So, how do you entertain the kids in London during the Christmas holidays without letting them loose on another poor shopping centre Santa Claus? If you’re looking for inspiration beyond the predictable squeeze into a packed cinema to see something vaguely Christmassy, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our list of top festive themed events for all the family; many of them completely free.
Warm up your winter with traditional music, stories and performances typical of a Caribbean Christmas. Starting in The Clore Ballroom at midday, we have poets and artists performing pieces about the festive season in the islands, and celebrating West Indian traditions in the UK and abroad. From 3pm we move on to Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer for a Caribbean Christmas Party featuring live musicians and DJs.
Join us in Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer from noon and to create your own handmade decorations for your friends and family at a special crafting workshop. To help fuel your creativity we’ll also have live music courtesy of the young musicians of Tomorrow’s Warriors at their Extraordinary Winter Showcase.
'It’s the time when every Santa has a ball,' if Slade are to be believed, and the same goes for Santa’s little helpers too. So let your elves join us in The Clore Ballroom from noon to show off their best fancy dress, learn dance moves to your favourite seasonal hits, and join in festive games and fun for the entire family.
Join us for the UK premiere of this retelling of the beloved fairytale Rumpelstiltskin. The familiar story has been reimagined by Windmill Theatre Company, with magical mayhem, rocking music and supreme silliness. Perfect for ages eight and over, this groundbreaking theatrical spectacle is anything but traditional, plunging you into a fantastical world, fizzing with fun and laughs.
Experience the thrills and daredevil entertainment of the golden age of circus this Christmas with the European premiere of this incredible show. Circus 1903 includes sensational life-sized elephants stunningly created by puppeteers from War Horse, as well as all the popular circus staples, including acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, trapeze and high-wire performers and more.
If your kids are too young to late to stay up until midnight, come and join us for their very own Kids’ Countdown in Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer from 11.30am. Starting the celebrations early we’ll have all the familiar ingredients of a classic New Year’s event - a countdown clock, Auld Lang Syne, confetti cannon - just at a more child-friendly hour. Dress to impress, and don’t forget your dancing shoes.
Under-12s go free at our remarkable Hayward Gallery exhibition Space Shifters, which brings together sculptures and installations that explore perception and space. The exhibition includes incredible artworks that act as optical devices enabling us to see our surroundings in new and unexpected ways. Please note, under-16s must be accompanied by an adult.
Stretching along the bank of the Thames beneath twinkling Christmas lights is our enticing Winter Market, boasting fantastic food and creative crafts in its many alpine cabins. Here you can indulge yourselves and enjoy incredibly sweet treats, including Dutch Pancakes, chocolate cakes from Kohler Kusse, pastries from Galeta, and toffee and fudge from Johnsons. Beyond the mouth-watering smells you’ll also find a great number of craft stalls, such as Just Stars, who sell delightful handmade star-themed lights.
As well as a great range of family activities here at Southbank Centre we also have plenty of food and drink options. As well as the festive treats being offered up on our winter markets, there are a host of cafes and restaurants across our Thames-side site, including family favourites Giraffe, Wagamama and Strada, who all have welcoming children’s menus. You’ll also find food and drink outlets in each of our venues, including Concrete Cafe in Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer and the delightful Hayward Gallery Cafe. And from Friday to Sunday each week, our popular Food Market, on the Belvedere Road side of our site, is packed with stalls offering incredible street food from across the globe.