It's the most wonderful time of year. And The Royal Parks is full of the festive spirit with the return of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, a guest appearance from Santa in Bushy Park, and winter carriage rides in Richmond Park. You can even purchase a Christmas tree and decorations in three Royal Parks until the 21 December!
Merry Christmas from The Royal Parks.
1. Make a trip to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland provides a spectacular festive destination with something to excite people of all ages. Choose from one of our popular attractions, experience the thrilling rides, take a trip to Santa Land, browse the Christmas markets and enjoy the festive fare.
It's free to enter and soak up the festive atmosphere!
Book ahead for Ice Skating, The Magical Ice Kingdom, Zippos Circus, Giant Wheel and Bar Ice. Advance booking is highly recommended as attraction tickets sell out, especially at weekends and evenings. Advance tickets guarantee fast-track entry into Hyde Park Winter Wonderland!
The main entrance to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is at Marble Arch and to avoid the rush we recommend visiting on week days. Open everyday (except Christmas Day) from 10am – 10pm until 4 January.
2. Marvel at the restored Duke of York Column in St James's Park
Situated on The Mall in St James's Park, the Duke of York Column which stands at 138ft (making it the tallest structure in The Royal Parks) is a monument to Prince Frederick, Duke of Albany and York, who fought in the French Revolutionary Wars.
The monument has recently undergone work to turn back the clock almost 200 years, with the statue being re-patinated, buffed and waxed, and the stone column cleaned. The statue had developed a green pigment through natural weathering.
3. Watch swimmers compete for the Peter Pan Cup on Christmas Day
On Christmas Day at 9am, members of the Serpentine Swimming Club congregate at the Serpentine Lake to swim their traditional 100 yard race.
The name of the race dates back to 1904 when J.M. Barrie, the creator of the boy who refused to grow up, presented the first cup. Only members can participate but the public are invited to watch.
4. Enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride through the largest of the Royal Parks
This December, enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride through Richmond Park, complete with hot refreshments and a blanket to keep you snug.
The experience will include a unique behind-the-scenes visit of the working stables at Holly Lodge. In addition to carriage rides, working shire horses provide a valuable service across The Royal Parks by helping to manage parkland sustainably via grass mowing and bracken rolling. Money raised will be reinvested into these sustainable initiatives.
To book visit The Royal Parks Foundation
5. Buy a sustainable Christmas tree in a Royal Park
Pines and Needles will be selling a fine selection of fresh cut, sustainably grown Highland Christmas trees in Bushy Park (Diana Car Park), Richmond Park (Roehampton Gate Car park), and Greenwich Park (Bower Avenue).
Lights and decorations will also be available, so you can get everything you need to make your tree sparkle.
Open every day till Sunday 21 December. Money from the sales of Christmas trees goes towards supporting the work of The Royal Parks.
6. Spot Paddington Bear in the Royal Parks
The Paddington Trail has arrived with fifty specially designed statues to be found across London.
Bears designed by Sir David Beckham, Julie Walters, Hugh Bonneville, Sir Ian Botham and the England Rugby Team, can be spotted in the following Royal Parks - Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park, Regent's Park and Primrose Hill.
Can you spot all five?
For trail maps see the Visit London website #PaddingtonTrail
7. Go on a Christmas walk in Kensington Gardens on 12 December
As the year's shortest day approaches; join the Royal Parks Foundation for a stroll through Kensington Gardens to look at the seasonal folklore, traditions and feasts that have developed over the centuries.
On this walk you will find out what Christmas traditions Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert introduced to Britain, why robins appear on Christmas cards, and how holly was protected by Kings.
Cost: £5. To book you place visit the Royal Parks Foundation
8. Watch a festive film at The LookOut in Hyde Park
This Christmas, The LookOut, a hidden haven nestled among the winter trees in the heart of Hyde Park, has been transformed into a magical film venue by the Royal Parks Foundation.
Nightmare on Elm Street, Gremlins and It's a Wonderful Life are sold out but you can still grab tickets for Edward Scissorhands.
Included in the ticket price is a glass of mulled wine, a delicious hot meal, Christmas themed activities and a firepit with marshmallows.
Cost £25. To book your place visit the Royal Parks Foundation
9. Visit Santa in Bushy Park
This year The Pheasantry in Bushy Park will be pulling out all the stops to ensure customers get into the Christmas spirit.
A twelve foot twinkling Christmas tree will take pride of place in the cafe, and visitors can order seasonal treats including mulled wine, mince pies and delicious turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce from their festive menu.
Children can visit Santa in his grotto on the 13 and 14 of December.
10. Enjoy a Christmas concert at Brompton Cemetery
The Fieri Consort, made up of skilled, young ensemble singers from London, will put on a special Christmas concert at Brompton Cemetery Chapel on 14 December at 2.30pm.
Fieri will be performing much loved carols such as Silent Night, O Christmas Tree, and The Holly and the Ivy.
Profits from the concert will go towards supporting a lottery funding application by The Royal Parks to carry out a programme of improvements, including the restoration of the chapel.
Cost £15 for adults and £5 for children. Concessions available. To book visit The Fieri Consort website.