The Royal Parks charity’s ‘Welcome Winter’ campaign, invites city-dwellers to help beat those lockdown blues and stay well by taking a 20-minute walk in their local green space every day.
It might be getting colder but there are still plenty of things to do and see in The Royal Parks, whether it’s self-guided ambles in beautiful Kensington Gardens, discovering the seasonal folklore, traditions and feasts of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, or spotting winter wildlife. Did you know that queen bumble bees emerge in the warmer days of late winter?
So, wrap up warm, get that winter glow and feel the benefits of fresh air and exercise outdoors safely in 5,000 acres of incredible natural landscape. There’s always a warm welcome for you at The Royal Parks.
1. Take ‘the water beetle walk’ this winter
This winter, our resident bug experts, Mission: Invertebrate reveal the first two in a series of free self-led walks. Wrap up warm and head to the parks to discover our habitat creation and conservation projects in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and learn about the rare and important invertebrates that call the Royal Parks home.
Water Beetle Walk is an entry-level amble of around 35 minutes. We’ll stroll around the Long Water in Kensington Gardens, looking at the role invertebrates play in the ecosystems of the Royal Parks as pollinators, recyclers, pest controllers and food for park wildlife. The walk forms a loop, starting and finishing at the Italian Gardens café (nearest tube Lancaster Gate) - but you can join the route at any point.
Dragonfly Trail is a wider ranging ramble through Hyde Park, taking around 1hr 10 minutes. Visit grassland, woodland and freshwater habitats and discover how invertebrates help to keep the parks blooming and their habitats healthy for people and wildlife. Look out for our invertebrate sculptures, that have been carved from fallen trees. Like Water-Beetle Walk, the trail forms a loop - you can walk part of the trail and return to the rest another day if you only have time for a short stroll!
Both trails can be completed on pathways, so are suitable for wheelchair users.
2. Feeding time with the pelicans of St James’s Park – A Christmas special
In May we brought you the first ever live stream of the St James’s Park pelicans, and it was so popular, we’ve commissioned a Christmas special. Starring Park Manager Mark Wasilewski and Senior Wildlife Officer Hugh Smith, feeding time will once again be streamed live on the Royal Parks Facebook page. Pre-pandemic, the daily feeding of the pelicans was a big hit with visitors, but to avoid crowds forming, we’ve been feeding them away from public view.
Expect pelican trivia, Christmas cheer and a few gags thrown in for good measure. Will the pelicans even turn up? Who knows. Tune in to found out.
When: 15 December, 2.30pm.
3. Take a positive approach to winter with best-selling author Katherine May
As we head into the darkness and chill of winter, The Royal Parks suggests that rather than shut winter out, we embrace the season and #WelcomeWinter. Katherine May, best-selling author of Wintering, will share her experience of finding consolation in nature and the wonderfully restorative effect of immersing yourself in the outdoors, even on the bleakest of days.
This is an online event aimed at adults, using Microsoft Teams Live. Full joining instructions will be sent to you when you register here.
Date: 3 December, 5.30pm – 6.30pm
4. Christmas with Queen Victoria and Albert
Get in the festive spirit and discover the seasonal folklore, traditions and feasts of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
As the holiday season approaches, join us to discover how Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert introduced many of the traditions we recognise today. Discover why the robin features on Christmas cards and see where the geese were traditionally fattened for Christmas dinner.
You and your guide from The Royal Parks will explore traditions that stretch right back to pagan beliefs and were developed to sustain us through winter’s darkest days. Perhaps we can find inspiration together as we enter winter!
This is an online event aimed at adults, using Microsoft Teams Live. Full joining instructions will be sent to you when you register
Date: 16 December, 5.30pm- 6.30pm
5. Learn to identify trees in winter with an expert arboriculturist
Explore the stark beauty of Hyde Park's trees this winter with expert arboriculturist Greg Packman. Learn to identify winter trees through barks and buds.
Nature doesn't disappear during winter, you just need to know where to look. Without their leaves, identifying trees can seem challenging. Expert arboriculturist, Greg Packman, will teach you how to identify trees through bark and buds using examples from the beautiful Royal Parks. If you want to better understand how to appreciate winter's beauty, join fellow nature lovers for this lively and informative conversation.
This is an online event aimed at adults, using Microsoft Teams Live. Full joining instructions will be sent to you when you register.
Date: 28 January, 5.30pm-6.30pm
6. Buy a sustainably-sourced Christmas tree
Combine a walk in the fresh air with your chance to buy a sustainably-sourced Christmas tree direct from the plantations in three of the Royal Parks – Bushy Park, Richmond Park and Greenwich Park, sold by On Cloud Pine.
The stores have social distancing in place, and customers can either click and collect, select their tree on site for local home delivery or take a beautiful tree away with them. For those who can’t visit a park there is a countrywide delivery service if you can order online.
By purchasing one of these trees you are helping The Royal Parks charity care for the beautiful green spaces in the heart of London.
On Cloud Pine follows Government guidelines, with one-way systems in place, protective screens at checkout and contactless payment, PPE will be worn by staff and there is enhanced cleaning of facilities.
Pop-up stores are running from 26th November – 23rd December. Opening times - Monday to Sunday, 8am to 4pm for Richmond Park and Bushy, and 8am to 6pm for Greenwich Park.
For further information visit www.oncloudpine.com
7. Run around Regent’s
Running for fun and fitness can change your life. And where better to do it than in the sanctuary of Central London’s green oasis – through the stunning landscapes of The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill.
8. Look for winter wonders with this wildlife spotter guide
Look for the beauty in winter by tracking the changes in nature through the season.
It might be colder and darker outside but life is still there. Our wildlife spotter guide is fun for the whole family. Take it with you on your next walk outdoors and use the guide track the natural events that take us through winter. Whether in your garden or a Royal Park, life’s richness continues.
9. Get some fresh air and discover the magic of the parks safely with this great app
There’s nothing quite like a walk in the park to make you feel better. And if you are visiting the Royal Parks for exercise you can uncover some of the fascinating stories from the past and find out more about the natural landscape. Download a free scavenger hunt game for your mobile phone that takes you on an adventure through some of London’s most popular parks. Move at your own pace between the parks’ most interesting sights uncovering photo challenges, amazing facts and games for all ages to enjoy.
10. Ramble round Richmond Park
For those of you wanted to get a bit more of a stretch, taking on the Tamsin Trail is a great way to clock some miles in beautiful Richmond Park. Ramble this 7.3mile round route of the perimeter of Richmond Park and soak up the fabulous natural environment – and why not grab a cosy hot chocolate to celebrate afterwards.