Right in the heart of one of London’s most beautiful and sought after boroughs, Hyde Park welcomes millions of visitors each year for a mix of concerts, events and simple relaxation.
If you’re going to be one of them, whether you’re visiting for a flying trip, staying nearby in a Hyde Park Hotel, staying for slightly longer or are simply new to the area, we’ve put together a handy guide of things you need to know, and 10 things you definitely need to see before you leave.
Hyde Park: Fast Facts
- Hyde Park is the largest public park in London.
- Hyde Park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and covers an area of 350 acres.
- Hyde Park was created in 1536 by Henry VIII for hunting.
- King Charles I opened the park to the public in 1637. The current park layout was planned by architect Decimus Burton in 1825.
- The Grand Entrance to the park, also known as Apsley Gate, at Hyde Park Corner next to Apsley House, was erected from the designs of Decimus Burton in 1824–25.
- An array of peculiar sculptures are dotted around the park, including Drinking Horse, made in the shape of a huge horse head drinking up water, a family of Jelly Babies standing on top of a large black cube, and Vroom Vroom, which resembles a giant human hand pushing a toy car along the ground.
Hyde Park’s Top Attractions
1. The rose garden
Roses are synonymous with British gardens, and this one in particular is very special.
The Garden was opened in 1994 and was designed by Colvin and Moggridge Landscape Architects. The design was developed from the concept of horns sounding one’s arrival into Hyde Park from Hyde Park Corner – the central area surrounded by the yew hedge is thought to be the mouth of a trumpet or horn, whilst the seasonal flower beds are the blazing notes coming out of the horn.
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2. The LookOut
The LookOut in Hyde Park is a distinctive, eco-friendly building settled in an acre of enclosed grounds in the heart of the park. The LookOut enables people of all ages, abilities and communities to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and empowers visitors to learn about the natural world through interesting family and well-being activities.
3. 7 July Memorial
There are a number of beautiful and poignant statues, memorials and fountains dispersed around the park and we’ve chosen two of the most recent and highly recognised for our list.
The 7 July Memorial was unveiled in Hyde Park by Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to honour those killed in the London bombings terrorist attack on the fourth anniversary of the disaster, Tuesday 7 July 2009.
The memorial is comprised of 52 stainless steel pillars, representing each of the 52 victims, all grouped together in four inter-linking clusters reflecting the four locations of the incident.
4. Princess Diana Memorial
The fountain contains 545 pieces of Cornish granite – each shaped by the latest computer-controlled machinery and mended together using traditional skills.
The design aims to reflect Diana’s life and personality; water flows from the highest point in two directions as it cascades, swirls and bubbles before meeting in a calm pool at the bottom. The water is continually being refreshed.
5. Speaker’s Corner
Hyde Park has a long history as a site of protest, and it still hosts many rallies and marches today. Visit Speakers’ Corner on a Sunday morning to hear people from all walks of life share their views on a range of different, important and interesting topics.
6. Serpentine Lido
The Serpentine Lido and its accompanying paddling pool are great for both adults and children alike, especially during those perfectly warm summer days.
It’s open on weekends throughout May and seven days a week from 1 June to early September. It’s also home to The Serpentine Swimming Club – the oldest swimming club in Britain.
7. South Carriage Drive Playground
Suitable for children up to the age of 12, the South Carriage Drive Playground is a thrilling and adventurous play space that your little ones will love. It sits on the southern boundary of Hyde Park along South Carriage Drive, and it has views over open sports fields, tree-lined avenues and the Serpentine.
8. British Summer Time Festival
One of the capital’s most popular music festivals, British Summer in Time Hyde Park is a summer extravaganza featuring: live music, comedy acts and film as well as a host of fantastic cafes, bistros and independent food stalls, and themed pubs and cocktail bars.
This year’s line-up is a good one, with headline acts including Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder and Barbara Streisand, to name a few. During this time, the area gets incredibly packed and hotels can get booked up months in advance. So why not expand your search and look in Hotels in Barbican London?
9. Royal Parks Half Marathon
In 2008 the Royal Parks organisation created the first half marathon in central London. Now a multi-award winning event, the Royal Parks Half Marathon has become a bucket list item for running lovers all over.
The spectacular 13.1-mile route takes in the capital’s world-famous landmarks on closed roads, such as Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and Whitehall, giving its runners a sight of London like no other. It also passes through four of London’s eight Royal Parks – Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.
Taking part in the run, or cheering someone on? Book your stay at The Shaftesbury early to avoid disappointment, as hotels also get booked up quickly during this time.
10. The Bandstand
The bandstand in Hyde Park is one of the oldest in Britain. It was built back in 1869, and it originally stood in Kensington Gardens but was moved to Hyde Park in 1886. The octagonal roof gives it particularly good acoustics, which is why it’s still used today for occasional concerts. However, you may well recognise it from its stint in Hollywood – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers’ song “Isn’t it a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain” from the 1935 film Top Hat was set on the Hyde Park bandstand.