London is at its most beautiful when the sun is shining. The city buzzes as people make the most of the good weather and indulge in one of England’s greatest summer pastimes: a picnic. From deer-watching at Richmond Park to live theatre at Regent’s Park, there’s plenty to entertain while tucking into a feast at one of the many beautiful parks in London. When the sun comes out, follow this guide to the best green spaces to throw down your picnic blanket this summer.
St James’s Park
St James’s Park is a beautiful 58-acre park stretching alongside the Mall. While it may not be the largest in the city, the park is one of the most picturesque. It’s known for its luscious lawns and lake, which is home to a family of pelicans (don’t miss feeding time at 2.30pm). At the head of the park is Buckingham Palace, where each day throughout summer the Queen’s Guard perform the Changing of the Guard ceremony, a demonstration of British pomp and ceremony at its best. After exploring St James’s Park, pass by the adjacent Green Park, a delightfully peaceful space that’s perfect for a pelican-free picnic.
One of the most famous and beautiful parks in London, Hyde Park is more than simply somewhere to throw down your picnic rug; it’s a sports and leisure hub as well. The park possesses a large lake that’s popular with swimmers and sailors, a number of pitches and courts used for sports like tennis and football, two lakeside restaurants and a number of impressive fountains and historic monuments. Spend a leisurely afternoon exploring the 530-acre park, or set up a picnic spot in the luscious meadow and watch Londoners (and occasionally some horses) frolic in the sunshine.
The largest ‘Royal Park’ in London, Richmond Park is famed for its population of deer. Over 600 of the wild animals roam the 2,500-acre landscape of hills and woodlands that make up this peaceful retreat. As well as ancient trees and abundant wildlife, Richmond Park is home to a range of facilities including golf courses, playgrounds, fishing ponds, attractive gardens and popular restaurants. After one hour in the park it’s possible to forget you’re in London at all, and not the bucolic English countryside - just remember to keep an eye on your sandwiches when the deer are around.
Widely considered one of the most interesting as well as the most beautiful parks in London, Regent’s Park offers 410 acres full of gorgeous gardens and exciting attractions, from the city’s largest playing field and stunning rose gardens to an Open Air Theatre showcasing live performances under the summer sun. The park is also home to world’s oldest scientific zoo, London Zoo. Stop by to see its exotic inhabitants, before climbing to the top of Primrose Hill for a picnic alongside panoramic views over the city.
One of London’s most beautiful hidden attractions, Kyoto Garden is a slice of Japan in the heart of Holland Park. Donated to the city by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991, the picturesque landscaped garden transports visitors to the Far East to a world where water flows under quaint bridges, petite trees line beautiful waterfalls and colourful peacocks roam across manicured lawns.
Before setting off for a picnic, pick up a hamper from Brown’s Hotel, which includes a selection of cold appetisers, British favourites, sweet and savoury snacks, and a choice of beverages including wine or gin and tonic.
Image credits: Richmond Park © iStock/helovi, St James's Park © iStock/OlegAlbinsky, Regent's Park © iStock/jjgervasi, Hyde Park © iStock/lostintimeline