The next happiest day of the year so far is (almost) here! April 12: like Christmas, but instead of getting presents, you’re gifted the legal right to a haircut and a chance to meet your friends for an outdoor pint. And what a pint it will be! Especially now that you’ve got your hands on this guide to celebrating our new unofficial national holiday.
In here you’ll find everything you could possibly want to know about London’s massive outdoor beer gardens, restaurants that have made the switch to outdoor dining, and outdoor attractions you can actually visit.
Hopefully, it’ll all help you all keep your outdoor hangs feelings vibey until our next unofficial national holiday: May 17 (A date which – hopefully – means the return of galleries, cinemas and theatre performances.)
Feeling confused about all the rule changes? We’ve pulled together a very thorough, detailed and extremely well-written guide here.
Have dinner and drinks outdoors
Do something besides going for a walk
Book in some post-lockdown grooming
Get to grips with outdoor exercise
Head to the lido for a swim
One of the most refreshing messages in Boris Johnson’s February 22 speech? That outdoor swimming pools will be opening as part of Phase bloody 1. That means that come March 29, you’ll be able to wash away months of misery with a lovely dip in one of London’s brilliant lidos.
Find a good tennis court
London, outdoor sports are almost back. Fancy some sweet, sweet Wimbledon feels? Grab a racket and head to these spots to get in on some court action across the city. Leaders Garden Leaders Garden is roughly a five-minute jaunt from Putney Bridge tube station and has great courts for those who want to serve until sunset. You have the option to book half an hour, one hour or up to two-hour sessions at their courts with a pay-as-you-go membership. If you are feeling ridiculously sporting (and if they're back open again), jump on a rowing boat afterwards from one of Putney's many riverside rowing clubs and row your way along the river to the next tennis spot. Leaders Garden, Embankment, SW15 1LW. A photo posted by Mich (@michandaya) on Aug 1, 2015 at 2:30am PDT Southwark Park Southwark Park offers tennis courts surrounded by extensive wide-open spaces, so it feels very Wimbledon. But you can use these courts for absolutely nada and play until your heart's content. Take time to relish your tennis victory with a cool-down stroll around the park's private gardens and lake, tin of Pimm's in hand. Southwark Park, Gomm Rd, SE16 2EH. Victoria Park For aspiring Andy Murrays in Hackney, Victoria Park should be your chosen court. It's been an established centre for tennis over the past 15 years, offering both individual and group coaching for all levels of talent. You can even hire equipment here. London Park Tennis Courts, E9 5DY. A photo posted by Ðℜཇ☠ƊℤƳ (@dreadzygram) on Apr 7, 2014 at 1:39pm PDT Regent's Park For all you north London servers, Regent's Park is the best location for a tennis knock-about. From 8am to 8pm you can practise your skills by rocking up with a player card. Alternatively, if you are committed to taking tennis to another level, memberships are available. Chester Rd, NW1 4NR South Park South Park's tennis courts are exactly what you'd expect of south-west London. Thanks to a recent refurbishment, the courts are separated into pairs with spectator benches and lush rose beds nestled between them. Advance booking via Fulham Borough Council is necessary. South Park Tennis Courts, Fulham, SW6 3EB. Lincoln Fields Tennis Courts Courtesy of Commons Wikimedia Lincoln's Inn Fields The courts at Lincoln's Inn Fields offer an oasis of grounds in an area where space is at a premium. Due to the influx of tennis fanatics in the City, you may have to wait a bit before you can get your grunt on. 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2A 2ES. Catch all the Wimbledon action at one of these screenings in London.
Join a community sports club
More fitness-phobe than fitness fanatic? Don’t panic. London’s home to more community sports clubs than you can shake a mud-covered hockey stick at. So whether you’re looking to combine crunches with good deeds, make new friends in this big ol’ city or burn calories at the same time as burning up the dance floor, our guide to London’s community sports clubs has genuinely got something for everyone.
