Top ten activities in London Parks this spring

Tulips in QMG credit: The Royal Parks

Hedgehogs stir, birdsong fills the air, daffodils bloom and goslings are born. Spring breathes new life into our parks, so plan a stroll to boost your step count and encourage little ones to witness nature at its very best.

There’s an array of activities to suit all tastes from guided tree walks and a historical exhibitions for older London dwellers through to free activities for the kids of all ages during the Easter Break.

Entertain the kids for free during the Easter holiday

The learning team at the Royal Parks will be hosting free Discovery Days in the LookOut Discovery Centre in Hyde Park this Easter. First up is the Marvellous Mammals session on 10 and 11 April. Learn about the secret lives of The Regent’s Park hedgehogs and search for mammal tracks in the gardens.  ‘Spring to life’ the following week (17 and 18 April) with activities that will include a nature trail, pond dipping and nature-based arts and crafts.

Bushy Park (9 April) and Richmond Park (16 April), the Mission: Invertebrate team will be on hand to help children uncover the fascinating world of invertebrates, from bees and beetles to snails and spiders encourage a love of the creepy crawly by joining a bug hunt and exploring insect habitats, learn fascinating critter facts during interactive story-telling and make bug-inspired crafts to take home. We are sold!

Free Easter-themed animal mask making at Greenwich Park

Come over to the tent near the Greenwich Park bandstand on 11 and 14 April from 10am to take part in animal mask making and arts and crafts – with an Easter theme. Transform your youngsters into chicks and bunnies at this free drop-in activity. Once you’re finished pop into the tent next door find out more about ‘Greenwich Park Revealed’.

Discover tree folklore in a walkthrough Kensington Gardens

On the 23rd of March at Kensington Gardens you can learn about the folklore and myths that surround trees with our resident arboriculturalist Greg Packman. In this walkthrough Kensington Gardens, discover why oaks were symbols of the gods; how rowan trees provided protection from malevolent forces, and which variety, above all, symbolised renewal and purification. £10 Book here.

Discover how the parks helped win the First World War

To mark this year’s centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, an exhibition called ‘From the WW1 battlefields and into the peace’ will look at how both The Royal Parks and the Royal Hospital Chelsea supported the wartime effort – and marked peacetime. This educational exhibition is suitable for older kids and will feature rarely-seen photos and artefacts, and invite visitors to dive into the fascinating stories of the past. This includes the construction of a giant post office in The Regent’s Park to deliver letters to troops on the Western Front and the growing of crops across the parks to support the national food shortage. There will also be a guest appearance from The 10th Essex Living History Group, who will be dressed in WW1 uniform. Taking place on the 29-31 March, 10am-4pm at Wren House at The Royal Hospital Chelsea. Free More info here.

Relax on boating lakes

Hire a rowing boat or a pedalo and glide through the picturesque surroundings of Greenwich ParkHyde Park or the Regent’s Park. In Hyde Park, jump on the sun powered ‘Solarshuttle’ which will take you from the boathouse to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Dates and costs vary so check with parks.

Watch a gun salute to celebrate The Queen’s birthday in Hyde Park

Royal gun salutes mark special royal occasions and, in London, salutes are fired in either Hyde Park or Green Park by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, and at The Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company.

The Queen celebrates her 93rd birthday on 21 April and this year the firing of the canons takes place the following day, Monday 22 April at noon, in Hyde Park and the Tower of London. The number of rounds fired in a Royal Gun Salute depends on the place and occasion. The basic salute is 21 rounds. In Hyde Park and Green Park an extra 20 rounds is added because they are both Royal Parks. Please be aware that due to the noise level of the gun salute, dogs should be kept well away. Free and more info here here.

Visit the beautiful Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park

In spring, expect a kaleidoscope of colour in the plantation, as bluebells carpet the floor and evergreen azaleas and rhododendrons put on a bewitching display of vivid pinks, purples and reds. To enable more people to enjoy this enchanting 40-acre woodland garden, a free minibus service will operate every Wednesday from 17 April – 30 October. The fully accessible minibus drives a complete circuit of the park, stopping at the main Richmond Park car parks and the Isabella Plantation. It also stops outside the park at Ham Common crossroads (65 bus stop) and the barrier in Danebury Avenue, near Roehampton Gate. View the minibus timetable.

The best time to see the azaleas and rhododendrons in full bloom is the end of April and start of May. View amonth-by-month guide of what plants you can see in the plantation.

Listen to the sounds of spring

When visiting London’s eight Royal Parks you may notice it’s spring by the sight of leaves returning to the trees or the colours of the flowers in bloom, but close your eyes and you may hear spring in the form of woodpeckers drumming, nuthatches calling or chiff chaffs singing. The best time to hear birds singing is at sunrise when they sing more frequently, vigorously and loudly.  Referred to as a dawn chorus, male birds sing to attract a mate or warn other males from their territory. At sunrise from 5am until 7am you can join the Royal Parks Learning Team on the 27 April for a guided walk through Hyde Park’s more wooded area to hear the dawn chorus to full effect. £10 more info & booking here.

Celebrate the blossom at Chestnut Sunday in Bushy Park

With its roots in Victorian times, Chestnut Sunday is an annual celebration of the blossom on the horse chestnut trees in Bushy Park. This year it’s on 12 May from 12:30pm and festivities include a parade through Chestnut Avenue complete with military vehicles, vintage cars and City of London horses. Also, expect live music, pony rides historical re-enactments, and traditional fairground rides. Free fun for the whole family.