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Canary Wharf Top Places for Kids Entertainment in 2024

Summary. Canary Wharf is a place for work, not for family entertainment. This statement was true many years ago, but with Canary Wharf renovating itself post the pandemic, the choices to enjoy family time, experience an adventure, and relax while your kids spend their energy playing and learning are just getting better. If you are raising a family in Canary Wharf, or just looking for where to take your kids out for a fun time, then we are here for you. In this article, we give you our top places to enjoy with your children based on local parents' tips and recommendations.

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Canary wharf is famous for being a place of business, literally towered over by financial institutions and service companies serving the financial industry. However, post the Brexit and the Covid pandemic hit, Canary Wharf was resumed to a ghost town. Formerly a host of thousands of busy workers spending the cash from their lucrative careers in the massive underground shopping mall and its cafes, restaurants, watering holes and top brands; with the shift in hybrid and remote work culture, many of the top brands have disappeared, including most of the women clothing brands.

However, similar to the O2 story, there was only one way for Canary Wharf to survive and get its busy back on: repurpose the space. Re-analysing the population in the surrounding areas was key. In the past few years, the surrounding areas such as Isle of dogs and royal docklands have been filling up with young professionals buying flats in the countless newly built towers near Canary Wharf with short commutes to the hub. Few years in, these flats are now homes to young families with parents working in Canary wharf of the City, and kids going to nurseries and schools. Kids who need entertainments to keep them occupied and save the tired full time employed parents from facing their kids’ energy over the weekend, after school hours, or during the holidays. Family time hence became a focus for Canary Wharf management. Many options are now available for the little ones with new opening every now and then. Below are attractions and outings we experienced and recommend, all of which are friendly for the kids with special education needs or are in the autism spectrum:


Flip Out

Flip Out is a brand-new addition to Canary Wharf. Opened on the 27th of December 2023 inside the mall (in Cabot Square), finally there is a place for the little ones to play in a safe indoor environment that benefits from its proximity to the malls’ parking and all the restaurants and cafes. The place inside is huge for an indoor entertainment, it has a variety of play areas including to 10/10 soft play for both toddlers and older, bumper cars, donut slide, roller skating, interactive football, laser quest, cycling karting, and a café.

Parents’ tip: We had tremendous fun in it. In addition to all this, Flip Out offers one session a week dedicated for children with Special Education Need (SEN) and their carers, that currently runs every Monday 10:00 to 11:00 am. The staff are very friendly and accommodating. We have always wished for a place like this inside the Canary Wharf shopping mall, it’s finally here, and it is beyond our expectations.


Mudlarks Family Gallery

The Museum of London Docklands (in West India Quay) has been running sessions for soft play for years now in its Mudlarks Family Gallery. This is an interactive space is great for under 5, it has water play, soft play, blocks and books, and lots of history to reconstruct. The sessions are 40 min long and are great to engage toddlers for learning. The tickets are not expensive, which means it is frequently sold out. There is a cafeteria just at the entrance, so you can grab a coffee and small bite with your kids before or after. There is also space for strollers.

Parents’ tip: Every time I go with my children, they can’t wait for the door to open. The sessions are 40 minutes but with so much fun, they feel like 10 minutes. My daughter goes straight away for the water play building damns for the little floating boats, whereas my son runs to the slider in the soft play area. The weather in London is rainy and cold most days, so this is a life saver for a mum with 2 kids under 5! I only wish the sessions are longer.


Canary Wharf Festivals & Events

The Canary Wharf management company – that represents the place’s investors – runs all the events in the area and around the mall, from fashion shows to Christmas grottos. For kids, there are many seasonal events and festivals that come and go, with these events there are opportunities for face painting, treasure/egg hunting during Easter, instagramable Christmas trees for that family perfect photo, ice skating, paint and crafts in the summer, drama theatre, you name it.

Parent’s tip: My favourite event in Canary Wharf is the January Winter Lights Festival. In the darkest month of the year, this spectacular light open exhibition illuminates our spirits. My kids love sensory interactive play, so this is perfect for them. You can get a map of all the light installations around Canary Wharf and treasure hunt them around. You can get a night out of it or revisit your favourite after school daily for the 10 days it runs. It’s free so this is cheaply doable. Every year the light installations change, which keep the festival fresh and cool each time around.


