‘Research shows that being playful makes us happier, more open-minded, gets the creative juices flowing, helps us bond together and can even help those suffering from depression. Humans are hardwired to play, and this doesn’t stop in childhood.’ Richard Wiseman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire.
With that in mind, The Resident seeks out London’s best activities for those who have decided they don’t want to adult. At least not today…
Lead image: Ballie Ballerson
1 Ballie Ballerson, Shoreditch
Split over two floors, Ballie Ballerson in Shoreditch boasts an impressive ball pit with over 200,000 plastic balls as well as foam toys, rubber rings and a DJ playing funk, bass and techno tunes. Play fight with your mates in a giant ball pit where light, art and balls to produce mind bending visuals, before heading upstairs to the graffiti-clad bar and dining space for pizza, fries, craft beers and nostalgic cocktails like the Skittle Sour and Bounty Curly Wurly. On a weekend, check out their bottomless brunch deal.
97-113 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3BS; ballieballerson.com
2 Flip Out London E6
The capital’s largest trampoline park launched in July at the Granada Theatre in East Ham. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks have all performed at the iconic Art Deco venue, which was transformed into an adventure park following a £3 million renovation. As well as rows of inter-locking trampolines, the three-storey arena also features a giant super-slide with an almost vertical 30ft drop, a network of indoor caves, a 100-metre indoor potholing zone, 12 themed climbing walls, plus a laser maze, cyber tower, ninja warrior course and dodgeball. For actual real kids (under 5s), there’s also an enchanted castle themed soft play zone with building blocks, play tunnels, balance beams, slides and a ball pool. There are also three themed cafes. Activities from £9.95. Soft play from £5. You’ll also find Flip Out trampoline parks in Brent Cross and Wandsworth.
The old Gala Bingo Hall, 281 Barking Road E6 1LB; flipout.co.uk
3 HiddenCity’s Real World Adventure Games
Journey through the city, solving clues sent to your phone, with HiddenCity’s immersive adventure games. These treasure hunts make you the hero of your own adventure as you step inside the stories you know and love. Their critically acclaimed games based on Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes and Snow White run every day across the city. Their latest launch, The Enchanted Mirror, is a fairytale quest that grants you the chance to answer the age-old question: who is the wisest of them all? Once upon a time an evil Queen asked this very question of her Enchanted Mirror, and when it answered ‘Not you my Queen’, she was enraged. The Queen set about creating a challenge to prove that she was indeed the wisest of them all. You can also choose from two other adventures, including The Hunt for the Cheshire Cat and Moriarty’s Secret. The games are designed for teams of 2-5, starting from £19 per person.
To book see inthehiddencity.com
4 Go Ape, various locations
You never really lose the urge to climb trees, do you? Well at Go Ape you can spend hours in the tree tops, swinging through the trees and experiencing the great outdoors in a whole new light (or should that be ‘height’?). Go Ape has a growing number of sites in London, including an urban jungle in leafy Battersea Park, which is our pick of the bunch. You’ll climb rope nets, cross wobbly bridges, scurry through net tunnels and, the best bit, whizzing through the woodland on zip lines as a reward for completing each level. They also do occasional special events, such as night climbs. This one’s suitable for both adults and children, with the obstacles and crossings get more challenging as you ascend up through the levels into the tree tops. You’ll find Go Ape in Alexandra Palace and Cockfosters too.
Battersea Park SW11 4NJ; goape.co.uk
5 The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience, West End
Relive the fun and excitement of The Crystal Maze, the 90s cult television show led by Richard O’Brien, by taking part in a recreation of the fully interactive team-building game. The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience in Angel is due to close on 28 January 2019, but it’s not all bad new as it’s relocating to the London Trocadero in the West End, doubling in size and adding 32 new games following a £5million investment. Set to open on 29 March 2019. The new venue will have all-day opening hours and on-the-day ticket purchases (although booking in advance is still advised), as well as a new Maze Bar so you can celebrate your successes and laugh at your failures, after taking on the interactive games hosted by the eccentric Maze Masters. So follow the Maze Master through the Aztec, Medieval, Industrial and futuristic zones, solving puzzles and testing your physical endurance. Of course, no such experience would be complete without the iconic Crystal Dome – will you start the fans please?! For ages 13+.
6 Swingers Crazy Golf, the City & West End
Swingers Crazy Golf combines the holy trinity of fun: street food from the likes of Patty & Bun and Breddos Tacos, amazing drinks and competitive socialising. The Swingers concept is based on a 1920s golf club set in the bucolic English countryside – it’s all picture perfect putting greens windmills and getting squiffy before, during and after the game! The 16,000 sq ft venue in the City, just a stone’s throw from the Gherkin, has two bespoke nine-hole crazy golf courses, five cocktail bars, three of London’s best street-food vendors, a two-storey clubhouse with gin terrace and nightly DJs. There’s also a second venue in the West End, not far from Oxford Street tube station. Open seven days a week from 12noon till late.
8 Brown’s Buildings EC3A 8AL & 15 John Prince’s Street W1G 0AB; swingersldn.com
7 Ice Karting at QUEENS: Skate, Dine, Bowl, Queensway
Ice Karting returns to QUEENS: Skate Dine Bowl in February 2019. After an extensive two-month refurbishment of their famous 12,000 ft sq ice rink – originally built in October 1930 – QUEENS: Skate Dine Bowl has relaunched its infamous Ice Karting. Racing at up to 35kph on specially modified go-karts, the ice presents new challenges for the most seasoned racing expert. Up to eight drivers at one time will put their drifting skills to the test while racing laps around the ice, battling their way onto the leaderboard. Running every Tuesday and Sunday evenings 6.30-10pm. Afterwards, why not celebrate or commiserate at the brand new MEATliquor Queensway right inside QUEENS? Ice Karting is £44pp per 40-minute session.
17 Queensway W2 4PQ; queens.london
8 Paintball, Lazer Tag & Zombie Experiences at Bunker 51, Charlton
Located near The Thames Barrier, not far from Charlton train station and North Greenwich, Bunker 51 is an old Cold War nuclear bunker full of kidulting capers. There are two immersive playing fields, which can accommodate activities including paintballing, lazer tag and two zombie experiences – Zombie SWAT Training by Apocalypse Events and Zombie Laser Tag, where you’re given one hour of military-style training before facing zombies played by live actors (it’s not one for the faint-hearted!). You can also opt for Airsoft, which is the same as paintball but without those painful pellets and more of a focus on tactical games.
3 Herringham Road, Charlton SE7 8NJ; bunker-51.com
8 Draughts Board Game Cafe, Hackney & Waterloo
London’s first ever board game bar, crowdfunded into life by like-minded analogue gamers, hosts a huge library of more than 800 board games as well as small plates, larges plates and sharing boards alongside local craft beers, ales, ciders and wine. For £5 each, you and your friends can spend the night playing your favourite board games be it the game that always ends in a fight – Monopoly – some more childish fun with Hungry, Hungry Hippos, or the drinkers’ game of choice, Cards Against Humanity. There are also tournaments, themed evenings and workshops led by professional board game designers. There’s now a second venue in Waterloo, too, with food by Jones & Sons. Check out The Thirsty Dragon too for a similar concept in Greenwich.
337 Acton Mews, Hackney E8 4EA & Leake Street, Waterloo SE1 7NN; draughtslondon.com
9 Junkyard Golf Club, Brick Lane
Londoners seem to have really fallen for crazy golf, but Junkyard Golf Club is a little different, with neon courses created from pre-loved and reclaimed materials. Located on Brick Lane, Junkyard Golf Club is an underground crazy golf haven supplying caddies, private bars and DJs for all your late-night shenanigans. Boasting four 9-hole golf courses with bizarre holes featuring scrapyard slides, circus freaks and jungle bathtubs, crazy cocktails (mines a Hotline Ting) and a food kiosk with hotdogs, nachos and popcorn, it’s got all the boxes ticked for a fun night out with friends. Oh, and you can tee off till 10pm. From £10.50 per player.
The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane E1 6QL; junkyardgolfclub.co.uk
10 Sleepover at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington
The Natural History Museum is a kidult wonderland. They host a number of adults-only events among the dinosaurs and other beastly animals, including their sleepovers and CSI events. Drink, dance and watch a number of spooky films around the relics before nestling up under a T-Rex at one of their DinoSnores overnight parties or take part in a forensic crime scene investigation throughout the halls of the Museum at night. The list of kidult activities is ever-growing due to high demand, so keep an eye on the events calendar.
