Pee-hoo! Moomin retrospective is a very fine adventure

I have hazy but happy memories of the Moomin TV series from the seventies and eighties, yet through having my own children it’s been fantastic to relearn and relive some of these magical tales in print. Taking things a step further, from now and until April 2017, Southbank Centre is giving visitors young and old a chance to step inside the world of the Moomins, in a brand new immersive exhibition.

Part of their year-long exploration of Nordic arts and culture Nordic Matters, Adventures in Moominland is the first major UK exhibition devoted to these adorable hippo-like characters and also provides fascinating insight around their artist and creator Tove Jansson and the era in which they were devised.

So, what’s to love?
No having to digest lengthy information. This exhibition is a guided experience, which really helps simplify some of the more complex themes for younger visitors, as well as providing memorable storytelling and group camaraderie!

It’s a multi sensory experience mixing audio, visual and at times the aromatic! The variety of worlds created (in partnership with set design specialists Front Left), are complimented with lively narrative (featuring Sandi Toksvig), evocative music, brilliant animation and even tropical rainforest smells, breathing life into the humble drawings and archive materials from Tove’s studio in Helsinki.

Permission to play. You’ll be asked to interact in so many different ways, from seeking out a hidden ruby in Moominvalley Forest to jumping up and down on the raft. Together with the tactile arrangement of the Moominvalley Forest in Room 5 and the enticing picnic in Room 8, you’ll struggle to drag them out after the average 6 or 7 minutes allocated per room.

What do you need to know before you book?
The exhibition has an age restriction of 7+. This is justified, especially given the darkness of some rooms, and the themes (and sounds) of war explored in Room 4: The Cave

The experience is almost an hour long in total, with one route in and out. There are emergency exits in each section of the show just in case you need to bail, but using the toilet isn’t going to be the best reason to put these into action, so make sure they go first! This is yet another supporting reason for the age guidance.

Passages are narrow and rooms themselves are small. You will need to consider how claustrophobic you or the children might be, especially when passing through in a group of up to 13. Wheelchairs users can enjoy the exhibition but wheelchairs will need to be less than 80cm wide to pass through. Buggies are not permitted. This is a group experience but there must be a minimum of one adult for every three children.

The exhibition is already selling into March next year, but there’s no need to worry that it will all be trashed by the time you get to it, especially with the frequency of tours running. Southbank Centre has made a contingency by operating for only half the day on a Monday, giving them valuable time to reset and restore.

Outside of celebrating some core Nordic principles such as equality, diversity and play, the exhibition also highlights what a pioneering woman of her time Tove was; working, travelling and braving new relationships, in an era of immense social and political change.

Where Adventures in Moominland also triumphs is in its ability to capture all the excitement and playfulness of these beautiful stories, without losing any of their beauty or serenity. According to Artistic Director Jude Kelly, it also serves as a timely reminder of how important it is to provide fertile thinking space for families to enjoy the arts together, with every single one of us being capable of drawing on our own personal story, to bring out the artist inside.

Adventures in Moominland is on until 23rd April 2017
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
See website for details of admission times and charges

A pop-up Moomin shop is now on site and there are also participatory activities and workshops running as part of Imagine Children’s Festival in February half term

Other events and exhibitions have also been planned for Dulwich Picture Gallery and Kew Gardens.

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Imagine 2017 is a great big hygge of a children’s festival

It’s that time again! Booking is now open for one of the biggest and most exciting events in the family friendly arts calendar, Southbank Centre’s 2017 Imagine Children’s Festival.

Running for the duration of February half term (9-19 February 2017), the festival is conveniently timed, at exactly the midpoint in the year before our beloved Edinburgh Fringe, providing a much-needed fix of arts and cultural activities which span theatre, dance, literature, spoken word, workshops and installations.

An extension of the Southbank Centre’s season Nordic Matters, this year’s festival celebrates all that is great and good about Nordic society; equality, sustainability and play, responding with an incredible programme which is diverse, inclusive and affordable, with more than half the line-up this year being free.

