After an afternoon strolling around the wonderful Hyde Park why not enjoy an early dinner nearby at The Portman gastropub; situated just beyond Marble Arch and a four minute walk from the park’s North East entrance.
About Hyde Park
Hyde Park, one of the biggest parks in London, is host to millions of visitors including local residents and tourists. It’s one of just eight royal parks and covers an area of 350 acres. Cutting across the centre of the park you’ll find the Long Water and the Serpentine lakes almost splitting the park in two. Kensington Gardens, which sits to the West of the Long Water Lake, has been separate from Hyde Park since 1728 although many still refer to it as part of the park.
The park is a popular location for large scale demonstrations owing to its impressive size. Most recently members of the Liberty and Livelihood March taking place in 2002 congregated initially within Hyde Park. Historically the park also hosted the Great Exhibition in 1851 for which The Crystal Palace, a cast-iron structure covered with panes of glass, was erected to accommodate over 14,000 global exhibitors.
What You’ll Find
The park is now famous for Speakers’ Corner; a place where public debate and discussion are allowed, and also hosts a number of well-known statues and monuments. Some of the most famous landmarks within the park are the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, Serpentine Lake and Speakers’ Corner.
Speakers’ Corner can be found near Marble Arch at the parks North Eastern corner and is a lively place officially covering a substantial area between Marble Arch and Victoria Gate although most commonly is thought of as the paved area directly adjacent to Marble Arch itself. Throughout history the site has played host to some famous and outspoken characters including Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and George Orwell.
Opened by the Queen herself on 6th July 2004 the Memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales consists of a large circular fountain made from Cornish granite. The fountain flow like a stream with small sections of what could be considered rapids and is often frequented by families during the summer months where small children can play in the water. You’ll find three bridges situated around the fountain allowing those that don’t want to get their feet wet to make their way to the grassy centre of the memorial.
The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial can be accessed at any time of year although the summer months are certainly preferable if you’re looking to dip your toes in the water:
- March: 10am – 6pm
- April – August: 10am – 8pm
- September: 10am – 7pm
- October: 10am – 6pm
- November – February: 10am – 4pm
The Holocaust Memorial, located in The Dell an open air location within Hyde Park, was the first memorial for the victims of the Holocaust in Great Britain open to the public. It’s situated to the East of the Serpentine Lake and has hosted a yearly remembrance service every year since its opening in 1983.
In 2009 a memorial for the 52 victims, one steel pillar for each person, of the London underground 7/7 terrorist attacks was opened by Prince Charles (The Prince of Wales) to commemorate those killed in the bombings that took place four years earlier. The monument can be visited in the South East corner of the park just North of the Achilles monument, a large bronze statue of the Greek hero Achilles holding a sword and shield.
For a full list of Hyde Park monuments please visit The Royal Parks factsheet for Hyde Park.
Depending on when you are in the park, you may be lucky enough to witness a Royal Gun Salutes. Royal Gun Salutes mark special royal occasions. Salutes are also fired from Green Park.
Education and Wildlife
Kicking off in spring, each year Hyde Park plays host too many fascinating workshops that get the kids involved to learn about the environment and nature.
Learn where to find the best bird watching sites, sow seeds in handmade plant pots and watch the spring flowers grow, take part in Easter treasure hunts, arts and crafts and if you’re brave enough, come down to the park at night to listen to the different bat species….if you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse.
Many of the events are free, to find out more check out the royal parks website http://www.royalparks.org.uk/whats-on
Sports in the Park
Each year the world famous Park sees many a sporting event take place. Starting and finishing in Hyde Park the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon weaves through many famous London Landmarks such as, Buckingham Palace, The Houses Of Parliament and The London Eye whist cutting through The Green Park and looping around St James’ there is certainly no shortage of breath taking views. Around since 2008, this run is showing no signs of slowing down with 16,000 people running in 2013.
Stepping it up a notch is the Royal Parks Foundation Ultra 50k where you can wave of the runners from Hyde Park before they head down the river Thames and finish in Bushy Park.
During June, Hyde Park once again plays home to the triathlon, as it did for the 2012 London Olympics. Being one of the world’s biggest events of this kind, it attracts competitors from all over the world to fight for the title of world champion. Starting with the swimming leg in the Serpentine Lake followed by a cycle around the outskirts of the park, finishing with a run back around the Serpentine, this is not for the faint hearted.
Hyde Park itself is open every day of the year from 5am in the morning until midnight. While the neighbouring Kensington Gardens closes at dusk.
Event’s Within the Park
Hyde Park often plays host to well-known performing artists with concerts being held in the park since 1968 when Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull were amongst those performing. Normally these concerts will be held during the summer months although there are events throughout the year to provide you with yet another reason to make a visit to one of London’s most famous destinations.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
One of the parks most loved events is the yearly winter wonderland running from 22nd November to 5th January. This six weeks long Christmas event will contain a Christmas market complete with wooden chalets and German style cafes and bars.
There’s also The Magical Ice Kingdom, Giant Observation Wheel and a whole host of funfair attractions which total more than 100 altogether. An ice rink and Zippo circus make up the remainder of what’s on offer in this large scale event celebrating the festive period.
Peter Pan Cup Swimming
If you’re looking for something a bit different to do on Christmas day in London why not head on down to the Serpentine Lake (South side) to watch some fearless swimmers take part in the yearly Peter Pan Cup Swimming Race. It’s a 100-yard race and water temperatures can get as low as minus four degrees at this time of year.
Unfortunately it’s only members of the swimming club who have completed the Winter Series that can participate although you may see that as a bonus. Spectators are more than welcome and the race has a festive feel with swimmers wearing a traditional Santa hat.
Hyde Park is easy to reach via one of four close by London underground tube stations. Take the central (red) line to either Marble Arch or Lancaster Gate to enter the park from its Northern side. Taking the Piccadilly (dark blue) line to either Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner stations will allow you to enter the park from the South.
Finish your stroll around Hyde Park at Marble Arch and it will only take you 4 minutes on foot to reach The Portman, where you’ll have your choice of hearty pub food downstairs or the fine dining experience offer by our upstairs restaurant.
To reach The Portman from Hyde Park head towards Marble arch in the parks North Eastern corner. From here cross directly over the street, heading North, on Great Cumberland Place. Keep following the road until you come to the intersection with Upper Berkeley Street; turn left (West) onto Upper Berkeley Street and you’ll soon see The Portman on your left hand side at the first intersection (Seymour Place).