"It isn't just an ordinary sort of boat," Winnie-the-Pooh once told Christopher Robin. "Sometimes it's a Boat, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It all depends [...] on whether I'm on top of it or underneath it." A.A. Milne's Pooh was not the only literary creature to take to the water. In Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, Ratty tells Mole: "Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." With this in mind, why not channel your inner Ratty (as opposed to Pooh - no one likes to capsize) by seeking out a rowing boat in one of London's many boating lakes?
London's Boating Lakes
Credit: © Julian Osley
The Boat House, Serpentine Road, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
Tube: Knightsbridge Station
The famous Serpentine Boating Lake - which hosted the marathon swimming and triathlon events during the London 2012 Olympics - is one of London's most popular spots for nautical activities during the summer. A fleet of white rowing and blue pedal boats are available for hire from Easter until the end of October (10am-8pm), costing £10 per hour or £8 for 30 minutes (reductions for children and families available). The Serpentine is also home to the UK's first Solarshuttle - a vessel which glides silently across the lake powered only by the sun (speeds, like the British weather, are presumably rather variable). The vessel carries up to 40 passengers while the pedal and rowing boats hold up to six people each (dogs not permitted). The most central of London's parks, Hyde Park is a glorious haven of calm in the summer months - and the Serpentine is the main focal point. Visitors can get refreshments before or after their boating session at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen on the east tip of the lake or the Lido Bar & Café on the southern side, where hardy swimmers brave the cool waters for a dip all year round.
Inner Circle, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4NR
Tube: Regent's Park Station
The large Boating Lake in the Outer Circle of Regent's Park is a wonderful place to take to the water in a rowing boat or pedalo. Boat hire is available daily from April through to September from 10am to 6pm and costs £7.50 per hour or £5.50 for 30 minutes (children are half price) with a deposit of £5 required for all bookings. There is a separate smaller children's boating lake which is open on weekends, bank holidays and school holidays only. Surrounded by grand white stucco terraced houses, the John Nash-designed Regent's Park is arguably the most spectacular of London's Royal Parks and is a great place for almost every kinds of outdoor pursuit - whether it's running, cycling, football, rounders, tennis or boating. The lake is also a major hub for bird life, including numerous herons nesting on the islands. If you're feeling peckish afterwards, there's the Boathouse Café as well as other options in the park such as the Honest Sausage, the Cow and Coffee bean, the Hub Café and the Garden Café.
Events at Regent's Park
Monday 21st April 2014 | 10K: £20 affiliated £22 unaffiliated | Adult's Egg Scurry: £6.50 | Children's Egg Scurry: £4.50
Earn the right to feast on a year's worth of chocolate in one weekend this Easter by taking part in the London Easter 10K. A fundraiser for The Children's Trust, this special event returns ...more
Thursday 19th and Friday 20th June 2014 | TBC. 2013 Prices: Advance: £25.80 (Adults standard), £12.90 (Children 6-14), £43 (Premium), £64 (VIP) | On the door: £28 (Adults standard), £14 (Children 6-14)
Direct your rumbling stomach to Regent's Park for four days of al fresco gluttony as over forty of London's best restaurants, including a flurry of Michelin stars, show off their culinary handiwork. Work ...more
16th, 17th, 18th and 19th Oct 2014
As the country's leading contemporary art fair, the Frieze Art Fair draws the world's most influential art buyers to Regent's Park each October. Specially commissioned art works are exhibited alongside curated exhibitions as well as ...more
Albert Bridge Road, Battersea Park, Battersea, London, SW11 4NJ
Tube: Sloane Square Station
Every July and August visitors can rent rowing and pedal boats on the lake at Battersea Park - with the service running into September for weekends should weather permit. Prices are £6 per person for an hour and £4 for half an hour - with children going half price. The best value is a family ticket, where two adults and two children can take a boat for £10 for half an hour or £15 for an hour. Tickets are purchased at the reception of the Millennium Arena sports complex nearby the lake. For more information please call Blue Bird Boats on 020 7262 1330. The 200-acre Battersea Park caters for pretty much everyone - whether you want to walk your dog, play tennis, go running, admire the wildlife on the ponds, take the children to a the playground and zoo, or take in the majestic Peace Pagoda, Tropical Garden and Fountains. Art lovers can visit the free Pump House Gallery, a contemporary space located in a Victorian water tower that used to supply water to the park's lakes and cascades.
