You read correctly – a trip to London’s Kensington Palace doesn’t mean standing on ceremony for babies. In fact, babies and toddlers visiting London’s Kensington Palace are formally invited to get royally dirty at one of its weekly Messy Play sessions.
For visitors to London travelling with their baby, this is a REALLY fun thing to do; it’s fabulous!
The multi-sensory sessions are held in many of the royal palaces (including Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace) as part of the palaces’ “Tiny Explorers” program. While there are all sorts of Tiny Explorers sessions that will appeal to toddlers and older kids (a rhythm session explores music from the past, a drama session involves songs and role play and there’s a popular sensory-storytelling program), what baby can go past messy play?
We booked into a Messy Play session at Kensington Palace for a couple of reasons: first, Kensington Palace is easy to get to from London’s other tourist attractions (Hampton Court Palace is a lot further away). High Street Kensington tube isn’t far away from Kensington Palace, but if you’re staying near the West End we’d highly recommend taking the pram and walking through Hyde Park instead, as it’s a beautiful half hour stroll from Hyde Park Corner to Kensington Palace.
The second reason we chose Kensington Palace over Hampton Court? Because it was easier to incorporate into a ‘touristy’ day in central London: Hyde Park is also a good place to go after your messy play session – and when you tire of that, Hyde Park Corner itself is just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace and the wonderful Green Park.
Getting messy at Kensington Palace.
Not many tourists seem to know about the Tiny Explorers program, so you’ll probably find yourself surrounded by locals (great, hey!). Expect to see a mix of local mothers with their babies and local nannies taking local kids out for an outing.
Don’t be deceived by the fact that you are in a palace: here, messy play really means messy. Expect your baby to leave covered in paint. (There’s a sink to wash them off, but you’ll definitely need a change of clothes – both for you and the baby.)
In fact, it’s so messy that many of the bubs strip down to nappies only, as they play around happily in paint and make shapes on paper.
What age kids can attend?
There are separate sessions for babies and toddlers. We took a 10 month old to the ‘babies’ session, and it was perfect. Filled with lots of crawling tots happily covering themselves in paint: super fun and infinitely memorable!
The sessions run in term time and usually just run a couple of times a week. DEFINITELY book – it’s a lot of bother to go to if you turn up and it’s full. Contact details for bookings (phone or email) are found here, as is the full schedule of Tiny Explorers events.
Also, just to make sure you’re not disappointed – the messy play sessions are not ‘technically’ held IN the Palace, they are in an education room beside the main entrance. But it’s the only session in the whole Tiny Explorers program that doesn’t include a wander through the castle itself as part of the session (because while they are relaxed about the mess, they’re obviously not THAT relaxed). So if that bothers you, choose one of the other Tiny Explorers sessions.