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There are plenty of things to do in Canary Wharf. But, it’s fair to say that at first glance, the area doesn’t appear particularly child-friendly. Canary Wharf was once solely packed with glistening skyscrapers, corporate offices, and high-end restaurants!
However, the influx of residential development has led to plenty of families now calling the docklands home. As a result, if you scratch beneath the surface, there are a surprisingly varied list of child-friendly days out in Canary Wharf.
In this guide, there is a mixture of free and paid days out. On a budget? We also have an ideas list of completely free things to do in Canary Wharf too.
So, here are 8 ideas to keep the kids entertained in Canary Wharf.
There are a range of boats for hire in Canary Wharf — from floating hot tubs, to electric GoBoats. However, some operators require a minimum age of 12, and it is fair to say that self-driving boats, and looking after children can be hard work!
On the other hand, a great (and significantly cheaper) alternative can be taking the Thames Clipper — now branded Uber Boats — into London. These boats run frequently, even on weekends, and a child return ticket from Canary Wharf to Westminster costs as little as £6.10 with a travelcard.
All the Uber boats have inside and outside seating, are pram-accessible, and have free toilets with baby changing facilities. In addition, there are also small cafés onboard.
Ideally, time the return journey for after dusk and watch Central London’s bridges light up in a spectacular array of colours courtesy of a new project, Illuminated River.
Scattered with public artwork across the estate, Canary Wharf houses London’s largest outdoor art collection — we’ve compiled a full guide to the Art Trail here.
The entire trail takes around 2 and a half hours to complete, with over 75 pieces — ranging from sculptures, to interactive visual displays.
At the end of 2020, the Canary Wharf Group compiled an art trail for children.
This children’s art trail guide is a selection of 12 pieces, and the group provide a guided map.
A nice thing to highlight about the art trails on the estate is that they are continually updated. With each iteration of the popular Winter Lights exhibition, one or two lit sculptures from that year are normally retained as permanent exhibits.
In addition to the formal art trail, the estate has a large portion of pop-up art events, many of which are great for kids:
A winter highlight is ice skating at Canary Wharf’s pop-up ice rink in Canada Square park. After a few years absence, the ice rink has returned for 2021-2022.
Family tickets (2+2 or 1+3) cost £49.50, a £10.30 saving over buying individual tickets. Skate aids — designed to help children stay on their feet — are available to rent for free, but they are on a first come, first served basis.
Keep an eye on opening dates — normally the Canary Wharf ice rink opens in November or September. This year’s ice skating event runs for 18 weeks, until the 26th of February. Tickets must be booked online.
Another longstanding, family-favourite event in Canary Wharf are the outdoor summer theatre sessions.
Hosted in Westferry Circus park, Canary Wharf’s outdoor theatre is a completely free event, with no tickets or pre-booking required.
Parkour combines the discipline and flexibility of martial arts, with the athleticism and movements of obstacle training. The result is a pretty impressive way to move around urban environments — not to mention a great way to keep fit and make friends!
Generations London Parkour is one of the UK’s largest Parkour schools. In 2021, they set up a kid’s friendly Parkour space by Canary Wharf, at the bottom of luxury rental development Sailmakers. This is known as Parkour School.
An ultra-modern space, specifically designed for kids parkour, the Parkour school is an excellent place to burn off steam for kids in Canary Wharf. Their highly rated classes are divided into four age groups: Micro, Mini, Junior and Youth, covering kids aged 1 – 13.
The group offer one-off sessions, monthly passes, and also host children’s birthday parties. Kids over 13 are also welcome, but classes for over 13’s are held nearby at their Chainstore Gym & Parkour Academy.
One of Canary Wharf’s best kept secrets — an escape to the countryside and London’s largest urban farm — is only moments away.
Mudchute park and farm is easily accessible on foot from Canary Wharf, less than a 30-minutes walk.
Equally, the farm is a 6-minute, 4-stop ride on the DLR to Mudchute station.
Just turn up, no tickets are required, and explore the range of animals from Llama’s to rare-breed pigs.
Mudchute farm is a great day out with kids — near Canary Wharf — and completely free!
Museums are always great for a free thing to do — and the Docklands Museum is no exception. They aren’t always child-friendly, though, and exploring endless artefacts can be less interesting for younger kids!
The revamped Docklands Museum has aimed to tackle this by creating an interactive experience solely for children. Branded as Mudlarks, the Docklands’ museum does an impressive job at accommodating kids and young families:
There are plenty of parks and green spaces near Canary Wharf. One of the great things about the Isle of Dogs area is that the list of parks is continually improving.
We’ve compiled a list of some larger walks and green spaces, but for children’s play areas, two new developments pocket parks stand out: