Please note that many playgroups and regular activities often run according to school term times!
- Little Locusts is a playgroup for pre-school children or crawling babies with their parent or carer, and meet every second Tuesday from 10.30-12.00 in St John’s Wood Church (not the hall, but the church itself) which is located by the roundabout at the bottom of the High Street. People can drop in and out as suits, no need to be on time or stay the whole time. Hot drinks, juice and biscuits provided. No charge. For more information, please call Helen who runs the group: 07887 548 333.
- The playgroup Little Lions in St Mark’s Church, Abercorn Place, takes place every Tuesday 10am – 11.30am. Playing, chatting, singing and refreshments for 0-3’s and their carers. No need to book – just turn up to our friendly group on Tuesdays during term-time.
- At St Mark’s Church, a new stay and play group started in January 2016. It runs on Mondays during state school term time between 9.45-11.15 am for children between 0-3 years of age and their parents/carers. There is playing, singing and refreshments. Many NW8-mums go and they are enjoing it.
- Another firm playgroup favourite with NW8-mums is the one at The Church of our Lady at the corner of St John’s Wood Road and Lisson Grove. The sessions run during term time only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 9.30-11.30 am. £2 per child which includes snacks for children and hot drinks and biscuits/cakes for adults. Nannies/childminders are welcome. There are often craft activities and always singing and stories on Thursdays and outdoor play in the summer.
- Sunshine Playgroup is an independent playgroup in South Hampstead for babies, toddlers and children under the age of five. We offer a unique, fun and varied programme of parent and toddler classes as well as after school activities and school holiday clubs for older children. They are: pre-nursery classes for 1-2 year olds, art classes and cookery classes for 2-3 year olds, and 3-5 year olds. Unlike other playgroups, all of Sunshine sessions are kept to a maximum of ONLY EIGHT children per class plus two teachers. Their motto from 2002 has been ‘Small groups, big ideas’.
- School of Rock-a-bye Babies – Amazing music classes for newborns up till the age of four. The creator and founder or School of Rock-a-Bye Babies (SRBB), Elizabeth Haydn-Jones, now only teaches in Kensal Rise. She and her assistant are musicians/performers, and they play LIVE music in every class. A new real instrument that the children get to hear, touch and sometimes play too is presented to them every week, and terms are divided into a rhythm, harmony and melody section. Both my children started going at just a few months old until they started nursery school, and they both loved the classes! The sessions are vibrant and children and parents alike can’t get enough of them. Cannot recommend them enough! They have also done two birthday parties for us, as well as a Christmas Tree Decorating Party where Sven, the Reindeer Puppet came along too… Hilarious, highly unique and the best!
- Wigmore Hall (in Marylebone) is best known as one of the world’s most famous chamber music venues, and they offer various musical events for the family (from birth and up). They have concerts called For Crying Out Loud aimed at babies up till the age of 1, then from 2-5 there is Chamber Tots. They also have a variety of Family Concerts and other events. Most of their child/family events sell out very fast, so act quickly. Even though something is sold out, it can well be worth turning up on the day for returns (I know this well as I used to work in the Wigmore Hall Box Office right after leaving college).
- Kids’ Classics in St John’s Wood. One of my friends has taken her children to music classes called Kids’ Classics with Marion Musry here in St John’s Wood. She tells me the classes are wonderful and her children love them.
- North London Strings Club – Ignite your child’s love of music with award-winning weekly classes. North London Strings Club offer fun-filled and motivating tuition, developing their musicianship alongside their confidence, focus and social skills. Choose from Violin, Guitar, Ukulele or Cello – they offer hire of an instrument for £3/week, leaving the stresses of buying an instrument behind! Their 10-week courses coincide with school term-times and offer children the chance to learn an instrument in a fun and rewarding environment. Lessons incorporate their carefully-crafted curriculum, ensuring they develop a real understanding of music theory and performance. Plus, the end-of-term concert lets them show off what they’ve achieved! For more information and/or to book a class, call North London Strings Club on 0121 369 1950 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mini Mozart – They currently run classes at 3 House Club in St John’s Wood, at The Maida Centre in Maida Vale and also at Huggle in Swiss Cottage. These are all music classes featuring live instruments performed by professional musicians.
- The lovely Anita runs Caterpillar music. She has classes both at 3 House Club, Huggle and at Poem Bar & Grill. Here are the times at Poem Bar & Grill: Tuesdays at 10.30am caterpillars class (0-3yrs).
- Hartbeeps multi sensory classes in St Johns Wood for 0-2 years take place at Poem Bar & Grill. Baby bells classes for newborn to sitting babies every Thursday at 2.30-3.15pm and Baby Beeps classes for sitting babies to toddlers every Thursday at 3.30-4.15pm. There is a 10% offer for NW8-mums when booking for a term. Please use the code NW8-mum.
