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From corgis to stallions, animals have always been important companions to kings, queens, knights, and saints. On this 2-hour National Gallery for Families Tour, we'll take an adventurous visit to London's National Gallery to meet tamed dragons, alluring cats, and trustworthy dogs. We'll learn about these beloved animals' relationships with their owners as well as the painter depicting them, and how the stories of history's greatest personalities are often linked to that of their pets—making some drawings of our own along the way.
Note: Families, we also offer a National Gallery for Families Tour focusing on the gods, goddesses, and other characters to be found in the Gallery.
During the walk, we may encounter the famous rhinoceros Miss Clara, a celebrity of the 18th century that toured Europe and was painted by Pietro Longhi in 1751 in Venice, or the incredible Whistlejacket that George Stubbs depicted in 1762 for the Marquess of Rockingham. Regardless, this fun and interactive history of animals also tells their story as companions to the greatest figures of British history. Using the National Gallery as our canvas, we'll weave a narrative that takes us from the the spaniels of the Tudor court, to Winston Churchill's dog Rufus II, to Queen Elizabeth II's famous Welsh Corgis.
Looking for this tour for adults? Try our National Gallery Tour.
Meanwhile, we'll have fun throughout the walk with a range of fun activities for kids and parents. Maybe we'll pick our favorite animals and draw a coat of arms. Or, perhaps we'll draw ourselves with our pets, thinking about what the different symbols in portraits mean. We might even use our imaginations to come up with a fantasy beast, then draw it! No matter what, we'll walk away from this tour with a better understanding of what it takes to draw animals—and what the animals mean.
By the end of the tour, both kids and their lucky parents will have developed a deeper appreciation for the many fascinating characters and stories to be found throughout the National Gallery. Children and adults will come away with a better understanding of British history, and the importance of painting both through history and today. We'll learn about the important role that pets have played throughout history and how they were represented in art. Additionally, we'll explore why some people wanted unusual animals in their paintings, ranging from a phoenix or dragon, to an owl or monkey.
Is this walk appropriate for small children?
Yes, we designed this walk with young children in mind. Thanks to our approach and activities they will learn about art through the familiar subject of pets.
What kind of activities will you be doing?
Depending on the children's learning styles we may do drawings, act painting scenes, ask them to describe a scene. Each docent is equipped with tools and techniques.
Is the gallery accessible?
Yes, the gallery is fully accessible to wheelchairs. Four entrances have level access: the Getty, Sainsbury Wing, National Café and Pigott Education Centre entrances.
Upon entering, plot your itinerary through the diverse complex. See the Tiger Territory, designed to mimic the tropical foliage of the Island of Sumtran to make the zoo's tigers feel at home.
Then hit the Beach and join London’s biggest penguin colony. Penguin Beach recreates a South American beach landscape in the heart of London, with stunning colonies of around 200 Macaroni and Humboldt penguins. The exhibit features a large pool with underwater viewing areas so you can see how these flippered friends fly under the waves. And a larger demonstration area with seating turns feeding time into an even bigger spectacle than before.
Meet the giant Galapagos tortoise that can live for over 150 years, and carry around huge, bony shells that they can hide inside if they feel threatened. Visit the fantastic Blackburn Pavilion and learn how Darwin's contemporary, John Gould, identified the differences between species of finches that Darwin brought back from the Galapagos, helping Darwin formulate his theories on evolution.
You can observe the behavior of the apes in the award-winning Gorilla Kingdom, and also come face to face with a group of Bolivian Squirrel monkeys in conditions akin to their natural habitat.
Travel into Africa and marvel at the giraffes via a raised viewing platform or check out the playful yet lethal hunting dogs. Be sure to observe the komodo dragons prowling their state-of-the-art lair, landscaped to mimic a dry river bed.
ZSL London Zoo is a leader in conservation breeding and reintroduction and, with over 1 million visitors a year, provides a unique opportunity to engage and inspire visitors of all ages. Opt to upgrade to a skip-the-line ticket from February to October.
Coca-Cola London Eye:
At 135 metres, the Coca-Cola London Eye is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, with 40 kilometre panoramic views on a clear day. The gradual rotation in one of the 32 high-tech glass capsules takes approximately 30 minutes offering spectacular views of London and its famous landmarks such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square. The Coca-Cola London Eye is just a short 5 minute walk from Waterloo Underground Station.
Conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects.‘Coca-Cola’, the Dynamic Ribbon Device and the design of the ‘Coca-Cola Contour Bottle’ are registered trademarks of The Coca-Cola Company.
Madame Tussauds London:
Walk the red carpet at the legendary Madame Tussauds London and meet the world’s most famous stars from Hollywood to Bollywood, and The Royal Family to Rock Royalty. With over 30 wax figures, there’s also a nostalgic taxi ride through 400 years of London’s history and a Marvel Super Heroes 4D movie adventure. Madame Tussauds London is a short walk from Baker Street Underground Station.
© & TM Lucasfilm Ltd. Images shown depict wax figures created and owned by Madame Tussauds.
DreamWorks Tours Shrek's Adventure! London:
Step into and star in your very own hilarious, madcap adventure to the kingdom of Far Far Away surrounded by Shrek and his much loved DreamWorks friends. The world’s funniest tour begins when you board a magical ‘DreamWorks Tours’ red bus driven by the mischievous Donkey, where chaos, calamity and endless fun are the name of the game. Explore the fantasy worlds of Far Far Away and meet everyone from princess Fiona, Puss in Boots, ‘Gingy’ the Gingerbread man. But beware, Rumpelstiltskin, wearing his ‘angry wig’ will do all he can to disrupt your tour and stop your return to London. DreamWorks Tours Shrek’s Adventure! London is just a short 5 minute walk from Waterloo Underground Station.
DreamWorks Shrek © 2016 DreamWorks Animation L.L.C. All Rights Reserved
SEA LIFE London Aquarium:
Dive in and be wowed by the many strange, beautiful and fascinating creatures of the deep as your journey through the amazing underwater world of SEA LIFE London Aquarium. Prepare for astonishingly close views of everything from Gentoo penguins to tropical sharks. SEA LIFE London Aquarium is just a short 5 minute walk from Waterloo Underground Station.
Special Offer - Buy one pass to save up to 50% on London admissions, compared to booking attractions separately! - Book Now!
Make your way to Greenwich Pier, the London Eye Pier, Tower Pier, or Westminster Pier, then jump aboard your sightseeing boat to begin your tour. With cruises departing every 30 minutes from 10am throughout the year, enjoy the freedom to take to the water at your leisure.
During your Thames River sightseeing cruise, admire top London attractions such as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and Westminster Bridge from your vantage point on the river. All boats have toilets, bars to buy refreshment (own expense), confectionary, and snacks, and an upper viewing deck for photo opportunities.
Afterward, alight from your sightseeing boat in central London and visit the SeaLife London Aquarium — widely considered among the capital’s top attractions. Explore 14 themed zones including the Ray Lagoon, the Shark Walk, and the Tidal Reach, and venture into the Pacific Wreck — where sharks swim quietly past the Easter Island heads.
Along the way, enjoy up-close views of diverse marine species such as blind cave fish, bonnethead sharks, bowmouth guitarfish, clownfish, piranhas, sand eels, and sea horses.
Skip the Line! Book your Sea Life London Aquarium trip ahead of time to take advantage of avoiding the main queue. Don't waste time waiting in lines on vacation.
The mysterious Sea Life London Aquarium experience is spread over three floors and starts by taking a submarine-style elevator to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Next, take a walk through the stunning glass tunnel underneath a tropical ocean. There is plenty of interaction along the way, from diving displays to optional touch pools and discovery zones. Other species you can see include green turtles, seahorses, octopus, zebra sharks and the ever-popular clown fish.
The true highlight starts as you journey in the deeper, darker zone of the Pacific Ocean. Take a walk on the wild side and watch from a suspended glass platform as 10 species of shark swim beneath your feet. The exciting and diverse underwater world awaits you at Sea Life London Aquarium.
One of the most popular and dramatic displays at Sea Life London Aquarium is the revamped Shark Reef Encounter where sinister Sand Tiger sharks, Bow Mouths, Black Tips and Grey Reefs are (with a shoal of less menacing fish to keep them company!).
In that paragon of travel documentaries, National Lampoon's European Vacation, there is a scene in which Ellen Griswold (Beverly D'Angelo) forgets to lock the door on the shared bathroom in their London hotel. A man comes in to brush his teeth and is pleasantly surprised when Ellen—washcloth over face and believing the man to be her hubby, Clark—calls to him from the bathtub to join her. Shock and hilarity ensue. The accidental intruder was played by none of ther than Robbie Coltrane, 16 years before he embodied Hagrid in the Harry Potter films.