Know your running routes
Running in London doesn’t have to mean dodging traffic or legging it for the last tube – the capital’s major parks, gyms and green spaces are the perfect places to stretch your legs. Trainers at the ready, here’s all the information you need for the perfect run in London.
Head on a decent walk
Of the many, shall we say, lifestyle changes that 2020 brought us, one that we’re actually quite keen on is walking. It’s likely that you’ve recently explored the capital on foot more than you have in years – and we bet that you know your own neighbourhood better than you ever did before.
Go on a long bike ride
As things start to open up in the UK, it seems like many of us are looking towards summer fun. And nothing says Big Summer Energy better than a long bike ride out of the city and into the countryside. In Boris Johnson’s February 22 speech, about the end of lockdown restrictions, he said that by March 29 people will no longer be legally required to stay at home and that life will open up more and more throughout the spring and summer. Sounds like the perfect time to plan a few big rides for the warmer months right?
Stock up on nice things to eat
Order food straight to the park
Now, there are a lot of places in London that do great hampers. Hampers that you have to order to your home. Boring! 2021 is the year we act like debauched emperors. 2021 is the year we have all of our food and drink sent to the park. Here are our top picks for green-space groceries.
Find a good park near good grub
Looking for a lunch spot for dates, lunches with friends or a cheeky snooze under the plane trees? Dodge the big parks and go for a perfect picnic in a cute, lesser-visited spot. When the sun comes out, the likes of Green Park and Soho Square are always closely patchworked with picnic blankets and denim jackets spread out in the sunshine – but your own picnic doesn’t have to be so densely populated. From central London’s overlooked oasis Phoenix Gardens to south London’s Hilly Fields and the Thamesside riverbank greens of Richmond, there are dozens of little-known gems that are perfect for bakery-bought sandwiches and DIY cocktails. Here are our favourites. RECOMMENDED: The best picnic spots in London
Source a chef-approved cornershop
Our Local Lifesavers series is all about celebrating the shops and caffs that have saved our skin during lockdown. First up: it’s cornershops, local stores and mini-supermarkets. We’ve asked some of our favourite chefs to reveal which ones they love. Their answers reveal hidden gems on London’s high streets – from sustainability heroes to spots with top fruit and veg to places to go for unusual ingredients. Do you have a favourite local store? Let us know at email@example.com.
Go where the best pepperoni is
While unadorned pizza is a masterpiece, putting pepperoni on a pie is like drawing a moustache on the ‘Mona Lisa’: it doesn’t need it, but you’re so glad it’s there. That’s why we’ve searched high and low for London’s finest pepperoni slices: here are the very best that the capital has to offer.
Discover a good chippy
Rarely is a dish as comforting as a plate of fish and chips. When done right, that irresistible mixture of steamy, crispy fried fish and chunky potatoes, humming with salt and vinegar takes the top spot among London’s best dishes – in fact, you lot have voted it the city’s best. But where to devour it when there’s a chippie on every other street in London? We’ve rounded up our favourite spots – from anachronistic British fish bars to those with vegan-friendly menus (yes, really).
Get the bevs in
Bag some London-made tinnies
Drunk so many M&S tins over the years that you’re basically Percy Pig now? Never want to look a Tyskie in the eye again? Good news. We’ve sourced some extra-special tins to get in for picnic season (when sitting in the park with a mate is allowed) to see us through to April 12 (when pub gardens reopen). Our choices?
Find decent takeaway hot chocolate
Hot chocolate. It’s a child’s drink, really – designed for consumption after a fall from the big slide rather than during an important meeting with the CEO. But the soothing bev is really coming into its own right now. It’s a warm treat that feels more special than a cup of tea and that can be enjoyed without the risk of a post-coffee existential crisis. Luckily, from marshmallow-topped and cream-covered concoctions to seriously challenging brews (80 percent dark, anyone?), London has a selection of hot chocolates stupendous enough to warm anyone’s cockles on these still-chilly days.
