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Away with the Kids visits: London’s Leicester Square

We were invited to the bright lights of Leicester Square to experience their festive offering this year. So if you're in the capital, or thinking of having a day trip here in the run up to Christmas, read on...

As a Londoner, tourist hotspot Leicester Square is not somewhere I would necessarily think of to go. But turning up there one Saturday morning for a ‘Discover the Stars’ tour was rather exciting – not least for my five year old, Lydia, who has rarely spent much time in this part of London.

Our day started with a trip to Cineworld, Leicester Square, where we were treated to a taster of the chain’s 4DX experience. This was unlike anything either of us had every experienced before. While we watched the first 15 minutes of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, our chairs moved as though we were part of the film (first ice skating, then flying), snow fell down on the audience, and a cool winter’s breeze blew through the auditorium. It was quite incredible – though at times a little daunting for Lydia, who at the age of 5 is maybe still a bit too young to really get her head around what was happening. It's something I can imagine slightly older children finding exhilarating and amazing!

After this, we headed across to the main square itself where the Christmas market had been set up – wooden stalls selling everything from hot chocolate and mulled wine to tree ornaments and winter hats.

The main attraction here is the 'spiegeltent', in which a number of shows are being performed over the Christmas period. We were treated to a performance of Brats Kids Carnival, which was the undoubted highlight of the day for both of us. This loud, bright circus-style show had a fantastic carnival atmosphere that saw Lydia dancing in her seat, and encompassed everything from singing aliens and hula-hooping to acrobatics and jumping through hoops of fire, leaving us open-mouthed with amazement. With tickets starting at £10.25, it felt very reasonable, especially given its central London location.

Afterwards, it was time to refuel with a pizza lunch. We ate at MOD Pizza – a pizza restaurant with a difference. You order from the counter but get to choose exactly what you want on your pizza – and with over 30 toppings you’re certainly spoilt for choice. The best thing, particularly for families, is that the price of a pizza remains the same regardless of what you put on top – a great idea for picky eaters especially – and at just under £8 it’s a veritable bargain. I was sceptical about how good a pizza could be for that price – but it was absolutely delicious, and I would definitely bring the kids back here again.

We finished up with a trip to the UK flagship LEGO Store in Leicester Square - the biggest LEGO store in the country. The highlight for both of us was the incredible models – the tube carriage that you could sit in, Shakespeare and - Lydia's favourite - a Beefeater. I was so impressed by the detailed Lego map of the capital. We left with plenty more ideas for things to ask Father Christmas for…!

We had a fabulous time discovering the festive offerings at Leicester Square, and it was a lovely way to get us feeling excited for Christmas.

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