The largest of London’s Royal Parks, Hyde Park sprawls across Central London and is one of the city’s most famous green spaces. It was established by Henry VIII in 1536 as a hunting ground before opening to the public in 1637 when it become a popular setting for May Day parades. In 1851 it famously hosted the Great Exhibition when Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace was constructed. It’s one of four parks that form a chain between Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace, with the Serpentine and Long Water dividing the park.
Highlights of Hyde Park include Speakers’ Corner in the northeastern corner near Marble Arch where debates and public protests regularly take place, as well as Rotten Row that lies on the northern bounds of the Crystal Palace site. A memorial to the victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings is also situated within the park, as is a memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales. There’s a fragrant rose garden and numerous greenhouses, as well as the botanical curiosity of "the upside-down tree”, which is a unique weeping beech. Hyde Park also functions as a popular recreational destination for locals, with numerous cycling and walking paths, together with horse riding trails and facilities for playing soccer and ten-nis.
If you’re visiting during the Christmas period, Hyde Park hosts the annual Winter Wonderland event, which includes various Christmas-themed markets, rides, bars and restaurants. It also boasts live entertainment and the largest ice rink in London, making it one of the biggest Christmas venues in Europe.