 May 2023 at 11:00-12:30 and 14:00-15:30. Paid, book ahead. Ages 5-12.

Travel through time in Discovery Day – Time Travellers at Hyde Park LookOut Centre. Create a plant print, design a park of the future, try calligraphy and meet Queen Victoria. 30 May-1 June 2023, 11:00-15:00. Free, drop in.

Discover the hidden world of insects in Minibeast Safari and Pond Dipping at Gunnersbury Park and Museum. 30 May & 1 June 2023, 11:00-12:30 and 13:30-15:00. Paid, book. Ages 5+.

From blood-letting to pomanders, learn how medicine was practised in the past in Plants and Potions: children’s workshop at Royal College of Physicians Museum. Create your own pomander, explore the plants of the RCP medicinal garden and try your hand at smelly bingo! 31 May 2023, 10:30-12:30. Paid, book. Best ages 7-11.


Storytelling

Prepare to pick a pocket or two!
(C) Museum of London

Help Bow Street Runner Henry work out stole from Madame Pâtissier’s 18th century cake shop in THE CAKE THIEVES! An Interactive Storytelling Session at Bow Street Police Museum. Pick up clues, make observations, study the exhibits, and track down the culprits, in an era before fingerprinting, DNA and CCTV. 27-28 May & 2-4 June 2023 at 11:30 and 14:30 for 20 minutes. Included with paid entry, book.

The Curious Tales of Polly Pickles! at Museum of London Docklands takes you back to Victorian London to meet a pickpocket with a penchant for danger. 30 May-1 June 2023, times vary. Free, first come, first served.

The Bank of England Museum is offering interactive storytelling for two age groups. The Three Little Pigs explores the importance of savings through puppetry and role-play (30 May-1 June 2023 at 11:00 and 12:00; ages 4-7). And work out whether the tale of the Gold Vault Break-in is true, or a work of fiction (30 May-1 June 2023 at 14:00 and 15:00; ages 7-11). Free, book.

Participate in magical tales of shapeshifters and tricksters from a variety of islands in Families Storytelling: Caribbean Tales at V&A Museum. Get immersed in Caribbean stories peppered with memories from the Windrush generation across the day. 31 May 2023 at 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00 for 40 minutes. Free, drop in. Ages 5+.



Family events and activities


Watch Studio Ghibili’s charming animation Mary and the Witch’s Flower with Barbican Cinema family film club. Join in with an artist-led workshop before the screening at no extra cost. 27 May 2023, 10:00. Paid, book. Best ages 5+.

Create your own celebrity sculpture from plasticine at Make-it: Sculpture the V&A Museum. With sculptor Wilfrid Wood, play with colour, shape and form to discover your way of expressing your celebrity’s character. 27 May 2023 at 10:30 (ages 5-7), 13:00 (ages 8-10) and 15:00 (ages 11-13). Paid, book.

Roll up, roll up for the Museum of London Docklands 20th birthday this May Half Term! Help decorate the museum with party paper chains, take part in splendid Victorian parlour games, make peg puppets and get moving in an old-fashioned East End knees-up – all for free! 27 May-4 June 2023. Free, drop in.

Explore maps and navigation from across the globe in May Half Term: Making Maps at National Maritime Museum. Create your own passport and stamps to highlight the journeys important to you. Make a kamal to navigate like the ancient Arabs or map the oceans with a Marshall Island stick chart. Print a map with sea monsters, or bring a make-believe monster to life. 27 May-4 June 2023, 11:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. Free, drop in.

Discover how children kept themselves entertained during the Second World War in Play through time at Imperial War Museum London. Make your own small paper toy and play original wartime games, including ha’penny shove board, ‘giant’ airplane SNAP! and dominoes. 27 May-4 June 2023, 11:00-16:00. Free, drop in. Ages 5+.

It’s 1940s week at RAF Museum London this May half term. Complete challenges to prove you have what it takes to have been a Second World War RAF Officer. Learn how to grow your own food, and help make a rag blanket. Ride a pedal plane, or get closer to Battle of Britain fighter aircraft. 27 May-4 June 2023. Mix free/paid activities; book/drop in.

