Conrad Shawcross is sending kids loopy in Dulwich Park

Just yards from South London’s popular Dulwich Picture Gallery, Dulwich Park has built a reputation for extending resident exhibitions and providing a platform for public art.

Three years ago the park’s bowling club house became adorned with a brand new mural, a result of a collaboration between the gallery’s Ingrid Beazley and street artist Stik, recreating old masters on the streets of the area. This popular piece is still highly visible close to the children’s playground (currently undergoing a refit). Over the years the park has also been home to a unique Barbara Helpworth sculpture, Two Forms, designed in 1969 and installed in 1970, that is until it was stolen by metal thieves in December 2011, leaving a dearth of public art in this popular family space.

Conrad Shawcross’s work Three Perpetual Chords, commissioned by Southwark Council, hopes to address this with a brand new collection of cast iron sculptures, forming a permanent installation in the park and promising to be theft proof. The sculpture work was unveiled last weekend, and was launched to coincide with his exhibition Counterpoint, currently on display in the Gallery’s Permanent Collection.

As fairly local residents, we were lucky enough to be early on the scene for giving them a test run, and I have to say, they proved popular with children of all ages. All three of the imposing knot-like sculptures are visible from a single viewpoint, creating an exciting challenge for kids, as they follow the trail to negotiate the progressively more complex frames.

Interestingly, on our visit, there seemed to be a trend towards navigating the structures barefoot to try and gain some traction, something that I am sure will have the health and safety teams at Southwark Council holding their breath. But, like a breath of fresh air against a newly ‘gentrified’ playground of tree houses and exposed wood, these felt like a nod to the old-school climbing frames of the 1980’s, the ones that were almost impossible to negotiate, no matter how old you were.

Shawcross’s exhibition is only on until 14th June, but thankfully these interactive wonders are here to stay. And for once, it’s the adults standing on the sidelines looking confused, whilst the children, like some kind of second nature, seem to understand exactly what to make of them.

Conrad Shawcross: Counterpoint is showing at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 14th June 2015 (Tues-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm, Admission £6, Children under 18 go free).

Three Perpetual Chords are closest to the Court Lane Gate, Dulwich Park.

5 Arts Aloud Easter Treats

This Easter, Arts Aloud is going Stateside, hoping to bring you the best of the US family-friendly arts scene. Whilst I am away, here are 5 Easter treats that I don’t want you to miss.

My First Ballet: Swan Lake, Sadlers Wells
The icing on the cake of Sadlers Wells’ Spring season, My First Ballet is an exciting collaboration with English National Ballet inviting children as young as three to experience an adaptation of a classic ballet production for the first time ever. Narrators and shortened musical scores help little ones to follow proceedings in the relaxed space of the Peacock Theatre (2-12 April, Tickets £10-£20, Advance booking essential).

The Idol by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, New Abbey Leisure Centre
Commissioned by Create, this world-beating 3-storey soft play area devised by Turner Prize nominee Chetwynd, centres around a fantastical creature called The Idol and invites children to explore his monochrome world through a series of walkways, chambers and ramps (Year-round, Centre Opening Times: Mon-Fri 6.30am-10pm, Sat & Sun 8am-9pm, check website for specific session times)

Magnificent Obsessions, Barbican Art Gallery
Providing unique insight into the influences and obsessions of a range of artists, this awe-inspiring exhibition brings together popular collectables, rare artefacts and one-of-a-kind curiosities and is sure to pose a challenge to any curious toddler (12 Feb-25 May, Adults £12, Under 12s free, Concessions available, Advance Booking Recommended)

The Boy Who Bit Picasso, The Albany (Deptford Lounge)
A heartwarming story of a young boy who became friends with one of the greatest artists who ever lived, this interactive theatre show is packed with music and storytelling as well as the chance to make your very own masterpiece. Dress for mess!
(9-10 April, 12.30pm & 2.30pm, Tickets £7, Family Ticket £24, Recommended age 4+)

Chorus, Southbank Centre
If you’re one week into the school holidays and already struggling, bring some harmonious melodies to the heart of your family through the Southbank Centre’s annual Chorus festival. Celebrating the power of singing together, the festival plays host to a range free events and family workshops including your chance to be one of 1000 voices filling Royal Festival Hall on Easter Sunday (Until 12 April, Free, Suitable for all ages).

