If your kids have ever watched the popular Night at the Museum movies, chances are that they love the idea of a sleepover experience in a museum gallery. There are some incredible museum sleepover experiences around the world and London is no exception, some of the city’s most beloved museums open their doors at night for a unique sleepover experience.
From sleeping with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum to a sleepover on board The Golden Hinde ship, there are lots of ways to enjoy a museum experience after hours. And don’t worry, these London museums experiences are not just for kids, some museums offer adult sleepovers too.
Most of these sleepovers include activities, talks, high jinks and very little sleep! But they are a truly unique way to experience some of London’s most incredible museums. Most museum sleepovers take place on Saturday nights and an adult must accompany each child. All sleepover experiences are led by a group leader so you will be well looked after.
Outside of London, take a look at these museum sleepovers around the world including A Night at the Museum at the American Museum of Natural History and Operation Secret Slumber at the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C.
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Dino Snores at the Natural History Museum
London’s best known museum overnight stay is Dino Snores at the Natural History Museum. The NHM is pretty amazing by day but once you turn off the lights it becomes a truly magical experience.
The Dino Snores sleepover at the Natural History Museum takes place roughly once a month. Sleepovers used to take place under the enormous dinosaur skeleton, Dippy the Diplodocus, but he’s gone on tour so now your night at the museum takes place in one of the museum galleries. If you’re lucky, you might get to sleep in the Hintze Hall under Hope the Blue Whale.
Enjoy a night full of activities including a torch-lit trail through the museum, a dinosaur t-shirt workshop, and an educational science show presented by a Museum scientist. Lights out are at midnight and breakfast is served bright and early the following morning.
The Natural History Museum also runs Dino Snores for grown ups.
Cost: Adult: £69, Child: £69. Member: £62.10 Includes breakfast. Dino Snores gets booked up well in advance so make sure to purchase your tickets early. You can also join the waiting list.
Time: 6.45pm until 10am the next morning
Best suited for: Children aged between 7- and 11-years-old.
What to bring: You must being a sleeping bag, toothbrush, evening snack and some clothes to sleep in.
Astronights at the London Science Museum
Perfect for budding scientists are the Astronights events at the Science Museum in South Kensington. The Museum runs a number of sleepovers throughout the year and tickets go on sale two weeks before each event.
During the sleepover kids take part in workshops, shows and experiments and are given access to some of the Science Museum’s most weird and wonderful collections. After breakfast the next day, kids are welcomed into the amazing Wonderlab before the museum has even opened.
The Science Museum also runs SENsory Astronights once a year. This relaxed, after-dark exploration of the museum is for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Cost: £60 per person; tickets go on sale two weeks before the sleepover event, make sure to check the website for dates.
Time: 6.45pm until 10am the next morning
Best suited for: Children aged between 7 and 11 years old
What to bring: The museum will provide camping mats but you should bring a sleeping bag, toothbrush, evening snack and a water bottle.
Archaeology Adventures Sleepover at The British Museum
There are few places better to enjoy a museum sleepover than the British Museum. This museum was the setting for the final Night at the Museum movie, Secret of the Tomb.
Can you imagine sleeping next door to sculpture of Tutankhamumn? Well, at the British Museum you can do just that. The oldest national public museum in the world (it first opened in 1753) provides an amazing setting to spend the night.
The Archaeology Adventures Sleepover allows kids to dig deep into history and discover the world through workshops, activities and storytelling before spending the night sleeping in the Egyptian and Assyrian galleries, surrounded by kings and gods from the ancient world.
After breakfast, kids are invited to explore the Museum galleries by following a trail created specifically for the sleepover experience.
Cost: £45 for Young Friends of the Museum members; £60 for non-members
Time: 6.15pm – 9am; the next sleepover is taking place on Saturday 6 August
Best suited for: Children aged between 8 and 15 years old
What to bring: A sleeping bag, ground mat and pillow, a torch, toothbrush and an evening snack.
Night Voyage on board the Golden Hinde
Step back in time and on board The Golden Hinde, the English Galleon best known for circumnavigating the globe between 1577 and 1580, led by Sir Francis Drake. Three colourful characters from the ship’s history (dressed in Elizabethan costume) will guide you about the ship and teach you the skills required to sail her.
Learn cannon drills with the Gunner, navigational arts with the ship’s Master and hear lurid tales from the grisly Barber Surgeon before bedding down for the night on the ship’s gundeck.
The Night Voyage takes place annually; this year it will take place on 28th August 2022.
Cost: £45 per person.
Time: From 5pm – 9am the next day
Best suited for: Children aged between 6 and 11 year olds.
What to bring: A Tudor dinner and breakfast are included. You will need your own sleeping gear.
Overnight Living History on board The Golden Hinde
The Golden Hinde also run a second overnight experience on board the ship, which can be booked for a private group on a night of your choice (subject to availability). This is perfect for Brownies, Cubs and Scouts, as well as parties and school groups. A minimum of 20 people is needed.
Cost: £39.95 per person and the minimum for a booking is 20 people. The maximum is 40 in a group
Kip in a Ship on board the HMS Belfast
This is the perfect sleepover experience for schools and youth groups. Up to 52 children can stay for up to three nights on board the HMS Belfast, sleeping in original sailor’s bunks in this adventure on the River Thames.
Enjoy nautical night-time activities and a private tour of the Captain’s Bridge and Flag Deck, and discover the stories of the men who lived and worked on board this historic ship.
Cost: Various packages are available, check the website for details.
Best suited for: Kip in a Ship is available only for school groups and youth groups. They are not able to accept bookings from families or individuals. The minimum group size is 20.
Gir Lion Lodges at ZSL London Zoo
Sadly the ZSL London Zoo are no longer running their BedBUGS sleepover but you can still sleep with the animals in the Gir Lion Lodge. Admittedly this is a more luxurious sleepover; your accommodation is in a private lodge and dinner is a two-course dinner followed by a hot breakfast the next morning.
The nine lodges sit on the edge of Land of Lions, which means you’ll fall asleep at night within roaring distance of the zoo’s Asiatic lions. The experience includes three after-hours tours of the zoo when you’ll get to enjoy private viewings of various animals long after everyone else has gone home.
Experienced hosts will share amazing animal facts plus insider secrets about what goes on at the Zoo behind-the-scenes. Tours take place at sunset, after dark and in the morning.
Guests are also welcome to explore the zoo at their leisure on the day of their arrival and departure – you’re also welcome to visit ZSL Whipsnade Zoo on your second day.
Cost: From £150 per person depending on number of people. Each lodge can accommodate a maximum of two people plus an additional two children. Each additional child is £65. Check the website for details.
Time: 18.50 until 10.00 the next morning. Every Thursday and Friday from 30th June through to 22nd July 2022.
Best suited for: There are dedicated family nights and children must be aged between 5 – 13 years old. On adult nights, children above the age of 14 are welcome.
What to bring: The lodges come with comfy beds, an en-suite bathroom, a private veranda and pretty much everything you would expect from a hotel. If you’re a light sleeper, then you may want to consider ear plugs!