- Rhyme Time on Tuesdays & Thursdays at 4.30-5pm at Primrose Hill Community Association on 29 Hopkinson’s Place, Fitzroy Road, London NW1 8TN. Please note that the mums who go regularly tell me the class rarely starts on time. Here are other things taking place at this venue: Ready Steady Go nursery and workshops, Monkey Music, Catherine’s Ballet, Trapeze and Perform, Under 4s drop-in Thu 11.15am-1pm.
- Rhyme Time Music Classes for 0-5 in Marylebone/St John’s Wood, on Wednesdays at 9.30 am-10.15 am, at Greenside Community Centre, 24 Lilestone Street, NW8 8SR. Drop in class, so no need to book. Just turn up and enjoy the fun!
- St John’s Wood Library on Circus Road has a lot on weekly for children. They also have half-term and holiday activities. For under 5s, here is what is on:
|St. John’s Wood Library||Tuesdays, 10.15am||Songs and Rhymes for under 5s|
|Thursdays, 10:15am||Songs and Rhymes for under 5s|
|Saturdays, 11am||Songs and Rhymes for under 5s|
- Regal Ballet – This is a lovely ballet class. The teacher Therese is warm and friendly, and gets the children inspired to dance and create. It is a gentle class and both my daughter and I loved it.
- Hampstead Ballet School is another popular class. I found this a bit too harsh and full on when my daughter was a complete beginner at just under the age of three.
- Creative Movements – Another lovely class. Many of my friends’ children go the their classes and love them! I have seen them in action at a friend’s birthday party and was very impressed. Classes in Primrose Hill and at 3 House Club.
- My Story Telling Factory – A new drama school which started in 2014, and they run classes from 2-4+ years at the (also newly opened) Sheriff Centre in West Hampstead. They offer classes both in English and Japanese which should appeal to several of the Japanese mummies here. Please check if they have an offer for NW8-mums.
- PregDance is a lovely class for pregnant women and those with babies. Many NW8-mums attend the classes and love them. Classes are held at two venues here in St John’s Wood: The Nest and The Garuda Yoga & Pilates Studio.
- Rosy Thompson Academy of Dance offers a whole array of classes from singing, drama, musical theatre to street jazz. Situated in Portland Place in Marylebone, this academy offers so much for children from the age of 3.
- 3 House Club – The lovely Anya runs this calm and beautiful private club in the heart of St John’s Wood (just behind the High Street). It is warm, open and welcoming. I just wish it had been open when my daughter was little, as I am sure both she and I would have loved spending lots of time there. They have a cafe, soft play area and run classes for both children and parents. From art, music and cooking to circus classes that I know many are very happy with. They also do yoga and capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) classes for children to name but a few.I urge you to go have a look!
- Huggle – This is a wonderful shop in Swiss Cottage (next to the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre) and they also put on a lot of different classes. Have a look at their website to see what they have going on.
- A huge array of classes take place at Poem Parties at Poem Bar & Grill at the corner of Boundary Road/Abbey Road. You can also have your child’s birthday party here.
There are many companies and venues that offer various types of sports and here are just a few.
Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre also offers a range of sports for children, but it does change from time to time so best to check with them if there is something specific you are looking for.
There are various companies that offer football classes in and around St John’s Wood. Kingswood Camps (formerly known as The Academies) have Sunday morning football classes at the UCS campus in Hampstead which is very easy to get to from St John’s Wood (you can take all double decker buses up Finchley Road; get off at Finchley Road & Frognal and walk up the hill, or take the 46 up Fitzjohn’s Avenue almost all the way up to the top of the hill, then walk down towards UCS, or drive).
- French – Stella of Club Petit Pierrot is wonderful and her classes have been going for a very long time and they are very popular. As of the beginning of 2016, they offer classes in 3 House Club and St Mark’s Church Hall on Abercorn Place.
- French – La Jolie Ronde offers French playgroups from babies and up in Swiss Cottage, Hampstead and Maida Vale.
- German – There is a German playgroup is situated in Lancaster Gate at the German YMCA. Bus 46 takes you there.
- German – The German Saturday School in Hampstead offers classes from nursery age. Please contact them directly for more information.
- Japanese – My Story Factory situated at the Sheriff Centre in West Hampstead offers classes in Japanese from 2-3 year olds.
- Spanish – La Jolie Ronde offers Spanish playgroups from babies and up in Swiss Cottage, Hampstead and Maida Vale.
- Spanish – Ole Kids offers classes in playgroups, nurseries and also in a party situation.
- Swedish – On Tuesday afternoons between 1-3 pm, the Swedish Church in Marylebone offers a stay and play group in the downstairs main hall.
- Swedish – There is the North London Swedish School in Marylebone on Saturday mornings, but it has a very long waitlist. If you are keen for your child to start, I suggest you register your child as early as you can. We had to wait for two years before we got a space.
