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Holland Park is tucked into a quiet little area of Kensington, on the west edge of central London. It’s within walking distance from the charming Notting Hill borough and is an excellent place to spend a few hours.
This public park spans 54 acres. Apart from your typical park attributes, like benches, walking paths, and shaded grassy areas, it features a whole host of other attractions. From scenic gardens to an open-air theatre and an impressive art museum, here are the top things to do in Holland Park, London.
The history of Holland Park begins In 1605 when Sir Walter Cope (an English diplomat) built a grand Jacobean mansion in what was then a rural area of London. He named the residence ‘Cope Castle’.
In 1768, Cope Castle was purchased by the 1st Baron Holland, Henry Fox, who renamed it ‘Holland House.’ After Fox’s passing, his son, Charles James Fox, inherited the house and turned it into the centre of social-political life for the Whigs Party.
During the Second World War, many parts of the mansion were destroyed by bombs. But in 1952, the grounds that surrounded the 17th-century house were turned into a public park, known today as ‘Holland Park.’
A refurbished section of Holland House was also turned into a hostel. If you’re visiting London on a budget, you can book a room at the Safestay Holland Park and stay in part of the original Jacobean building.
Holland Park is one of London’s best-kept secrets. It’s a quiet oasis that allows you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
It’s well taken care of and features walking trails, an outdoor exercise gym, sports facilities, and other common park elements.
However, Holland Park is more well known for its other unique features, including its themed gardens, resident peacocks, open-air venue, creative statues, and cosy café.
The Orangery in Holland Park is a charming event venue full of beautiful scenery. It was once part of Holland House, where Lord and Lady Holland lived. It exudes elegance and class with its many chandeliers and elegant decor.The space is showered in natural light from the many large windows..
It’s available to rent out for private functions. Or, you can simply stop by and stroll the fragrant rose garden. It will make a lovely backdrop for your next social media profile pic.
The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park celebrates and honours the friendship between Great Britain and Japan. It was donated to London in 1991 by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto.
This small lovely park has a tranquil atmosphere and traditional Japanese elements. There is a koi pond, a small waterfall, colourful plants, Japanese maple trees, and resident Holland Park peacocks roaming freely about.
Stop in for a lazy stroll or a quiet rest on the grass. It’s free to enter and offers a quiet reprieve from the busyness of the city.
The Fukushima Garden is located right next to the Kyoto Garden. This small scenic space was a gift to the British from Japan following their support after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster of 2011.
It’s less than half the size of the Kyoto Garden but still worth checking out. It contains quiet walking paths, a few benches, a small waterfall, and other classic Japanese elements. You’re also likely to see a peacock or two when visiting.
This Holland Park flower garden contains an array of well-manicured flower beds. It’s beautiful year-round, but during the warmer months, the tulips and yellow irises are especially eye-catching.
There is even a row of benches in the garden where you can sit and bask in the beauty around you.
Opera Holland Park is an outdoor performing arts theatre. It’s surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Holland Park. It hosts critically acclaimed operas as well as concerts, orchestras, and plays.
There is a theatre bar where guests can order refreshments to enjoy during the show. Picnic baskets are also available for purchase. Or, if you’d prefer to bring in your own food, that’s fine too. Guests are also invited to bring their own picnic basket, just make sure to reserve one of their picnic tables beforehand so you’ll have a place to eat.
The Holland Park open-air theatre is definitely worth checking out if you have time.
The Lord Holland Statue is a grand statue that honours Henry Richard Vassall-Fox, who was the Third Baron Holland.
The statue sits in the middle of a small pond. It shows Lord Holland seated on a throne-like chair dressed in a suit befitting a 19th-century gentleman.
It’s worth the small detour to see when visiting Holland Park.
The Sibirica Fountain is another unique feature of the park. William Pye created this London fountain in 1999.
The circular water feature is located in the iris garden. The middle section rises up and pours water into four little pots that send it splashing out. It has a simple yet unique design that makes it stand out.
The Leighton House Museum is an art museum that was the former residence of Frederic Leighton, one of the most well-known British artists of the 19th century. Leighton was born into a wealthy family and his art career was always aided by his parent’s financial stability.
The house museum is just outside of the park entrance, on Holland Park Road. It has been open to the public since 1929 and features elaborate Orientalist interiors with many stunning tile patterns.
Many of Leighton’s works of art are on display in the museum, including oil painting, prints, sketches, and small-scale sculptures. There are also a few personal items belonging to the British artist, including documents, mementoes, and embroideries.
