After my post yesterday, I’ve pulled together a collection of places to go this half term which focus on a small selection of London attractions including theatre and museums. And yes, this time, money is involved.
If you’re visiting London, always make sure you book ahead and leave plenty of time for travel, especially when we’re experiencing such cold, snowy weather. If you’re spending money on tickets, check out deals from places like Time Out Offers before you book, or visit bon vivant on a budget Penny Golightly for savings with more chic than cher. Also, family tickets always seem to be cheaper to try and go in groups of a couple of parents and kids to snag a bargain.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not
This homage to the fantastical, nestled in the heart of Piccadilly Circus# Trocadero, is pretty good value and much less crowded than Madame Tussaud’s (which I tend to find claustrophobic, oversubscribed and creepy). It’s a great day out and also hosts birthday parties. Inside you’ll find several floors of weird and wonderful exhibits and optical illusions, including an upside room and a twisting tunnel of light. More bizarre is the gobstopper artwork (I kid you not). You can get a 15% discount by buying your tickets online, making a family booking for two adults and two children just under £75. There is a cafe inside so you can take a break from the all out quirkiness mid-tour.
Here’s my review of the Imperial War Museum v Britain at War which compares the vast rooms of the museum to the cavernous cellars of the exhibition under London Bridge. For an immersive experience, Britain at War is great but it can’t compete with the Imperial War Museum for sheer size and scale. What it does do though is tell the story of London in the blitz and there’s a documentary which compiles footage from the second World War taken during the blitz. It’s a real eye opener and still quite shocking to see London in the rubble. It’s a very cavernous space with lots of set pieces which make it feel quite intimate. The museum is currently closed but it does have a network of other venues, including the Churchill War Rooms, which is free for under 16s and £17 for adults, and sits just alongside St James’s Park. There’s also HMS Belfast – this clip from Outnumbered really puts you there doesn’t it? Tickets are £14.50 for adults and free for under 16s.
Often described as Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group, SIRO-A perfectly fuse modern technology with mime and movement all set to a pulsating electro beat, mixed live every night. Their visually stunning show performed to 30,000 people at the Shanghai Expo, has wowed TED.com audiences in Tokyo and won Mervyn Stutter’s “Spirit of the Fringe” award at the Edinburgh Festival 2011. This is great family entertainment, fusing video mapping, laser lights and on stage DJ’s. It’s an interactive, multimedia, physical/dance theatre show combining human body performances with video projection technology and breath-taking optical illusions while SIRO-A flex their finest techno muscle. It’s an explosion of light, sight, sound, and movement, seamlessly breaking language barriers with a non-verbal performance that can be enjoyed by all people of all ages. Family friendly performance times range from 2.30pm, 4.30pm and 9pm throughout half term and you can book tickets here for the Leicester Square Theatre.
And after a long run, Shrek comes to a close on February 24th, and there’s always time to book a last minute ticket here.
And for something a little more botanical, there’s always Kew which has a lot to offer, from the ambient art of Nash, to the various installations for kids like Little Creepers and of course the vertigo inducing Treetop Walk.
I’ve been visiting Kew all my life and it will always be somewhere special for me. I’m a great fan of the Victorian architecture and artifacts littered around the vast grounds, especially around the lake.
When planning your trip, have a think about how often you might want to visit. Yearly membership is about £60 and kids go free, plus you can take a family guest for free. An adult day ticket is £14.50 which is good value if you add up all the things included in the ticket price. The gardens are particularly stunning at this time of year as the snowdrops and narcissus are starting to sprinkle the ground with colour; plus there’s an exotic display of orchids in the Princess of Wales Conservatory for the next month. My favourite place is the Pagoda, followed closely by the Marianne North Gallery. There are plenty of places to eat in Kew, lots to see in do and the shop has a lot to offer people of all ages, from gardening goodies through to keepsakes and specialty foods.
Oh, and I love this statue, it really does remind me of Scooby Doo…