Proving no child is too young to enjoy Imagine, highlights for the under 3’s include the fully immersive performance; Neverland, which uses 360 degree video projections and original music to tell the story of a child’s imagination, as well as circus performances for all the family in Wow Hoop. There’s also a chance for you to prove you’ve still got it (as well as no pressure for little ones to stay quiet, or stay put) thanks to the infectious Groove Baby, Rave-a-Roo and Swedish Baby Rave.

Those with pre-schoolers (3-5’s) will probably already be more than familiar with The Gruffalo and Room on a Broom, but will not have seen anything like the Aurora Orchestra (conducted by Terry Davies) in René Aubry’s inspired scores, breathing new life into these well-loved film adaptations. Lively littluns will love the slightly surreal, Finnish dinosaur heavy metal band, Hevisaurus, who are making their London premiere following unprecedented success in their home country. Those preferring a slightly more mellow tempo might prefer Kangaroo Kisses, a fantastical interactive story-telling session with award-winning actor and writer Nandana Dev Sen.

Parents and carers visiting with older children are in for a celeb-tastic treat with dad’s favourite, breakfast radio star Christian O’Connell, introducing his first kids book, Radio Boy. Comedian and author Julian Clary and award-winning illustrator David Roberts will also be reading and live drawing, as they introduce their new book The Bolds on Holiday. Denmark’s most famous export LEGO® will be on-site inviting children to build their city of the future, fresh from building their own flagship store in London’s Leicester Square and building rather large walls between themselves and the Daily Mail. For older theatre-lovers there’s the incredible Danyah Millersprinkling her storytelling gold dust onto Michael Morpurgo’s enchanting tale, Why The Whales Came, following last year’s acclaimed treatment of I Believe In Unicorns.

From my discussions with Imagine’s own Tamsin Ace a few months ago, it was clear that the festival’s popularity shows no sign of wavering, which makes it so surprising that no other arts institutions have taken up the mantle to challenge their family-friendly crown. If (like us) you can’t wait until February for most of these delights, next month the Southbank Centre unveils its first ever UK exhibition on Moomins, in their long running immersive and interactive exhibition Adventures in Moominland. The exhibition is devised from the work of Finnish author Tove Jansson, and promises a host of theatrical sets and rare archive illustrations.

Arts Aloud is lucky enough to be attending the preview, meaning you’ll get our verdict as quick as a flash, in fact, quicker than you can say “Jack Frost”, or “Jokul Frosti” for our Nordic friends.

Imagine Festival takes over the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre from 9-19 February 2017.
See website for details of the full programme.

Arts Aloud Interview: Holly Hunter on using the arts to champion children’s rights

Three years ago, the Southbank Centre made a bold decision to use the arts to raise awareness of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; a little-known international treaty that sets a benchmark for the treatment of children in our society.

Arts Aloud spoke to Holly Hunter, Participation Producer for the WHY? What’s Happening for the Young festival, on the key issues to be tackled this year and how families can get involved.

AA: What is the background to the festival?
HH: The festival was the brainchild of artistic director Jude Kelly. She felt that although we might have come a long way from a society where children are seen but not heard, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is still relatively unknown, with far too many rules still not being adhered to. The festival therefore provides an opportunity for policy makers, social workers, families, children of all ages and their schools to immerse themselves in what it means to be a child in today’s society and provide a platform for them to be better represented in relation to political and social issues.

What are the key issues being tackled by this year’s programme?
From a political perspective, the fallout from Brexit and what it means for our children is a big focus for this year, and is likely to feature during MP Stella Creasy’s talk and workshop, devised for 15 to 25 year olds who are keen to find out more about politics.

Virgin Territory tackles the over-sexualisation of our children in the media, whilst interactive performance installation Seen and Not Heard addresses the proliferation of selfie culture in our society. Created and performed by 11-16 year olds, it challenges its peers to consider how their personal information is being accessed, used and shared online.

We hope to explore how global issues impact our children such as the refugee crisis and religious radicalisation and we’ll be hosting a day of talks and workshops for professionals who work with children and young people, supporting them to tackle the growing issue of mental health amongst the young. Specialist contributors include punk poet Brigitte Aphrodite, as well as mindfulness expert Dr Tamara Russell and choreographer Jo Rhodes.

