There are lots of reasons to take the kids to the West End for February half term, from an expressive painting workshop at the Royal Academy to a LGBT themed day at the National Portrait Gallery or a trip to Dr Gunther von Hagens’ eye opening Bodyworlds exhibition. And, of course there are family-friendly restaurants plus cinema and theatre shows aplenty!
Journey under the skin at Bodyworlds
Dr Gunther von Hagens’ collection of real human bodies has sparked curiosity and awe around the world with over 47 million visitors globally. Gunther’s first permanent exhibition at No 1 Piccadilly provides visitors, young and old, with a unique understanding of their bodies by demonstrating the influence lifestyle choices have on the body.
It is recommended for children over six, however all ages are welcome and children under five receive free entry. As well as providing fascinating insight into the inner workings of the human body, the exhibition is designed to stimulate curiosity about the science of anatomy and physiology. The ‘Plastinating’ technique replaces body fluids with a sort of silicone rubber – the bodies will last longer than Egyptian mummies – and allows them to be positioned in a variety of active positions, showing which muscles are used for different activities such as jumping, dancing and playing tennis. For more information, visit: https://bodyworlds.co.uk
Take kids to the theatre
The longest running show in the Lyric Theatre’s 125 year history, Thriller Live is a non-stop party and takes the audience on an all-singing, all-dancing journey through Michael Jackson’s 45 year musical history. The show features over two hours of non-stop musical hits, paying homage to Jackson’s legendary live performances and innovative dances moves. Tickets start from £32.
Returning to London’s Piccadilly Theatre for a limited season, is the Tony and Olivier Award winning adaption of Mark Haddon’s best-selling mystery novel, The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night Time. It tells the story of 15 year old Christopher Boone, who attempts to solve the mystery of who murdered his neighbour’s dog. The play, taught as part of the GCSE English Literature curriculum, has been praised for its care in telling the story of a boy with autism. Tickets start from £20. Suitable for ages 11 plus.
Also, it would be criminal to miss the slapstick sensation The Comedy About A Bank Robbery at the Criterion Theatre. Featuring a priceless diamond, a snoozing security guard, a trickster girlfriend and an escaped convict – what could possibly go wrong? Tickets from just £10.55.
Get creative at the Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy has a host of half term activities to nurture children’s artistic sides including an expressive painting workshop inspired by the work of RA school alumna, Sarah Pickstone. Expressive Painting takes place in The Clore Learning Centre on 21 February from 10.00am – 12.15pm and 1pm – 3.15pm and costs £20 per adult and £10 per child. It’s suitable for ages 7+, children must be accompanied by an adult.
Family workshops at the National Portrait Gallery
In celebration of LGBT History Month, the National Portrait Gallery is offering families the chance to join a team of artists in storytelling sessions, craft and photography workshops and family tours themed around diversity and acceptance. The Rainbow Family Day takes place on 21st February from 11am – 4pm and is free. Find out more at https://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/event-root/february/family-workshop-21022019
Additionally, every day of the February half term between 11am – 4pm youngsters can visit FAB (Family Activity Base) cart for free activities including a Pop-Up Gallery where kids can create an art gallery and decorate it with their own 3D portraits and Talking Heads. Kid’s lunch boxes are also available from the Portrait Café for just £4.95.
Going on a book hunt
Families can also while away an hour or more book hunting in London’s oldest bookshop: Hatchards. This Piccadilly stalwart was established by John Hatchard in 1797 and is bookseller to all the royal households. With over 100,000 books in store and an impressive children’s section, complete with comfy sofa and book-loving staff on hand to inspire and suggest – even the most reluctant readers will be converted.
Young readers will also love exploring Waterstones Piccadilly, Europe’s largest book shop offering over eight miles of bookshelves across six floors. Its extensive children’s section is modelled on a Piccadilly Circus theme and features family activities as well as all the latest release and old favourites.
Refuel at the best family-friendly restaurants
Enjoy a taste of Hollywood at family-friendly Planet Hollywood located just off Leicester Square. Packed full of eye-catching movie memorabilia including a Star Wars Stormtrooper Helmet, a pair of Rocky’s boots from Rocky III as well as a Bond themed room filled with real movie pieces. The menu caters for all tastes with dishes ranging from American classics such as burgers and wings to Italian and Asian plus a dedicated Kids Menu.
Alternatively, families can refuel at London’s hippest pizza joint – Leicester Square’s MOD Pizza where every pizza is made on demand using fresh-pressed dough and signature sauces for one super low price, £7.87. Choose from over 30 different toppings, the price remains the same regardless of the number of toppings. Plus, there are vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options too!
They can also immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the Amazon rainforest at the Rainforest Cafe, with its animatronic elephants, crocodiles, gorillas and tropical showers, cascading waterfalls and periodic thunderstorms.
And, just a few minutes’ walk from Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is a tribute to the film “Forest Gump” providing comfort food from the American South with plenty of family-friendly options including all American burgers, crisp salads, indulgent desserts and of course shrimps.
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