Hyde Park is one of London’s most popular outdoor spaces, the perfect spot to relax but also packed full of things for the whole family to see and do.
- Head to the Serpentine, the park’s 40-acre lake, to enjoy some fun on the water.
- Listen to the many views on offer at the famed Speaker’s Corner, a home to public debate since the 19th century.
- Paddle in the water as you admire the design of the unique Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
What to See and Do
This popular 40-acre lake in the centre of the park has plenty of activities the whole family can enjoy. You can hire out a rowing or pedal boat and head out on to the lake, each boat holding up to 6 people. For complete relaxation on the water why not take a trip on the park’s solar-powered Solarshuttle, the first of its kind in the UK. The Serpentine lido offers the perfect place to swim or cool off on a warm summer’s day and has a paddling pool and swings too.
Statues and Memorials
As you wander around Hyde Park you will find numerous statues and memorials marking important historical people and events. In the south-east corner of the park is the poignant memorial to the 7th July 2005 London bombings, with the 52 steel pillars representing the victims. The Holocaust Memorial surrounded by beautiful white-stemmed birch trees is another poignant spot, as is the Norwegian War Memorial presented in gratitude for Britain’s’ support during the second world war.
The Rose Garden
Another hugely popular area of Hyde Park is the tranquil Rose Garden which was opened in 1994 and treats visitors to a delightful mix of colour and fragrance. The beds are planted twice a year to produce displays in both Spring and Summer, though you will continue to see flowers until the first frosts arrive. The garden also has two fountains to admire, one of which contains a bronze statue of Diana the Huntress installed in 1906, plus a grand pergola.
Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk
There are seven miles to explore on this memorial walk, taking in views of three palaces and two mansions which played a role in the life of Diana, Princess of Wales. Whether you do sections of the walk or complete the full 7 miles there is plenty to see as you go round, taking you through neighbouring Kensington Gardens, Green Park and St James Park as you go. There are 90 plaques along the route, all with a heraldic rose at their centre.
Events in Hyde Park
There is nearly always something going on in Hyde Park for the family to enjoy. As well as staging world-class music, comedy and film events the park hosts sporting events and royal occasions too. There is also the chance to take part in craft workshops or discovery days where the family can enjoy fun, nature-inspired activities. There are a number of walking tours available to learn more about the park as you enjoy its beautiful scenery and wildlife.
Did You Know: (5 interesting facts!)
- In 1536 Henry VIII took the park from the monks at Westminster Abbey to use as hunting grounds. It was in 1637 that the park was first fully opened for public use by King Charles I.
- The Statue of Achilles can be found near the Queen Elizabeth gate at Hyde Park corner and is a memorial to the Duke of Wellington, commemorating his achievements both as a soldier and as a politician.
- The famous Hyde Park bandstand is one of the oldest in the country having been built in 1869, but it was originally located in Kensington Gardens until 1886.
- The first Victoria Cross award ceremony was held in Hyde Park in 1857, when Queen Victoria presented 62 Victoria Crosses, the highest award for courage and bravery in the armed forces.
- Hyde Park had an unofficial pet cemetery which can be viewed by appointment. Between 1881 and 1903 when it was closed, 300 pets were buried in the grounds.
- 1536 Park acquired from the monks of Westminster Abbey by Henry VIII for riding and hunting deer.
- 1637 Charles I allowed full public access to park, following partial access from 1625 under the reign of King James I.
- 1665 Many Londoners camped in the park to try and avoid the Great Plague.
- 1730s Queen Caroline, the wife of King George II, carried out major changes to the park, including creating the Serpentine.
- 1820s King George IV makes more alterations to the park, including building a monumental entrance at Hyde Park Corner.
- 1851 Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park.
- 1872 Speaker’s Corner formed after Act of Parliament sets aside an area of the park for public speaking.
- 1930 The Serpentine lido opens to provide mixed bathing and sunbathing facilities.
- 1968 Pink Floyd play the first major rock concert staged in the park.
- 2004 Princess Diana Memorial Fountain opened by Queen Elizabeth II.
Facilities and Accessibility
Access to the park is step-free, with many level, tarmacked paths within the park itself. For those who may find it difficult to walk to all the areas of the park they wish to see, the Liberty Drives scheme is available. With seven pick-up points, the electric buggies used in the scheme have wheelchair facilities and room for five passengers, providing a mobility service around the park.
For anyone who is looking forward to a relaxing day sat in the park, deck chairs are available for hire. There are a number of cafes, bars and refreshment points around the park providing a variety of hot and cold food, drinks, snacks and ice creams. Toward the southern end of the park is the South Carriage Drive playground, an adventure playground suitable for children up to 12 years of age which has a catering kiosk too.