Crystal Palace Park is one of the biggest and most important public spaces in the whole of South London. Located in the Borough of Bromley, it was created in 1854 and, thanks to its landscaping as well as the numerous features and attractions it plays host to, was granted Grade II Listed status by English Heritage. The park is hugely popular with families, not just from the surrounding areas, but from across the capital, many of them heading to there on sunny days to see the famous Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs.
The park can be found in the heart of the suburb of Crystal Palace, named after the Crystal Palace built for the Great Exhibition and moved to this corner of the capital from Hyde Park way back in 1851. The exact address of Crystal Palace Park is: Thicket Road, Crystal Palace, London, SE19 2GA.
Things to do at Crystal Palace Park London
As one of the biggest public spaces in the whole of the Greater London area, Crystal Palace Park offers visitors a wide range of things to do. In fact, there’s almost something for everyone here, from serious sportsmen and women to older people keen to relax and families looking to keep young ones entertained. Some of the main things to do in the grounds of Crystal Palace Park include:
- An outdoor maze dating back to 1870 and still one of the largest mazes in the whole country
- A children’s farm and small petting zoo
- Bird-watching on the old boating lake, which attracts large numbers of ducks and other birds throughout the year
- The bust of Sir Joseph Paxton sculpted by William F. Woodington
- Fishing on the special fishing lake
- The ‘Italian Terraces’, boasting landscaped gardens and sculpture
- Live music and performances in the concert bowl
Dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park London
Undoubtedly Crystal Palace Park’s most famous feature are its iconic dinosaurs. Here’s what you need to know about these strange creatures:
The models date back to the 1850s. They were the brainchild of the Victorian sculptor and fossil expert Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and the founder of the Natural History Museum Richard Owen.
These were the very first artistic representations of dinosaurs in the whole world. At that time, the artists only knew the size of these creatures, which is why many look very different to how dinosaurs are portrayed today.
The sculptors worked with the Crystal Palace gardeners to place the dinosaurs in tropical-looking settings. Many are still in their original positions, mainly around the old boating lake.
Visitors to Crystal Palace Park can download an audio guide to the famous dinosaurs. This is available from the London Borough of Bromley website.
Crystal Palace Park London Opening Times
Crystal Palace Park is open to the public all year round, with admission free of charge. The park is open from 7.30 am until 11pm in the summer time and until 7pm in the winter time. The children’s farm is usually open between 12pm and 4pm, though closes some days in the winter, so it’s worth checking before you travel.
Regular security patrols are conducted through the park for visitors’ safety and to enforce the seasonal opening and closing hours.
Attractions nearby Crystal Palace Park London
Crystal Palace Football Club: South London’s biggest club, Crystal Palace play in the Premier League and attracting boisterous crowds to their Selhurt Park stadium. Home matches take place around every two weeks and tickets can often be purchased just a few days before, with the exception of games against England’s elite teams.
Biggin Hill Memorial: The air field of Biggin Hill, just a short distance from the park, was the base for countless Battle of Britain operations. These days, the RAF Chapel of Remembrance at St George’s Church is a popular attraction for history fans, as well as anyone else wanting to pay their respects to those who Winston Churchill called ‘The Few’.
Crofton Roman Villa: The only Roman-era villa open to the public in all of London, Crofton offers a fascinating insight into life back in 400AD. In all, visitors can see the remains of ten rooms, including impressive tiled floors and what’s left of Roman-style under-floor heating systems. Archaeologists working for Bromley Council give regular talks at Crofton Villa.
Dulwich Picture Gallery: Just a short drive or bus ride from Crystal Palace Park, this is the oldest public art gallery in the whole of England. Opened in 1817, it is famous for housing one of the country’s finest collections of Old Masters, as well as for its extensive collection of British portraits. Additionally, the extensive, landscaped grounds are filled with sculptures, plus the gallery is home to a modernist café.
Parking in/nearby Crystal Palace Park London
The good news for visitor travelling to Crystal Palace Park by car is that free parking is available at both the Thicket Road and Anerley Hill entrances to the park.
Alternatively, some spots can be found on the residential streets surrounding the park.
Tube Stations nearby Crystal Palace Park London
Crystal Palace, like most of the rest of South London, is not served by the London Underground system. It is, however, served by excellent rail connections into the centre of the capital. The nearest overground railway stations to Crystal Palace Park are:
- Crystal Palace Railway Station (six minute walk away)
- Penge West Railway Station (seven minute walk away)
- Penge East Railway Station (11 minute walk away)