We have reached June, and if the weather of the last week has shown us anything, its that it will definitely be really sunny. Or very cold and rainy. Or somewhere in between. Whatever the weather, we have a smorgasbord of fun creative activities for you, from outdoor festivals to womb-like theatrical experiences. Read on, tired parent, and be amazed…
1.Hit Up the Hammersmith & Fulham Arts Festival: Running from the 1st — 9th June, the H&F Arts Fest is an annual open, inclusive arts event celebrating local artists living and working in the borough. This year there are over 200 events planned across the week from 100 arts partners. Here’s our pick of the best creative events for Under 5s… The Big Red Bus will be bringing free fun, circus, storytelling and art to parks around the borough. Suitable for all ages; find it at Normand Park on Wednesday 5th from 3pm and 5pm, and at Ravenscourt Park on Sunday 9th June from 12pm — 4pm; free. Join Cat & Hutch for two storytelling events: they’ll be sharing “Supertato” by Susan Hendra on Friday 7th (Suitable for Under 5s; 10.30am at Hammersmith Library, W6 7AT; free) and presenting an interactive storytelling show of “Hedgehogs Don’t Live in the City” by Lucy Reynolds on Saturday 8th (Suitable for 3+; 10am, 11.45am and 1pm at Bush Theatre, W12 8LJ; £7.50 adult, £5 child; £20 family; book here). Limber up on Friday 7th June at a Creative Movement class for Under 5s and their adults from choreographer Trish Okenwa. Suitable for Under 5s; 9.30am — 11am at Charecroft Community Hall, W12 8PQ; £2 per adult, free for children; book here. And finally, enjoy some free music in the sunshine on Saturday 8th June with the Unity Choir’s “Joy Celebration”, 12pm & 3pm; Lyric Square, W6 0ED; free. For a full list of events, head to the H&F Arts Fest website here.
2.Make Some Noise at Wigmore Hall: Wigmore Hall is one of London’s leading venues for classical music, and an absolutely beautiful building to boot. It also has a very popular regular programme of family events, including Chamber Tots — interactive music-making sessions for under 5s, in one session for age 1–2, and one session for age 3–5, and For Crying Out Loud!— informal concerts for parents /carers and their babies up to 1 year old. This month both sessions of Chamber Tots on Thursday 6th June are sold out, but you should book now for next month’s sessions on 3rd July — Tickets cost £7 per adult and £5 per child and can be booked here. There are still tickets available for this month’s For Crying Out Loud! concerts on Thursday 13th July at 11am and 12.30pm — Tickets cost £8.50 per adult, and can be booked here.
3.Get Your Dancing Shoes for Dancing Books: Run by the wonderful DanceWest, these sessions are designed to get under 4s and their parents ‘ carers moving around and excited about reading! DanceWest will be running two sessions each week at three libraries in the Hammersmith & Fulham area until 19th July. More details on all the sessions here. Suitable for under 4s; sessions run at 10.30 and 11.30am on Mondays at Hammersmith Library, Thursdays at Fulham Library and Fridays at Shepherds Bush Library; suggested donation of £1 per family.
4.Entertainment for All Ages at The Little Angel Theatre: The Little Angel Theatre is one of our favourite children’s theatre venues in London, and this month they have three shows on for under 5s. First up, “The Bed” is a new show adapted from a Sylvia Plath poem. In two versions, one for babies aged 6–18 months, and the other for toddlers aged 18 months — 3 years old, The Bed is a bedtime story like no other, filled with fantasy and escapism! Running from 6th — 23rd June, we think this will be a gorgeous show and a great introduction to theatre to the littlest audience members. For more information and the full schedule, click here for the baby version, and here for the toddler version. Tickets for the baby version are £20 for one adult and one baby; and tickets for the toddler version are £10 for each adult or child. For those over 3, why not check out “The Slightly Annoying Elephant”, an adaptation of the David Walliams’ book which had our three year old in fits of giggles! Suitable for ages 3–8, tickets are £13.50 for adults and £11.50 for children.
