There are many activities that you can and see every day in London. Here is just a short selection. For further details, have a look at either the monthkly events listings below or the pages on Attractions.
Changing the Guard
At Buckingham Palace, Guard Mounting takes place at 11.30am. It is held daily from May to July, and on alternate dates throughout the rest of the year.
At Windsor Castle, the ceremony takes place at 11.00 am. For most of the year Guard Mounting takes place on alternate dates, but it is held daily (except Sundays) from April to July.
At Horse Guards Arch, Changing the Guard takes place daily at 11.00 am (10.00 am on Sundays) and lasts about half an hour; it is normally held on Horse Guards Parade by the arch of Horse Guards Building.
There is no Guard Mounting in very wet weather.
Changing the Guard or Guard Mounting is the process involving a new guard exchanging duty with the old guard. The Guard which mounts at Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard and is divided into two Detachments: the Buckingham Palace Detachment (which is responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace), and the St. James’s Palace Detachment, (which guards St. James’s Palace). These guard duties are normally provided by a battalion of the Household Division and occasionally by other infantry battalions or other units.
When Guardsmen are on duty, the soldiers are drawn from one of the five regiments of Foot Guards in the British Army: the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, the Welsh Guards, the Grenadier Guards and the Coldstream Guards.The five Regiments may be recognised as follows:
- Grenadier Guards – button arranged singly on scarlet tunic; Grenade collar badge; white plume on bearskin cap, worn on left side
- Coldstream Guards – button arranged in twos on scarlet tunic; Garter Star collar badge; Red plume on bearskin cap, worn on right side
- Scots Guards – button arranged in Threes; Thistle collar badge; No plume
- Irish Guards – button arranged in Fours; Shamrock collar badge; Blue plume on bearskin cap, worn on right side
- Welsh Guards – button arranged in Fives; Leek collar badge; Green and white plume on bearskin cap, worn on left side
The Queen’s Guard is commanded by a Captain (who usually holds the rank of Major), and each Detachment is commanded by a Lieutenant. The Colour of the Battalion providing the Guard is carried by a Second Lieutenant (who is known as the Ensign). The handover is accompanied by a Guards band. The music played ranges from traditional military marches to songs from films and musicals and even familiar pop songs. When The Queen is in residence, there are four sentries at the front of the building. When she is away there are two. The Queen’s Guard usually consists of Foot Guards in their full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins. If they have operational commitments, other infantry units take part instead.
Units from Commonwealth realms occasionally take turn in Guard Mounting. In May 1998, Canadian soldiers from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry mounted guard at Buckingham Palace for the first time since the Coronation in 1953.
Household Troops have guarded the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces since 1660. Until 1689, the Sovereign lived mainly at the Palace of Whitehall and was guarded there by Household Cavalry. In 1689, the court moved to St James’s Palace, which was guarded by the Foot Guards. When Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace in 1837, the Queen’s Guard remained at St James’s Palace, with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace, as it still does today.
Natural History Museum
Grab your binoculars, put on your backpack and take a mini-adventure around the Museum. Filled with pens, paper, games and activities, these bright red backpacks are a fun way to explore the Museum’s galleries. Choose from themes including birds, mammals, oceans, primates and monsters. Suitable for under sevens.
Available every day 10.00–17.00
£25 refundable deposit required
Please collect from the Central Hall information desk
Dippy floor puzzle
Enjoy the wonder of our 26-metre-long Diplodocus – affectionately named Dippy – with a soft toy floor puzzle. It’s free and is available in the Central Hall underneath the Diplodocus dinosaur. Suitable for children aged seven and under. Complete the puzzle and get a funky Dippy sticker.
Available every day (not available on busy days) 12.00–17.00 (times may vary)
Please visit the Central Hall information desk
Grab a funky fabric-based dinosaur book and follow a trail through the Museum, finding out what dinosaurs ate, how sharp their teeth were, what dinosaur footprints are like and lots more. Suitable for families with children under five.
Available every day (not available on busy days) 10.00–17.00 (times may vary)
Refundable deposit required to borrow the book
Please visit the Central Hall information desk
Take the Jurassic Ark trail, gathering clues and discovering the animals that lurked in the shadow of the dinosaurs. This fun-filled family activity pack includes code-breaking activities, a crossword, word search, stickers, free poster, eraser and pencil. When you’ve finished, you can claim a 10 per cent discount in the Museum Shop.