Arts & Craft
- Mini Picassos – I know this is not in St John’s Wood, but I have to mention Mini Picassos in Kensal Rise. Sarah who runs it puts on fantastic classes for children starting from 15 months (till teenagers). There are after school clubs, and she also offers adult classes. Bus no 187 runs all the way from St John’s Wood to Kensal Rise Station and Mini Picassos is 30 seconds away (or you can hop on the no 6 from Warwick Avenue and it takes you there too), so you can get there very easily. You can also go on the Overground from Finchley Road & Frognal and get off at Kensal Rise. Highly recommended!
- The Crafty Bunch – A weekly class for crafters aged 2-5 years. Each week a themed is explored and exciting craft is made using lots of imagination and, of course, glitter! Each masterpiece will be ready to be taken home at the end of each class. Messy and creative play is important for young children, but often is just another thing that creates mess and stress for parents. The Crafty Bunch works with the EYFS curriculum used by nurseries introducing colours, shapes and key skills to cultivate creativity in little ones. All materials including aprons to protect clothes are provided. They offer a free trial. Locations: Maida Vale on Mondays at 4 pm and Marylebone on Tuesdays at 10 am. The Crafty Bunch often does crafty lunches at The Truscott Arms. Little ones can get creative making seasonally inspired crafts while parents enjoy a drink or sample the pub’s award winning cuisine. Round up some friends and enjoy a long lunch without the kids getting bored! Places can be booked online in advance. Booking a table for lunch is advisable.
- Emma Holliss runs lovely soft play sessions in Little Venice. I know that the venue is changing, so please email Emma with all details. Many NW8-mums go and love Emma’s soft play sessions! email@example.com
- At Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre there are many things to do. There is soft play for the smallest children called Toddler’s World on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday mornings at 9.15 am, 10 am and 10.45 am. If your child is a member of the Leisure Centre, there is a member’s discount. You can usually turn up, but the Sunday one (especially the 10 am session) can get very busy, so you might want to book in advance. There is Rascals too from the age of 2. The sessions last 1 hour. Something to remember: Rascals’ sessions start on the hour. If you turn up at say 10.20 am, your session lasts till 11 am. This is not explained well (if at all) when you buy your ticket. Again, for a child who is a member of the Leisure Centre, there is a reduction in price. This is an extremely popular birthday party venue (perfect for hosting your 3 or 4-year-old’s birthday party) on weekends, so it might be worth calling to see when they have parties on in order for your little one not to be disappointed. Also, if your child is quite small, it is nicer going during school hours. Once the big children get there, it can get a bit wild. (If you want to go to the Leisure Centre gym, there is a creche for children up to the age of 5.)
- The Sherriff Centre and Hullabaloo at the corner of Sherriff Road/West End Lane in West Hampstead is a firm favourite with many NW8-mums.
- The Baby Yoga Company – So many of my friends tell me about Alice Morgan’s fantastic yoga sessions, and they say it is the best baby and parent yoga they have ever done.
- The Kailash Centre – For those of you who are either pregnant or are new mothers, The Kailash Centre in St John’s Wood offers pregnancy and mother and baby yoga classes. Other than yoga being great to do, it is also a good way of meeting other mothers and/or mothers-to-be.
- Family yoga sessions with Milestones Baby Massage running on the first Saturday of the month in Swiss Cottage community centre for ages 4+ and their mums/dads at 11 am-12 noon. They also run family yoga sessions in Gracelands Yard in Kensal Rise on Fridays at 3.45-4.25 pm for children of 3-4 years, and at 4.30-5.15 pm for children of 4-8 years.
- The amazing Magic Swimming School has now merged with Swimming Rocks and they are brilliant!
- Turtle Tots – I take my little boy swimming with them and we both love their baby classes. Lisa and Caroline who run the North London franchise are lovely. The closest venue is at The Swiss Cottage SEN School at the top of Avenue Road.
- The Hub in Regent’s Park offers a variety of mummy and baby friendly activities such as Parent and Pram.
- Buggy Fit – It is easy to get fit and meet other mums with Buggy Fit. The nearest place to do this is in Maida Vale.
- Fitness training sessions: My fantastic personal trainer, Henlu, runs a series of classes in Paddington Recreation Ground at the running track next to the basketball court. In case of rain, sessions take place at the bandstand. There is a cafe nearby with loos and changing facilities, as well as pay and display parking on Grantully Road. See below for his weekly classes. £15/class.
Tuesdays at 7.15-8.15 pm – combined session (male & female)
Wednesdays at 9.45-10.45 am – mums class (babies welcome)
Saturdays at 9-10am – ladies group session and at 10-11 am – men’s group session
Henlu caters for all fitness levels and combines a great fun mix of cardiovascular training, flexibility, strength and conditioning, yoga postures and Pilates based exercises. Do not be worried if you are not very fit or just starting; everyone training is on different fitness levels. You only need to bring along a yoga mat, some water and warm clothing (during winter time). For more information, please e-mail Henlu on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Your GP surgery usually has lots of information about things to do, classes etc so it might be worth checking with them as well.