Cromwell Road, South Kensington SW7 5BD; nhm.ac.uk
The latest game from the team behind Hackney’s Time Run is a must for Sherlock fans. Mixing the excitement of immersive entertainment with the thrill of intellectual challenge, this new generation of gaming experiences challenge players to race against the clock to crack codes, solve puzzles and progress to the next level. Sherlock: The Game Is Now players will be invited to an induction session in a secret west London location, but the induction takes a surprising and sinister turn when, suddenly, you’re in Sherlock’s shoes… Sherlock producer Sue Vertue and showrunners Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have consulted on and co-scripted the experience, which features specially-recorded video and audio elements with characters from the show.
12 Jumping Giants, Heathrow
Up the fun factor of your workouts at Jumping Giants in Heathrow, a trampoline arena with over 100 interconnecting trampolines, including angled wall trampolines, launching decks, Foam Pits with launch pads, extreme Dodgeball Courts, Slam Dunk Basketball, Junior Jump Zones, Ninja Courts, Battle Beams and a Half Pipe. Go with friends or join a team. Just make sure to warm up and stretch – our bodies aren’t as young as they used to be!
Coln Industrial Estate, Old Bath Road, Slough SL3 0NJ; jumpgiants.com
13 Skateboarding at House of Vans
The House of Vans, a free community space below the arches of Waterloo station dedicated to Vans and the skate culture it embraces, leads free learn-to-skate sessions for all ages every weekend with pads, boards, helmets and a locker provided. There’s also a cinema room that hosts free screenings across a wide spectrum of genres, from family friendly to box office blockbusters and foreign language films. For those not up for the half pipe, you can chill in The Wall cafe, which serves up a weekend brunch menu alongside all-American classics.
Arches 228-232, Station Approach Road, Waterloo SE1; houseofvanslondon.com
14 Drink, Shop & Do, King’s Cross
Set inside an old porn shop, behind a vintage sweet shop within an old Victorian Turkish Bath lies a world of drunken childish fun. It boasts an impressive calendar of events designed for adults to relive past glory days with the opportunity to take part in events like Play With Clay 80s Style, Lego Robots and Papier Mache Monster Mash, or why not join their weekly Beyoncé dance classes? There’s also dancing and DJs until 2am across both floors come Friday and Saturday. You clearly won’t struggle to find some superb kidult activities all year round at DSD.
9 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross N1 9DX; drinkshopdo.co.uk
15 Puttshack, Westfield London
Puttshack has taken the traditional game of crazy golf and fused it with space-age technology to create a ‘world first’ social entertainment concept. Brought to you by the same folks as Bounce – London’s home of ping pong – Puttshack is a social hub design to shake up your childhood nostalgia for crazy golf by adding automatic point scoring, leader boards and intuitive gameplay (plus a side of dining, drinking and great music). Novel holes include the Beer Pong hole, Duck Hunt hole and Half Pipe hole! Launching on 22 June 2018. Each game is nine holes, lasting approx 45 mins to one hour. £12.50 per player.
Westfield London, Ariel Way W12 7HB; puttshack.com
16 SFG Club at Roof East, Stratford
London’s biggest and best adventure playground for grown-ups at Roof East in Stratford (it’s all about car parks these days!) takes on a new summer and winter guide every year, but what remains constant is the games! From sluggers batting cages and hip-hop bowls, to crazy golf and curling lanes – plus Rooftop Film Club – there’s plenty to do to keep you occupied between trips to the bar. Speaking of which, the SFG Club bar serves up Singapore Slings, Alabama Slammers and seasonally themed tipples, and Jimmy Garcia’s BBQ offers up surf and turf, burgers and halloumi fries. Entry is free; games are priced individually.
Floors 7 & 8, Stratford Multi-Storey Car Park, Great Eastern Way E15 1XE; roofeast.com
17 Biscuiteers, Notting Hill
This one is for the creative food-lovers out there. Head inside either the Notting Hill or Northcote Road Biscuiteers boutique for an evening lesson on how to decorate delicious desserts. Held on the last Thursday of every month, from 7pm-8.30pm, you’ll be invited to sip on some prosecco – to help get the creative juices flowing – while being instructed by one of their professional patisserie chefs. This is a relaxed and fun experience for adults wanting to recreate those rainy days when you’d spend all day baking delicious treats with mum or dad.
194 Kensington Park Road W11 2ES & 13 Northcote Road SW11 1NG; biscuiteers.com