Unleash your inner rebel in Empower Holiday Make Studio at Tate Modern. Help make a giant activist banner, representing all the causes we care about using fabric scraps and colourful tape. With special activities for under-fives including sensory play, books and imaginative role-play. 27 May-4 June 2023, 10:30-18:00. Free, drop in.

Nab one of the last spaces for Art Sundays at Dulwich Picture Gallery on 28 May 2023. Experiment with colour and make different artworks inspired by the Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism exhibition or our collection. Free, book. Best ages 7-12, all welcome.

See an 1886 sewage works steam pump in full swing on a special steaming open day at Markfield Beam Engine and Museum. There’s lots of green space to run around at Markfield Park, plus child-friendly food on offer in Markfield Cafe. 28 & 29 May 2023. Free, drop in.

Explore the maths and mastery of Sir Christopher Wren’s designs in Amazing Architecture at St Paul’s Cathedral. Help make a London skyline, including imaginary landmarks and favourite famous buildings (28 May 2023, included with paid entry). Or take the free trail around the Bank of England Museum and St Paul’s Cathedral garden to receive a golden sticker (31 May-1 June 2023, free). Inside the Cathedral, explore family tours and crafts are included with your ticket (31 May-1 June 2023, included with paid entry).

Aprons on for family-friendly cooking classes at Jewish Museum London. Make scones to celebrate the festival of Shavuot in Bake and take: Scones (28 May 2023, 11:00-12:00). Try a 1907 recipe at the Biscuit Festival (29 May 2023, 10:30-11:30). Bake soda biscuits in Bake and Take: Refugee Recipes (4 June 2023, 11:00-12:00). Paid, book.

Expect storytelling, crafts and model railways in Trains train trains! at London Museum of Water and Steam. Plus, on 1 June 2023, discover true stories about real engines with Pauline from Saddletank Books. 27 May-4 June 2023. Included with paid entry

Help one unlucky sailor find his lost kit in Lost Laundry challenge at HMS Belfast. Search around the Main Deck in this fun family trail, handle and try on real items from a sailor’s kit and make a cut out uniform to take home. 27 May-4 June 2023, 10:00-15:00. Included with paid entry.
Plus meet eyewitnesses and war veterans in the We Were There family day, 2 June 2023.

It’s Blooming Brands at Museum of Brands and Packaging with botanical-themed activities. Take the Blooming Brands Family Hunt around the nostalgic Time Tunnel. Create recycled flowers to take home, and see their award-winning garden in bloom. 27 May-4 June 2023. Included with paid entry.
Kids go free this half term, use code KIDSGOFREE at the online checkout.


Make sculptures with just newspaper and tape at Sunday Spot at South London Gallery. Led by artist InxSANIxTY. 28 May 2023, 14:00-16:00. Free, drop in. Ages 5-12.

Fuel your imagination at the Festival of Curiosity at London Transport Museum! Prototype green solutions in Failure is your friend workshop (ages 7+). Take a green Future of Transport tour through the galleries (ages 7-14) or follow an interactive STEAM-inspired trail. Plus interactive storytelling sessions for Under 5s about transport inventions. 28 May-5 June 2023, included with paid entry.

Fun in gWRENwich at Old Royal Naval College explores the theme of architecture. Interactive play session Small Hands, Big Buildings involves building bricks and junk modelling (31 May-2 June 2023, Free, drop in. Best ages 2-7). Older children can learn how to best use their phone’s camera to create images for an exhibition collage (29-30 May, 11:00-13:00. Free, book).

Explore prehistoric life through fossils, activities and talks in Family fun: be a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum. The Dino Show takes you back in time to learn about dinosaurs. Get hands on with real specimens, track animals through their droppings and footprints, meet a palaeontologist and more. 29 May-2 June 2023, 11:00-16:00. Free, drop in. Book museum entry.

Create wall art inspired by Caribbean culture in Drop-in Design: Celebration Wall Art at V&A Museum. Explore embroidery and create symbols inspired by objects from West Indian living rooms and objects from the Museum’s collection. 30 May 2023, 11:00-16:00. Free, drop in. Ages 5+.

