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All aboard the summer holiday special

Our tips for top treats during the long school break start at the London Transport Museum – ‘a magical place for inspiring young minds’

25 July, 2019 — By Aoife Ní Dhálaigh

Above and below: There’s plenty for all ages to engage with at the London Transport Museum

London Transport Museum

CHILDREN are a great excuse to visit the London Transport Museum but it’s definitely not all about them. Of course, it may be difficult to get them past the “All Aboard” playzones, where they can dress up, play with mini vehicles, and even “drive” a real bus. And then there’s the vintage train to hop aboard, endless activity sheets to fill out, and a ticket stamper trail that will help guide you around the museum.

But adults won’t be left standing around waiting for the proverbial. There’s the nostalgia trip of old posters and signs, a fascinating exploration of how the tube network was built (they’re still using the same tunnels!) and a really clever social history of the city, told through the development of its transport network. Anyone with an interest in the origins of London’s handwriting is also very well catered for.

Well laid-out facilities make this an easy family visit; there’s a free cloakroom, buggy parking, baby changing, and child-sized sinks in the bathrooms. The tranquil café offers a family-friendly menu, but you’re welcome to bring a picnic during school holidays. There are also water fountains to refill bottles.

Staff are friendly and great at interacting with younger visitors, and those activity sheets are perfect for a quiet break mid-tour – or just to take home for a post-visit colouring session. Little touches, like the real pedestrian crossing in the vehicle display hall downstairs, and the miniature train set that has an underground train running beneath it, make this a magical space for inspiring young minds.

Be prepared for the ticket price: £18 per adult, or £16.50 online, with children going free. You can see where the ticket money goes, with high-tech, well-designed exhibits, and plenty on offer for children.

The real saving grace, however, is that tickets are valid for an entire year. You can go back as often as you like, which takes the pressure off fitting everything in to one visit – next to impossible given the sheer range of exhibits and the tired little legs and brains. So instead of wishing you’d had just a little more time to explore, you can pencil in the next trip. This makes it perfect for a rainy autumn’s day or a nice “free” activity when you’re all spent-out in January.

Besides, there’s so much on display that a repeat visit isn’t a bad idea.

• London Transport Museum is also running special STEM-inspired family events throughout the holidays, which are free with your admission ticket.

• Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB. Open Monday-Thursday, Saturday, Sunday 10am-6pm (last admission 5.15pm); Friday 11am-6pm (last admission 5.15pm). Tickets £18, £16.50 online, under-17s free. Tickets valid for one year, 020 , www.ltmuseum.co.uk


… and here are more tips for treats

It’s great to be beside the seaside – create your own ‘flip-up’ postcard at the Postal Museum

The Postal Museum

TAKE a fascinating journey back in time through original tunnels and station platforms of London’s 100-year-old postal railway – just one of the unusual attractions at this Clerkenwell attraction. And The Postal Museum is all set up for fun-filled summer programme – taking its inspiration from the great British seaside, including puppets to design and decorate and take home (July 27 and August 10, 11am-1pm and 2-4pm, age 5-8, but all ages welcome), in the tradition of Punch and Judy; Create a “flip-up” seaside postcard in an activity led by RCA artist Susie Foster (August 1, 20, 29, 11am-1pm and 2-4pm, age 5-11, but all welcome); a Day at the Seaside is the theme of storytelling events led by Olivia Armstrong (July 25, 30 and August 27, 11.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm, 45 minutes, ages 5-11, all welcome). There’s much more: check the website for event details.
• The Postal Museum, 15-20 Phoenix Place, WC1X 0DA, open daily 10am-5pm, 0300 030 0700, www.postalmuseum.org


Hampstead Beach JW3

Until September 1
Free, Sunday-Thursday 9.30am-8pm, Friday 9am-3pm. Closed Saturday.
HAMPSTEAD’S urban beach is back at JW3, where the little ones can build sandcastles on golden sand with buckets and spades, courtesy of JW3, and enjoy splashing around in a paddling pool. Check the website for special events taking place on the beach throughout the summer. Note: Only food & drink bought at the cafe, restaurant and bar Zest is allowed on Hampstead Beach.
• JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, NW3 6ET, info@jw3.org.uk, www.jw3.org.uk/hampstead-beach


