15 cultural family treats for the Spring

Against Captain's Orders

We’ve seen plenty of snow this week….but Spring is just around the corner. And there are TONS of exciting cutural events and activities lined up for the more clement months. Here is our list of top picks, in and around London.

1. Just Announced: The Vaults under London’s Waterloo Station will be home to Les Petits’ interactive performance for the over 5s,  Adventures in Wonderland. Three years in the making, this show features a collection of fantastical puppets and the chance to interact with everyone’s favourite Wonderland characters. 11 April-29 May.

AIW 3 cards

Alice in Wonderland’s 150th anniversary has prompted two interactive performances for youngsters: Alice’s House of Cards, part of the Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival; and Adventures in Wonderland (pictured here), Les Petits’ extravaganza in the Vaults of Waterloo Station.

2. The other hot ticket for this spring is Punchdrunk Enrichment’s Against Captain’s Orders, at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. This will be a nautical adventure of discovery for 6-12 year olds, by the incredible team behind The House Where Winter Lives. 28 March-31 August.

Against Captain's Orders

Punchdrunk Enrichment’s Against Captain’s Orders is at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich from 28 March-31 August. Pic by Stephen Dobbie

3. Once There Was…. at the Discover Children’s Story Centre, Stratford, East London. This evocative Oliver Jeffers interactive exhibition is open until 6 September; Oliver Jeffers week is Mon 25-Sun 31 May.

4. The breathtaking Leeds Castle in Kent. As well as the magnificent castle and grounds, the castle is home to family-based activities throughout the year (including a Fairytale Trail for February half term). Open all year; Fairytale Trail, 14-22 February.

5. The V&A Museum will host a pop-up performance by Tea Dance for Little People this February half term, where cast and audience will explore the stories behind Willow Patterns, and go on an adventure together. The V&A also holds regular Family Art Fun sessions, including a free trail exploring the museum through puzzles, drawing and observation. Pop-Up performances Sat 14-Sun 22 Feb; Family Art Fun all year round.

6. The Big Write Children’s Literature Festival, curated by Anthony Browne at Discover, Stratford, East London. The former children’s laureate will share some of his tales, and encourage budding young storytellers. Sat 7 & Sun 8 March.

Handa's Surprise

Handa’s Surprise is at Greenwich Theatre this half term

7. Greenwich Theatre has several treats in store for little theatre-goers this February half-term: Handa’s Surprise, The Wind in the Willows and Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs. Sun 15-Fri 20 February.

8. The Velveteen Rabbit returns to the Unicorn Theatre, London Bridge, in a poignant story about a very shy toy rabbit who longs for nothing more than to become real. 28 March-26 April.

9. London Children’s Bookswap will see literature change hands at over 40 venues across the capital on 14 February. Visit their facebook page to find out about your nearest venue.


Imagine Children’s Festival is at London’s Southbank Centre again this half term. Pic by Belinda Lawley

10. London’s Southbank Centre will host the Imagine Children’s Festival, sponsored by The Book People. Highlights include Alice’s House of Cards, an interactive performance to celebrate 150 years of Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play, and Russell Brand reading from his children’s book. Mon 9-Fri 22 February.

11. Find out  more about opera, ballet and London’s Royal Opera House on one of their Family Sundays. For children aged 6-16. The last Sunday of each month, currently booking through till June.

12. Roald Dahl’s The Twits will embrace the mischief at the Royal Court Theatre. 7 April-31 May.

Yeh Shen: Chinese New Year at Greenwich Theatre. Pic Vicky Ireland

Yeh Shen: the Chinese Cinderella at Greenwich and Polka Theatres. Pic Vicky Ireland


13. Mother’s Day at Greenwich Theatre will be a heartwarming affair, with How the Koala Learned to Hug (15 March). And Chinese New Year heralds a series of performances of  Yeh Shen, the Chinese Cinderella. (31 March at Greenwich, with performances from 18 Feb-8 March at the Polka Theatre, Wimbledon)

14. The Museum of Childhood is currently exhibiting Small Stories: At Home in a Dollshouse, which reveals the fascinating stories behind some of the UK’s best-loved dolls’ houses. In the Spring holiday, award-winning picture book author and illustrator, David Lucas will help children and parents create a unique character and story of their own, inspired by the Small Stories exhibition. Small Stories until 6 September; Small Story workshops with David Lucas 30 March- 3 April and Mon 6-Fri 10 April

15. And the final springtime activity: look forwards to the summer, and book tickets to a festival. These days, they’re full of arts and culture. For instance, the line-up of this year’s child-focused Camp Bestival includes The Cat in the Hat Live, the Guardian Literary Institute, and the Royal Albert Hall presenting Albert’s Band. Camp Bestival, 30 July-2 August.

What will you be doing this Spring?

Disclosure: we were offered tickets for some, but not all of these events. All views expressed are my own.
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  1. February 6, 2015 / 12:58 pm

    Some great ideas, we don’t have anything planned yet. We don’t live that far from Leeds castle and haven’t been for a while so perhaps we’ll head there.

  2. February 6, 2015 / 2:11 pm

    Great round up and I would love to see the Velveteen Rabbit…I must put that on the list!

  3. February 6, 2015 / 2:36 pm

    What a lovely round up of things to do, I particularly like the sound of the Adventures in wonderland and the Velveteen Rabbit, would love to take my daughters to see these! xx

  4. February 6, 2015 / 6:18 pm

    oh wow what a lovely roundup, the theatre looks great fun wish we could take the whole family but its quite pricey for us x

  5. February 6, 2015 / 8:47 pm

    Alice in Wonderland sounds intriguing, particularly the location. Thanks for the round up – we’ve hardly got anything planned for spring, will have to get organised.

  6. February 7, 2015 / 9:46 am

    So many options! Dorset goes to sleep all winter, even at half term more than half the local attractions are closed! This is when I miss living in a big city! That Alice show sounds awesome, would love to take mine to that!

  7. February 7, 2015 / 1:18 pm

    Awesome round up lovely! I need to start planning stuff to do with Hayden and Rovi – This is brilliant.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Charlotte x

  8. February 7, 2015 / 4:40 pm

    It sounds like there are some great events going on. I would love to take my son to see the Twits!

  9. Amy Squires
    February 8, 2015 / 12:02 pm

    Lovely round up of things to do, such great ideas! I really need to plan to take my boys to some shows. I loved it as a child.

  10. February 8, 2015 / 9:00 pm

    No plans for the spring as yet but your list might come very handy 🙂 thank you

  11. February 9, 2015 / 10:17 am

    What a great round up. We always love a bit of Roald Dahl. Lots of fun things to keep in mind.

  12. February 9, 2015 / 10:46 am

    OOh Leeds castle is stunning, ive visited it a few years ago x

  13. February 10, 2015 / 3:04 pm

    It is at times like this I wish we were closer to London. Some fantastic events here, which parents are likely to enjoy as much as their kids.

  14. February 15, 2015 / 10:57 pm

    what a great round up of ideas to do and see! F would love most of these i’m sure especially any festivals. Thanks for sharing! x

  15. February 27, 2015 / 6:46 am

    Thanks for the ideas. You’ve listed some great sounding events, which I’ll have to try and take to my children to.

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