Theatre & Cinema
Most of London’s theatres will put on children’s performances, particularly during school breaks, and there are always a number of big West Ends shows that are suitable for families. In holiday periods, take a look at the Lyric (Hammersmith), Barbican and the Hackney Empire for some high-quality family entertainment.
Located at Tally Ho Corner, North Finchley, the Artsdepot is a great venue. Its programme of activities range from theatre to live music, comedy, dance, art exhibitions, spoken word and regular children's shows. This contemporary centre consists of a main theatre and smaller studio, an art gallery, café, bars and education studios. It is well worth a visit.
Address: artsdepot, 5 Nether Street, Tally Ho Corner, North Finchley, London N12 0GA
Box Office: 020 8369 5454
Tube: Finchley Central, West Finchley, Woodside Park (Northern Line)
The Little Angel Theatre
Since it was founded in 1961, The Little Angel has brought pleasure to many thousands of children and adults with its own highly imaginative and groundbreaking productions, as well as hosting a broad range of visiting puppet companies. Its lively Education department works with primary schools, out-of-school clubs, youth and community groups, drawn from all over the capital.
Address: Little Angel Theatre,14 Dagmar Passage, London, N1 2DN
Tube: Angel, Highbury & Islington (zone 1)
Phone: 020 7226 1787
Half Moon Theatre
The Half Moon in East London offers both professional productions and participatory projects for all ages up to 17. Join their e-mail list to be kept up to date on all shows and events. Throughout the year, Half Moon also offers a wide range of participatory projects in schools, nurseries, Children's Centres and with community groups.
Address: Half Moon Young People’s Theatre, 43 White Horse Rd, London, E1 0ND
Phone: 08700 534 534 (Booking)
Puppet Theatre Barge
Little Venice W9
Since its first performance in 1982, this 50 seat theatre on a canal barge has been described as one of London's more elusive and unique treasures. Fully heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, it has plenty of atmosphere and provides the ideal backdrop for its imaginative marionette and rod puppet spectacles. The barge is based in Little Venice in the winter and spends July to October on the Thames, with occasional performances at Henley-on-Thames, Marlow, Cliveden and Richmond-upon-Thames.
Tube: Warwick Avenue (zone 2)
Address: Puppet Theatre Barge, Little Venice (opposite 35-40 Bloomfield Rd), London, W9 2PF
Phone: 020 7249 6876
The Polka is one of the few venues in the UK that is dedicated exclusively to producing and presenting high quality theatre for young audiences. Since its doors opened in 1979, this unique venue has offered children a first taste of the thrilling, challenging and inspiring world of theatre. Many of it's shows allow a young audience to interact and participate. Shows can be half an hour long and upwards (to suit the age range of the audience) and workshops can be over a number of days.
Address: Polka Theatre, 240 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1SB
BR: Wimbledon (zone 3)
Phone: 020 8543 4888
London Bridge SE1
Founded in 1947, the Unicorn’s mission is to create amazing shows for children which are fun, challenging and exciting – shows which rise to the challenge of a child’s imagination and live up to the same high standards as those for adults. The company is based in a modern, world-class theatre next to the mayor for London’s office. Nearby: London Dungeon, Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and the Tower of London.
Address: Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley Street, Southwark, London, SE1 2HZ
Tube: London Bridge (zone 1)
Phone: 020 7645 0560
We have listed children's theatres, but there are lots of other theatres around that often put on performances for children (usually around school holiday time). Also try:
The Roundhouse (Camden)
A north London landmark venue presenting an international programme of high quality events for diverse audiences. At its heart is Roundhouse Studios, a series of state of the art studios, providing a creative environment and the facilities for young people to engage with artists, professionals and their peers in order to develop and realise their creative aspirations.
The Lyric (Hammersmith):
Produces great theatre at affordable prices to ensure accessibility to a wide and varied audience. Lots of work in the community with young people (11+). The main theatre is a beautiful 550 seat 19th century classical auditorium. Wonderful cafe and rooftop terrace.
The Soho Theatre (West End)
Based in the heart of the West End, this theatre offers a varied programme of entertainment and, although not obvious from the website, it has put on some great children's performances.
Barbican (The City)
The Barbican is Europe's largest multi-arts and conference venue presenting a diverse range of art, music, theatre, dance, film and creative learning events. It is also home to the London Symphony Orchestra. Always lots going on. It is close to the Museum of London and St Paul's.
Hackney Empire (Hackney)
Not many people realise that the theatre is a charity, founded by Hackney residents. In the mid-eighties, local people were anxious to preserve this beautiful listed building and ensure the communities of East London and beyond could access the very best in performing arts. Lots going on, lots of outreach and workshops. You can also do a tour.
