Not all London nighttime attractions are appropriate for families with small kids.
London after dark is a magical place. Parts of the city light up while street performers take their positions in public squares. The bars and pubs start serving tasty adult beverages and scrumptious food along with karaoke, darts, and live music. There are places to catch live theatrical performances or to laugh the night away with a comedian or two.
The problem with much of London’s nighttime attractions is they aren’t suitable for small kids. If you’re traveling with your family, the following after-dark venues shouldn’t make it onto your itinerary unless you manage to slip off for some alone time or adult time.
Pub Theatres in London
You’ve probably gone to the theatre a time or two. Perhaps you’ve been in a pub or two as well. Have you ever thought about combining those experiences? You can do just that at a London pub theatre, but it’s not recommended for the little ones.
The quality of theatrical performances in some London pubs is surprisingly high. Adults can kick back with drinks in hand and loved ones nearby, enjoying a performance much as they would in the audience in front of a big stage. The only difference is the drama plays out right in the pub alongside patrons.
Some London pubs will serve your family a delicious meal in a comfy environment during the day, but they aren’t all so family friendly. Hootananny Brixton, also known simply as Hoot, is one of the leading nightspots in London, but it’s very much adult oriented.
It doubles as a live music venue and there are some great free events with no cover charge. You just don’t want the smallest members of the family to enjoy those nighttime concerts. If you can get away without the little ones, there are picnic tables, live music, and great food out in the garden at Hoot.
The Comedy Store
You’ll find this adult-only establishment on Oxendon Street, just across from the Prince of Wales Theatre. They feature a variety of comedians, performing live as an upbeat crowd consumes adult beverages and erupts in laughter. It’s a lot of fun, but they won’t let anyone under 21 in the door.
Why is Sky Garden on this list when it’s one of the best places to see panoramic views of the city? During the daytime, it is a family-friendly London attraction that is enjoyed by all, but everything child-friendly closes by 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends. All that you will find open after those times are the bars, which do provide great views but only for the grownups which makes it one of the London nighttime attractions to skip with little ones.
Spy & Espionage Small Group Experience
This three-hour walk through London will immerse you in stories of international espionage believed to play out in various parts of the city. You’ll hear about Cold War double agents who worked in the shadows during some of the most chaotic political years plus government secret service operations by the likes of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
While this is an interesting tour that will intrigue many adults, the content isn’t suitable for small children. It also starts off in a hotel where participants often kick things off with a drink or two.
Bar Hopping in Shoreditch or Soho
Shoreditch is an interesting London neighborhood for many reasons. For a start, it’s trendier and more fashionable for the younger crowd, which explains why it’s one of the best places to go bar hopping after dark. You’ll find a lively community of drinkers having fun most nights of the week.
While the bars of Shoreditch are an obvious no for families with small children, you may not have to abandon Shoreditch entirely after dark. There are still areas that you can walk around and look at the interesting urban artwork on the walls without running into the bar hoppers.
Soho is another neighborhood that has a vibrant nightlife but is not necessarily suitable for children. It has many karaoke bars and live musical performances after dark. Most of the venues are adult-only or serve so much alcohol that you won’t want your young kids there.
Now that you’ve seen all the fun you’re missing out on while traveling with small children when it comes to London nighttime attractions, rest assured that there are some family-friendly activities amongst London’s nighttime attractions, too. One of the best options is to book tickets for a late show at one of the theatres and perhaps go for a meal or snack afterwards.
You can also simply walk around London after dark to have a good time. Try some of the self-guided walking tours and go for a stroll until the little ones are ready to crash out in their prams. Also watch for Museum Lates, which are late opening times for many of London’s museums.