Folk fun at Cecil Sharp House

Get Your Folk On!
Cecil Sharp House
August 12-19
CECIL Sharp House in Camden Town – the spiritual home of English folk music and dance – is presenting a “Get Your Folk On!” holiday course for young musicians aged 9 to 19. The course runs for the week of August 12 to 16. Skilled and engaging folk educators run the friendly course, which is flexible and responsive to needs and abilities. Previous folk experience is not required. It’s for all instrumentalists – from young musicians who are able to play a basic tune (so not absolute beginners), to more advanced players who are looking for new challenges. The young musicians will learn to play music by ear, exploring harmonies, riffs, chord sequences and folk techniques. They will create new arrangements and will explore the history and culture of folk songs. They’ll also get to try new instruments and dances, and gain performance skills.
• See cecilsharphouse.org/youthcourses, or call 020 7485 2206 in office hours. Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Park Road, Primrose Hill, NW1 7AY


Society of London Theatre (SOLT)

Kids Week
August 1-31, valid for selected performances, booked through officiallondontheatre.com/kids-week

IT used to be just a week, hence the name but now this opportunity to introduce young people to London theatre runs for the whole of August. A child aged 16 or under can get free theatre tickets to any participating show from August 1-31, when accompanied by a full-paying adult. Adults can buy up to two extra kids’ tickets at half price, and there are no booking or postage fees. See details on the website.


Brainiac Live

Garrick Theatre
Booking until September 1
60 minutes, no interval. Age recommendation 6-plus. Tickets from £16.50.
BASED on the popular television show, Brainiac Live brings exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves and daredevil stunts to the stage – be prepared for LOUD BANGS.
Garrick Theatre, 2 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0HH, 0330 333 4811, www.nimaxtheatres.com/shows/brainiac-live/


Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain Part Four!

Apollo Theatre
August 1-31. ‘Suitable for ages 5-105’. Tickets from £17. Running time 70 minutes.
WOULD you be shaken or stirred by Richard the Third? Would you be hanged by King James I for being a witch? Follow the night soil men and find out how to survive the first ever train ride… Yes, Horrible Histories is back in the West End with anarchy, hilarity – history with the best bad bits left in.
• Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7ES, 0330 333 4809, www.nimaxtheatres.com/shows/horrible-histories-barmy-britain-part-four/


The Gruffalo

Apollo Theatre
Booking until September 8. 55 minutes, no interval. Age recom­mendation 3-plus. Tickets from £15.
THERE’S no such thing as a Gruffalo – is there? Tall Stories musical adapta­tion of the much-loved picture book classic promises “monstrous fun” for all the family.
• Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7ES, 0330 333 4812, www.nimaxtheatres.com/shows/the-gruffalo-live-on-stage


The Worst Witch

Vaudeville Theatre
Booking until September 8. Approx 2hrs 10mins with 1 interval. Suitable for 7-plus. Tickets from £20.
MILDRED Hubble is just an ordinary girl who found herself in an extraordinary place: a school for witches. But not everyone is thrilled by Mildred’s unexpected arrival and her less than predictable ways. Can she overcome the objections of stern Miss Hardbroom and the conniving tricks of jealous Ethel Hallow? This stage adaptation of Jill Murphy’s creation includes original songs, music, magic – and “utter pandem­onium”!
• Vaudeville Theatre, 404 Strand, Covent Garden, WC2R 0NH, 0330 333 4814, www.­nimaxtheatres.com/shows/the-worst-witch


The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show

White City Theatre
August 7-September 1. 60 minutes, no interval. Age recommendation 1-plus, up to 18 months can enter as babes in arms. Tickets from £15.
THIS timeless classic has made its way off the page and onto the stage. Created by Jonathan Rockefeller, the critically acclaimed production if The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show features a menagerie of 75 loveable puppets, faithfully adapting four of Eric Carle’s stories, Brown Bear, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly and of course, the star of the show celebrating its 50th birthday in 2019, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
• White City Theatre, Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, W12 8LJ, 0844 815 4866, www.troubadour­theatres.com/white-city/whats-on/the-very-hungry-caterpillar-show


The Place: Summer Dance Courses for Young People

The Place
July 29-August 2
THE Place performance space in Euston is run­ning a week of dynamic workshops to get the holidays moving. There are sessions offering a fun introduction to creative dance for 5-8s and 8-11s; Energising Contemporary workshops offering “invigorating sessions” for 14-18s; and BalletBoyz Experience for young dancers of all genders – an “intensive workshop” of contemporary dance techniques. Check the website for full details.
• The Place, 17 Duke’s Road, WC1H 9PY, 020 7121 1080, theplace.org.uk/summeryouth


Tales of the Turntable

Queen Elizabeth Hall
August 15-26, 70 minutes. Age recommendation 5-plus. £25, cons 25 per cent off for under 16s.
THIS dance theatre production from Zoo Nation Youth Company is an adventure through time with budding DJ Eric and his grandfather George – from the origins of hip-hop, funk and soul to disco, house and rap.
• Queen Elizabeth Hall, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX, 020 7960 4200, www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/134323-tales-turntable-2019

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