The stories of Paddington Bear, the little Peruvian orphan who came to London and seems to have an adventure at every turn, have been a big part of our family life for too long to remember. Reading the stories myself as a child and now sharing them with my children is a real delight and it was so touching to see the tributes left to Paddington’s creator Michael Bond who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Paddington’s arrival in London from Darkest Peru and his adventures with the Brown family, Mr Gruber and his grumpy neighbour Mr Curry, see the little bear bringing fun and adventure across the UK’s capital. Here’s our round up of eight London locations for families to visit which are inspired by the wonderful Paddington Bear stories.
1. Portobello Road
Becoming part of the family in 32 Windsor Gardens, Paddington Bear has many of his earliest adventures around Notting Hill and Portobello Road where he becomes friends with antiques shop owner Mr Gruber. The area is home to reputedly the world’s largest antiques market alongside stalls and shops filled with fashions, fruit and furniture. It’s quieter during the week when fewer of the markets are on, but visit on a Saturday for a full-on Portobello Road experience.
2. Enjoy a night in Theatreland
In the first book “A Bear called Paddington” the Brown family and Paddington head for the West End for a night at the theatre. Of course he ends up on stage himself taking the play in a whole new direction. We have loved seeing our children develop a love for live theatre and our recent trip to see “The Comedy about a Bank Robbery” at the Criterion Theatre has cemented that even further.
3. A trip to see the Christmas Lights on Oxford Street
No trip to London at Christmas is complete without seeing the lights of Oxford Street as Paddington Bear discovered in the story “Paddington Goes To Town” where he is mistaken for a busker’s assistant and gets into trouble with the police for performing without a licence. Have a trouble free visit to the area and soak up the festive atmosphere where you might even be able to pick up your own Paddington for Christmas.
4. Head to where it all began – Paddington Station
Paddington Bear’s arrival at the iconic London rail station complete with suitcase and a ‘Please look after this bear‘ label kicked off decades of adventures for the little bear and the Brown family. A gateway to the West of England, this is a great station to spend a little time at if you’re a fan of the bear, make sure you check out the Paddington statue and seek out the bench where he was discovered by Mr Brown.
5. Catch some live music in Hyde Park
In ‘Mr. Gruber’s Outing’ in the book Paddington at Large, our hero appears on stage once again, this time at an open air concert in Hyde Park looking for ‘Mr Sherbet’ (after mishearing the name of the composer ‘Schubert’!) Catching live music in Hyde Park is still something worth checking out with many big names appearing at the numerous concerts and events taking place each year, or why not simply head out and explore this former hunting park for Henry VIII, and now home to the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, and boating on the Serpentine an ever popular activity for families.
6. Christmas on the South Bank and the London Eye
Michael Bond continued writing Paddington stories right up into his later years with newer attractions in the capital making appearances in the stories including a trip on the London Eye in “Paddington’s Christmas Surprise”, when his Uncle Pastuzo pops in to see his nephew. We love this lively part of London especially at Christmas when the markets are sparkling and seasonal attractions appear. The London Eye is a real treat for families to explore and the views across the city in the evening skies are truly spectacular.
7. Kensington Palace
In ‘”Paddington And The Stately Home”, the little bear does what many of us much have secretly always wanted to do – have a nap on one of the beds in a palace! Paddington Bear is finally found asleep on ‘Queen Elizabeth’s bed’ in the story, but why not head to one of London’s most famous stately homes and royal residence – Kensington Palace to explore the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales and now that of her sons. With regular events aimed at families throughout the year there’s lots to explore and enjoy here, and end your trip at the neighbouring play park named in memory of Diana.
8. Visiting the site of the London 2012 Olympics – the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
In the final book of stories about Paddington Bear to be written by Michael Bond, our hero is mistaken for a member of the Peruvian Olympic team ahead of London 2012 and adventures of course are just around the bend once again! The site of the 2012 games and more recently the 2017 World Athletics brought tens of thousands of people to this part of London to celebrate the best athletics on the planet and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park remains both a memory to the games and the site of fantastic family walks, trails and great places to play.
‘Eight London locations for families to visit inspired by the Paddington Bear stories’ is part of our collaboration with Visit England – keep an eye on the ‘Literary Adventures’ tab at the top of the page for more inspiration and find out more about Visit England here – https://www.visitengland.com/