5. Meet You at the Chickenshed? Chickenshed Theatre is a fantastic inclusive theatre company based in North London that has been producing original and entertaining productions for children, families and young people since 1974. They also have two regular sessions for the Under 5s that run through term times. “Tales from the Shed” are vibrant, interactive and lively shows for young children full of puppets and live songs. Taking place every Friday and Saturday until the 15th June, the shows last 50 minutes and are suitable for ages 0–6. Tickets are £6 for each adult and child over 6 months, babies under 6 months old are free, shows are at 11.30am on Friday 7th and 14th June, and 10am and 11.30am on Saturday 8th and 15th June. Tickets are available here. For the Under 3s, they also run Planet Play, a magical world of sensory learning, wonder and exploration for babies and toddlers. Tickets are £6 for each adult and child over 6 months, babies under 6 months old are free; sessions are at 10am on Friday 7th and Friday 14th June; tickets available here.
6. Summer by the River Festival: This month is the start of the Summer by the River Festival, three months of free riverside events outside City Hall in London Bridge. Organised by London Bridge City, you can enjoy music, dance, art, theatre and film screenings absolutely free all summer. Here’s our pick of their family events in June… On Saturday 8th June, family-favourites Mrs H and the Singalong Band bring their unique family music to Summer By The River for the first time. Their aim is to provide quality music for children, that adults will love too. The free show is at 1pm, and there will be a free family workshop at 11am at Hay’s Galleria beforehand. We also think that lots of the live music and art would be great fun to visit as a family, so check out the full line up of free events here.
7. Children’s Art Week: Running from 8th — 16th June, Children’s Art Week is a UK-wide programme that gives children and young people the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of art activities. The full list of London events is on the Engage website but here’s some suggestions of fun ideas for your Under 5s. On Saturday 8th June, Shoreditch’s Rich Mix are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Open The Gate Festival, a unique and free 12 hour event featuring live music, The African Market, family drumming, dance and art workshops & African street food. The festival starts at 12pm, free event, more details here. On Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June, head to the Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham for the brilliantly titled “Space Grotto of the New Neptunists”, an interactive installation and imaginative space where visitors become future astro-geologists searching for rare and beautiful rocks in the seas of Neptune itself. Following this imaginative journey, they are invited to take part in a craft session which relates back to the experience. Experience is open from 10am — 4.30pm and free, no booking required. And finally, on Saturday 15th June, become a Museum Detective at the Museum of Enfield. Be an art super sleuth and explore the museum collection. Follow the instructions to complete your quest, collecting clues along the way to reveal a mystery object! Starting at 11am, this is a free event suitable for all ages, but advance booking is recommended.
8. More Riverside Fun at the Puppet Barge Theatre: The Puppet Barge Theatre is one of the more unusual venues to enjoy children’s theatre in London. This 50 seater barge has been moored in Little Venice for over 30 years. They produce a consistently excellent programme of puppetry for all ages. This month, they are showing “A Child’s Garden of Verse” from 8th June — 7th July. Combining shadow puppets, marionettes and specially composed music to illustrate a selection of poems, this is a show full of fun and enchantment! Suitable for 3+, tickets are £13 for adults and £9 for children, tickets available here.
9. A Smorgasbord of Family Theatre at Arts Depot: Yes we used smorgasbord twice but its just such a good word, and there really is no other way to describe the delights that Arts Depot in Finchley have on this month! This month they are showing Lots of Odds’ charming and heartfelt take on the refugee experience “The Goose Who Flew” on Sunday 9th June (11am & 2pm, ages 3–7, tickets from £9 and available here), tutti frutti’s new show full of multi-coloured delights about feelings, empathy and communication “Yellow is the Colour of Sunshine” on Sunday 16th June (11am & 2pm, ages 3+, tickets from £9 and available here) and What’s Coming Out of the Box’s immersive and interactive show for babies and toddlers inspired by life in the womb “Inside” on the 22nd and 23rd June (10.15am for ages 1–4, 11.45am for ages 1–2.5, 1.30pm for ages 2.5–4; tickets from £9 and available here).
10. Let Me In Festival: Held at Rose Theatre Kingston on the 21st — 23rd June, “Let Me In” is an inclusive drama festival, with a series of events for guests with physical, learning and sensory needs, carers, families and friends! For the Under 5s, we’d recommend going to see What’s Coming Out of the Box’s “Inside” on Friday 21st June at 10.15am (suitable for 1–4, tickets are £8 and available here) and Collar & Cuffs Co’s “Crabby” on Saturday 22nd June at 11.30am or 4pm (relaxed & signed, suitable for ages 0–7, tickets are £6 and available here). The full line up of events and more information is available here.