Happy Easter! Looking forward to hearing about your adventures.

*Ticketed activities are subject to availability at the time of publication.

How art is transforming Margate for families

My position on amusement parks has changed very little in 30 years. When I was growing up, i was always excited about the spectacle of the funfair, the heady collection of sounds and smells that made up the ultimate family day out, far more so than the nervous energy and anticipation that resulted from ‘rolling-up’ to test your wits against the Whip, or hold your nerve on the Ghost Train.

I’m now very pleased to report, that the seaside town of Margate will soon unveil a brand new amusement park that is just my cup of tea. An amusement park where reluctant thrill-seekers like me can choose whether to get involved or just enjoy things from the sidelines. In actual fact, the restoration of Dreamland, one of Britain’s oldest surviving amusement parks, is one of a number of ways that art is slowly transforming Margate, from a scruffy old south coast town, to a vibrant seaside destination for family visitors.

Dreamland has seen over 10 years of adversity. To the backdrop of Margate’s own depressing picture of 20% unemployment, empty properties and a deserted high street, the site ran into disrepair, and was finally closed in 2003. Threatened by redevelopment, The Dreamland Trust rapidly formed and came to the rescue with a bold vision of restoring it to its former glory. Having overcome other major setbacks, such as an arson attack in 2008, the trust has worked tirelessly to secure £12m of public funding to not only restore the unique Grade II* listed Scenic Railway but reinstate other historical assets such as the cinema, the menagerie cages and a host of original rides. World-class designer Wayne Hemingway is also leading the charge, promising a truly immersive experience to visitors, where the lights, sights, smells and sounds will deliver what he refers to as a “sense of wonderment at every turn”.

When Dreamland is finally unveiled later this year as a celebration of the quintessential seaside experience, it won’t, however, be the first time that the community has chosen culture-led regeneration as its saviour.

At least 20 years earlier, local resident and former Chairman of the Margate Civic Society, John Crofts conceived the idea himself, through his vision of celebrating the town’s association with artist JMW Turner, in a bid to reverse its fortunes. With funding from Kent County Council, building on the landmark gallery began in 2008 and was finally completed in 2011. Today, perched at the end of Marine Drive, the brutalist structure of Turner Contemporary stands proud, celebrating the sea and the skies that inspired Turner’s long and loving relationship with Margate, whilst boosting the invigoration of the historical Old Town through retro and pop art influences.

To the family visitor, Turner Contemporary delivers everything that we have come to expect from a leading art gallery. Packed with world-class exhibitions, the gallery offers a luxury of space for young visitors to explore, along with a well-thought out education programme to encourage visits from schools and community organisations. All this for free, and without compromising the integrity of any of the artist work displayed. Then there’s the views, and for the views there’s the the ‘skying’ mats, giggling along with family visitors and encouraging them to enjoy the space in their own way.

This story of art-for-all has now continued into the Old Town. As well as a host of bijou galleries and creative cafes, it is home to the unique public art space Artist’s Alley; a pop-up gallery for practising artists and art students, dominating the cobbled streets between the Mayor’s Parlour and the museum, alongside the celebrated Margate Bazaar (Mar-Sept, Sunday, 11am-4pm).

A week ago the Duchess of Cambridge visited Margate. As well as visiting the Turner Contemporary, she explored a range of other arts projects and exhibitions around the town, cementing Margate’s growing reputation as a centre for art and artists, and recognition that the town is well and truly on the up. But if you’re thinking that Royal visitors and swanky new galleries has upgraded Margate to Monaco overnight, then rest assured; this Margate is not just for the second-homers or property developers. This Margate is still firmly rooted in its stoic community, a community that has stood by it through thick and thin.

This is not a community that has had art imposed on it, a community that’s the victim of the middle classes trying to gentrify it beyond recognition. It’s a strong savvy community, alive with personal stories and visionaries who have seized the opportunities that lie in Margate’s past and are committed to bringing them into the future for a new generation of visitors to enjoy.

So when it comes to Margate’s reversal of fortune, don’t be led by my fairground trick of standing on the sidelines. Join me and other families and get well and truly involved.

Dreamland Margate is due to open in late Spring 2015. See website for the latest on the redevelopment, or visit the Dreamland Expo (weekends from 10am until 4pm. Free entry, no booking required).

