THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO NORTH LONDON PARKS
I finally got round to putting together the second part of the ultimate guide to London parks, just in time for summer (there are only two weeks until summer officially starts). I love summers in the city as there is so much going on with various outdoor pop ups, music festivals, sporting events, park sunbathing (if you visit any of the parks listed on a hot day you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about) and evening drinks on rooftops. This time I’m focusing on north London but click here to read the first part of the series where I tell you all about south London parks.
Who hasn’t heard of Hyde Park!? The 350 acres grade I listed open space is the largest park in central London. It’s to London what Central Park is to New York! If you’re visiting the capital you should definitely add it to your list of places to visit. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed as there’s plenty here to keep you entertained. Go for a leisurely stroll through the park and admire various memorials, fountains and statues and stop for a coffee at either Lido Cafe & Bar or Serpentine Bar & Kitchen, both overlooking the boating lake. In fact, if you’re here during the warmer months, hire a pedal boat and spend some time on the water taking in the views. Once you’re done, buy some ice cream and grab a deck chair - from here you can people watch for the rest of the afternoon.
Also, local Ross Nye Stables offer horse riding lessons and guided rides if you would like to explore the park on a horseback.
Next door to Hyde Park, this used to be the private garden for Kensington Palace (where Prince William and Catherine live with their children, as well as a number of other young members of the Royal Family). These days you can visit both the gardens and the palace and it’s definitely worth putting that on your list of things to do. The park is also home to Serpentine Galleries (head here for a contemporary art and architecture fix) and the Albert Memorial.
This park is located in Kensington, next door to the Design Museum (one of my favourite museums in the city). It’s most unique feature is the Kyoto Garden, a symbol of friendship between Japan and the UK. The garden is a little oasis complete with koi carp, Japanese maple trees and peacocks.
It’s easily one of my favourite parks north of the river and there is so much to do there. The main thing of course is the London Zoo: not the best zoo I’ve ever been to but they host Zoo Nights during the summer which are really good fun and a unique opportunity to see what your favourite animals get up to after dark.
Another great thing to do in the park on a hot summer evening is see a play at the Open Air Theatre. This year’s schedule includes Evita and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Of course there are all the usual park attractions such as a boating lake, deckchairs and a beautiful rose garden. Primrose Hill at the north end of the park is also the ultimate spot in London to watch the sunset from.
ST JAMES’S PARK
St James’s Park is surrounded by such landmarks as Buckingham Palace and Whitehall but when I was trying to think of something unique to say about it and the first thing that came to my mind was the birds. There are so many birds here! In addition to the ducks, geese and swans which you can find in all large London parks, this one is also home to a family of pelicans. They’re sociable and outgoing and have been known to sit on park benches next to the visitors!
Green Park is on the other side of the Buckingham Palace from St James’s Park but it has a completely different vibe. It’s a lot quieter, wilder and more unkempt. This makes it a perfect spot to grab a picnic and escape the hustle and bustle of the city but if you’ve had enough of laying on the grass go for a stroll along The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk which is marked by plaques set in the ground marking different buildings and locations associated with life of the princess.
This is probably the most loved park in London, the pride and joy of East Londoners, and I’m certainly not surprised. There are the usual boating lakes, cafes and and even a Sunday farmers market. Plus the park is bordered by Bethnal Green and Hackney, two of the most hipster neighborhoods in East London.
But if that doesn’t convince you to visit, the park regularly hosts events and music festivals such as last month’s All Points East with the likes of The Chemical Brothers, The Strokes and Mumford & Sons headlining.
I will be honest with you, I’m not all that familiar with Finsbury Park these days as it have been at least ten years since I visited but as one of the largest parks in North London I couldn’t not include it. The park is a mix of open green spaces, manicured gardens and mature tree areas but the biggest draw is certainly the wealth of sporting facilities on offer. Because where else can you find an American football and baseball fields on this side of the Atlantic?
This is one of London’s most well known green spaces located in an upmarket neighbourhood of Hampstead. Probably best known for its bathing ponds where you can indulge in a bit of wild swimming London style. For the more refined visitors there’s a lido. But one place that you just can’t miss is Kenwood House, an absolutely stunning stately home
The Pergola and Hill Garden is a licenced wedding venue so if you’ve ever dreamt of tying the knot in a lush park setting this is THE place!
This park might be on a small side but it doesn’t make it any less attractive. Tucked away in West London, it has a paddling pool for the kids (they even create an artificial beach in the summer for all sand castle builders out there), a manicured garden, a cafe and a garden centre. In springtime, the park also boasts one of the most instagrammable cherry blossom tree alleys in London!
Oh and, if you’re interested in recent history there’s also a memorial to Giles Vernon Hart, a BT engineer who supported Polish Solidarity Movement and was the chairman of the Polish Solidarity Campaign in the UK.
I hope you enjoyed this post and I would love to know what your favourite park in London is. Let me know in the comments!