Six winter days out

  • 16 December 2013

House full of bored kids? Eaten too much turkey? Sick of Christmas television? Here are six of our favourite days out, sure to see you through the winter season.

1. Charles Dickens Museum

Free with National Art Pass

Nothing says winter like the crackle of a roaring fire and a good Charles Dickens novel, so why not head to the author's only surviving London residence, where he wrote classics such as Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby? Opened as a museum in 1925, the site holds the world's most important collection of material relating to the great Victorian novelist and social commentator, including paintings, rare editions, manuscripts and original furniture.

2. Kenwood House

Free to all

What better way to spend a winter's day than inside 'the artistic home of a gentleman of the 18th century'? The newly reopened Kenwood House has been furnished with 'comfy seats' in a conscious bid to welcome visitors to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the house. A particular highlight is the refurbished Robert Adam designed library, described by his contemporaries as 'superior to anything of the kind in England' and now returned to its original colour palette thanks to an extensive paint analysis project. Other must-sees include the incredible collection of Old Master and British paintings, once owned by Lord Iveagh, who donated the house to the public on his death. Highlights include The Guitar Player by Johannes Vermeer and Self Portrait with Two Circles, a late work of Rembrandt's.

3. Natural History Museum

50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

A perennial family favourite, the museum's encyclopaedic permanent collections comprise some 70 million specimens, from 'dippy', the museum's replica diplodocus, to the skull of a Barbary lion, thought to have lived in the Tower of London around the year 1300. The oldest item, the Wold Cottage meteorite, is estimated at around 4.6 billion years old. Not only is the museum a great way to distract restless souls over the festive period, but the outdoor ice rink is an added seasonal treat (until 5 January). While you're there, why not see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and get 50% off with your National Art Pass?

4. Geffrye Museum, Museum of the Home

Free to all

Every year for the past 20, this museum devoted to 'the history of the home' has mounted its Christmas Past exhibition, which explores how English middle-class families have celebrated the festive season over the last four centuries. Artefacts adorning the Geffrye's period rooms help trace the origins and meanings of well-known traditions; from feasting, dancing and kissing under the mistletoe to playing parlour games, hanging up stockings, sending cards, decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties.

5. National Portrait Gallery

Entry free to all, 50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

Does your holiday season usually result in a family squabble over what to see? With pastel works by a 1960s rock star, pictures from the personal collection of a Pre-Raphaelite muse and portraits of the key players in the Elizabethan court, the National Portrait Gallery has got you covered. You can also pop in and see the final self-portrait painted by Flemish master Sir Anthony Van Dyck, which we are campaigning to buy for the nation.

6. Waddesdon Manor

Free with National Art Pass

Built by Ferdinand de Rothschild in the style of Louis XIV, the manor is home to an extensive art collection by Reynolds, Gainsborough and others, as well as 18th-century decorative items, such as intricately designed clocks and musical automatons. Over the Christmas period its rooms are decked out in full festive fare, while Bruce Munro's immersive light installations will pervade the grounds up until January 1.

Tags: Museums and galleriesExhibitionsGreat days out