Arts Aloud: Family Friendly Half Term Highlights

If you’ve been too busy to organise activities and you’re panicking that half term is just around the corner, fear-not. Here’s some inspiration from across the family friendly arts scene:

Meeting Mr Boom! Exploring the themes of building relationships and overcoming life’s challenges, this live music and dance show is performed on an inflatable set, and then offers an irresistible opportunity to stay, play and bounce after the performance (The Albany at Deptford Lounge, 19-21 February, 12pm & 2.30pm, Admission £7, Age 3+).

50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) If you want to use half term as an excuse to strike and brave something new, this is just the ticket. Inspired by the book of the same name by Julie Spielger and Gever Tulley, acclaimed German theatre-makers Fundus Theater give your kids the chance to do it all. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and give them unimaginable tales to take back to school (Unicorn Theatre, 14-22 February, 11am & 1.30pm, Admission Adult £16, Child £10, Age 3-10)

Imagine Children’s Festival Promising to deliver over half of the programme this year absolutely free of charge, it’s never too late to plan a day out at this incredible spectacular. Check out my top picks.

Follow the Coloured Brick Road Inspired by the Wizard of Oz, artist Elisa Cantarelli invites you to add to her collection of coloured bricks that will sprawl across the gallery floor, connecting her various work on display. There is a free craft activity in the gallery (Recommended age 3+) plus a workshop for older kids to try their hand at her unique dotting technique (artsdepot, Exhibition 15-21 February, daily 10am-4pm, Admission free, Dotting workshop 20 February, 11am & 2pm, Admission £5, Age 8+).

Figures, Creatures and Tea, by Julia de Greff As well as some great shows topping and tailing the half term week, this vibrant collection of paintings and prints of animals include a giraffe, chickens, kittens, horses, cows, and a glorious whale plus a host of small exotic birds. To accompany the exhibition there’s a children’s gallery trail and a host of chalk boards to create their own versions of the work (Gallery @ Half Moon, 16-21 February and until 13th April, Mon-Fri 10am-6pm Sat 10am-4pm, Admission free).

Once There Was…The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers Renowned for their rotating programme of interactive family exhibitions, this magical exhibition allows little ones to venture into the world of some of their favourite characters. A priceless opportunity to climb inside a space rocket, row a boat with a penguin or conjure up a feast from the life-size fridge. This long-running feature is one not to miss (Discover Children’s Story Centre, 16-22 February and until 6 September, Mon-Fr 10am-5pm, Weekend 11am-5pm, Admission £5, Age 3-6)

London Children’s Book Swap A great way to kick off half term, this literary initiative asks children to bring along a book that they’ve enjoyed and swap it for someone else’s recommended read. A chance to share old favourites or discover new stories, as well as make their very own bookmark (Various London venues and times, 14 February, see their Facebook page for your nearest venue or follow the event on Twitter @LDNChildBkSwap, Admission free, All ages)

Roald Dahl Picture Book Week Whether they are familiar favourites or a first-time listen, this week-long storytelling event is a fantastic chance to celebrate the genius mad-cap stories of Roald Dahl. There’s also a chance to make an animal mask (all day, drop in) inspired by the characters from the books (Discover Children’s Story Centre, 16-22 February, Various times, Admission £5 , Age 3+ and 6+).

Comedy Club 4 Kids Just like a normal comedy club, but with less rude bits, a greater chance of being heckled and a time of day that kids can enjoy. This unique event sees the best stand-ups and sketch acts from the UK and international circuit, do their thing for an audience of children and their families (artsdepot, 22 February, 12pm & 2.30pm, Admission £7, Age 6+. Also touring other venues nationwide. See website for details).

