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Things to do during May half-term in London

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Get creative with your kids at online workshops this half-term. Credits: Kew Gardens. Image courtesy of Kew Gardens.
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Treat the family to a half-term filled with exciting activities, interactive attractions, outdoor playgrounds and children's shows over the May school holiday in London.

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Get ready for a week of family fun in London during the May half-term holiday 2021 (also known as summer half-term).

Plan your May school holiday break with this guide to the top things to do during half-term in London. Discover family-friendly museums, half-term activities and kids' shows, and take the children outdoors to London's parks and playgrounds on a sunny day.

Many attractions, restaurants and entertainment venues have reopened following the easing of coronavirus restrictions, but some remain closed or are only open on certain days. Make sure to check with the venue before visiting. 

May half-term activities in London

Sun sets in Greenwich over the Emirates Air Line cable cars and The O2.

Half-term children's shows in London

How to save on a family day out in London

  • Pick up The London Pass to save on more than 80 of London's best attractions, including Windsor Castle and Tower Bridge – and skip the queues with fast track entry.
  • Have discounted access to five family-friendly London attractions as part of the Merlin five-in-one London attractions pass, including The London Eye, Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, Shrek's Adventure! London and The London Dungeon.

Unmissable half-term events

A lady, wearing a face covering, holds an exhibition catalogue while  staring up at artwork. More of Van Gogh's works are projected onto the walls behind.

  • See plants in a new light by learning all about their interesting secrets in Secret World of Plants, an immersive festival at Kew Gardens. 1 May-19 Sep
  • Explore how the natural world inspired mythical and legendary icons in Fantastic Beasts the Wonder of Nature, at the Natural History Museum. 17 May-3 Jan
  • Have you ever made a board game? Take the chance to get crafty with half-term activities at the London Transport Museum Depot. 29 May-6 Jun
  • Find out what it takes to become a knight with Knight School: The Show at the Tower of London. 29 May-6 Jun
  • Have you heard about the gruesome incidents which happened at Hampton Court Palace? Catch up at the Horrible Histories Live on Stage. 29 May-5 Jun
  • Be surrounded by the Dutch post-impressionist painter's masterpieces in a breathtaking immersive exhibition, featuring more than 3,000 images as part of Van Gogh Alive at Kensington Gardens. 4 Jun-26 Sep
  • Dive into the world of small but mighty invertebrates at the new Tiny Giants installation at ZSL London Zoo, or spend a day exploring the miniature world of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 29 May-16 Jul

Kids' outdoor activities during summer half-term

Where to stay and where to eat with kids in London

Epic exhibitions for kids and teens

Visitors engaging with interactive exhibits in the Exploring Space Gallery at the Science Museum © Science Museum Group

  • The Artistic Legacy of Joseph Banks comes alive at the Natural History Museum, with an exhibition displaying elements of his life and interests. 17 May-17 Sep
  • See what clean energy engineers have in store to tackle our carbon footprint in Our Future Planet, the world's first major exhibition focusing on the subject, at the Science Museum. 19 May-4 Sep
  • Your teenagers should visit the Saatchi Gallery, as it's reopening with striking exhibitions, including Philip Colbert's Lobsteropolis (19 May-6 Jun) and JR: Chronicles (4 Jun-3 Oct).
  • Check out David Hockney's digital artworks in an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, which he created during the coronavirus pandemic, from his home in Normandy. 23 May-26 Sep
  • Learn about the kings and queens of Britain in Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits at the National Maritime Museum. 28 May-31 Oct
  • Ponder exhibits relating to human health with various exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection.

Make this half-term fun at home

If you can't make it to London, enjoy a piece of the city at home with these epic ideas.

  • Order an at-home pizza making kit from Pizza Pilgrims, and challenge the kids to the best topping combination. 
  • Look beneath the surface of the Natural History Museum with a virtual tour around the Tank Room.
  • From weird facts about snails to bizarre things about beetles, fill your curiosity with online activities from the Royal Parks. 
  • Or satisfy your inner space explorer with the online Solar System Discovery show from the Royal Observatory. Weekends only
  • Make Wednesdays fun days! Join Toddler Time Online hosted by Cutty Sark, and watch your smiler turn into a singing and dancing sailor. Wednesdays

For more family day out ideas this half-term, take a look at a guide to London for kids, including the roundups of 101 things to do with children and teenagers. In need of last minute ideas? Check out this guide to the best things to do this weekend.

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