By Kerry Law
Don’t be put off by thoughts of sand in your sandwich, unwelcome wasps, or unexpected downpours—there’s nothing like the simple pleasure of eating al fresco. So roll out the picnic rug, gather some yummy goodies and celebrate National Picnic Week!
This year National Picnic Week, which runs from tomorrow through Sunday the 19th, goes big with one of the largest picnic events in London this summer. On Friday the 17th, Somerset House will host the Mercure Hotels Picnic in its grounds—a completely free event for anyone to attend. Bring your own picnic or buy a special Tom’s Kitchen hamper on the day, or pre-order online. Hampers cost from £30 to £80, with the Picnic Family Feast basket containing plenty of goodies for little ones (plus the add-on option of a bottle of ‘Perfect Picnic’ prosecco).
The event promises a packed day of entertainment and activities, including giant games, music and fun for children. The only thing it can’t guarantee is good weather, but hey, take a chance (and a brolly, just in case) and get into the picnic spirit! The event is free and runs from 11:30am to 8pm, but booking is recommended—grab a slot at picnicwithmercure.co.uk.
Other perfect picnic spots
If you can’t make it to Somerset House, we’re spoilt for choice for picnic spots in London.
West: Holland Park offers such a variety of lovely spots for your picnic rug—small wooded glades, the walled rose garden, vast green lawns. And you can always book a quick game on the tennis courts to work off that extra cake.
North: Waterlow Park in Highgate often gets overlooked for its much larger neighbour, Hampstead Heath, but this 26-acre green space provides plenty of grassy slopes and a large tranquil lake where you can idly watch the birdlife while sipping a homemade lemonade.
East: Victoria Park in Hackney is one of London’s oldest public parks, starting life as a Royal Park but given over to the public in 1887. There are massive grassy expanses and smaller nooks and crannies to explore here, with several well-equipped children’s play areas and a deer enclosure. You can also hire boats on the lake (near the recommended Pavilion Café).
South: Crystal Palace Park, the 200-acre Victorian pleasure ground, is one of London’s great green spaces. Located on a ridge, the park offers views across to central London and Greenwich, and southward to North Downs. There are plenty of sporting facilities in the park, several lakes, and, of course, the famous Crystal Palace Dinosaurs (a firm favourite for any mini palaeontologists).
For more information about National Picnic Week, including games inspiration and recipe ideas, visit www.nationalpicnicweek.co.uk. Share your picnic adventures on Twitter or Instagram using hashtag #picnicweek.