Family Art Days Minutes from busy Upper Street, this hidden gem of a gallery is hosting two creative family days during the half term, inspired by the work of Renato Guttuso. Kids can bring along their own favourite object or choose from a selection of weird and wonderful items to create a still life arrangement to draw. Another event invites them to add their thoughts to the interactive colour wheel and make their own spinning colour palette (Estorick Collection, 17-18 February, 11am-4pm, Admission free for children with a paying adult, Adults £5, All ages)

Play in a Day: Chinese New Year Inspired by their resident theatrical production Yeh Shen (a Cinderella-style story from China) this Chinese New Year themed workshop introduces kids to a range of performance techniques including mime, physical theatre and improvisation (Polka Theatre, 17 February, 10.30-am-3.30pm, Admission £30, Age 5-7)

Behind the Scenes: Character Costume Making If your little one is a budding costume designer, then here’s a workshop to let their imagination run wild, with the help of a real life theatre designer. Whether their costumes are inspired by characters of their own or borrowed from their favourite stories, everyone will get the chance to show them off in a fashion show at the end of the day (Polka Theatre, 19 February, 10.30-am-3.30pm, Admission £30, Age 7-11)

Tuttle Families If you were inspired by my feature last year around Richard Tuttle’s Turbine Hall commission I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language, then you might want to return for Flock. Part of the Tuttle Families series, Flock is a free performance workshop for all ages and abilities, set to an original soundtrack and guided by dancers (Tate Modern, Turbine Hall, 14 February, 12-4pm, Admission free, Age 5+).

Ooo Mmm Open Studio If your kids prefer to lead the creativity, then perhaps instead pay a visit to the Ooo Mmm Open Studio created by artist Kate Squires, where you can create amazing art together as a family (Tate Modern, Clore Studio, 19-22 February, 11am-1pm and 2-4pm, Admission free, All ages).

Happy half term everyone, see you on the other side!

**Disclaimer: Ticketed events subject to availability at the time of press. Free events based on capacity and first come first served basis.

Adventures of the Black Square: Changing the world, and changing the rules.

It’s no secret that we’ve been frequenting more than a bit of abstract art, from Sigmar Polke at Tate Modern to the more recent Reiner Ruthenbeck at the Serpentine Gallery. With the arrival of Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract and Society 1915-2015 at the Whitechapel Gallery, I relished the opportunity to extend our interest, visiting something with lower stress levels, where more work would be hung on the walls, than on the floor, tempting toddlers.

Smack bang in the heart of the East End, the Whitechapel Gallery stands proud, a magnificent building with one toe in today’s trendy Shoreditch and the other in the scruffy Whitechapel of old. 10 minutes early, we had just enough time to guide the creation of the first ever babychino in the café, before starting our journey around the downstairs gallery.

Bringing together over 100 works by modern masters and contemporary artists, the show is presented across 6 galleries with 4 themes, each looking at the role of abstract art in society during this time; Utopia (starting with the headline act – Malevich’s Black Square), Architectonics (looking at space), Communication (impact on social change) and Everyday (role in everyday culture).

The collection was vast and daunting. Seeking out the familiar, it was no coincidence that the most popular pieces for us seemed to be recognisable shapes; Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red, the familiarity of Dan Flavin’s Monument for V. Tatlin (previously seen at the Tate), the playfulness of Painted Wood cubes by Rasheed Araeen and the obscureness of Blinky Palermo’s Blue Disk and Stick. The surprise hit of this gallery, however, was Oskar Schlemmer’s The Triadic Ballet. Unclear whether it was was the novelty of the headphones, the theatrical costumes or the wonder of the shapes cast by the tippy-toed ballerina, but this installation soon became unmissable, and one to return to again and again.

Feeling relieved that we had almost made it around the whole of the downstairs, without a warning from gallery staff, my heart jumped into my mouth when I turned around to see my youngest making her way across an area of large grey slate set across the floor. I dashed after her apologetically, but was soon reassured that it was artist Carl Andre’s intention for visitors to walk across his 16 Pieces of Slate. Hmmm, I thought. How do I explain that slate is ok, but Araeen’s Painted Wood is most definitely out of bounds? The same conundrum faced us as we looked at Andrei Monastyrski’s cuckoo clock up on the wall. Do we stick our fingers in it? Or don’t we?

It was time to flee the confusion and move to the upstairs gallery, but not before passing more interactive uncertainties on the stairscase. Annie Ratti’s social sculpture You and Me was begging to be sat on, two sumptuous red chairs, face to face in a huddle. It says ‘social’, but it doesn’t say ‘sit on me’. What to do? The answer was to steer clear and keep our eyes on Tobias Rehberger’s spectacular above us. Adaptation 13, was a worthy distraction, an incredible series of lamps built from brightly-coloured acrylic, creating an incredible light feature born out of simple utility.