Available every day 10.00–17.00
Available from the Museum Shop
Get a feel for how scientists work by having a go yourself. Bring your own questions, or use some of ours in this hands-on science space. Come and explore hundreds of real nature specimens that form the evidence for your exploration of scientific ideas. The Investigate Centre encourages you to look closely at real objects using the many tools provided to find out more and become a scientist for the day.
Available Monday to Friday in term time 14.30–17.00 (last entry 16.30)
Available weekends and school holidays 11.00–17.00 (last entry 16.30)
Explore – Darwin Centre
Go behind the scenes to see the Museum’s zoology collection and to glimpse some of the work that takes place there. Tours last about 45 minutes, are subject to availability and places are limited, so please book at an information desk when you arrive. If you have mobility requirements, please tell us when you book and we will provide you with information on access. Children must be accompanied by an adult and tours are not suitable for under eights. Please note, bags are not allowed on the tour and there is a short walk to reach the Darwin Centre.
Available every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 15.00 and 16.15, Wednesdays at 16.15 only
Please book at an information desk when you arrive
Hands-On Nature Evolution
Visit the trolley in Lasting Impressions and take a closer look at some interesting specimens with the help of science educators.
Available every Saturday and Sunday 14.00–17.00
Look out for our friendly volunteers roving the galleries. They encourage visitors of all ages to discover more about the natural world, using Museum specimens from mammal skulls to fossils.
Available every Saturday and Sunday 11.15–15.00
For families with children aged six and above. Drop in to Earth Lab and join our science educators to explore the wonder of fossils, rocks and minerals. Sessions are set up to allow everyone to join in at their own level and there are a range of fun activities to choose from.
Available every Saturday and Sunday and school holidays 11.00–13.00
Nature Live events
From dinosaurs and deep-sea fish to evolution and climate change, this topical programme of events brings together scientists and visitors to explore, discover and discuss the natural world and our place within it. Events are held in the Marine Invertebrates gallery and the studio seats 60 people. For more details and a current programme, please see the website.
Available every Saturday and Sunday and school holidays 12.30 and 14.30
For more information:
Visit our Attractions page on the Natural History Museum
Museum of London Docklands
Babies and Carers Group
Learn, play and explore together every Monday during term-time in the Mudlarks gallery. The session is for babies aged 6-18 months and their carers and includes soft play, rhyme time and an opportunity to meet others in a relaxed setting.
Duration: 45 minutes
Mondays at 13:00 – 13:45
Under 5s storytime
Join in for stories, music and fun every Thursday during term-time, then come and play in Mudlarks afterwards.
Duration: 30 minutes
Thursdays at 15:00 – 15:30
Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay, E14 4AL
Open Daily 10am-6pm, Last Admission 5.30pm
Museum of London
Toddlers and Carers Group
Learn, play and explore together in this hands-on, creative session for under 5s and their carers. Every Wednesday during term-time.
Duration: 1 hour
Advanced booking required. No fee
Museum of London, London Wall, EC2Y 5HN
Visit our Museum page on the Museum of London
The National Gallery
Art Workshops for 5-11’s – free hands-on art workshops at 11am, repeated 2pm every Sunday
Magic Carpet Storytelling for Under-5’s – fly away on the magic carpet as it comes to land in front of a different painting each Sunday at 10.30am and 11.30am
Visit our Museum page on the National Gallery
The V&A Museum
Families can pick up an activity Back-Pack, get creative at Drop-in-Design or go on a gallery adventure trail. Back-Pack adventure tours of the V&A: Packs are filled with jigsaws, stories and games to explore the collection. Activity Cart: Fantastic hands-on art fun for children to create a Samurai helmet, a silver goblet or an elephant mask to take home.
FREE. Suitable for children aged 4 to 11.
The V&A is open daily 10.00 – 17.45 and until 22.00 on Fridays. The nearest underground station is South Kensington (Piccadilly, District and Circle lines).
For general information call 020 7942 2000 or visit www.vam.ac.uk