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Celebrate the season in The Royal Parks

Celebrate the season in The Royal Parks


Leaves have started changing colour, conkers are falling and the nights are drawing in. Summer might be well and truly over but London’s eight Royal Parks are still very much open. So which parks are royal? Bushy, Green, Greenwich and Hyde; Kensington Gardens, the Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, Richmond Park and St James’s. Our friends at the Royal Parks (who also manage Brompton Cemetery, Victoria Tower Gardens and Grosvenor Square Garden) have compiled this list of upcoming autumn events—learn how to become self-sufficient at a Harvest Festival, bring the kids for some spooky Halloween fun in Hyde Park and witness the long-held tradition of a gun salute in Green Park.

1. Bee aware in Brompton Cemetery on the 19th of September

Join us for an after-hours workshop celebrating the importance of bees and exploring how we can all help to boost the declining bee population. The session will include tasting honey from bees in Brompton Cemetery and making your own beeswax candle. Arrive at 5pm for registration. This event is free but places are limited. To book a place, please email brompton@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk.

 2. Learn how to grow your own in a Royal Park

This autumn we are holding free harvest festivals to celebrate the year’s food growing in the Royal Parks. Get involved in the big dig of the potato crop in Kensington Gardens (Sunday 25th of September, Kensington Gardens Harvest Festival) and ‘bee’ inspired in Greenwich Park by making candles from beeswax (Sunday 2nd of October, Greenwich Park Harvest Festival). At both events, experts from the Royal Parks Guild—the Royal Parks’ alumni society—will be on hand to answer any questions about food growing. (Check out other harvest festivals in London.)

3. Go to a swimming festival in the heart of Hyde Park

Swim Serpentine, a new two-day open water swimming festival, will be staged in Hyde Park over the weekend of 24–25 September 2016. On the first day, up to 6,000 swimmers will have the chance to swim one mile in open water in the mass participation event. The second day of the festival will feature the British Open Water Swimming Championships over a 3.2-kilometre distance, with a programme that will include an elite invitation 5km swim. The public ballot entry system for Swim Serpentine is now closed but people will be able to watch for free in the grandstands on both days. For more information visit the Swim Serpentine website.

4. Cheer on runners at the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon

Starting and finishing in Hyde Park, 16,000 runners will take part in the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon across central London on October 9th, taking in world-famous landmarks on closed roads including Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament and four of London’s eight Royal Parks.

From 10:30am to 4pm, a free Food & Fitness Festival will take place. Expect tempting street food, live music and lots of free things to do including children’s arts and craft activities, wall climbing and football and tennis coaching.

The Royal Parks Foundation are currently on the lookout for volunteers to cheer on their team of 250 runners—sign up to join the cheer squad here.

5. Visit the new Italian Gardens’ Café in Kensington Gardens

Located in the heart of Kensington Gardens, this former toilet block has been transformed by the Royal Parks into an eatery that offers stunning views of the Grade II listed 150-year-old Italian Gardens. The cafe even comes with its own living roof to support biodiversity and wildlife.

6. Visit Frieze London and Frieze Masters in the Regent’s Park, October 6th to the 9th

Frieze London in the Regent’s Park hosts some of the best works from leading and emerging contemporary artists. The event will also feature performance-based installations, debates, panel discussions and keynote lectures. Coinciding with Frieze London is Frieze Masters, bringing together 130 galleries specialising in pre-21st-century art.

The Sculpture Park, a three-minute walk from Frieze London, returns to the Regent’s Park’s beautiful English Gardens. Free to enter, the exhibition is hand-selected by the Director of Programmes at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Claire Lilley. The exhibition will be on display from the 5th of October to the 8th of January.

For more information or for tickets to Frieze London and Masters, please visit their website.

7. Watch the changing seasons in a Royal Park

With over 170,000 trees across 5,000 acres of historic parkland in the capital, there is no shortage of places in the Royal Parks to watch nature’s greatest spectacle—the leaves changing colour.

If a guided walk is more your thing, join the Field Studies Council on a stroll through Bushy Park on the 25th of October as they investigate plants and animals at this time of year. Discover more about trees and seeds and the animals that depend on them over the winter.

Cost is £15 per family (2 adults, with up to 3 children). For further information on the course or to book your place, email enquiries.ldn@field-studies-council.org. Places are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment. (This event is run by Field Studies Council London, who deliver education in the Royal Parks in partnership with the Royal Parks.)

8. Bring the children to a Halloween-themed day in Hyde Park

Get dressed up as your favourite spooky character and join the Royal Parks Foundation for some hair-raising fun. Delve into the ‘feely boxes’ in the witches’ den, uncover spine-tingling facts about bats on a nature trail and create your very own magical potion using herbs and plants from the garden. The event runs on the 26th and 27th of October; it’s free of charge and no booking is required. Drop in at the Education Centre in Hyde Park anytime between 11am and 3pm.

9. Watch a royal gun salute in Green 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. On the 14th of November, a royal gun salute will take place in Green Park and the Tower of London to mark HRH Prince of Wales’ birthday. 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.

10. Become a MoRunner in Greenwich Park

Grow a moustache in November and show it off at the Greenwich Park MoRunners 10k on November 27th.  It’s not just MoBros who can enter; MoSistas can paint or stick a moustache on and race too! Entrance is £20 and profits go to the Movember Foundation, a global charity that raises funds and awareness for men’s health. Register via the Mo Running website.

For a full list of events taking place in the Royal Parks visit www.royalparks.org.uk/whats-on.

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