London is a famously green and leafy city. Green spaces range from ornamental splendour at St James’ Park and The Regent’s Park to the hilly wilds of Hampstead Heath. Out in the leafy suburbs, deer still roam freely in Richmond Park.
In the very centre of town, Hyde Park is home to the Serpentine Gallery, a well-respected art space. The Gallery takes its name from the snake of a lake which winds through the Park, fed by a pure underground spring. Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, Kwame Nkrumah and C.L.R.James are just some of the eminent personages who orated at Speaker’s Corner (close to Marble Arch) in the past. Today “the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative” still gather here to be heard (and heckled!).
To the South West, The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (known as Kew Gardens) is a 250-year-old history of botany. The vast glasshouses, enchanting landscapes and that thrilling treetop walkway are enhanced every Summer by music concerts.
In Kensington, Holland Park is home to Peter Pan’s statue and the famous Orangery Restaurant. The Kyoto Garden here received high praise indeed from The Detroit Free Press as ‘one of the three places in London you will never forget”. Each Summer, Opera Holland Park stage at least 6, full-length operas in the Park, under a spectacular canvas roof which enhances the acoustic as well as protecting the audience from any inclement weather.
Just north of Baker Street and south of Camden Town, in The Regent’s Park, there are performances at the open-air amphitheatre throughout the Summer months. The Regent’s Park is home to London Islamic Cultural Centre, which includes Central London Mosque (agreed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1940 but not finally completed until 1977) and permanant exhibition in the Islam Gallery. In June, the splendid, fragrant and spectacular rose garden is at its finest and of course, there is the Zoo!