Upstairs the exhibition really came to life, with the magnificent knitted achievements of Rosemarie Trockel’s Who Will Be In ’99? and the loudspeakers of Zvi Goldstein’s Element C-14, just begging to be shouted into. Next we were treated to a whirling kaleidoscope in Gunilla Klingberg’s Spar Loop. We stop to identify all the shapes present in nature, a star, a flower, a Tesco, an Aldi, before moving on to Sarah Morris’s epic film focussing on the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This cosy installation theatre showcasing padding ducks and dazzling ceremony, was proving difficult to extract the little ones from.

Browsing the penultimate pieces, there was just enough time for the kids to be encouraged onto Andrea Zittel’s Bench. Looking strikingly similar to a John Lewis rug display, it was now really becoming a challenge trying to understand when to get involved and when to stay back. Where have the white lines gone? And what about our ‘rules of the gallery’ that I tirelessly drill into them on every visit? (No touching, just looking).

Thank heavens for David Batchelor’s closing pieces, bringing us back to spectator-status as we admired his fantastic felt pen skills in the form of The October Colouring-In Book, a customised version of the long-running monochrome art journal.

Adventures of the Black Square is an immense journey, following abstract art from its beginnings, to its development across the globe, it’s a place to appreciate not just the contribution of the headline acts, but also give dues to some game-changing work from lesser known artists too. With a century-long exploration of paintings, sculptures, film and photographs, the mix of media here is impressive, however, it’s the mix of messages, from protection to interaction, that family visitors could find a challenge from room to room.

If you’re keen to know where you stand, don’t by-pass the famous Black Square but focus more on the work in the upstairs galleries. Or you could just relax and enjoy David Batchelor’s Monochrome Archive commission in Gallery 2 (Admission free). Here you are treated to a walk amongst a multi-screen installation, showcasing all 500 images from his commission, following what appears to be a global urban phenomenon; the ubiquitous white rectangle.

Alternatively, you can save your visit for their Family Day on Saturday 14th February (12-4pm, Admission free) where, alongside various activities, artist Abigail Hunt promises to help families navigate the gallery and explore the exhibition. Those with kids under 5’s might want to book ahead for their popular Crib Notes session on Wednesday 4th March (10am-12pm, Admission £8.50, includes refreshments), where Assistant Curator Candy Stobbs will guide you through maze of exhibits, signposting what’s what for you and your curious companions.

Further family listings can be found on the Whitechapel Gallery website.

Adventures of the Black Square is running at the Whitechapel Gallery until 6th April 2015 (Admission £13.50 gift aid, £11.95 without gift aid, concessions available).

Booking now: Imagine Children’s Festival, a smorgasbord of family fun

Every year the lunatics take over the asylum for two weeks, as the Southbank Centre hosts Imagine Children’s Festival, its annual arts festival dedicated to children.

Many of you will already be familiar with the space, and welcome some quiet contemplation whilst the kids throw themselves onto bean bags in The Clore Ballroom, or ride up and down in the JCB Singing Lift. For those of you who aren’t, the Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, comprising of three iconic buildings (Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery) located smack-bang in the heart of London’s bustling South Bank.

Packed with events and activities to keep families busy over half term, last year’s highlights included live illustration by Quentin Blake, The Big Sleepover on the Royal Festival Hall stage and a time machine. This year promises to be bigger and broader with events and activities for all ages.

Highlights from this year’s programme include:
– The return of the popular The Big Sleepover
Russell Brand will be keeping it clean, channeling his energy into reading from his new children’s book The Pied Piper of Hamelin
– The London premiere of a brand new production of Brundibár, the renowned children’s opera by Hans Krása
Bouncing Cats and Boom Boom Pups, a new Southbank Centre commission by Hip Hop spoken word artist Maxwell Golden who has created a special call and response children’s show
Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play – The stars of the hit BBC TV series and books by Lauren Child are brought to life by a magical mix of puppets, live interaction and music
– A bigger programme for babies with Baby Yoga sessions, Move and Shake and two shows for under-threes by Half Moon Young People’s Theatre; Curious and Circles in the Sand. Plus there will be a brand new early years soft play village

And for those who are usually put off by the high prices, the good news is that over half of the 2015 programme will be free of charge, offering all families and schools a chance to sample literature, music, theatre, poetry and dance, without having to part with a penny. There are also a wide selection of shows and activities for under £5.

Best of the free activities are:
– A family concert in The Clore Ballroom by the Young Orchestra for London, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle
Have a go strings with In Harmony Lambeth, drop-in session for kids to try their hand at playing the violin, viola, cello or double base under expert guidance
Cowboy Max, a free family theatre performance packed with adventures, from trick roping, whip and joke cracking to magic and song
– The chance to challenge the Queen of Hearts to a game of Flamingo Croquet on the Festival Terrace

And for fidgety bums there’s a host of dance activities such as Move and Shake and the grand Animal Parade, as well as nearby Jubilee Gardens; a great place to burn-off excess energy whilst watching some of the Southbank’s best street performers.

Most of the popular shows started booking out before Christmas, so if you haven’t already, get booking. Alternatively, you could just take a flight of fancy on the day, mosey on down and see what’s what.

One thing is for sure, it’s exciting, it’s noisy, it’s mayhem, but it is enlightening and absolutely always memorable. If you have been looking for the right opportunity to dip your toe into the children’s arts scene, then this annual spectacular is the perfect place to start.

Imagine Children’s Festival is on at the Southbank Centre from 9th – 22nd February 2015.

To receive updates on the Southbank Centre’s year-round programme of arts-based family activities, sign up to their email newsletter.


Reiner Ruthenbeck @SerpentineUK: Everyday abstract that left us all guessing.

‘It’s a giant pile of earth’ . It was a strong start.

There’s nothing better than taking kids to abstract art exhibitions where they can actually identify what they see. Sculptor and conceptual artist Reiner Ruthenbeck’s current exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery features just that, numerous everyday objects and materials presented in a way that challenges the viewer to find something new or unusual about their appearance.

And the giant pile of earth, was actually an ash heap, with two other neighbouring ash heaps, strewn with galvanised metal to form his Ash Heap series. We enjoy standing for a while, contemplating whether anything will pop out of the metal boxes that sit on top, making it look a bit like a mole hill or a rabbit warren.

We move into a passage way, pulling back a curtain to step into a pitch black room. The only thing that can be seen is a simple filament lightbulb. As we have in past exhibitions, we wait for something to happen. We stand there guessing what is to come. But it really is just a lightbulb. A single lightbulb in a pitch black room, designed to challenge the stark brightness of the everyday gallery. The pre schooler can’t wait to escape the darkness, but later, like some morbid obsession, she names it as her favourite bit.

We walk past a suitcase merrily playing a composition by the Fluxus experimental musician, Henning Christiansen. The next room is full of interesting exhibits, the most fascinating of which is two intertwined ladders. After our morning visit to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, my little one takes some convincing not to climb them. They remind us of the magic rings trick that we received in our Christmas crackers, and we try to work out how on earth you would separate them.

Evie: ‘Mum, look at this, quick!’. I head into the last room.

Me: ‘You didn’t knock all those chairs over did you Evie?’.

The gallery attendant smiles.

Evie: ‘It’s just a pile of papers and some chairs’.

She’s not wrong.

We seem to be frequenting these very installation based exhibitions at the moment, but Ruthenbeck’s work is particularly refreshing as it is as everyday as you can get. Rather than trying to guess what we are looking at from the beginning, or me having to pretend that I know, it’s evident. Instead, the guessing comes later as we review what else we can see, what we would like to see and what (if anything) the artist is trying to tell us. It’s all good fun.

I look around and the toddler is fast asleep in her buggy. I feel sad that she’s missed out, but on this occasion, it’s probably for the best. With so many familiar objects and items, we might have seen more than just a few chairs that needed tidying up.

Reiner Ruthenbeck is at the Serpentine Gallery until 15th February 2015. Admission free.

Nearby: Rain or shine you’re in a fantastic location to make a day of it. 

Shine: Indulge the kids with a few installations of a different nature at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. Set within the beautiful Kensington Gardens, the playground features everything from a life size pirate ship to colourful tipis and giant totem poles. Admission free. 

Rain: Less than 15 mins walk away is the superb Launchpad at the Science Museum, where curious children of all ages can explore over 50 hands-on exhibits from the world of Physics. From making water freeze, to thermal imaging and bouncing light. Recommended age 8 to 14 (but youngsters will love it too). Under 12s must be accompanied by an adult. Admission free (Recommended donation £5)