Here is a quick guide put together by our London editor, Laura Evans Vogel, showing what is on that is free and affordable in Central London for families during the Olympics.
If you can’t get into the Olympic Park, you can soak up some of the essential spirit of the event right in Westminster. You can’t get closer to the pulse of London than ambling around Westminster to take in some sights and some sport.
On Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th July, you can see Road Cycling on Constitution Hill. On Saturday 4th August and Tuesday 7th, you can see the cycling leg of the Triathlon go by to the finish at Buckingha Palace. Then Saturday 4th and
Saturday 11th August, Race Walking will go by.
When you are walking the kids around to explore Westminster and watch the events, there is a really nice playground in St. James’s Park, opposite the Wellington Barracks, along Birdcage Walk. The park will be filled with food venders and
the vast green space makes an excellent picnic area.
Knightsbridge is a fantastic place to enjoy London during the Olympics for families. Head over to the Serpentine on Saturday August 4th and Tuesday 7th for the Triathlon. The north side of the Serpentine is ticketed, but the entire south side and the bridge would make great vantage points to see the swimmers.
You are also close to The BT Live Site in Hyde Park which will televise the games live giant screens and host loads of family
events like the Cadbury Village, have a go sports area, live concerts all day and headline acts in the evenings. Most
events are free.
You can catch open water swimming on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th Aug. There is a great playground near the Hyde Park Barracks, close to the south side of the Serpentine. Just a short walk from Harrods, the Queen’s Life Guard heads over to
Buckingham Palace and returns right next to this playground.
Knightsbridge is home to loads of iconic flagship stores along Brompton Road and Sloane Avenue. There is a wonderful secret hidden playground (with entry for a family of four £9) just behind the Lido on the Serpentine. It has a paddling pool, picnic area and playground. You can head down to the Serpentine and wade or swim.
Next best place for Olympic action is Trafalgar square and near-by Victoria Embankment where on Sunday 5th and Sunday 12th August you can catch the marathon. They will do three passes – good incentive to get a place and hold it.
The nearest green spaces are St. James’s Park
Not too far away the Victoria Embankment Gardens. Also, Somerset House has their fountain
courtyard where kids can run and play in the fountains. Somerset House will be hosting Casa Brazil,
an art exhibit showcasing Brazilian art and design in preparation for Brazil 2016. (free entry to both)
Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery are right by Trafalgar Square and have free entry. Not too far away is Somerset House which also has free entry and interesting art exhibits. The London Transport Museum costs £13.50 per adult with children under 16 free, fascinating museum and particularly fun for the under fives.
This is a great neighbourhood to see some of the world-class periphery events taking place for the Olympics.
On the West side of the Albert Memorial there will be the Africa House, where families can enjoy food, music, dancing and artwork from Africa. On the other side of the memorial will be the Russia House, an interactive digital suite showcasing the Winter Olympics 2014 taking place in Shochi, Russia. Check it out with 4D theatre experience of being in the Baltic Mountains, traditional food, live coverage of the Olympics on big screen and more.
On Monday, 30th July, head over to Exhibition Road for an afternoon of fun, music, food, performance.
The Natural History Museum with its massive dinosaur exhibit, Investigate Room in the basement (do not
miss) and loads of other interactive areas is located here. The Science Museum next door has lots to offer all age kids. Take small children down the basement for the most amazing water table and play area; take bigger kids up to the launch pad
and interact with a room full of experiments, magnets, circuits and simple machines. Also the V and A across the
street will have their top-quality art workshops where children can go and make and learn.
Head over this way for some fabulous events like Owl and the Pussycat, water-bound operatic. The Royal Opera House is bringing culture out to the canals and waterways during the Olympic festival. Wednesday 25th July, 2:30 and 6:30 come see a free performance of the operatic rendering of this cherished tale.
Head over to Paddington Recreation Ground on Tuesday 24th July from noon – late afternoon for a free afternoon of fun and festivities. On Saturday 28th July, head back and check out Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege, a life-size replica of Stonehedge as a fully functional bouncy castle.
Little Venice is a secret charming area of London that one should take time to explore. Paddington Rec is a huge green space with a fantastic playground.