An enormous oasis, right in the centre of London.
A whopping 142 hectares large, Hyde Park is the largest Royal Park, and together with Kensington Gardens, it is larger than the principality of Monaco! Originally the hunting grounds for Henry VIII, the royal processional road, now called Rotten Row, was built in 1689 and the park hosted the Great Exhibition of 1851. Today it is a hive of activity all through the year, from swimming in the Serpentine on New Years Day, to the thousands of tourists that visit during the summer. It is so vast that perhaps the best way to see it is on a bike - and there are plenty of places to rent these. Pedalos can also be rented to enjoy the Serpentine, the river/lake in the centre of the park. Created by Queen Caroline in the 1730s, it plays host to the Peter Pan race on Christmas Day, in which members of the Serpentine Swimmers Club race 100 yards to win the Peter Pan Cup, first awarded by J.M. Barrie in 1904.
There are also some notable memorials in the park; the Princess of Wales memorial, the London Holocaust Memorial and the memorial to the 7/7 bombings. Each with their unique architecture, design, and meaning they are well worth a few minutes of your time.
Another major part of the Park's history is Speaker's Corner. It is here that open air speaking, debate and discussion take place. Speakers are allowed to speak about anything they like, as long as they do not use any profanity. Though most speakers are not mainstream, many a famous face has frequented Speakers Corner - Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, George Orwell, and William Morris to name a few. The tradition still continues today, so take a stroll on a Sunday morning, for an experience of another view on British, and indeed world, society.
Hyde Park is also a venue for a variety of events, most notably concerts. Queen, the Rolling Stones, and Blur have all played here. Since 1996, the park has been the London venue for the Proms in the Park concerts, held on the last night of the BBC Proms.
Hyde Park is a unique insight into all facets of British history - the protest, the public figures, and the pastimes.
Hyde Park, London W2 2UH
Every day, 5.00-midnight.
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