Fancy visiting a disused underground station? I did! With a little forward planning (and hint dropping) I was lucky enough to receive a Hidden London tour of Aldwych station as a Christmas present. What did I think?
Aside from the educational value, there are two great benefits to a Roman day out in London. Firstly the attractions are mostly indoors, secondly they’re free. This makes it a perfect option for a rainy half term visit. But where to go to discover Londinium?
Highgate Cemetery, one of my UK bucket list items, might appear a strange destination for a family day out but we loved it. We spent an afternoon visiting the cemetery after a morning walk across Hampstead Heath.
As the kids get older it’s harder to find days out that appeal to us all. When you’re fourteen you want action, adventure and preferably no parents!
According to my oracle (Trip Advisor) there are over 1600 attractions in London. Enough to fill years of sightseeing. But what if you’ve only got an hour to spare? Maybe you’ve seen the major sights and are looking for something different. Well, look no further; here’s my top ten quirky ways to spend an hour in London:
It’s the Chinese New Year this Saturday. And it was my birthday last weekend. What better way for us to celebrate both events than with a trip to the 2017 Magical Lantern Festival in London.
This is the second year of the London festival. From my perspective it’s a much more relaxing way to celebrate the Chinese New Year than getting squished at the festivities in London’s Chinatown. Although a lot of other people have the same idea.
The 2017 festival theme is ‘Explore the Silk Road’. One of those exciting sounding places that I have always wanted to travel along. The marketing blurb promises a journey through Central Asia, India and China. Via Aladdin and the Houses of Parliament.
The trail, through the grounds of Chiswick House, took us about an hour to walk round. It’s flat and accessible for all but there were bottlenecks at some displays. Each lantern is accompanied by a couple of lines of explanatory text in Mandarin (I presume) and English.
It sounds really obvious but remember to dress for the outdoors. It was freezing during our visit, although we’d probably not helped the situation by roaming the Richmond Park tundra until sunset. The upside of the weather was the frozen lake. I love how it blurred the reflections of the lanterns around it.
The lanterns are not the floating fire starters that you imagine. In fact, impressive though they are, I wouldn’t think of them as lanterns. More like giant illuminated sculptures. I’d love to know more about they how they were made.
One of the surprising highlights for me was Chiswick House. I’ve never visited in the daylight but loved the glimpses of statues, architectural details and the villa itself. I’m not usually one for historical houses but I am inspired to return.
The lanterns are very well displayed and make the most of their setting. It’s hard to pick out favourites but I enjoyed these pandas. They weren’t the biggest or most intricate, I just like pandas!
At the end of the trail there’s a group of food and drink stalls, including an ice bar. There’s also an ice rink which looked much smaller than the advertised 600 square metres. As I had no desire to celebrate my birthday with a broken leg we didn’t try it out.
Overall we were really impressed. If you’re looking for something a little different to do in London over the next few weekends I’d definitely suggest checking this festival out.
- The Magical Lantern Festival runs in London until 26 February. It’s open Thursday-Sunday evenings, and throughout half-term. Buy your ticket and book a timed entry slot in advance on the festival website. An advance purchase weekend family ticket costs £56.
- Chiswick House is a 10 minute walk from Turnham Green underground station.