The long-term challenge for WHY? What’s Happening for the Young is how we go on to inspire more young change-makers and activists

How involved are children and young people in the actual creation of content?
We’ve hosted a range of ‘think-ins’ to develop this year’s programme, harnessing input from everyone including Year 10 work experience students to our young ambassadors, visiting local schools and of course those who work with children and young people. Alongside work such as Seen and Not Heard and Layla’s Room which have been created through working with young people, other key elements of the programme have been mapped against the UN Convention to ensure all issues and rights are represented. In additional to this, the WHY? Festival Makers, a group of 12 young people aged 15-21, have also curated a unique afternoon of music chosen to celebrate these rights and inspire social change, leading into an evening event featuring performances from BBC Young Musician of the Year Jess Gillam and dance troupe Zoonation.

Outside of the activities for schools and professional forums, how can visiting families get involved?
Families can take part in a range of activities for all ages this weekend, some paid-for and some completely free including creative dance workshops exploring children’s right to freedom of thought and expression; outdoor games which we’re calling ‘The Big Play’ including the creation of a giant human knot and a mass game of ‘it’ as well as a ‘Big Sing’ workshop. We’re also the brilliant Comedy Club for Kids as well as Pram Jam for the very little ones. 

One of the most important outcomes for the festival is for our children to know they have rights, they have a voice…

What does the future hold for the festival and do the outcomes inform other Southbank Centre festivals?
The long-term challenge for WHY? What’s Happening for the Young is how we go on to inspire more young change-makers and activists. The festival is still in its infancy, but I’d like to see content devised to inspire a wider range of age groups, as well as an extended festival with even more opportunities for children or young people to get involved – whether contributing or performing. This year, young people made up 40% of our contributors, last year this was only 30%, so we’ve already seen an improvement. We hope to see all of our young visitors return to enjoy other festivals, particularly those devised with them in mind, such as Imagine or Strive, however, one of the most important outcomes is for our children to know they have rights, they have a voice. We need them to believe that they can make a difference, even on a local level.

 

WHY? What’s Happening for the Young runs from the 19th to 23rd October at Southbank Centre.
See website for the full programme, opening times and admission prices.

Arts Aloud Interview: Tamsin Ace on creating the perfect arts programme for children

Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival is now one of the biggest hitters in the children’s arts calendar.

Arts Aloud spoke to Tamsin Ace, Head of Festival Programme and a busy working mum herself, to pick her brains on what makes it so special.

AA: How did Imagine Children’s Festival first come about?
TA: Believe it or not, the festival is actually one of the Southbank Centre’s longest running festivals, even pre-dating Artistic Director Jude Kelly’s 10 years on the programme. Historically there was always a strong literature focus for half term breaks, but the idea was to create more of an ‘appointment to visit’ in the calendar.  Creating a ‘festival’ of arts meant that we could make it much bigger and also look for ways to incorporate broader aspects of the children’s arts scene, year-round. 

Did you have a specific audience in mind when you devised the festival? (For example, Early Years, KS1 or KS2) and how do you balance content for the range of visitors that the festival might appeal to?
Imagine Children’s Festival puts children of all ages at the heart of the festival, not just in the events and activities but every aspect, from including them in visitor experience teams to selling merchandise, serving food and generally running the show! That’s something that we are very proud of and love to shout about.

Children have always been a very important part of the community. Morning, noon and night we have always worked to create a space that children can be free in. As you’ve said, some parents perhaps feel that they sometimes ‘colonise’ the space with their young children and buggies, but the festival was keen to take things one step further and make a point of actively encouraging this family participation. We didn’t want to create a festival where children were invisible and it was run by adults.

The Imagine journey is very much one of discovery, where visiting families are open to discovering other art forms

 

How is the festival funded and how does this impact on the content that is available?
Outside of the Arts Council funding that we receive, the remainder of the festival is funded in a variety of ways including ticketing, retail units on our website, sponsorship opportunities and contributions of other trusts. Every festival has a subsidy of some description but by funding it in this way it fulfils our ability to create a programme which has a careful balance of commercial and populist content, as well as aspects which are free or alternative. 

