The 25 best things to do in London in August

Schools out and summer has started – even if the weather doesn’t exactly agree. There’s a lot happening in London this month as the city gets back on its feet after a tumultuous 18 months.

It’s still not particularly busy though so if you are in central London in August then take advantage of the smaller crowds and make a beeline for some of the city’s most popular attractions. Famous landmarks such as the Tower of London are still fairly quiet so you’ll be able to see the Crown Jewels without the crowds!

And don’t forget the museums; the Science Museum is always great with kids – mine can’t get enough of the Wonderlab.

August also sees the return of live music and the BBC Proms is back at the Royal Albert Hall this month. You can go for just £7.12 if you manage to secure a ‘Promming’ ticket. These tickets are available to buy on online from 9am on the day of each concert.

The Notting Hill Carnival, however, will be an online event this year. Fingers crossed it can return in its full colourful feathered glory in 2022.

The Changing of the Guard ceremony is still not back in full but do keep checking the website as details change regularly.

Otherwise there is a lot of things to do in August in London, the following are our top picks to do with kids!

Don’t forget to join our London with Kids Facebook group for more ideas on great things to do in the city.

Fun things to do in London this August

things to do in London in August

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Kids Week

Kids Week takes place this August, when one child (aged 17 and under) goes to the theatre for free when accompanied by a full paying adult. Additional children go half price. There are some great shows taking part in Kids Week this year including Everybody’s Talking about Jamie and Come from Away and Billionaire Boy.

Mega Please Draw Freely at the Tate Modern

For the whole of August visitors to the Tate Modern are being invited to draw, doodle and scribble on the Turbine Hall floor. The event, part of a new programme of art-inspired activities for families, invites kids – and their parents – to unleash their inner artist using art materials provided by the gallery. Don’t worry though, the floor will have a temporary coating so that your doodles don’t permanently deface the concrete!

Dodge at Somerset House

The courtyard at Somerset House has been taken over by colourful dodgems until August 22nd. The courtyard space has been reimagined by Yinka Ilori and will feature colourful installations as well as food and rinks alongside the bumper cars. 

Check the website for times (roughly they’re open from midday until 11pm). You must book a ‘pod’ to ride the dodgems, this includes table reservation for two hours, dodgem tokens and drinks. ‘Dodge & Drink’ tickets are from £10, pre-booked dining packages start at £27.50 per person.

Children must be over 1.1m to ride the dodgems and children between 1.1m and 1.3m must be accompanied by an adult. The great news is that on Tuesday and Wednesdays between 12pm and 3pm, children aged 12 and under can ride on the dodgems for free!

Chaos Karts in Brick Lane

This one is for children aged 13 years and older. Chaos Karts is a live action racing experience that brings virtual driving games to life. Step into your fully reactive kart and enter a virtual world where you can use power-ups and weapons to beat your competitors and win the race!

Fantastic Beasts at the Natural History Museum

If you haven’t been to the Fantastic Beasts: the Wonder of Nature yet then this is the month to go! Admittedly, the exhibition is on until January 2022 but if you’re looking for things to do in London with kids then this is a great option. The exhibition explores how the real world and the Wizard World overlap and how the wonders of the natural world have inspired myths, legends and magical creatures for generations

Neon lights in Covent Garden

One to bookmark for later in the month is the bright and colourful installation by the artists Chila Burman in Covent Garden. If you visited the Tate Britain over winter (when we were allowed to of course) you’ll have seen her neon artwork covering the exterior of the building – and bringing much needed cheer! From August 26 her distinctive electric neons will be suspended in the South Hall.

Discover more things to do in Covent Garden here.

Buckingham Palace Gardens Family Festival

On August 26 and 30, Buckingham Palace Gardens are holding a Family Festival. Discover hidden areas of the garden which are not usually seen by visitors in a fascinating Family Tour. You will be able to find out all about the amazing stories and history of this special place.

The half-hour tours will run at 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30 and 15:30, and are available on a first come, first serve basis. There are also arts and crafts stations where you an make a zebra hobby horse or create a beautiful nature crown.

Discovery days in Hyde Park

Hyde Park is running a number of fun discovery days throughout the month of August. These events are free to join and cover a range of topics including Wild Water, which focuses on the amazing variety of life that call the Royal Parks’ water bodies home, and Meadow Madness that explore the beautiful meadows of Hyde Park. These drop in events are open to all.

Van Gough Immersive Experience

The Vincent Van Gough immersive art experience is up and running in London and by all accounts it’s very good. Some of the painter’s best known works come to life with lights, sound and 360-degree projections. Tickets are on sale now.

Catch an outdoor movie

There are pop cinemas aplenty this summer in London – just keep your fingers crossed the weather plays ball. Some of the best drive-in cinema experiences for families include the Luna Cinema and the Rooftop Film Club. These have a selection of family-friendly films at family-friendly times.

