Father lifting son with view of Big Ben in background, London, England, UK. Getty Images/Emma Tunbridge/Corbis/VCG
School’s out, and the long, hot days of summer will soon need to be filled with things to keep the kids (and yourself) entertained. In London, this isn’t cheap, but here are 10 Muslim-friendly things for the entire family to do that won’t cost the earth.
1. HALAL FOODIE TASTE TRAIL
The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, in the heart of London’s uber-trendy East End, hosts one of London’s only halal street-food markets, though strictly speaking the market is mostly halal. This also happens to be the heart of London’s predominantly Muslim Bangladeshi community, making it the perfect place to take the kids on a Sunday halal foodie taste trail.
2. MUDLARKING ALONG THE THAMES
What kid doesn’t like playing in the mud? Even big kids can get stuck in the unusual diversion that is mudlarking on the shores of the River Thames, where tons of historical items (clay pipes in particular) are regularly dug up by people armed with little more than a bucket and spade. The most popular spots are by the Millennium Bridge and Gabriel’s Wharf, but you might need a permit.
3. LEARN THE SECRET MUSLIM HISTORY OF LONDON
Photo: Muslim History Tour open-top sightseeing bus
Muslim History Tours keep growing in popularity, and for good reason: they make for a great day out with the whole family while you learn about the hidden Muslim secrets of England’s capital on a guided tour aboard a red London bus.
4. FREE ART
The globally revered Tate Gallery and the more hipster-friendly Whitechapel Art Gallery are great free art venues to take the kids along to. Kids get a chance to marvel at the oft-bizarre installations as well as to make their own, for many galleries have a summer activity timetable.
5. VOLUNTEER AT A MUSLIM SOUP KITCHEN
More for the older children, this is a great way to bond with your teens as they learn to appreciate important Islamic principles of social welfare, charity and compassion whilst serving food to north London’s vulnerable and needy at one of the two regular community kitchens organised by Rumi’s Kitchen.
6. FREE GARDEN IN THE SKY
The only London public park that needs to be booked in advance to guarantee entry, the Sky Garden is an oasis 35 floors up in the air that offers 360 degrees of uninterrupted views across the capital amidst exotic flora such as the African Lily and Bird of Paradise.
7. GRAB A BARGAIN AT THE FLOWER MARKET
This is the only market in London that feels a little like you’re wandering through a mini rainforest. Open every Sunday along Columbia Road in trendy East London, this is the ideal place to grab some great plant bargains, offered in typically East End cockney slang by the old-fashioned stall holders, many of whom have been working the strip since they were kids!
8. FREE ISLAMIC EXHIBITS
There are amazing exhibits about the Islamic World in many of London’s museums, and best of all, they’re free. Try the rooms dedicated to the Islamic and Muslim world at the British Museum or the Jameel Gallery (Room 42) at the Victoria & Albert Museum for starters. Both venues will also have a host of kids’ summer activities.
A performance at The Scoop, London, England. Photo taken in December 2008 by Fabio Alessandro Locati via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
9. FREE ENTERTAINMENT IN LONDON’S OPEN-AIR AMPHITHEATRE
Every year, the Scoop, a sunken amphitheatre in front of the Mayor of London’s office, puts on a series of family-friendly entertainment including film, theatre and musical concerts. The full timetable is on their website, but there is no need to book; simply turn up, bring a picnic and relax (weather permitting, of course!).
10. MUSEUM SLEEPOVERS
They’re not cheap, but what child wouldn’t want to spend the night at the British Museum, exploring cave art and shining torches into the face of Egyptian mummies, or at the Natural History Museum, staring into the jaws of a Tyrannosaurus Rex at midnight?
Ever wanted to sleepover at the Museum? Explore after hours with #DinoSnores for Grown-ups. There's activities from dusk until dawn and the chance to sleep under a blue whale skeleton. Check out our link in the bio for more: http://bit.ly/NHM-DSGU_June #HintzeHall #Dinosaurs #DinosaurGallery #Event #NightAtTheMuseum #Sleepover #Wildlife #NaturalHistory #NaturalHistoryMuseum #NaturalHistoryMuseumLondon #Museum
Tharik Hussain is a freelance travel writer, journalist and award-winning broadcaster who specialises in Muslim heritage and Muslim travel.
(Writing by Tharik Hussain; Editing by Seban Scaria firstname.lastname@example.org)
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