Events at Battersea Park
13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Mar 2014 | TBC. 2013 Prices: £10/£12 (Weekday Advance/Door), £12/£15 (Weekend), £8/£10 & £10/£13 (Concs), £20 (Late View)
Over 100 galleries exhibit a huge array of affordable contemporary art in Battersea Park for the Affordable Art Fair which has become a well-loved institution on London's art scene. It's an event that strips away ...more
Sunday 8th June 2014 - 9.30am-1pm | adults £15, 5-16 £10, under 5s Free
RBC Race for the Kids is Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity 5k family fun run.
15th, 16th and 17th August 2014 | Fri £12 (Adults), £45 (VIP) | Sat & Sun £15 (Adults), £12 (Concessions) £48 (VIP)
Meet Michelin star chefs, see live demonstrations and sample food from London's top restaurants at the Foodies Festival taking place at Battersea Park. Cooking is made to look easy thanks to demos from top chefs ...more
Grove Road, Tower Hamlets, Tower Hamlets, London, E3 5SN
Tube: Mile End Station
Following the success of Team GB in the rowing events in the London 2012 Olympic Games, boating has returned to the Boating Lake of east London's Victoria Park for the first time in 30 years. Tower Hamlets council has set up a scheme to rent pedalos and rowing boats, with 30 vessels now available for hire by the public seven days a week. The East and West lakes at Victoria Park had already been restored as part of a £12 million regeneration scheme leading up to the Olympics. Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman was present to welcome the return of boats to Victoria Park's Boating Lake and said: "The country has been thrilled by the success of our Olympic rowers. We don't expect people to be rowing quite as fast as the medal winners, but this will hopefully encourage people to get out on to their local lake." The Boating Lake is open from Easter time until 31st October, 10am to 5pm.
Events at Victoria Park
Friday 14th March 2014 - 11am | fun run entry includes Free Where's Wally costume £20, child £10, pre-registration required
Dress up in the style of Where's Wally, have some fun on a run or walk, and raise some vital funds for The Literacy Trust.
Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th June 2014 | Sat: £50 (Early bird), Weekend ticket: £80
British band Metronomy headline Saturday at Field Day while recently-reunited US band the Pixies headline the Sunday leg of the Victoria Park festival which moves to June and expands to become a two-day event in ...more
Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th June 2014 | Sat day ticket £45, Sun day ticket £38.50, weekend ticket £73.50
The out-door music bonanza returns once more, this year expanding into a two day event. Metronomy top the bill on Sunday performing with Daniel Avery, Danny Brown, James Holden, Jon Hopkins, Money, Omar Souleyman, Oneohtrix ...
Friday 18th and Saturday 19th July 2014 | From £38.95 (single day), £77.95 (combined ticket), Free (Children under 12, ID may be required to gain entry)
London's answer to Glastonbury is back for 2014 with a new format. This year Lovebox is being joined by Secret Productions, co-organisers of Wilderness Festival ...more
Saturday 25th October 2014 - 11am-1pm | £11.49, adv £10.49, concs £9.49, child £8.49, under 5s Free
The Big Fun Run Victoria Park on Saturday 25 October (11am) is a 5km run. There's no pressure, just some easy moves and lots of laughs. Under 5s go FREE! Very popular running event - ...
Thicket Road, Penge, London, SE20 8DT
Tube: Denmark Hill Station
After a long campaign led by local residents, boats returned to the lake at Crystal Palace Park in spring 2012 just ahead of the Olympic Games. The blue pedalos operate between 10.30am and 5pm on weekends, bank holidays and during school holidays. The price is £4 for 30 minutes (£2 for children) and £10 for a family ticket of two adults and two children. The 200-acre Crystal Palace Park is home to the National Sports Centre and the Crystal Palace Bowl sports stadium. It also boats plenty of green space, a café, farm and - a highlight for children - a Jurassic Park-style dinosaur island where five dinosaur sculptures can be found hiding in the trees around the lake.
College Road, London, SE21 7BQ
Tube: Denmark Hill Station
Packed with historical features, great facilities (tennis, bowling, bike hire and vegetable garden), magnificent oak trees and perfect picnic sports, Dulwich Park also has a boating lake offering small and family-sized pedalos and traditional rowing boats. The vessels are available for hire from April to October (weather permitting) on weekends, bank holidays and school holidays, from 10.30am to 5pm. Adults cost £4 and children £2 for half an hour. No bookings are required and inquiries can be made on 07902 258301. With the Pavilion Café open daily and the Dulwich Picture Gallery just around the corner, the return of the boats to Dulwich Park is another attraction to a wonderful family-friendly area of south east London.