Typically, well-known aspects to the programme, such as the reimagining of well-loved children’s books, are easy crowd winners and certainly draw the audience, but once they are in we hope that the journey is very much one of discovery, where visiting families are open to discovering other art forms which they weren’t aware of previously.

Does the festival have any official learning objectives at play? Or is inspire and entertain the main aim?
Although it’s not our official call-out, I’d probably say the main aim is to ensure that what’s on offer both reflects children and challenges them. We spend a lot of time curating content for the programme and researching the very best in the children’s arts scene, but equally there are an array of artists who we might already be aware of that aren’t making stuff for a family audience, and perhaps could. 

Artists such as Eilidh MacAskill and her Gendersaurus Rex project is a really good example. Her work asks some serious questions about gender, feminism and sexuality. It would be brilliant to find a way to get children thinking about some of these issues in an appropriate way. 

In terms of learning, we feel that the majority of this comes from the quality, creativity and diversity of the work on offer. Bringing this to a new audience is the single biggest learning opportunity. 

In your view, what do you believe to have been the most successful or memorable aspect of the festival?
I’ve been at Southbank Centre for 8 years, taking over the Imagine programme 5 years ago, and I have seen so much growth in that time. 

Literature has really moved on and remains at the heart of the programme. We’ve built on our publisher relationships beyond the culture of ‘new releases’ and ‘junkits’ and now have a very carefully curated programme of author talks, signings and workshops. 

The expansion of the free programme has also been fantastic, with aspects running all day, from 10.30am to 4pm. Plus we’ve also transformed the dining space in the Royal Festival Hall to provide an abundance of seating in order for families to enjoy their own packed lunch on-site. 

The introduction of our ‘mini festival makers’ has also been a proud moment. Children have always been part of the journey but from the minute that we became a ‘festival’, children have had an increased input, even getting involved in the design of its identity. We had school groups of children 7 to 10 years old from Lambeth visiting weekly in the first year and it was their input that helped create a fresher more relevant appearance (the brightly coloured robot and alien images now synonymous with the festival). This kind of collaboration has since evolved into one-day takeovers. 

We’d like to make superstars out of more authors…
that would be a very good message to send our children

What’s your vision for the future?
We see no reason why the festival can’t continue to get bigger and better every year. Space is an obvious constraint and challenges exist around how we can meet our full capacity yet avoid the feeling of overcrowding for visitors. 

We also want to welcome even more of the local community to the Royal Festival Hall and see them enjoying the festival as well as spending a greater amount of time in the space and around the site.

From an artistic perspective we’d love to see more international work and perhaps even commission some more of our own work. This year David Walliams was obviously hugely popular but we’d also like to make superstars of even more authors, newer or perhaps lesser-known authors. We feel that would be a very good message to send our children.

Imagine Children’s Festival runs for 2 weeks in February and includes a programme of children’s music, theatre, literature and free events. 

Check back for updates on the programme for 2017 (Usually released around November). 

9 family-friendly arts activities for this summer

If you’re looking for something different to do over the school holidays or struggling to find ways to occupy toddlers now that the playgroups are on summer lock-down, fear not! You haven’t already missed out on booking those one-off sought-after events and you don’t have to spend a fortune on big-ticket activities. Arts Aloud has a host of arts-based family fun that you can’t afford to miss!

1. All aboard the Floating Cinema Various London locations (including Regents Canal near Broadway Market E8 and Canalside Steps near Kings Cross, various times, admission £TBC, 20th Aug-20th Sept)
As well as a chance to venture off to some of London’s hidden canals and waterways, this is far more than a chance to watch a few films on a barge. UP Project’s award winning architectural structure returns to London this summer bringing a programme of film screenings, participatory events, workshops and talks, many of which are suitable for visiting families. This year’s theme, curated in partnership with artist / film-maker duo Somewhere (Nina Pope & Karen Guthrie) is a journey beyond earth and into space, and is set to include an immersive space odyssey, open air screenings of sci-fi cult classics and a summer space school. Sign up to the mailing list to hear full details of the programme when it launches.

