Family Trip to London

Hi: We're heading to London for a 6 day trip in a couple of weeks, and as suggested here, I've solicited picks from the kids for activities during our visit. We went a few years ago and saw most of the main sites, so this time we'd like to do some specialty tours. So far, dh and my 13 year old and 8 year old have suggested/agreed to: matinee of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Globe Alternative London walking street art tour Museum of London Show - Matilda, Wicked or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Walking Harry Potter Tour National Gallery Harry Potter Studio Tour My 8 year old is interested in the RIB tour, but I'm not sure it's worth the expense. I'd really appreciate any thoughts or suggestions. I'm bummed that the Imperial War Museum is closed for renovation during our visit. Are the Churchill War Rooms kid-friendly enough? Thanks so much for any suggestions!
Gretchen

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1687 posts

For any of the theatre visits you mention, check for tickets online NOW and be prepared for disappointment. Two weeks is not really enough time in advance to book for Shakespeare plays at the Globe or musicals. (There is a contemporary play that I enthusiastically anticipate at the Globe but I don't think it will be appropriate for an eight year old.) The Museum of London is definitely worthwhile as is the National Gallery. Not a Potter fan, I'm afraid, but I'm sure others will give reviews.

Posted by Gretchen
Westminster
13 posts

AACK! You're right! There's nothing available at the Globe during our visit. Bummer. Silly me thought I was going to visit the tkts booth at Leicester Square and pick up some discounted tickets. Guess now that's not very realistic if you want to see a family friendly show?? Darn!

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1687 posts

tkts is for last-minute tickets that didn't get sold or got returned. If you want to go to the theatre I'd go there in the morning (opens at 0900) and tell whoever's there that you want something child friendly. (Note that tkts is the free-standing stone kiosk on the southern side of Leicester Square - there are some imitations in storefronts in the area).

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
769 posts

Matilda, Wicked and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are not currently being sold at a discount by tkts, although there is a possibility albeit slight that this could change. Tickets are available for the last two at full price. Last Saturday's matinee performance of Billy Elliot was discounted (although not the evening one). http://www.tkts.co.uk/whats-on-sale/

Posted by Gretchen
Westminster
13 posts

Thanks so much for all the great info! Do you think that the tour of the Globe would be worth doing with the kids since we can't make a show? I had read that it wasn't terribly kid friendly, but if we can't see a show there, then perhaps I should reconsider the tour.
Thanks for being so very helpful!!

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
547 posts

We bought our tickets for MSND at the Globe the day they went on sale back in early spring. When I went to pick them up there were lots of people trying to get tickets for that evening who were disappointed. You can go to the ticket office first thing in the morning though and put your name on the cancellation list. You can also see if they have "groundling" tickets that come available. Only 5 pounds and you are right in front of the action! Try to get tickets...it's the best production of this play I've ever seen and it is done in a way that is absolutely hilarious and that even your youngest will enjoy. For something different your kids might enjoy the Tate Modern - I won't pretend to ever understand modern art myself but the exhibits are very accessible to kids in their own way and it's free. It's fun to walk across the Millenium Bridge from St. Paul's Cathedral to get to it on the other side of the Thames. The Churchill War rooms are intersting but unless your kids have a good understanding of who Winston Churchill was or an interest in WW2 I'm not sure how interested they will be. There is a very comprehensive (read large and time consuming yet fascinating) exhibit on Churchill's life and you see all the rooms as they were left when they bunker was closed. Lots of rooms with beds and desks, several map rooms where the war was orchestrated from, and a nice gift shop. Your 13 year old might enjoy it but not sure about your younger one!

Posted by Rob
Dunwoody, Georgia
235 posts

I was in London earlier this year with my kids (ages 5 and 7). We did not see any of the shows you have listed, but got a good review from friends that saw Matilda. We saw and I highly recommend the Lion King, if you can't get tickets to one of your other choices. Believe it or not, my kids and my 7-year-old in particular really liked the Churchill War Rooms. There is a separate kids' audio tour. They liked going around to find the numbers and listen to the stories, especially the stops in the Churchill Museum portion. If you have not already been to the National Gallery, it is well worth it. However, I have not been with kids, so I can't speak to their children's programs. It's not on your list, but one spot my kids really liked was Covent Garden and the London Transportation Museum. Good luck!

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Do you think that the tour of the Globe would be worth doing with the kids since we can't make a show? I had read that it wasn't terribly kid friendly, but if we can't see a show there, then perhaps I should reconsider the tour. I did the tour in February with my 16 year-old daughter, who loved it because she is studying English literature, drama and theatre studies and who had been to a couple of plays there as a 'groundling'. She lapped it up and thoroughly enjoyed it, and would have done aged 13 come to that. As an 8 year-old I'm not sure. Other than possible boredom, the kid-friendliness issue which comes to mind is that during the period when the original Globe was operating, Southwark was outside the jurisdiction of the city of London and was therefore where people went to see bear baiting, to visit brothels and so on. The tour guide delighted in telling us that the area was controlled by the Bishop of Winchester, to whom the brothels paid rent, and that the prostitutes were known as Winchester Geese for that reason. I've heard the same stories before, when I visited The Globe as part of a corporate tour, so it seems like it's part of their standard presentation and therefore it may not be suitable for younger children or for parents who do not wish to have to answer an inquisitive child's questions about those kinds of topics.

Posted by Matt
Washington, DC, USA
566 posts

Gretchen, Two thoughts on things previously mentioned in this thread. 1. In addition to the original Museum of London, I highly recommend going out to the Docklands area for the Museum of London --Docklands, too. 2. While the tkts booth at Leicester Square may open at 9am, people will line up for the most popular, or most limited availability, shows earlier than that. If you want to be the person who gets served right as they open, be in line before 9, although I can't say precisely how early.
Have a good trip!

Posted by Gretchen
Westminster
13 posts

The Museum of London Docklands looks really fun. Do you think that might be a low-key place to visit on our own time our first day in? We'll arrive in the a.m. and I'm nervous about planning too much for our first day, as my son is usually kind of groggy after the overnight flight. The kids loved London Transport and the Lion King on our last visit. And good to know that the kids might have some questions arising from the Globe tour. Thanks for all of the great info!