Events at Dulwich Park
Sunday 13th April 2014 - 11am-1pm | Free
Endymion Road, London, N4 1EE
Tube: Manor House Station
Open seven days a week from 12 noon until 6pm, Finsbury Park Boat House hires rowing boats for a flat rate of £8 per boat for half an hour (£16 per hour) with a maximum of four people per boat. That can be as little as £2 per person, which is great value in a day where it costs about the same to buy a newspaper. Dogs and children under 12 months are not allowed on the vessels, while all children must wear life vests provided. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult and there is no access to the island. Tourists from Europe can also pay in foreign currency with a rate of 10 euros for 30 minutes. The 115-acre Finsbury Park is a hive of activity, boasting stunning scenary, fun for the family and energetic pursuits. There's a tree walk, a play area for young 'uns and a landscaped flower garden a stone's throw from the lake, which boasts abundant birdlife.
Events at Finsbury Park
Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th May 2014 - 4pm | £55
Six years after their first appearance at Glastonbury, the Arctic Monkeys performed at last summer's famous festival to critical acclaim, with The Guardian claiming they were "a more powerful act than ...more
4th, 5th and 6th July 2014 | One day: £57.50 | Two day: £110
Kanye West, Drake and Bruno Mars headline the Wireless Festival in 2014 which has been entertaining Londoners every summer for a decade. In its tenth year the music festival moves to Finsbury Park from the ...more
Alexandra Palace Way, London, N22 7AY
Tube: Bounds Green Station
The boating lake at Alexandra Palace is open every day from April to November for fishing and rowing/pedal boating. Visitors can choose between classic rowing boats, Tamara pedalos or swan-shaped pedalos, with each boat holding up to five people and costing from £4.50 for half an hour (reductions for children). The usual medley of rules applies: no babies under 12 months, no pets, and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Those wishing to fish in the designated area must have a valid Environment Agency Rod Licence from the Post Office. As well as a boating lake, Ally Pally Park boats a children's playground, an indoor ice rink, skateboard park, animal enclosure and some delightful parkland.
Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AB
Tube: Kew Gardens Station
Boats are back on the Palm House Pond at Kew Gardens - although only for a limited period of time. Part of the IncrEdibles series running from late May to early November 2013, self-styled architectural foodsmiths Bompas & Parr are turning the pond into a giant fruit salad bowl, with visitors able to sail on multi-coloured rowing boats into the centre of the pond, where they'll discover a giant pineapple perched atop a hidden banana grotto. The Tutti Frutti Boating Experience is open until 1st September and runs daily from 10am to 5pm. Tickets to hire a boat for half an hour cost £4.50 for adults and £2.50 for children. Tickets must be purchased in addition to admission to Kew Gardens. Having invented glow in the dark jelly and chewing gum that changes flavour as you chew, Bompas & Parr have form with boating lakes: in one of their many culinary gimmicks, they created one made out of punch atop Selfridges.
Events at Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens)
10th to 30th March 2014 - 10am-5.30pm | Free, plus admission £14.50, concs £12.50, under 16s Free
10th March to 3rd August 2014 - 10am-5.30pm | Free, plus admission £14.50, concs £12.50, under 16s Free
8th February to 10th August 2014 - Various Times | Free, plus admission £16, concs £14, under 16s Free, late entry (45mins before glasshouses close) £12.50, registered blind/partially-sighted/disabled carer/Friends Of Kew Free
15th February to 13th March 2014 | £16 (Adults), £14 (Concessions), Free (Children 16 & Under)
Hosted at the London home of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens, this exhibition gives visitors the chance to see the winning and finalists' images from the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. Displaying ...more
Wednesday 26th March 2014 - 7pm-8.15pm | £5, mems £4, adv booking essential
A talk based on Edward Parker's foreign trips gathering images and stories.
Cremorne Riverside, Cremorne Gardens, Lots Road, London, SW10 0QH
Tube: Fulham Broadway Station
Based in the Cremorne Riverside Centre on the waterfront at Chelsea, Kayaking London offers a variety of trips, tours and bespoke experiences enabling the public to see London's iconic waterfront from kayaks. Two tours of note include Discover London (4hrs; £60) - which takes clients up the river, past the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, along the Embankment, past HMS Belfast and on to Tower Bridge - and Big Ben and Back (2hrs; £36) - which pretty much does what it says on the tin. In East London, in and around Docklands, there are numerous watersports options. Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre offers comprehensive programmes for kayaking, canoeing, sailing, bell boats, dragon boats and powerboats, as well as non-water activities such as climbing and high ropes. Royal Victoria Docks Watersports Centre is great for beginners wishing to pick up new sports like wakeboarding and kneeboarding, while the family-friendly Surrey Docks Watersports Centre offers an extensive year-round watersports programme kayaking, sailing, powerboating, rowing and windsurfing.
11th March 2014
Summer 2013 in London
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London's Boating Lakes
London Summer Food Festivals
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London Outdoor Film Screenings
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