11. Greenwich & Docklands International Festival: Running from the 21st June — 6th July, the Greenwich & Docklands International Festival is is London’s leading festival of outdoor theatre and performing arts. With over 130 performances, they really is something for everyone. And since its outside, and free, its a fantastic opportunity to explore with your Under 5s. The festival opens with Greenwich Fair (21st — 23rd June) a family-friendly weekend packed with incredible street theatre, dance, games, circus and art from across the UK and Europe. Here’s a few highlights from our Under 5s To Do list: “ Saut”, a hilarious and high energy circus spectacular with four acrobats and 50 buckets, and “Fantabulosa”, a family show from some of the UK’s leading drag artists, both playing at the Old Royal Naval College. While we’re there we’ll be hoping to glimpse the “i-Puppets”, a roaming trio of unusual optical creatures, collaborating in a large scale sculpture for “Prospero” and trying our hands at “Friends of Crusoe’s” wooden games and puzzles. We’ll also be heading to RAD to explore “Daedalum”, a dazzling immersive installation of colour and light. For a full list of all the GDIF events, check out their website here. Events are free and drop in, for timings and age recommendations please see individual event listings.
12. Build a Story at the British Library: Drop in to the British Library on Saturday 22 June for their free Family Day inspired by the magic of storytelling. Join the British Library, and a whole host of other organisations to make, touch, sign and explore, as they create, share and celebrate stories. Explore the story of Noah’s Ark, and make animal masks with The Jewish Museum; listen to fantastic tales of travel told in BSL and English by storytellers from The Postal Museum; create a pop-up book with The London Transport Museum; make a story sock puppet to take home with Camden Family Learning; and so much more! This event is fully accessible for families with deaf children, parents and carers. Suitable for all ages, a free drop-in event from 12pm — 4pm on 22nd June, to download the full programme of events and for more information, visit the British Library website.
13. Get a First Taste of Shakespeare with Family Arts Club: Family Arts Club are bringing Collar & Cuff’s Co’s “Be Not Afeard” to Sutton Central Library on Saturday 29th June. An musical, interactive, sensory, fully inclusive version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, “Be Not Afeard” asks how do we help children grow the skills to be confidently curious about their world at a time when anxiety and overwhelm affect so many? How do we help them become better able to cope with the unexpected? We saw this show at Brighton Fringe in an audience of babies, toddlers, and older children, and all were completely engaged and entranced. We made art, banged paint cans and explored a magical island. Read our interview with Collar & Cuffs Co about the making of the show here. Signed and relaxed; suitable for ages 0–7; shows at 10am, 11.30am and 2pm; tickets are £7.50; babes in arms (up to 18 months) are welcome and do not need a ticket; tickets can be booked here.
14. Meet the One and Only Mama G: Petite Pantos are bringing “Mama G’s Storytime Roadshow” to one of our favourite bookshops, Pickled Pepper Books, on the 29th June & 6th July. Celebrate Pride in London with Mama G and her hour of songs and stories all about being who you are and loving who you want. Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow is a sparkling all-singing, partial-dancing storytelling extravaganza that will have families thinking, laughing and loving together. The age recommendation on the website says 4+ but we took our 3 year old who really enjoyed it and showed an unexpected talent for twerking. Read our interview with Mama G here. Suitable for 4+ (but you could risk it and bring your 3 year old as we did); shows at 10.30am; tickets are £8.50 and available here.
15. Family Sunday at the Royal Opera House: One of the Royal Opera House’s monthly Family Days, bring your family on the 30th June to explore the beautiful buildings, its artists and the world of opera and ballet. Each Family Sunday is packed with creative and practical activities for all the family, with space to relax and enjoy live music in an informal setting. The events for this “Beat Out That Rhythm” session haven’t been announced yet but we have been to two in the past, and were amazed by the variety and quality of events on offer. We’ve taken part in storytelling, dance, singing and stage combat activities, tried on costumes, made gorgeous things in the craft area, watched dance performances and make up demonstrations, and we have never managed to do everything as there is just so much going on! Saturday 22nd June from 11am — 3pm; most suitable for ages 3+; tickets are £10 adults and £8 for children; for more infomation and to book tickets visit the ROH website here.