Ten great local parks in London

Their Royal cousins are great, but sometimes you can't beat an afternoon amid the scruffier splendour of one London's laid-back local parks. Here's our guide to some of the city's best, complete with nifty maps pointing out all the fun stuff

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  • Holland Park, W8

    Barbecues allowed? No

    Opens 7.30am

    Closes 30 minutes before dusk

    Transport Holland Park or High Street Kensington tube

    What’s it like? Undeniably your upper-class park. Minutes away from all the rather imposing houses of Notting Hill, it’s a striking mix of the practical and the beautifully landscaped: carefully tended lawns, sheltered pathways and Japanese gardens sit alongside busy playing fields and overgrown woodland, but there isn’t an alcohol soaked barbecue in sight. 

    What’s new? Opera. The annual Opera Holland Park festival season, showing works from the likes of Puccini, Donizetti and Bizet, happens every June, July and August. Staged on the old ruins of Holland House, and covered by only a canopy, the opera isn’t that expensive (£12-£70) and you can book a picnic. 

    Main recreational activities?
    Dog-walking, peacock-spotting, playing in the children’s park, football, lounging in the sun, walking through the shady foresty bits and generally soaking up the posh garden culture. 

    Any weird ones? Gucci sunglasses-wearing dog owners who bray loudly on their phone throughout their saunter with Fido, which they believe equates to an hour in the gym.

     

    Holland Park, W8
  • Ravenscourt Park, W6

    Barbecues allowed? No

    Opens 7.30am

    Closes Dusk

    Transport Chiswick Park or Turnham Green tube

    What’s it like? A mecca for yummy mummies from nearby Chiswick and Hammersmith, Ravenscourt Park is home to not one but four children’s play areas, a pretty little lake, a bowling green, tennis courts, a modest paddling pool, a secret garden and a cute little café dispensing obscene cakes by Fait Maison. 

    What’s new? Outdoor film screenings are scheduled for summer 2013. Those willing to take their chances with the elements can take their pick from films including 'Top Gun', 'Terminator', 'Fight Club' and 'Moulin Rouge'. 

    Main recreational activities? There’s fierce competition along the pathways as joggers desperately try to avoid designer dogs, posh prams and the occasional top-off, Stella-wielding wasteman. Tennis, football and bowls players are also provided for. 

    Any weird ones? Don’t be perturbed by a strapping, ruddy-faced giant roaming the park. Chances are it’ll be local resident Matthew Pinsent.

     

    Ravenscourt Park, W6
  • Acton Green Common, W4

    Barbecues allowed? No

    Open 24 hours

    Transport Chiswick Park or Turnham Green tube

    What’s it like? Containing more Bugaboos than a Destiny’s Child reunion, Acton Green Common is green and pleasant little strip of greenery outside of Turnham Green station. Reputedly the spot for a battle between Royalists and Republicans during the English Civil War, you’re unlikely to see anything kicking off here these days – unless there’s a spot of pram rage.

    What’s new? Very little. Change in Chiswick seems to move at a slower pace than elsewhere in the capital. 

    Main recreational activities Toddlers on scooters love the pathways, while a children’s playground thankfully keeps the majority of little ’uns behind bars. Twenty- and thirty-something couples and groups of teenagers tend to settle for the old favourite of drinking tinnies or a bottle of vino from the local offy. There’s also a five-a-side football centre on the adjoining Chiswick Common. 

    Any weird ones? At dawn, when most sensible people are still tucked up in their beds, a drill sergeant yells instructions at compliant locals as part of the regular boot camp classes.

     

    Acton Green Common, W4

Holland Park, W8

Barbecues allowed? No

Opens 7.30am

Closes 30 minutes before dusk

Transport Holland Park or High Street Kensington tube

What’s it like? Undeniably your upper-class park. Minutes away from all the rather imposing houses of Notting Hill, it’s a striking mix of the practical and the beautifully landscaped: carefully tended lawns, sheltered pathways and Japanese gardens sit alongside busy playing fields and overgrown woodland, but there isn’t an alcohol soaked barbecue in sight. 

What’s new? Opera. The annual Opera Holland Park festival season, showing works from the likes of Puccini, Donizetti and Bizet, happens every June, July and August. Staged on the old ruins of Holland House, and covered by only a canopy, the opera isn’t that expensive (£12-£70) and you can book a picnic. 

Main recreational activities?
Dog-walking, peacock-spotting, playing in the children’s park, football, lounging in the sun, walking through the shady foresty bits and generally soaking up the posh garden culture. 

Any weird ones? Gucci sunglasses-wearing dog owners who bray loudly on their phone throughout their saunter with Fido, which they believe equates to an hour in the gym.

 

  1. North
  2. East
  3. South
  4. West

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Music festivals

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Users say

2 comments
Tina Gray
Tina Gray

Burgess Park now has built-in barbecues, just bring your charcoal briquettes & firelighters & lighter/matches. There are special barbecue-bins to empty previous ashes into & the next person using the same grill as you does the same with the ashes you leave behind (once they have died out and gone cold). Its a good idea to bring a packet of kitchen-wipes to give the grill shelf a quick wipe over before use. Saves buying disposable-use-once-portable-barbecue-trays. I suggest buying a large bag of charcoal beforehand & just take along as much as you will need, this will save you a lot of money in the long run. I haven't visited Burgess Park since its revamp but friends have told me about the barbecue area & say it seems a great idea & addition which is bringing more visitors to the park. I'm not sure on the park policy regarding music but apparently people are taking along music players & everyone gets into the " carnival mood ", this might be the thing to take-over the annual Southwark Carnival in Southwark Park which has been gradually squeezed out over the past 4-5years (great shame as this event was the highlight of the summer calender...still, Burgess Park is the new place to be in Southwark.