Summer in the city
Over the weeks of the summer holidays, we’re giving you some ideas of what you can get up to with children and young people during August. This might be your own family, or with a group as part of some summer outreach. Whatever the context, you’re likely to have a bit more time to spend together, so why not try something different and more ambitious!
London is one of the most multicultural and vibrant cities in the world, and there’s a lot of free stuff you can do over the summer months, if you know where to look. Why not get out there and see what you can see? You can go just for the enjoyment, but there is plenty of space for spiritual conversation to happen as you explore.
An unusual start and not necessarily free (particularly if your children and young people are persuasive…), but I don’t mean heading down to Brent Cross (or your giant shopping centre of choice). Go somewhere you’ve never been before. Go somewhere with different shops, run by people with different backgrounds. Visit shops you wouldn’t normally go in. Somewhere like Southall Broadway, King’s Road in Chelsea, Camden Market or Borough Market will offer up new sights, smells and sounds!
Visit one of the great (and free) museums around London. Many of them offer free tours, which pick out a few pieces out of collections of millions! These give you a structure to your visit and help you avoid wandering around not being sure what everything is. (And the tours are free too.)
You could do a spot of urban retreating too. In her book, Be Live Pray, Becca Dean suggests going to a museum or art gallery, picking a room and seeing which piece in the room stands out to you. Let yourselves be guided by the Spirit. Ask God what you can learn about him and your relationship with him from this painting, sculpture or artefact. You’ll be surprised at what you find!
Go to church
You might feel like you’ve only just got out of your own church, so why go to another one? However, there are some stunning cathedrals within your reach. St Paul’s is the obvious choice, being the cathedral of the Diocese of London. It runs special events during the summer, as well as being an astounding place to visit. Westminster Abbey also has a programme of summer events, such as this one! A quieter choice would be Southwark Cathedral, which is also free and just over the river. This is often less busy and easier to navigate around. Be wowed by the architecture, the space, the windows and the ornate tombs. Join in with the regular prayers that take place through the day or time your visit so that you can attend a service.
Alex Taylor is part of the Children’s and Youth team for the Diocese of London. He loves sitting in Southwark Cathedral and listening to the hourly prayers there. And the coffee shop does a lovely scone too.