The Holland Park Adventure Playground is a great place to bring your kids. It has all sorts of fun things to do, like a zip-line, a long see-saw, a big slide, climbing ropes, a small rock wall, and more. It’s safe to say your kids will be able to burn off all of their excess energy.
If you want to grab something to eat and refuel your energy levels while visiting Holland Park, you’ll have a couple of options.
A number of eateries are also found right out the park gates where you can order food to go.
Unfortunately, The Belvedere Restaurant that was attached to The Orangery inside Holland Park has closed down.
Holland Park Café is a lovely place to take a break and people watch. You can sit on the patio with a coffee and pastry and admire the serene park atmosphere. Or if it’s a rainy day, there is also indoor seating to keep you warm and dry
You can also order their menu items to-go if you’d prefer to find a shaded spot to relax at. If you’re feeling a bit peckish, they offer cafe classics, like avocado toast and sausage rolls.
Another food option (as previously mentioned) are the picnic baskets served at Opera Holland Park. You need to be attending a performance at the venue to purchase one though, as they’re only available before the shows start.
There is also a theatre bar at the venue where you can order drinks and other snacks to enjoy before the show or during the interval.
Holland Park is open every day of the year from dawn until about thirty minutes before dusk. Just keep in mind that this time will change with the season since in winter daylight hours are much shorter than in summer.
There is never a bad time to visit Holland Park. However, if you’d like a more quiet park experience, visit on a weekday right after the park opens, around 7:30-8:00 am. Weekends tend to get a little busier, especially by afternoon.
The scenery of Holland Park slightly changes with the season. During spring, the cherry trees in Kyoto Garden present their annual display of white and pink blossoms.
If you’re spending autumn in London, the seasonal spectacle of orange and yellow foliage makes the park a very aesthetically pleasing place to take a stroll.
So, where is Holland Park exactly? The park doesn’t have established boundaries, but it’s located in Kensington and is bordered by four streets: Kensington High Street, Holland Road, Holland Park Avenue, and Kensington Church Street.
The Holland Park tube station is less than a ten-minute walk from the park entrances.
If you’re travelling by train, the nearest train station is Kensington Olympia, which is about a 20-minute walk from the Holland Park entrances.
The bus lines that stop near Holland Park are 148, 23, 27, 28, 52, and 94.
If you’re planning to visit Holland Park in Kensington, here are answers to some frequently asked questions that will help you plan your excursion better.
Can You Picnic in Holland Park?
Guests are welcome to bring in their own food with them for a picnic in Holland Park. There is a Tesco Express outside of the Holland Park tube station where you can purchase some snack food as well as sandwiches and drinks.
Is Holland Park Worth Visiting?
Holland Park is absolutely worth visiting. If you’re looking for quirky or unusual things to do in London, the park is full of fun little spots to check out. Visit the calming Kyoto Garden, marvel at the mesmerizing Leighton House Museum, and admire the beautiful peacocks that roam freely about. It’s fun for all ages and has something everyone will appreciate.
Tip: make sure to scope out a Holland Park map beforehand so you don’t miss anything.
Why Are There Peacocks in Holland Park?
No one knows for sure why there are peacocks in Holland Park. The most likely scenario is that these beautiful birds were brought to live on the grounds of the grand Holland House, as they were seen as a status symbol back in the day.
Yes, there is a public bathroom and a drinking fountain inside the park next to The Orangery.
After you’ve finished visiting Holland Park, here are a few other fun things to do in the area.
Kensington Palace is less than one mile from Holland Park. Visit this UK landmark and see how the royals lived, most notably, the Stuart dynasty. Admire the opulent staterooms and see an exhibition that showcases royal fashion.
Notting Hill is about a 15-minute walk from Holland Park. This trendy London borough is full of upscale eateries, quaint cafes, and local boutiques.
It also contains Portobello Road, the site of the famous, and very popular Portobello Road Market.
Sample the best of London’s street food and browse an eclectic assortment of vintage items and antiques. Notting Hill is one of the coolest areas of the city.
The Royal Albert Hall is just a 20-minute walk from Holland Park. Take a tour of this famous concert hall and visit areas off-limits to the general public. See the Queen’s Royal Box and the Royal Retiring Room – where the Queen herself spends time when visiting the hall.
Learn about the history of the venue and hear backstages stories. If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to see an artist in rehearsal when you visit!
There are so many interesting things to do in Holland Park. This peaceful pocket of the city is a hidden gem that makes a wonderful place to spend a few hours. It’s free to enter and offers so much more than your typical London park experience.
See a show in a lovely outdoor setting, wander around the serene Japanese gardens, and pack a picnic to enjoy in a calm area of the city. Don’t forget to bring your camera, you’ll definitely get some great photos for Instagram.