Help celebrate Tower Bridge’s 129th birthday in Happy Birthday Tower Bridge! Discover the details behind the Bridge’s opening day on 30 June 1894, then make a paper flower like the ones used as decorations during the original Victorian ceremony. 30 May 2023, included with paid entry. Best ages 6 to 10, but all welcome. Read about our visit to Tower Bridge.

There’s a different half term workshop each day at the Foundling Museum. Construct a huge sculptural banquet, create a tapestry, make a clay coil pot, and experiment with huge paper people. 30 May-2 June 2023, 11:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. Paid, book. Ages 5-12.

Join storyteller-illustrator Isabel Benavides at Clerk Special Duties Stop-Frame Animation at Bentley Priory Museum. Help create a stop-frame animation inspired by the important work of women in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, known as WAAFs, at Bentley Priory during the Second World War. 31 May & 2-3 June 2023, 10:30-12:30 and 15:30-15:30. Included with paid entry, booking recommended.

Visit Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum to walk through Victoria line tube carriages, do arts and craft in the Victorian Pumphouse and see their Dennis Fire Engine. Their cafe is almost criminally cheap, plus there’s playgrounds in nearby St James Park. Every Sunday, 10:30-15:30. Free, drop in.

The Postal Museum is running pest-themed family activities this May half term. Make seeded paper or a plant pot from recycled materials. Build a new home for beetles or embroider a decorative patch to mend clothes from munching moths. 30 May-3 June 2023, 11:00-16:00. Included with paid entry.

Create a playful performing puppet in Pint-sized Pinocchio puppet workshop at Harrow Arts. Dress them in a personalised theatrical costume and put together a short puppet performance. 1 June 2023, 11:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. Paid, book.

Design a traditional Korean mask in Drop-in Design: Digital Tal-nori at V&A Museum. Interact with your Tal using AR (augmented reality) and learn about traditional and modern Korean culture. 1 & 2 June 2023,11:00-16:00. Free, drop in. Ages 5+.

Come have a Merrie Tudor Tyme Workshop at The Charterhouse. 3 June 2023, 11:00-13:00 (aged 5-8) and 14:00-16:00 (ages 8+). Learn to sing, play instruments, and dance along in Merrie Tudor Tymes. Free, book.

Experience the British Museum after dark in 300 Spartans Sleepover. Discover more about the ancient Greeks and Persians through crafts, workshops and storytelling. Sleep in the Egyptian and Assyrian galleries, surrounded by kings and gods from the ancient world. After breakfast, take a special trail through the Luxury and power exhibition. 3-4 June 2023, 18:00-09:00. Paid, book.


Drop-off workshops

If you need a break from the kids (or vice versa!) here’s cultural sessions where you can leave them to it.

Kids Cooking Workshop: Pizza Making at Garden Museum

Immerse yourself in the world of coding in Design Camp: Code Your Own Narrative at Design Museum. Learn how coding can give players the ability to choose their path in a game and use the coding engine Twine to create your own interactive narrative. Ages 11-14: 30 May 2023, 10:30-16:30. Ages 8-11: 31 May 2023, 10:00-16:00. Paid, book.

The Cartoon Museum‘s half term workshops are a good way to introduce children to drop off workshops. You can even book a morning and afternoon session, and pick them up for lunch in between. Museum Boy enjoyed the Beginners and Advanced Manga. Plus learn to create comic strips or make your own comic. 31 May-2 June 2023 at 11:00-12:30 and 14:00-15:30. Ages 8-14. Paid, book.

Create a new show in Reimagined: Adventure, Fantasy and Fiction Workshop at Harrow Arts Centre. Make background art, props, write the script for the show and learn specially written lyrics and music for the final performance. 2 June 2023, 10:00-17:00. Paid, book. Ages 6-12.

Learn how to stretch out your pizza dough and design your own personal topping at Kids Cooking Workshop: Pizza making at the Garden Museum. While your pizza bakes you’ll create your own branded box to take your pizza away. 31 May 2023, 10:30-11:45 and 13:30-14:45. Paid. Ages 8-12+ only. Adults must stay on-site – check out the museum or head to their award-winning cafe!


