London Attractions, Activities and Things
Hyde Park and the Diana Memorial
Acquired by Henry VIII in 1536 for use as
hunting grounds, Hyde Park is now one of London's finest historic
landscapes. Covering over 350 acres, it is used for a variety of
activities and has many facilities to suit all tastes and needs.
An area known as "The Sports Field" is used for informal games such as
football, cricket and touch rugby. Designated cycle tracks are available
while the paths and grass areas are used extensively for walking and
jogging. The Serpentine lake is used for boating and the Lido has swimming
and paddling pools.
A specialist horse-riding arena is available plus two designated routes
for horse riding. The park has six high quality tennis courts, a
well-maintained six-rink flat green bowling green and a putting course.
Hyde Park provides a unique habitat for various flora and fauna with over
4,000 trees, a meadow area and numerous shrub beds and herbaceous
plantings. The Serpentine attracts many wildfowl, insects and bats and
many songbirds are visitors to the park.
The park is well served with refreshment outlets, with the Dell
restaurant, the Lido Café, the Hyde Park Tennis Centre Café and other
refreshment points. It also stages a number of events throughout the year,
including various walks and concerts. Royal gun salutes are fired in the
park at 12.00 on royal anniversaries.
One of the park's most recent features is the unique Memorial to Diana,
Princess of Wales, which was opened in 2004. The fountain is built from
545 pieces of Cornish granite and is intended to reflect Diana's life,
with water flowing in two directions from the highest point and meeting in
a calm pool at the bottom. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the
fountain and three bridges allow access to its centre.
Opening hours: Daily 05.00-24.00
The Park Office, Rangers' Lodge, Hyde Park, W2 2UH
Phone: 020 7298 2100 Fax: 020 5402 3298
The Regent's Park
With an area of 410 acres, The Regent's
park is the largest grass area for sports in Central London and is the
home of London Zoo. The park provides an amazingly diverse habitat with
playing fields and wildflower grassland, woodland, wetland, reed beds and
stunning rose gardens that have over 30,000 roses of 400 varieties. A
wildlife friendly community garden has been created recently with the help
of local schools, community groups and volunteers.
The park has almost 100 acres of space devoted to sport and offers a wide
range of sporting activities, with sports pitches and an athletics track
available for hire. Winter sports facilities include ten full-sized grass
football pitches plus junior and mini pitches as well as two rugby
pitches. For summer sports, there are six cricket pitches, including one
of minor county standard and one junior pitch, four cricket nets and
eighteen softball pitches. The Tennis Centre has quality tennis
facilities, with three of the courts also being marked out for netball.
Tennis coaching courses are available and tournaments are organised.
At the centre of the sporting activity is The Hub, which provides changing
facilities with showers and lockers. It also has two large rooms, which
are available for hire, for various forms of exercise, activities and
events. A Community Sports Development Officer is employed and group
activities are organised.
The Regent's Park has an open-air theatre that operates from May until the
end of September, bandstands that stage lunchtime and evening concerts, a
lakeside theatre and puppet shows. Refreshments are available from several
sites, ranging from full meals through to snacks, drinks and ice cream.
Opening hours: Daily 05.00 until dusk
The Store Yard, Inner Circle, Regent's Park, NW1 4NR
Phone: 020 7486 7905 Fax: 020 7224 1895
The 275 acres of Kensington Gardens are
planted with formal avenues of magnificent trees and ornamental
flowerbeds. The park provides the perfect setting for Kensington Palace,
peaceful Italian Gardens, the Albert Memorial, the bronze statue of Peter
Pan and the Serpentine Gallery.
Given that Kensington Gardens' main role is to provide a peaceful refuge
in Central London and the importance of its historical landscape, informal
sporting activities are not encouraged although they do take place.
Additionally, the paths are used extensively by joggers and runners,
cycling is allowed on a designated path and the park is popular as a
healthy walking route.
A number of guided walks are available at various times throughout the
year while Albert Memorial guided tours are provided at set times or can
be booked for groups. The Broadwalk Café and Playcafé provides
refreshments, including a children's menu, and refreshment points are also
plentiful. The park is a popular venue for picnics, with a document being
available to help plan a picnic.
Kensington Gardens has two children's playgrounds, the best known of these
being the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. This opened in
2000 in memory of the late Princess and is visited by 70,000 children each
The playground has a huge wooden pirate ship as its centrepiece plus a
sensory trail, tepees, a beach around the pirate ship and various toys and
play sculptures. Inspired by the stories of Peter Pan, the playground
encourages children to explore and follow their imaginations. It also
allows less able and able-bodied children to play together.
Opening hours: Daily 06.00 until dusk
Kensington Gardens Office, The Magazine Store Yard, Magazine Gate,
Kensington Gardens, W2 2UH
Phone: 020 7298 2000 Fax: 020 7724 2826
St James's Park
Home to the Mall, where many ceremonial
parades and events take place, St James's Park covers 58 acres in the
heart of London. It has three royal palaces on its perimeter — the Houses
of Parliament (formerly the Palace of Westminster), St James's Palace and,
of course, Buckingham Palace.
St James's Park was the first of the royal parks to be opened to the
public and welcomes over 5.5 million visitors each year. It is crossed by
elegant paths and has a lake that is home to a wide range of birds,
including fifteen different species of wildfowl, with nesting sites on the
lake's Duck Island and West Island.
Guided tours of Duck Island are available and the pelicans are fed every
day at 14.30. Various guided walks are organised throughout the year and
refreshments can be obtained at Inn the Park, a fascinating building with
a turf roof, and at refreshment points.
With its close proximity to Buckingham Palace, St James's Park is
convenient for viewing the Changing of the Guard. This takes place at
11.30 each day in spring and summer or on alternate days in autumn and
winter, weather permitting.
Opening hours: Daily 05.00-24.00
The St James's Park Office, The Storeyard, Horse Guards Road, St James's
Park, SW1A 2BJ
Phone: 020 7930 1793 Fax: 020 7839 7639