London Calling! Why the UK’s families are heading away from the beach and into London this summer

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today visited ZSL London Zoo to unveil a reimagined Tube map co-curated by his five new Mayors of Play to encourage families from across the UK to spend their summer in the capital.

The map launches as new research reveals the pandemic has left many parents unable to plan summer holidays as they usually would, with over a third (37%) of parents stating that they’ve not organised anything this summer due to pandemic uncertainty. As a result, London, with its abundance of activities and experiences is a must-visit destination for families everywhere. And, with the same research showing that one in ten (14%) Brits have never visited London, 26% citing it is because they’ve never got round to it – this could be the summer where Brits choose the bright lights of the capital over often crowded coastal destinations.

Across the UK, parents in the North East are most likely to venture into London this summer, with 56% saying they’d consider a holiday in the capital. Parents in this region have stated that the vast choice of family friendly activities (18%), mix of outdoor and indoor activities (12%) and the city’s accommodation (10%) as the top three reasons for their city jaunt.

Sadiq’s Family Fun season is part of ‘Let’s Do London’, the biggest domestic tourism campaign the capital has ever seen. The season showcases the abundance of activities on offer for all families of all ages this summer and celebrates London’s status as Britain’s biggest playground.

The reimagined Tube map has been curated ‘for kids, by kids’ with the help of his newly appointed Mayors of Play. Following a hotly contested competition, the five winning Mayors of Play – Maya, 8, Elliott, 9, Mateo, 9, Narumukai, 10, and Neveah 11 – attended a summit at City Hall in July to help select a raft of thrilling, family-friendly activities in the heart of the capital. The unique and vibrant guide invites families across London and nationwide to plan a day trip, mini break or a longer staycation in the city as it bursts back to life.

The new map focuses on Central London and features a mix of permanent and new accessible experiences indoors and outdoors that are open to families this summer – from firm favourites such as ZSL London Zoo, to the hottest new tickets in town including Sketch on the Square by the National Gallery and Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A. Both a mix of free and ticketed events are present, accommodating all family budgets, which will undoubtably please parents given the strain of entertaining the family over the lengthy holiday period.

Across London, children under five travel free with a fare-paying adult, Children under 11 can travel free on buses and trams at any time, and on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and some National Rail services with a fare paying adult. Visitors to London can travel easily and conveniently by using pay as you go with contactless or Oyster. 

When surveying the nation’s parents, the key challenges which emerged during the summer break included the cost of keeping children entertained (45%), finding fun activities to suit the whole family (33%) and children saying they were bored (33%).

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “After a long period which has seen children in particular miss out on so much fun and play due to the pandemic, there’s no time like the present to explore our city and enjoy all the fun and accessible activities London has to offer families this summer.

“The young Mayors of Play were tasked with helping me showcase the very best of family fun in London, and I’m delighted with the outcome of their hard work. This reimagined edition of our iconic Tube map showcases the breadth of the capital’s offering through the eyes of little Londoners – it’s for kids, by kids.

“With 70 per cent of families struggling to keep their children entertained during the school holidays, London – with its abundance of free things to do and exciting places to see – is an ideal holiday destination this summer and beyond.”

Kathryn England, Chief Operating Officer at ZSL London Zoo, said: “We’re delighted to welcome families back to our zoo this summer. Our hard working and passionate zookeepers, alongside our vast wildlife truly make this zoo a must-visit attraction in London – we’re thrilled the Mayors of Play agree!”

Mayor of Play, Elliott, 9, said: “It was really tricky choosing what to go on the Tube map – there’s so much fun stuff to do in London! Hopefully it will help other kids and their families explore this magical city this summer.”