Art With Kids

Blooming heck! London bursts into floral art with not one but two free flower festivals. This year’s Chelsea In Bloom is themed Flowers on Film (22-28 May 2023), with Chelsea’s shops and venues competing for the best floral display. And go Into the Wild! in Belgravia in Bloom (23-28 May 2023). It’s huge fun finding and comparing the creative installations. FREE, just turn up.

Art and design meet activism in Ai Wei Wei: Making Sense at the Design Museum. The show explores the tension between past and present, hand and machine, precious and worthless, construction and destruction. Narrow walkways between complex installations made of small parts make this best for older kids. Until 30 July 2023. Paid, book.

There’s a children’s trail through the sparkly, spectacular fashion retrospective Ashish – Fall in Love and Be More Tender at William Morris Gallery. Over 60 of Ashish’s sequined designs are on show, where high-glamour meets East London humour and Indian skilled artisans. Until 10 September 2023. Free, drop in.

Experience two spectacular sculptural works by award-winning artist Anila Quayyum Agha, exhibiting in the UK for the first time in All the Flowers Are For Me at Kew Gardens. A suspended cube fills the gallery with elaborate floor-to-ceiling shadows inspired by patterns from Islamic art and architecture to create an inclusive, sacred space. Until 17 September 2023. Included with paid entry.

Immerse yourself in a seemingly endless labyrinth of intense light, colour, space and music as Colourscape returns to Waddesdon Manor. On weekends there will be different music and dance performances, whilst on weekdays resident musician Michael Ormiston creates family-friendly free-flowing workshops. 27 May–4 June 2023. Paid, book ahead.

Meet Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo and take part in art challenges in Art Week at Hever Castle. 27 May-4 June 2023. Included with paid entry.

Join beloved children’s character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant on a colourful Art Parade around the Pleasure Garden at Petworth. Use the map to discover ten individually designed Elmer sculptures, inspired by artists including Yayoi Kusama, William Morris and JMW Turner, along with the original patchwork Elmer by David McKee. 27 May-3 September 2023. Included with paid entry.

There’s two free family tours at National Gallery. Explore paintings through drawing in Drawn together: A family sketching tour. Discover how to piece together clues in paintings in Decoding pictures: A family tour. 30 May-1 June 2023, at 11:00, 12:00, 13:00 and 14:00. Duration: 45 minutes. Free, limited capacity. Book museum entry. Best ages 5+.

Spend a day in the glorious Hertfordshire countryside exploring the work of Britain’s foremost sculptor Henry Moore in his former gardens and studios. Grab a map and wander through Henry Moore Studios and Gardens‘ 70 acres of lawned gardens, meadows, woodland and sheep fields to find 21 monumental sculptures. Wednesdays to Sundays and Bank Holidays. Paid. New for 2023: Pay once, revisit as often as you want all year!

Activities for Under 5s

Because no child is ever too young for cultural fun!

Slide, balance, climb and bounce through Under the sea soft play at Horniman Museum. Inspired by the popular Aquarium, marine-themed equipment includes netted play frames, bubbling ball ponds, fish-shaped rockers and soft toys, plus reading and dressing-up areas. Until 3 September 2023, one hour sessions. Paid, book. Under 7s only.

Explore the wonderful world of colours with a curious little owl determined to stay awake in Wow! said the Owl at Little Angel Theatre. The acclaimed children’s book by Tim Hopgood is brought to life for very young audiences through beautiful storytelling, puppetry and music. 19 May-30 July 2023. Running time 35 minutes. Paid, book. Ages 2-5.

Participation is actively encouraged during Squirrel at Unicorn Theatre. It’s a story of growth and new beginnings, with a sprinkling of magic and puppetry mayhem thrown in. 27 May-2 July 2023. Paid, book. ages 6 months to 4 years.

BBC CBeebies: Twelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Globe is a unique new production performed especially for pre-school children and their families. Guaranteed to include plenty of songs, dancing and joining in. Combine with Twelfth Night: Family Workshop. 30-31 May 2023. Paid, book. Ages 3-5.

Explore the coronation and make crowns in Tiny Troopers: Coronation crowns at National Army Museum. Sing, play and create with your little ones at these fun, sensory sessions. 31 May 2023, 11:00-12:00 and 14:15-15:15. Paid, book. Ages 2-4.

