Cheap days out for kids in London, from ice skating to Halloween spooktaculars

Need some budget ideas for entertaining kids in London during half term?

We’ve got you covered.

When it comes to days out in the capital, saving money doesn’t mean you have to cut down on fun.

From a gory visit to London’s oldest prison to a high-flying trip over the Thames, here are some of the best (and most reasonably-priced) activities to book this October.

The Clink Prison

If homeschooling the kids felt more like being locked up than lockdown, maybe it’s time to visit the real thing.

The Clink Prison dates back to 1144 and is the oldest in Britain. These days nobody is getting robbed – an adult and child are a reasonable £15 to enter – and there is loads to explore in its gruesome 600-year history.

Situated in Southwark, visitors can see archaeological artifacts and handle old-style torture devices.

Famous inmates included Sir Thomas Wyatt The Younger, who rebelled against Queen ‘Bloody’ Mary I, and John Rogers, the man responsible for translating the Bible into English from Latin. There are even guided tours, so parents don’t have to do any teaching this time round.

Alexandra Palace Skating

There is more to ice skating than channelling your inner Torvill and Dean after one too many Glühweins at the Christmas Market.

The Alexandra Palace ice rink is open again and sessions start from £8 for children. The ice rink opened in one of London’s most famous buildings in 1990 and the east side of the Great Hall was subsequently used as a concert hall and even, at one point, a rifle range.

Famous faces at the rink have been Skepta and Robbie Williams, who shot the video for She’s The One there. Make sure to book online beforehand.

Pollock’s Toy Museum

If children are interested where toys come from – i.e. somewhere other than eBay or Amazon – then Pollock’s Toy Museum is the answer.

Housed in two oldy-worldy 18th and 19th-century buildings in Fitzrovia, this is the oldest toy museum in the UK and dates back even further than Pokemon on the Gameboy.

Begun in 1956, the collection is an eclectic mix of curios, each creaking room filled with unique cases displaying toys from the past and games from around the world.

Adults cost £9, while children’s tickets are just £4.50.

Mediatheque at BFI Southbank

A free, educational attraction that can keep children quiet for hours on end? Surely there is more chance of finding a craft beer that costs less than a fiver on London’s Southbank.

But the BFI Southbank Mediatheque is the world’s greatest film and TV archive, with over 95,000 titles available to watch for free.

We are talking rare TV, with classic episodes of cult kids’ TV series to iconic sitcoms, 1950s travelogues and documentaries from yesteryear, and Edwardian special effects in the earliest surviving film version of Alice In Wonderland from 1903. There is even the original Welsh-language version of SuperTed.

Terrible Thames

Who doesn’t like watching Horrible Histories, the TV show for kids that is funny enough for adults.

The hit show has been transported to the water for Terrible Thames, a rambunctious boat tour that retells the stories of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Julius Caesar, the Duke of Wellington, Queen Boudicca, Jack the Ripper and Captain Kidd – with the nasty bits left in.

This has been one of the hits of the summer – but there is still a chance to see it during half term.

A family ticket makes this unique day out that bit more affordable, costing £59.50 for two adults and two children or one adult and three children.

Big Fish Little Fish Halloween Spooktacular

Calling all those who defiantly stood on a dancefloor in the 1990s and 2000s and told themselves the party would never end – and then it did the moment they had kids.

Big Fish Little Fish has carved a name for itself for dishing up some proper large family raves – and Halloween is no exception.

Under-eights and their totally embarrassing parents can throw shapes rather than spoonfuls of baby food at brand new venue One Night Records on October 31. DJ Mark XTC (Hacienda) spins original acid house and jungle to families.

Adults £11, children £8 and it’s free for pre-walking infants.

Emirates Air Line cable car

For a fraction of the cost of the London Eye there is another, even quirkier way to get great views of the capital.

For as little as £2 for a child, the Emirates Air Line is a form of transport you would associate more with the Alps than TfL, crossing the Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks via cable car.

At around 90metres high, the Emirates Air Line is the highest observation point across the Thames, taking in views of Canary Wharf, the Shard, The O2, the Thames Barrier, Maritime Greenwich and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

There are even night flights for no extra charge with an extended running time.

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