Stock up on posh bottles of natural wine
Pre-pandemic, vibrant, living flavours – thanks to organic farming and low-intervention winemaking techniques, typically at young, punky vineyards – had become a regular feature at the capital’s coolest restaurants and even at east London’s waviest parties, often found there by the magnum. But then lockdown happened and we had to seek out the fun for ourselves. And you know what? It was actually a breeze. Thanks to a new generation of shops, we Londoners could really get to grips with ‘natty’ wine in lockdown. We no longer had to worry about not knowing the terminology or making the right choice to go with our dinner (hello, orange wine chippy tea!). We could explore uncharted vinous territory without the restaurant mark-ups, too. Now it's time to get in these hot bots and take them to London’s parks to neck with pals.
Order yourself some craft beer
With pub doors now having been closed for so long, UK beer sales were down by 10 percent last year. So do the right thing and order in some locally made brewskis. Here’s our list of London beer-makers who are now delivering directly to front doors in their neighbourhoods – or even UK-wide, if you’re outside of London but still craving a taste of the Bermondsey Beer Mile.
Find a good picnicking spot
Find out which loos are open
When we were eventually allowed outside again after Lockdown 1, there was nothing that could hold us back – and our poor old parks were a soggy testament to that fact. Green spaces were open and people were free to move, but many of the country’s public toilets remained closed. Don’t worry, though. You can spend all afternoon necking prosecco: this handy map shows where there’s a local loo.
Know where you can barbecue
Cooking dinner on a grill in the great outdoors is one of life’s simple pleasures, and you don’t need to head out of the city to indulge in a barbecue. Just make sure you don’t scorch the grass and put your rubbish in the bin when you’re done, okay? Most of London’s lush green spaces are reserved for picnics only, but there are some major parks and local gardens where you’re officially allowed to fire up the barbie. Here are the best spots in London where it’s totally chill to grill.
Discover a good picnic spot
After a winter that involved sitting indoors, watching TV and doing very little else, March marks the beginning of proper outdoor fun again. Right now it’s legal to meet one other person in public for non-exercise related activity. From March 29 we can meet outdoors in groups of up to six people. You know what that means? It means picnics. London has loads of parks and grand green spaces, perfect for a bit of alfresco, blanket-based action.
Get some damn privacy!
Sick of walking around the same old London parks? Sick of the sight of other Londoners in their ‘nice coats’? Yeah, aren’t we all. Luckily, the green heads on Time Out’s team have spilled the beans on the good tree-filled, grass-filled, flower-bedecked spots around town that the crowds haven’t swarmed to yet. From nature reserves to community spaces, we’ve dug up some of London’s most secret gardens – the Davids to Goliaths like the Royal Parks. Yes, you might have to seek them out in the shadow of an empty office block. Yes, there'll be no Santander cycles and rentable deckchairs there. But, instead you’ll find pockets of glorious nature to settle yourself into and forget about all your worries.
Go up a hill and see the skyline
Ah, the bright lights of London. There’s no denying that this city is a looker, even when most of the stuff here is still closed up. We once got opportunities to gawp at the city’s skyline via sun-dappled evenings spent drinking slush cocktails at rooftop bars – but that’s, er, off the cards at the moment. And we don’t expect to actually enter a bar until wayyyy past Easter. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a glimpse of London from it’s most photo-ready angles. Plan your daily walk to feature one of these grassy vantage points and you’re sure to be provided with a reason to use your camera phone’s panorama setting. Best of all? Unlike the good views of the city you can see from bars and tourist attractions, these are completely free to access.
See some grade-A blossom
We might live in a sprawling capital city, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of amazing green spaces where you can enjoy the season’s pops of colour. From London’s bright pink cherry blossoms to seas of lavender that swell in summer, take a look at our list of the best places to see flowers in London. Then (once it’s allowed) why not head to one of the city's best pub gardens to go through all your almost-identical flower photos?