Opened in 2014, this two-screen independent cinema is a former Salvation Army Hall. As well as cinema, the ArtHouse offers music, comedy and theatre. Inside the foyer you’ll find a bar and café. This venue is a favourite with Time Out. Children's films available and you can hire out space for parties.
Address: 159a Tottenham Lane, London N8 9BT
Tube/BR: Finsbury Park, Hornsey. Bus 41, 91, N41, N91, W3
Brtitsh Film Institute (BFI) & Imax
The BFI National Film Theatre has a programme of films, activities and events that will be of interest to children. Previous seasons have included Anime and a Roald Dahl retrospective. Established in 1933, the British Film Institute promotes understanding and appreciation of Britain's culture through a rich film and television heritage. It also boasts a massive IMAX screen, the biggest in Britain.
Address: 1 Charlie Chaplin Walk, South Bank, London, SE1 8XR
Tube/BR: Waterloo (zone 1)
Phone: 0870 787 2525
This fantanstic old cinema was formally a music hall. There used to be 33 cinemas in Tower Hamlets and this was the last one, before it too closed in 1989. Since it's reopening, it has become one of the coolest independant cinemas in London, with a lovely bar and food area. Brick Lane nearby.
Address: 93-95 Mile End Road, London E1 4UJ
Tube: Whitechapel, Stepney Green
Phone: 0207 780 2000
Described as a ‘social enterprise independent boutique digital cinema’ this single-screened cinema is run mostly by volunteers, with its profits going to charity. The cinema screens a mix of mainstream and arthouse. There are special events, Q&As and classic movie seasons. You can enjoy comfy chairs in the bar/gallery and there is a Carers & babies and a Kids club. The Lexi team also curate Nomad, the outdoor cinema.
Address: 194b Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise, London NW10 3JU
Tube: Kensal Rise
Phone: 020 3011 5523
Brought to you by the people who run The Lexi, The Nomad is a wonderful pop-up outdoor cinema. All profits go to a good cause and they pop up at some great locations, including Brompton Cemetery, Brown Hart Gardens, Grosvenor and Hyde Park Lido. Check their website for the latest films.
Odeon, Camden Town Parkway
Fantastic old cinema in the heart of Camden Town. You can combine a trip to the cinema with a visit to London Zoo, Regent's Park or even a canal boat trip.
Address: 14 Parkway, Camden, LONDON, NW1 7AA
Tube: Camden Town, BR: Camden Road
Phone: 0871 224 4007
Originally a 1906 picture house, it was turned into a recording studio in the 60s and became host to artists including the Stones, the Beatles, Cream, the Who and Led Zeppelin. Moreover Oasis and U2 recorded here. When the studio closed it was turned back into an independent cinema, with state of the art equipment. Relax on a plush velvet settee and watch the latest indie, world film or Hollywood blockbuster. You can also enjoy some homemade food in the café or dining room.
The Barnes Wetland Centre and Thames towpath are moments away and you are a short trip from Richmond Park, Kew Gardens and the London Museum of Water and Steam.
Admission: from £10 for an adult and £7.50 for a child
Tube: Hammersmith. BR: Barnes, Barnes Bridge. Bus: 33, 72, 209, 283, 485
Address: 117-123 Church Road, Barnes SW13 9HL
Phone: 020 8912 5161
This small independent chain of upmarket cinemas shows a mix of mainstream and arthouse films in plush surrounds. With cafes, restaurants and bars attached, you might not want to leave. There are a number around the capital and you’ll find details on the website. The Greenwich cinema looks great and might be worth a trip and would offer a great end to a day visiting the market, the National Maritime Museum or the Cutty Sark. Why not get a boat down?
Address: 180 Greenwich High Rd, London SE10 8NN
This independent cinema that dates back to the 1930s, is a community run venture. It offers some great cinema for children and young people, including a Saturday morning picture club and Tuesday afternoon playcentre matinees, to help children to enjoy great films at an affordable price. There is no extra charge for 3D films.
Address: 107 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2PB
BR: Dalston Kingsland, Dalston Junction
Phone: 020 7241 9410
Screen on the Green
Islington’s Screen on the Green cinema opened in 1913, making it one of the oldest in the UK. Now part of the Everyman chain, it offers a luxury cinema experience. Buy a premier seat and you get a luxurious sofa with footrest! There are always a number of special events taking place, such as Director Q&A sessions. There is also a baby club, for parents and toddlers.
Address: 83 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0NP
Phone: 0871 906 9060