The Gardens

There are 2 gardens that you need to know about in Canary Wharf: the outdoor Jubilee place garden with its relaxing fountains just on top of the underground station, and the indoor Crossrail Place Roof Garden. This one is more of a favourite, your kids can run freely and safely, or jump on the steps. It is next to many shops, so it makes a great place to take a break, breath some fresh air in this botanical oasis, while having lunch on the open theatre steps. Nearby, you can also find the Flying Tiger Copenhagen shop, which sells many interesting toys for few pounds.

Parent’s tip: Every time we walk to the park, there is something new. Last time we went to the Crossrail place park during a weekday, we walked through the multicoloured tunnel, then went out and we saw the Illusionaries, an immersive audio-visual experience, and the UK’s First Story-Based Multisensory Art Experience, we got tickets, and when the kids got tired we went back to the park and sat for lunch. It was nice to have a calming place to run away from the busy fast paste nature of Canary Wharf.


Cutty Sark & Greenwich Park

This one has all the elements for a great outing for a child. Greenwich Park is the closest big green space to Canary Wharf, it is a short DLR ride away, which in its turn is fun for the family as the train swivel through the canary wharf towers. Greenwich Park is very beautiful, the university, the observatory, the maritime museum are each an attraction on their own. This maritime theme playground is clean, with many wooden play element, sand play, water play, ropes and swings, huts, and many options to climb and get those skills bettered while having the most fun and soaking up the fresh air away from busy canary wharf. Near the calming nature, at the National Maritime Museum, there is also the Cove playground, with a massive ship to captain, a kraken to climb, a shark to slide in, a trampoline, and countless sensory elements. The fun is endless.

Parent’s tip: this is the best free fun you can have near Canary Wharf. The nature and fresh air are outstanding, it’s just picture perfect on every corner. The playground is clean, and you can easily spend a day out there. The Cove is outstanding, my twins had so much fun that we had to call an uber to go home because they were too tired to walk back to the DLR station. Energy well spent!


Oxygen at the O2

Do you have a little jumper in the family? Well then, this is for you: Oxygen at the O2 activity park is the ultimate jumping adventure a kid can ever ask for. There is a soft play and structured sensory play for under 5 years old, and High Rope Airventure for the bigger ones. But the main attraction here are the numerous trampolines you can experience, giant air bag, foam pit, sliders, reactive pods, you name it. There is also a decent sitting space and a café for after meals, or carers sipping a favourite drink while the kids play.

Parent’s tip: If there was one thing I am thankful for this year, it is the trampolines at the O2, this is with no doubt my kids’ favourite spot. We get tickets online, and try to go early to avoid crowding, particularly during mid-term holidays. The sessions are 1 hour long, and you can buy special jumping socks to protect your little one’s feet. My kids go crazy jumping from one trampoline to another, then have a snack in the café before we go home. Every time we go, they try something new and more advanced which is great given they are both on the Autism Spectrum. They also love watching older kids do flips and all sorts of fancy moves on the trampolines and the air bag and try to imitate or at least admire. It’s a dream come true.


Tiller Leisure Centre

In the heart of the Isle of Dogs, Tiller Leisure Centre is possibly a less obvious choice for many parents, but there is a lot to offer. There is a soft play area that is not very busy during weekdays, and it includes all the necessities: slides, Rope Bridge, Rope Swings, Scramble Net, Bash Bags, Ball Pool. Given this is part of Better Gym, there is also a swimming pool for your little one to learn or just enjoy though we have not tried it directly to recommend. It is all indoors, so it is safe and comfortable. It is reasonably priced, so we can go more often.

Parent’s tip: The soft play area is small, but for parents and carers who have to watch their kids out constantly, this is a heaven. The kids can just safely play while I sit and read my book or respond to emails. They don’t need any input from me, and it is easy to spot them from any angle, so I can squeeze in some me-time, isn’t this the main reason for soft play anyway!

Disclaimer: The content of all our articles is protected by the Terms & Conditions policy. For license of content, please reach out to us directly, our information are on the contact us page.

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