2. Banish a rainy day in London’s artiest soft play Abbey Leisure Centre, Barking, Mon-Wed & Fri 10am-7pm, Thurs 10am-6pm, Sat & Sun 9am-6.30pm, admission for £1.50 for under 1’s, £4.50 under 3’s, £5.50 3-12 yrs. Age & height restrictions apply to some areas. Check website for details
Everything about this soft play is extraordinary, including it’s Barking location. Flying in the face of conventional multi-coloured soft play, The Idol’s monochrome appearance was the brainchild of Turner Prize-nominated artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd and took inspiration from a Neolithic figure discovered in the borough in 1922. Kids can climb the two-storey-high climbing frame, venture into the mythical creature’s head and look out of its two giant eyes, before heading down a giant slide.

3. Explore poetry written just for kids in a secret corner of the Southbank Centre The Saison Poetry Library, Southbank Centre, Tues-Sun 11am-8pm, admission free
Believe it or not, during the school holidays you can still find a cosy quiet corner of the Southbank Centre. Take the marvellous JCB singing lift to the 5th floor and while away the day exploring some of the 200,000 items making up Britain’s most comprehensive collection of poetry, including a dedicated children’s section. Read your favourite poems and discover new ones, plus listen to poets perform on CDs and DVDs. Kids can even try their hand at writing their own using rhyming dictionaries. Plus for the very young there’s Rug Rhymes (24th Jul 10.30-11am, 25th July 11-11.30am, foyer spaces).

4. Listen to the sound of a masterpiece at Soundscapes The National Gallery, daily 10am-6pm, until 6th Sept, admission free for children under 12, adults £10, concessions available
If you’re intimated by by taking the kids into the silence of a gallery space, then worry not! Here’s one exhibition where they’ll be drowned out by the soundtrack. Soundscapes exhibition commissioned musicians and sound artists, from classical composers to club DJs, to select a painting from the collection and compose piece of music in response. The result is an immersive experience that allows you to ‘hear’ the paintings as well as see them.

5. Lose yourself in the Serpentine Pavilion Next to the Serpentine Galleries, Kensington Gardens, daily 10am-6pm until 18th Oct, admission free
Explore the secret corridors and pathways of this colourful cocoon by Madrid-based architects SelgasCano, and reward yourselves with a knickerbocker glory when you reach the middle. Read up on my most recent visit.

6. See the best in free street theatre on the National Theatre’s River Stage National Theatre, South Bank, various times, 24th Jul-30th Aug, River Stage admission free, fees apply to NT workshops
If you’re struggling to find theatrical delights to entertain kids of various ages, you’ll love the drop-in nature of this summer’s brand new River Stage. Playing to the strengths of its South Bank location, the recently created Riverside Square will be showcasing a host of free public performances at family-friendly times, including street theatre, live music, circus and dance. There’s also a programme of hands-on workshops for families and children to discover the skills and secrets behind productions in the Clore Learning Centre.

7. Discover playground design from the post-war era at the Brutalist Playground RIBA, 66 Portland Place, Mon-Sun 10am-5pm, Tues 10am-8pm, until 16th Aug, admission free
In contrast to today’s risk-averse playground surfaces, this part-sculpture, part architectural installation harks back to an era of post-war design which prioritised creating areas of play space for children within social housing, through making the best of the ruins of wartime devastation. Commissioned by Turner Prize nominees Assemble and artist Simon Terrill, this revival of now-lost Brutalist landscapes is a softer-squidgier version, recreated using foam-blocks to protect your little cherubs should they fall.

8. Take a baby-friendly gallery tour at the National Maritime Museum National Maritime Museum, Sammy Ofer Wing Foyer, 5th Aug, 11am, parents & carers with children under 1 year, admission free, booking recommended
Finally another London arts institution inviting parents and carers with very young babies into their gallery space, to enjoy a talk with a squawk! Step forward the National Maritime Museum’s Curator of Art, Dr Melanie Vandenbrouck, who will lead you on a tour of art highlights around the site, including Yinka Shonibare’s Ship in a Bottle. If you need to divide and conquer, older kids (6-12 years) can join Punchdrunk’s immersive theatrical journey through the museum’s incredible maritime history, by joining the crew of HMS Adventure in Against Captain’s Orders (Daily until 31st Aug, admission £19.50, booking advised).

