• Fleur Barton

The Best Playground in London

Of the many playgrounds dotted around London the most spectacular has to be the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. Drawing crowds of young explorers from around the country and across the world it is not only a fitting tribute to the late Princess of Wales, but is guaranteed even in a world dominated by the virtual and digital to awe inspire. Centred around a life sized ship there are many nooks and crannies to escape to even when it is packed on a sunny day and best of all it is completely free.


Where is it?


The Diana Playground is located in Kensington Gardens on the north west side of the park by Bayswater and towards Notting Hill. It is to the right hand side of Kensington Palace if you are facing the statue of Queen Victoria. Many visitors get Kensington Gardens mixed up with Hyde Park and whilst they are side by side, they are also separated by a road known as the West Carriage Drive.



When you should go.


Opening times vary according to the season but it opens from 10am every day. Peak times are sunny weekends and school holidays particularly in the summer. Entry is regulated by security guards so when queues form waiting times can last up to an hour.



Planning ahead to beat the queues either by arriving early or later on in the day is time well spent, that said weekday mornings are usually quiet. Check our FAQs for more details. If you do get caught in the queue then the Elfin Oak will privide a wonderful distraction with lots little carved people, animals and birds climbing over the trunk.





How to get there.


Train


The nearest tube station is Queensway on the Central Line or Bayswater on the Circle and District line. Alternatively you can walk across the park from High Street Kensington. The mainline station of Paddington is 15 minutes walk away.


Bus


A number of bus routes pass along the nearby Bayswater Road including 94,148


Car


You should check before travelling to see if you need to pay the London ultra low emission charge ULEZ. Parking on both sides of the park is controlled with residents permits. You can pay £3 per hour along nearby Lancaster Gate or plan your visit for a Sunday and park on a single yellow line along the Bayswater Road. Make sure you park in the designated bays and for more information click here


Cycling


Pick up a Tfl bike from across London and there are docking stations just inside the park or by Queensway tube station to drop your bike off.


What you should know in advance.


Entry is restricted to adults supervising children up to the age of 12. There is only one entry and exit gate which means your child won’t be able to wander off but do bear in mind that if you are meeting other adults such as Uncles and Grand Parents without children that they will need to be met at the gate with your child in order to gain entry.



Highlights.


The playground is centred around a very authentic life sized pirate ship with rigging and even a crow’s nest for the bravest children to climb and view the surrounding scenery.



Climbing and exploring is positively encouraged by means of thick rope gangways along with ladders. There is a wheelhouse at the back with a large ships wheel which is popular with those steering this wonderful ship across a sea of sand in search of pirates and distant lands. Inspiration has undoubtably come from Peter Pan which is not surprising given that author J.M Barrie was a local and the theme of the playground is one of adventure, discovery and imagination.



Surrounding the ship are a number of much smaller boats which are attached to chains so that they can recreate the movement of the sea, along with half buried treasure chests and the occasional crocodile.




These very much appeal to toddlers who will love spending time in the sand. There is so much to stimulate with rocks to clamber over, water channels to re-direct. With a number of benches in this area and the reassurance of there being a security gate you can sit back, drink a coffee and let your children explore.



There are traditional swings and slides scattered about but away from this central zone are a number of other winding paths hiding dedicated play areas for different age groups.




Hidden behind hedges are a number of small log cabins for toddlers to climb along with see-saws and a wooden tractor.



Another area has three teepees and a number of toetem poles ideal for hide and seek. Here there is a section of open green space which would be an ideal spot away from the hustle and bustle on a sunny day to enjoy a picnic.



A winding path takes you up to a fort with a telescope to survey any invaders who might want to steal the treasure chest!



There are two further areas of note namely the raised wooden walkway equipped with ladders, poles, slides and challenging swinging slats to catch out the less sure footed. In the middle are wooden lily pads on giant springs.




Further on, beyond the raised wooden walkway is a winding tree lined path which takes you on an interactive musical journey of peaceful sounds made with hands and feet.




Facilities.


Next to the entrance is a kiosk serving snacks along with hot and cold drinks. Like all the food and drink sold in the Royal Parks it is on the expensive side so if you are on a budget it is best to plan in advance. Next to Queensway tube station is the main Queensway thoroughfare which has a wide range of shops and restaurants including a Tesco supermarket for those on a budget.


Next to the Kiosk and the entrance are picnic tables where you can consume food either from the kiosk or if you have bought your own.


Toilet facilities are well maintained and there is a duty first aider onsite should there be any bumps and scrapes.


Our Hotel near the Diana Playground.


Why not try our walking tour of Kensington Gardens, that takes in Kensington Palace along with a number of magnificent sights along the way.


If you are looking to stay in the Kensington Gardens area, then check availability at the Lancaster Hall Hotel which is moments away from Kensington Gardens.


Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground Location


You can either click on the link below for the map which you can send to your mobile phone, or navigate from the map below


https://goo.gl/maps/pXnz9vwUrBvZkhbh8



Diana Statue Frequently Asked Questions.


Where is the Diana playground?


The closest landmark is Queensway tube station on the Central Line (red). From here, cross the Bayswater Road at the designated crossing and enter Kensington Gardens through the Black Lion gates onto the Board Walk. Carry on along the Board Walk and the entrance is off to the right.


When is the Diana playground open?


The play ground opens each day at 10am and closes at the following times:


May to August - 7:45pm

April to September - 6:45pm

March and early October - 5:45pm

February and last October - 4:45pm

November to January - 3:45


Last entry is 15 minutes before closing time.



When did the Diana playground open?


The playground opened first in June 2000


How much does it cost to enter the Diana playground?


Entrance is free.


Is there an age limit for the Diana playground?


The playground is aimed at children of 12 and under.


Is the playground wheelchair friendly?


Yes, and there is plenty for children with limited mobility to enjoy.