Crystal Palace Park is a hidden gem, originally created to house the relocated iron and glass Crystal Palace and now home to a fine array of amenities and things to do for the whole family.
- Admire the park’s Dinosaur Court where you will find a series of large dinosaur sculptures, all set within a beautiful landscape.
- Lose yourself in the maze, one of the largest in the country with an impressive diameter measuring 160 feet.
- Head to the Italian Terraces, replete with statues and sphinxes and offering stunning views towards London.
What to see and do
The Crystal Palace Museum
Opened in 1990, the museum charts the fascinating history of the Crystal Palace which was originally sited in Hyde Park before being rebuilt in Crystal Palace Park. The small museum is full of wonderful photos and items charting the Palace’s history in both of its locations. The museum is housed in the only remaining building constructed by the Crystal Palace Company and dates back to the 1880s.
The Urban Farm
The Urban Farm is a great place for the kids to meet and learn about animals. As well as traditional farm animals such as horses, pigs and goats the farm also has less traditional ones to enjoy including snakes and lizards. Run by Capel Manor College the farm is an excellent teaching resource, providing a fun family day out where the little ones have the chance to meet the animals.
The Boating Lake
Enjoy some fun on the water at the Crystal Palace Park boating lake. Located next to the dinosaur statues this is a great place to relax and watch the world go by. At certain times of the year you can hire a pedalo boat and explore the lake at your leisure. When back on land you will see plenty of ducks mulling around the lake which the kids will love.
Crystal Palace Park houses a large, circular skatepark which is open to all ages and all abilities. This 1,100-meter skatepark was designed with all forms of riding style in mind and can cater for BMX, scootering, rollerblading, skateboarding and more. Grass mounds surround the venue, allowing good viewing points where you can relax and watch the skills on show.
National Sports Centre
Located at the heart of the park is the National Sports Centre which provides a range of sporting facilities for all to use. Three swimming pools, a diving pool, a modern gym with over 100 pieces of equipment, an indoor running track, a climbing wall and squash courts are just a taste of what the centre has to offer. The centre runs plenty of activities too, including fitness classes, trampolining and personal training courses.
Did you know (5 interesting facts!)
- A football stadium was constructed in the park grounds in 1895 which staged 20 FA Cup finals, as well as being the home ground for Crystal Palace FC for a decade.
- In August 1896 the park was the unfortunate scene for the first death of a pedestrian by a motor vehicle when Bridget Driscoll was struck and killed.
- Another unfortunate death in the park occurred in 1900 when a circus was in attendance and an enraged elephant broke free from its fastenings and trampled its keeper to death.
- The Park used to house a motor racing circuit which existed until 1972, with the costs to improve safety one of the main reasons it closed.
- In 1871 an Aquarium was opened that for a short period was the largest of its kind in the world.
- 1854 The Crystal Palace and park designed and constructed by Joseph Paxton with the palace relocated from its original Hyde Park site.
- 1872 A large aquarium is built in an area of the Crystal Palace damaged by fire six years earlier.
- 1895 Park stages the first of 20 FA Cup finals.
- 1911 The Festival of the Empire is held in the park, requiring a transformation of the park buildings.
- 1936 The Crystal Palace burns down and leads to a period where the park falls into a state of dereliction.
- 1937 A motor circuit is opened, although speedway and motorcycle racing had been previously staged within the park.
- 1964 The National Sports Centre is built where the old football ground was located, a major development requiring large remodelling of the central area of the park.
- 1986 Ownership of the park transferred to the London Borough of Bromley who undertake restoration work, including on the dinosaur statues.
Facilities and Accessibility
There are a number of pedestrian entry points to Crystal Palace Park and many parts of the park are level and accessible to all. There is accessible parking and an accessible toilet within the park grounds. However, access to the Crystal Palace Museum is by a flight of stairs and is not wheelchair accessible. For refreshments, the park has a café with a terrace which can be found by the boating lake and close to the visitors centre.