Emancipate restless crawlers and toddlers at the Southbank Centre

What?: Before the force that is Bab came into my life and weekends revolved around finding somewhere nice to have a drink, the Royal Festival Hall was like a lovely Brutalist beacon of booze with its riverside terrace and abundant bars. Currently I’m not quite sure what a weekend is and my days revolve around finding Bab a few square feet of floor space so that she can crawl around destroying things that aren’t mine and climbing people that aren’t me. I don’t really drink anymore – less because I’m a responsible parent and more out of the paralysing fear of having to child-mind with a hangover – but with its acres of crawl space, I’ve found a new use for the Southbank Centre.

Where?: You can walk from Waterloo (Northern, Bakerloo, Waterloo & City, Jubilee, National Rail) or, if your kids need a distraction, walk from Embankment (Northern, District & Circle) or Charing Cross (Northern, Bakerloo) and play spot-the-landmark from Hungerford Bridge. There is step-free access from all three stations, even if it is a bit of a nightmare to find. The Southbank Centre has several venues but we hung out at the RFH.

Discovery: Most Londoners are probably familiar with the Southbank Centre but who knew it was such a great child-plopping venue? This is the perfect rainy-day activity but I’m also keen to come back in the summer when Bab’s walking and the fountains at the front are switched on.

Best Bits: My favourite thing about this place is that you can just come here and stay as long as you like and no one bothers you or tells you you need to buy something or makes you feel awkward. Everyone is just doing their own thing, whether that’s meeting friends or reading or dancing or worshipping Satan. There are also insane amounts of space, with the Clore Ballroom being particularly good for little ones who need to let off some steam. Plus endless cafes and nice baby-changing facilities. Oh and make sure you ride the talking lift because it’s hilarious.

Worst Bits: I’m absolutely livid that the Adventures in Moominland exhibition is only for over-sevens. I actually feel personally victimised by the Moomins.

Would We Come Back?: Definitely. Especially if we’re ever in Central and Bab needs liberating from her buggy.


Bab destroys a leaflet display at the Royal Festival Hall