Follow the curious, friendly shape-shifter toooB as she learns and plays in a new land at Southbank Centre. A gentle introduction to theatre and dance. 31 May-4 June 2023 at 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00. Paid, book.

Inspired by your favourite foods, make your own cookbook in this drop-in early years activity at the Jewish Museum London. Included with paid entry. 1 June 2023, 10:30-11:30.

Little Flamingos: Songs, dance and stories at Gunnersbury Park Museum includes rhymes, action songs, interactive stories and soft play. Tea, coffee and juice served. 2 June 2023, 10:30-11:30 and 13:30-14:30. Paid, book.


Family Theatre and Shows

The Gruffalo character against a blue background, looking to the left and smiling.

Introduce your child to theatre with one of these family-friendly shows.

The Wolves in the Walls at Little Angel Theatre is a puppet-infested production adapted by Toby Olié, from from the original graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean. A Little Angel Theatre, Bristol Old Vic and York Theatre Royal co-production. 12 May–23rd July 2023. Running time 1 hour. Paid, book. Ages 6+.

Two famous cousins visit each other and experience exciting new sights and sounds in The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse at Puppet Barge Theatre in Little Venice. A delight for all ages, told with music, songs and rod puppets. 13 May-11 June 2023. Duration: 1 hour with interval. Paid, book. Ages 3+.

The Adventures of the Little Red Hen at Polka Theatre is an energetic adaptation of this much-loved story by Stuff and Nonsense. Featuring brilliant puppetry, live music and unforgettable comedy. 26 May-4 June 2023. Duration: 60 minutes. Ages 3-10. Paid, book.

Join an adventurous young girl and her seafaring father as they reimagine the story of a tiny snail’s incredible trip around the world in The Snail and the Whale at Arts Depot. Inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book, from Olivier Award-nominated company Tall Stories. 27 May-1 June 2023. Ages 4+. Paid, book.

Horrible Histories Live on Stage! at Hampton Court Palace. Barmy Britain, part five comes to the Palace’s East Front with crazy new characters and rude new rulers from Britain’s barmy past. It’s the history of Britain with the nasty bits left in! 27 May-03 June 2023 at 12:00 and 15:00. Running time 1 hour. Paid, book. Outdoors, grass seating.

The Everywhere Bear from best-selling author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Rebecca Cobb, springs to life with rhyme, original music and delightfully expressive puppets in Polka Theatre‘s fun and exciting stage adaptation. 27 May-3 August 2023. Duration: 50 minutes. Paid, book. Ages 3-7.

Jackanory meets Whose Line Is It Anyway? The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen at The Wanstead Tap. A family friendly, multi-award winning, improvised comedy performance with increasingly extravagant tales from a Month of Sundays. 28 May 2023. Paid, book. Ages 6-12.

Play a terrific game of hide and seek with The Invisible Man at Unicorn Theatre. Created in the Netherlands by the highly acclaimed and mischievous theatre-makers Theater Artemis this surreal, hilarious show is about everything you don’t see. 28 May-18 June 2023. Paid, book. Running time 65 minutes. Ages 5-11.

Quantum Theatre adapt two of Beatrix Potter’s best-loved tales in The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny at Royal Observatory Gardens, Greenwich Park. 29 May-3 June 2023 at 11:30 and 14:30. Paid, book. Outdoors.

Pinocchio at Harrow Arts Centre combines puppetry, shadows, illusion and especially-composed music to tell the tale of the puppet that wants to be a real boy, and the puppet-maker who wants to be a real father. 30 May 2023 at 14:00. Running time 1 hour. Paid, book. Ages 4+.

Family interactive theatre: St George’s Quest takes the Challengers on an exciting adventure through the Rose Garden at Morden Hall Park. Interact with interesting characters, take on challenges and solve a variety of riddles and puzzles, arming yourself to finally face the dragon. The victorious will be awarded a prize and knighted by St George himself! 30 May-1 June 2023. Running time 1 hour. Paid, book.

