Summer’s gone but don’t despair, your outdoor fun isn’t over yet. London’s Royal Parks are as glorious as ever throughout autumn and there’s plenty to see and do, from Harvest Festivals to outdoor swimming and Kensington Gardens’ new cafe
1 Harvest Festivals
This autumn Kensington Gardens and Greenwich Park are all holding free Harvest Festivals on 25 September and 2 October respectively to celebrate the fruit and veg growing in The Royal Parks. Take part in the annual ‘Big Dig’ of the potato crop, create candles from beeswax and sample some pizzas and salads made from their very own produce. Perfect for those with a green thumb or anyone who wants to nosh on some organic, locally sourced treats.
2 Hyde Park Swimming Festival
For the first time in London, there will be a two-day open water swimming festival taking place in the heart of Hyde Park. Over the weekend of 24-25 September the general public will be invited to swim one mile in open water with up to 6,000 other swimmers or simply sit back and watch the British Open Water Swimming Championships from the warmth and safety of the shoreline. Hope for warm weather but expect London to be its dreary self by bringing out that old wetsuit from the back of the cupboard.
3 The Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon
On 9 October, 16,000 runners will take part in the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon across central London, making their way through four of London’s eight Royal Parks. After cheering on the competitor’s, head down to Hyde park for the free Food and Fitness Festival between 10:30am and 4pm. Feast on some street food and dance to some live music while the kids participate in the arts and crafts activities, wall climbing and tennis coaching. There’s just too much fun to be had!
4 Kensington Gardens’ new Italian Gardens Cafe
The former dilapidated toilet block in Kensington Gardens has been revamped and repurposed as a stylish cafe overlooking the Grade II-listed, 150-year-old Italian Gardens. It’s nestled among the trees, and covered in its own living roof to support wildlife and biodiversity. Have a pot of tea and a scone on the terrace and watch the changing of the leaves in a place of pure comfort.
5 Frieze London and Frieze Masters, Regent’s Park
From 6-9 of October, some of the best leading and emerging contemporary artists will be showing their work in Regent’s Park. These two events will involve the collaboration of 130 galleries specialising in pre-21st century art while also featuring interactive installations, debates, panel discussions and keynote lectures.
6 Watch the changing seasons
With over 170,000 trees spanned across 5,000 acres of historic parkland in London, you won’t struggle to find a place to see the changing of the leaves. Tourists flock over to London for this spectacle every year so be sure you experience the British Autumn in all its wonder. Either get lost on your own or take part in a guided tour with the Field Studies Council on 25 October as they investigate the plants and animals at this time of year.
7 Halloween in Hyde Park
Go all out this Halloween with the free outdoor dress up party being hosted by the Royal Parks Foundation on 26-27 October. Take the kids out to explore the witches den and hear spooky stories from London’s past. Plus you can always sneak in some education with facts about bats, spiders and other creepy crawlies on the nature trek through Hyde park.
8 Royal gun salute, Green Park
This one’s for all the royalists out there. A royal gun salute will take place in Green Park on 14 November to mark HRH Prince of Wales’ birthday. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will be trotting about the park in full ceremonial garb which is a spectacle in and of itself.
9 MoRunner’s 10k, Greenwich Park
For men, Movember is a time to show off your masculinity with some strong bushy facial hair to raise awareness for men’s mental health. The Greenwich Park MoRunners 10k exists to celebrate those taking part but it’s not only for men. Women can also slap on a stick-on moustache and outrun their fellow competitors to raise money for the Movember Foundation. This one exists for everyone wanting to have a laugh, break a sweat and help a good cause. Sunday 27 November, 10am.
For a full list of events taking place in the Royal Parks see royalparks.org.uk