9. Follow the bear around an arts trail with a difference Pick up a free Pawprint Trail map from the Paddington Shop, Paddington Station, Mon-Fri 7.30am-7.30pm, Sat & Sun 9am-7pm
Last summer was awash with arts trails, from buses to bears. For those still crying into their marmalade sandwiches, lamenting the loss of Paddington from the streets, cry-not! Instead, seek out some familiar faces from last summer on the brand new Pawprint Trail. There’s 4 uniquely decorated Paddingtons to spot, as well as a Water Maze, unusual mechanical bridges and a Puppet Theatre Barge, all housed in this hugely underrated area of West London. Grab a map from the Paddington Shop in Paddington Station, where you can also buy a furry friend to take on your way. Read more in Londonist.

Carsten Höller @HaywardGallery: What every parent should know before they visit.

There’s no mistaking the big draw of Carsten Höller’s new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. With my eldest referring to every non-conventional slide as a helter skelter, we couldn’t wait to be one of the first to slide down ‘the slide to end all slides’. So there there was a bit of making up to do before we’d even set foot in the door, when we collected our tickets and found out that the much heralded Isomeric Slides were 100% not for little people.

Passing trade or speedy bookers will have missed the disappointing news that the slides carry a minimum height restriction of 120cm/4ft, and given that the slide marks the exit of the exhibition (and there isn’t a child relocation service!) this news will also disappoint accompanying parents when they have to bow their heads and take the lift instead. And if you’re thinking of enjoying this whilst your baby is in the pram fast asleep, your luck is out too, you’ll need to take an alternative entrance. It’s not the greatest start to my review, granted, but it’s important to state this up front.

Now, hopefully you are still reading, because what you also really need to know that slides aside, you are just about to witness one of the most awe-inspiring and family friendly exhibitions I have seen in a very long time. Hayward Gallery, you are very much forgiven.

So much is great about this exhibition, it has to be seen to be believed, so I don’t want this review to turn into a series of spoilers. Believe me, however, when I say, that if you brave only one exhibition with the kids this year, brave this one, because even to a seasoned kiddy gallery-goer like me, it’s the most relaxed I have been in a major gallery for a while.

Here’s my top 3 Arts Aloud highlights:

Flying Mushrooms – Alice in Wonderland fans will love these fairytale mushrooms, strung upon a mobile structure that can be manually swung in different directions to spin above your heads. The only thing that interrupts the hallucinogenic feeling for parents, is the consciousness that visitors of a certain height can be knocked out or decapitated by them at any time.

The Forests – Comparable with that moment on an aeroplane, when finally the in-flight entertainment comes on; a rare moment to focus on your own destiny. No head is too small to don the 3D headset and headphones to embark upon a night journey through a snow-covered forest, which eventually forces you to see double. If that’s too much for your 2 year old, the Start and Reset buttons are hours of fun.

Fara Fara – A bit like standing in a multi screen cinema without the seats, this two-screen video installation is based around the music scene in Kinshasa, Congo. Before you even get in the room it sounds like there is an all-night party going on that you need to be part of. The spirit of this piece picks you up and keeps you there. My 2 year old groover had to be dragged out kicking and screaming.

In summary, Decision offers visitors just that; a choice. A choice when, how and why to interact with a series of installations, devices and situations designed to throw all the gallery rules out of the window and liberate even the most inhibited audience.

For me it was the ultimate meeting of art and science, theatre and fun all wrapped up with a healthy portion of visitor camaraderie – something you don’t experience much of when you visit galleries with under 5’s. So if you are lucky enough to experience the Two Flying Machines high upon the roof or exit by hurtling down the Isomeric Slides (and not through the gift shop), you might have a rare moment of peace to ask yourself the age-old question; “..but really, is this art?” The Decision is yours.

Decision is at Hayward Gallery until 6th September 2015 (Mon 12–6pm, Tues, Weds, Sat & Sun 11am-7pm, Thurs & Fri 11am-8pm, Standard Admission £15, Children under 12 free).

Nearby: Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love has more explorative installations on the riverfront terrace, as well as pop-up theatre, live music and daily free activities for kids of all ages.

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.