The Magical Paper Theatre Presents: Pinocchio at The Old Operating Theatre. The well-known tale is retold with puppets in an out-size replica of a Victorian paper theatre. After, go ‘backstage’ to meet the puppets and see how the crankie-style theatre works. 31 May 2023 at 12:00 and 14:00. Paid, book. Note: access is via a 52-step spiral staircase.

Take a magical trip in time with presenter Lucy Drever and baroque/folk fusion trio, Nobody’s Jig as they shine the spotlight on the women from the 17th Century in Family Concert: Shining the Spotlight at Wigmore Hall. 1 June 2023 at 14:00. Duration: 1 hour. Paid, book. Ages 7-11.

Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in The Gruffalo at Queen Elizabeth Hall in the Southbank Centre. A Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the favourite children’s book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. 1-4 June 2023 at 11:00, 14:00 and 16:30. Paid, book.

Love heroes, monsters and myths? Dust off your maps and jetpacks to visit Scotland’s most famous loch and have a knees-up at The Marvellous Myth Hunter Ceilidh on the Riverside Terrace, Southbank Centre. 2 June 2023 and 20 August 2023 at 13:00-16:00. Free, drop in. Outdoors.

Discover classical music earworms, mixed with animation, actors and audience interaction in Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed in the Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank Centre. With the BBC Concert Orchestra and star percussionist Colin Currie. 3 June 2023 at 11:00 and 14:00. Paid, book.


SEN-Friendly Events

Child looking into a microscope.
Dawnosaurs at Natural History Museum

Quieter and calmer events for those with autism, sensory or learning needs.

Autism and sensory needs friendly pond dipping at WWT London Wetland Centre is run with limited capacity at the quietest part of the day. Grab a net to find out what lives in the water, from snails to newts and shrimps. 27 May 2023, 10:00-10:45. Included with paid entry.

SENDsensational Mornings at Natural History Museum Tring. Explore the galleries and outdoor spaces away from the hustle and bustle of the general public. This rainforest-themed session includes specimen handling, a big draw and a gallery trail. 28 May 2023, 10:00-12:00. Free, book. Best ages 5-15, siblings welcome.

Neurodivergent children and their families can explore the Natural History Museum before anyone else and enjoy activities around the theme of giants and birds at Dawnosaurs. 27 May 2023, 08:00-10:00. Free, book.

Morning Stars at the Royal Observatory Greenwich Planetarium is a relaxed planetarium show for those who prefer a calmer environment, such as people with ASD. 29 May and 2 June 2023. Paid, book.

Relaxed Opening tours allow people with autism and other neurodiversities to enjoy ZSL London Zoo in a calm and safe environment. The next session is 31 May 2023, 08:30-10:00. Paid, book.

Children’s Garden Quiet Session at Kew Gardens is aimed at children aged 2 to 12 years with special educational needs and disabilities. With gentle sensory activities. 31 May 2023, 08:30-10:00. Free, book.

Disabled visitors can see the Natural History Museum‘s prehistoric guest with reduced capacity, careful lighting and low noise levels in Accessible Morning Visits to Titanosaur. 10:00-10:45 every other Wednesday from 3 May 2023, including 31 May 2023. Paid, book.

There’s a relaxed performance of the Snail and the Whale at Arts Depot. 31 May 2023 at 11:00. Paid, book.

Quiet Hour Totally Tudor Tales: Royals, Rascals and Ruffs at Valence House is designed for children with autism and/or sensory or learning needs. 3 June 2023, 10:00-11:00. Free, book. 

The Gruffalo Sensory Adapted session at Southbank Centre has lower levels of lighting and sound effects. It may be especially suitable for children, young people and adults with neurodivergence such as autism, learning difficulties or other sensory or communication needs. 4 June 2023, 11:00. Paid, book.


I hope this guide helps you enjoy your May Half term 2023!

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Disclosure: Just like a journalist, I have been gifted free entry to many of these museums for review purposes. I work at the Museum of London, although I’m not involved with their family activities, and this blog is not associated with them.

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Written by Vyki Sparkes AKA Museum Mum. Award-winning culture blogger, content creator, museum curator, podcaster, and mum to three. I’ve worked in museums for 18+ years, have a masters in museum studies, but more importantly, have been letting my kids loose in museums for decades. This blog shares all my hard-earned knowledge and experience.

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