"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?
Boating Lakes in London
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.
Events at Serpentine Boating Lake
Sunday 25th December 2016 | Free for spectators
This lot are a hardy bunch but tradition is tradition and members of the Serpentine Swimming Club have been plunging themselves into the Serpentine lake's icy waters every Christmas Day since 1864. At temperatures of ...more
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
6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Oct 2016 | £36.55 (Adults), £26.90 (concs), £23.65 (Children 13-18)
London's best known contemporary art fair, Frieze, returns to Regent's Park for its 14th edition with over 160 of the most highly respected contemporary art galleries in the world brought together in Regents ...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
Sunday 7th August 2016 | Early bird tickets (available until midnight 30 May) £15 (Adults), £7.50 (Children aged 3-18), Free (Children under three). After 30 May £22 (Adults), £10 (Children 3-18). On the day £25 (Adults), £12.50 (Children 3-18)
Whatever weather the great British summer throws at us, you're going to get wet at Battersea Park this August. Divided into five zones of water-themed challenges and games over a 2.5km trail, Splash Fest is ...more
Saturday 3rd December 2016 | Early bird entry (before 1st Nov) £20, standard £22 - includes Santa suit.
Join hundreds of other Santas on a festive run through Battersea Park before relaxing afterwards with mulled wine and Christmas cake. No previous experience is needed for this fantastically festive day. Simply register online, turn ...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 15th and Saturday 16th July 2016 | £45-£78.50
Lovebox, London's answer to Glastonbury, is back for 2016 with one incredible line-up. Taking place in Victoria Park, this year's two-day bonanza welcomes Major Lazor, and LCD Soundsystem to headline while further appearances will come ...more
Sunday 17th July 2016 | £49.50 (Adults), £5 (Children)
After Ben Howard and Bombay Bicycle Club headlined the inaugural event last year, Citadel Festival returns this July with Sigur Ros, which will be one of only two UK shows from them in 2016, Caribou, ...more
Sunday 17th July 2016 - 12noon | adv £49.50, adv ages 6-11 £5, under 6s Free, adv tickets from www.ticketmaster.co.uk
A one-day festival of music, food, theatre, arts and entertainment to reflect the diversity of London's arts scene, headlined by Icelandic post-rock outfit Sigur Ros and Ontario-based electronic four-piece Caribou. Other performers include Lianne La ...
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.
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
8th, 9th and 10th July 2016 | Fri & Sat day ticket £62.50, two day ticket £109.50, Fri & Sun two day ticket/Sat & Sun two day ticket £106.50, Sun day ticket £59.50, Fri-Sun three day ticket £155.50
Wireless 2016 doesn't disappoint with the likes of Calvin Harris, The 1975, Chase & Status, Sigma, Miguel and Jess Glynne all on the line-up. With the festival returning to Finsbury Park for the third year, ...more
Sunday 25th September 2016 - 12noon-11pm | £37.50, early bird £27.50 & £32.50, VIP tickets £45 & £50
Slammin' Vinyl hosts a celebration of London's rave scene under the cover of huge big top tents featuring Grandmaster Flash, Ratpack, Sasasas, Slipmatt, HBS live, Darren Styles, DJ Luck & MC Neat, Fabio & Grooverider, ...
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)
18th June to 30th October 2016 | Entry included in a day admission ticket to Kew. Friends of Kew Free
20th February to 29th August 2016 - 10am-5pm | £13.90, child Free (under 17 years, accompanied by an adult), concs £11.90
Thursday 30th June 2016 - 2pm-4pm | inc in cost of entrance £15, concs £14, child £3.50, family £19-£34
A chance to discover more about the threats facing bee populations, Kew's research on pollination and ways we can all help to protect the bees, butterflies and insects on which we rely.
Tuesday 12th July 2016 - 6pm-10.30pm | £55 & £75, under 16s £37 & £57
Marking their 30th anniversary, the inimitable Mick Hucknall and his soulful band perform their hits.
12th to 17th Jul 2016 | Will Young, Gipsy Kings £45 (General), £65 (Reserved Enclosure), Simply Red £55 (General), £75 (Reserved Enclosure)
Simply Red, Will Young, the Gipsy Kings and Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra are on the Kew the Music line-up when it returns for more summer concerts in July 2016. The series ...more
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.
Summer 2013 in London
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