About the Park When King Henry VIII and his court were thundering across Hyde Park in 1536 in pursuit of deer and wild boar, it would have been difficult to visualise that years later the noble art of tai chi would be peacefully performed among the trees in the early morning, and the Italianate tenor of Pavarotti would echo across the park, applauded by vast audiences.

Opening hours: The park is open from 5am until midnight all year round. Getting there: Tube: Lancaster Gate & Marble Arch - Central Line Hyde Park Corner & Knightsbridge - Piccadilly line

Buses from: North London: 6, 7, 10, 16, 52, 73, 82, 390, 414 South London: 2, 36, 137, 436 West London: 9, 10, 14, 19, 22, 52, 74, 148, 414 East London: 8, 15, 30, 38, 274 We recommend that visitors avoid coming by car as there are limited places. Pay and Display parking is available on West Carriage Drive and in Car Parks at either end of Serpentine Bridge.

As part of our commitment to improving access to Hyde Park, separate pedestrian and vehicle entrances will be created over the next two years. Due to construction of the One Hyde Park Development Edinburgh Gate is now closed, a dedicated Pedestrian access will be opening in 2010 to the East of the current Edinburgh Gate location. We apologise for any inconvenience caused while improvements are made, please use Albert Gate located East of Edinburgh Gate while construction takes place.

Picnics in the Park:

Many people enjoy picnics in the parks. We have put together a document to help you plan your picnic in the park, please click here.

History and Architecture Hyde Park is one of London's finest landscapes and covers over 350 acres.

Henry VIII acquired Hyde Park from the monks of Westminster Abbey in 1536; he and his court were often to be seen on thundering steeds in the hunt for deer. It remained a private hunting ground until James I came to the throne and permitted limited access. The King appointed a ranger, or keeper, to take charge of the park. It was Charles I who changed the nature of the park completely. He had the Ring (north of the present Serpentine boathouses) created and in 1637 opened the park to the general public.

In 1665, the year of the Great Plague, many citizens of London fled the City to camp on Hyde Park, in the hope of escaping the disease. Towards the end of the 17th century William III moved his court to Kensington Palace. He found that his walk to St James's was very dangerous, so he had 300 oil lamps installed, creating the first artificially lit highway in the country. This route later became known as Rotten Row, which is a corruption of the French 'Route de Roi' or King's Road.

Queen Caroline, wife of George II, had extensive renovations carried out and in the 1730s had The Serpentine, a lake of some 11.34 hectares, created. Hyde Park became a venue for national celebrations. In 1814 the Prince Regent organised fireworks to mark the end of the Napoleonic Wars, in 1851 (during Queen Victoria's reign) the Great Exhibition was held and in 1977 a Silver Jubilee Exhibition was held in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's 25 years on the throne.

In 1866 Edmund Beales' Reform League marched on Hyde Park where great scuffles broke out between the League and the police. Eventually the Prime Minister allowed the meetings to continue unchallenged and since 1872, people have been allowed to speak at Speaker's Corner on any subject they want to. The Lido was set up by George Lansbury, the first Commissioner of Works, in 1930 and in warm weather is used for sunbathing and swimming.

Park Facilities Hyde Park has a wide range of facilities. There are cafes and restaurants offering everything from ice creams and sandwiches to three course meals There is a children's playground and the Lookout, a former police observation point which is now an education centre where children learn about nature and wildlife. The Park also has toilets, including facilities for disabled people. Deckchairs are available from April to September during daylight hours, weather permitting.

The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen (formerly the Dell)

Location: Eastern side of the Serpentine The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen serves a wide variety of tasty hot meals and snacks, freshly prepared sandwiches and salads, a daily selection of cakes and puddings from the bakery and hot and cold drinks from the bar.