Trying to get some use out of those winter coats you bought them? Best get some outings in the diary, then. These wonderfully wintry London activities and events are a great way to distract from the chill this season.
1. Go Ape Battersea
Battersea Park is the Go Ape group’s first central London location (there’s another in the Enfield suburbs), and it’s certainly gone big with it. Or rather, high – many of the treetop walkways, zip wires, rope-bridges and ladders are twice the height of the other Go Ape sites, which means you’ll be wobbling in the wind just that bit higher up. But don’t worry, you’re strapped in nice and tight, so even if you can’t grip tight like our hairy ancestors, you won’t drop too far before being caught by a very snug harness. Boys, enjoy.
Tree Top Adventure (for ages 10+, minimum height of 1.4m (4ft 7″) and Tree Top Junior (ages 6-12) are open every day from December 10 to January 3. The venue is closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. From January 4, Tree Top Adventure will be open daily and Tree Top Junior will open on weekends and holidays.
2. Shreks Adventure London
Heroics will be expected, group singing might erupt and mild dungeon-escaping peril is a strong possibility. Step this way… Staff greet you dressed like 1950s-style air stewards and stewardesses, keeping up the comedy breeziness to ensure that by the time you’re at the front of the queue, you’re well and truly in the mood for a family daytrip in fairytale
3. The idol at abbey leisure center
Unpredictable Turner Prize-nominated artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s latest work is a very hands-on sort of creation. ‘The Idol’ is a 21,000 square metre soft play centre – a permanent installation in Abbey Leisure Centre which is due to entertain hundreds of thousands of children in its first decade. The two-storey robotic figure features chambers, ramps and two giant’s eyes for children to peer out of. Its monochrome walls and floors will be printed with collage works featuring everything from Egyptian statues to sci-fi cyborgs. Each session lasts a maximum of two hours
4. Sea Life Aquariam
Walk through, over and under colourful aquatic worlds from the tropical to the Arctic at one of London’s busiest attractions
It’s hard to imagine, when you’re standing outside County Hall, that you’re going to find sharks and penguins inside what used to be a boring old council building. But give them their dues – Sea Life has created a pretty impressive aquatic wonderland right here in Zone One.
You can go at your own pace, but Sea Life London Aquarium follows a set route, so you won’t miss anything. Start with a walk over the glass window that peeks down to the Pacific waters display. This section is called Shark Walk – the clue’s in the name. You then come to the ‘Atlantic Depths’ – with its sand eels and octopus – and the ‘Tidal Reach’ collection of creatures from British waters. You have to feel for the jellyfish and pipefish here. Life in our seas and rivers just doesn’t seem as exciting as the colourful exotica you get when you move through to the Ray Lagoon and the fabulous purple tangs, triggerfish and stripy snapper of the Dive Discovery tropical waters.
Along with rockpool displays of brightly coloured anemones and the gliding green sea turtles that swoop past overhead as you walk through the Ocean Tunnel, there’s a chance to get down deep with the sharks as you peer into the Pacific Wreck gallery and see if you can find Nemo among the clownfish in the Coral Reef zone.
There is lots to take in here, especially if you visit off peak, when the crowds aren’t too bad. The route continues with a display dedicated to seahorses and an area that reflects the humid setting of the rainforest, where you’ll see piranhas, a Cuban crocodile and poison dart frogs. Nothing causes a stir quite like a meal time, so check the website for the many different feeding sessions, which are hosted daily during visitor hours, and time your trip so you catch the ones you want to see most.
Sea Life also carries out research and conservation work, and the Thames Walk experience (opened in summer 2015) reveals some of the insights into life in the waters that flow just outside the aquarium, and the work done to make them a cleaner environment in which fish can thrive. The Breed Rescue Project display invites budding marine biologists of all ages to find out more.
By Time Out