Play on a life-size Monopoly board

Coming to life on August 14 is a new, immersive life-size Monopoly game. But you’ll have to do more than simply collect $200 when you pass Go in this version of the game. Players will need to take part in physical and mental challenges as they move around the board. Be prepared to solve murder mysteries or build a London landmark as you try and win.

There’s a special Junior board for kids aged 5-9.

Cycle around Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens are hosting a summer cycle for the month of August. Given that bicycles are not normally allowed in the gardens, this is a wonderful opportunity to explore the vast grounds on two wheels. Summer Cycle takes place on August 10 and August 11 from 5pm to 8.30pm.

You must bring your own bike with you and we’d recommend bringing a picnic too!

Cutty Sark

On Saturday August 7 and Sunday August 8 the Royal Museums Greenwich are celebrating all things Play! on board the City Sark. Be transported back to the 1870s with the Character Actors from the tea clipper, learn stories about the famous ship, create your own game and put your family to the test in a craft activity. Free with entry to the ship.

Even if you can’t make it for this weekend, the Cutty Sark is always a fun place to visit with children.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

The excellent Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition continues at the V&A. This really is a wonderful exhibit tracing the origins, adaptations and reinventions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Expect original manuscripts, fantastical costumes, interactive exhibitions and much more across five Alice-inspired worlds.

Paddington: The Story of a Bear at the British Library

Running until the end of October is this charming exhibit at the British Library about everybody’s favourite bear. Discover the real-life inspiration behind the bear with notes and photographs from author Michael Bond as well as original illustrations. For younger children there’s a fun trail of marmalade splats to explore as you follow Paddington’s adventures and mishaps in London.

Summer Lights at Canary Wharf

Bringing colour and light to the Canary Wharf estate is the Summer Lights exhibition. The exhibit launched on Midsummer and runs until August 21. Time your visit for when the sun shines as this is when the multicoloured artworks will be at their brightest.

Proud Little Pyramid at Kings Cross

For more colour in your life head to Kings Cross where a pyramid in a Kaleidoscope of colours brings camp, colour and creativity to the area. The Proud Little Pyramid installation is the work of artist and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman and was created as a celebration of Kings Cross’ queer history.

Spies and Disguise at IWM London

Fancy yourself as the next James Bond? Then head to the Imperial War Museum for the weekend of August 7 and 8 to get a crash course in camouflage, learn top tips for coding, meet the best secret agents for coded missions and more. Enjoy more time as a secret agent at the St Ermins Hotel and their SpyKids package.

Mr. Men and Little Miss trail at the Museum of Brands

The fabulous Museum of Brands is celebrating 50 years of Mr. Men and the Little Miss books this summer. There is a trail for visitors to spot the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters in the museum displays as well as original sketches by Adam Hargreaves and limited-edition Royal Mail postage stamps and Royal Mint commemorative coins.

Visitors can also make their very own Mr. Bump paper hat to take home and colour their favourite Mr. Men and Little Miss characters.

The Wind in the Willows at Kew Gardens

Follow the adventures of Ratty, Mole, Badger, Otter and, of course, Toad, in this wonderful outdoor theatre production of the Wind in the Willows. Set against the magical backdrop of the lake at Kew Gardens, the show is filled with music, song and lots of fun. Two performances are daily Wednesday to Sunday (as well as bank holiday Monday).

The Underbelly Festival

The excellent Underbelly Festival continues through the month of August. There are lots of family-friendly shows taking place including Baby Loves Disco, Comedy Club 4 Kids and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Family activity days at the Chelsea Physic Garden

The Chelsea Physic Garden are running a series of fun activity days for families this summer. Lotions and Potions on August 4 explores a brief history of medicine and find out about the amazing power of plants to heal and soothe. Learn about the history of chocolate on August 17 and how to make soaps and candles on August 11.

Southbank Centre Summer Reunion

The Southbank Centre have a fun calendar of events taking place this summer. Enjoy great street food from Friday to Sunday and the Garden Cafe located on the rooftop of the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof.

The excellent ZooNation perform on August 21 and 22 and Shingai’s Afterglow promises free family circus fun on August 29. See the website for the full calendar of events.

Hampton Court Palace

The calendar at Hampton Court Palace is packed with fun things to do this month. The Hampton Court Palace Food Festival takes place on August 28 – 30 and the Hampton Court Palace Festival takes place August 13 – 24.

Expect live music from the likes of Van Morrison and Tom Jones. A Tale of Two Kings is a tongue-in-cheek family production that explores how Kings Henry VIII and Francois I tried to outdo each other in combat, romancing and competitive beard growing!

Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition

Taking place in Covent Garden is the Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition that showcases hundreds of images from the world of Harry Potter that have never been seen together before. Discover areas inspired by the Ministry of Magic and Platform 9 3/4. There’s also the chance to strike your best wizarding pose in front of a series of green screens.

Want more Harry Potter? How about a Harry Potter walking tour of London?

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