With a massive woodland area home to all sorts of wildlife and wildflowers, to a Japanese zen garden, a waterfall and picturesque flower gardens, it's easy to see why Holland Park is considered to be one of London's best kept secrets.

The 54-acre area now known as Holland Park was once the grounds of Cope Castle, a large Jacobean mansion constructed during the early 17th century by Sir Walter Cope (who later became the Chancellor of the Exchequer under King James I). Later, the castle was renamed as Holland House after its second owner the Earl of Holland and his wife Lady Rich, (who was also the first person in England to successfully grow dahlias). Throughout the 19th century, many politicians and literaries like Disraeli and Lord Byron started meeting at Holland House to discuss politics, and it soon became known as a “hub of political and literary activity.”

Unfortunately, Holland House was badly damaged during World War II , and after the war the area was transformed into the brilliant park that it is known as today. One area of Holland House is currently being used as a youth hostel, while the front terrace is used for the park's annual open-air theatre productions and classical concerts which take place every summer.

During the Japan Festival in London in 1992, a luxurious Japanese-style garden was installed near the center of the park, featuring a pond with resident koi carp, a bridge at the foot of a waterfall and Japanese maple trees

During the summer months, the Holland Park Theatre is erected at the center of the park to host some amazing opera performances in the great outdoors for its Opera Holland Park series. The theatre hosts a variety of performances throughout the summer months, and past productions include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Madame Butterfly, Les Miserables and even performances by The Royal Ballet School.

Holland Park, Kyoto Gardens waterfall. By Alberto Garcia Holland Park, Orangery fountain. By Savan Gandecha
Holland Park, autumn. By Jorge Vaz Nande Holland Park, flowers. By Andrew Whitman Holland Park, peacock. By Savan Gandecha

Holland Park Highlights

From blooming rose gardens and cherry trees, a Dragonfly Trail, wide open green spaces, and even resident peacocks, there's no telling what you'll come across when strolling around Holland Park.

While the southern section of the park is packed full of various sports facilities like a tennis court, golf practice nets, a netball and a cricket pitch, the northern section of the park boasts a massive woodland area filled with all sorts of wildlife, wildflowers and greenery.

In the center of the park, visitors can snap photos of the Holland House ruins, the Kyoto Gardens and the Fukushima Memorial Garden. If you happen to be visiting around dusk, then make sure you check out the Iris Garden Fountain (designed by William Pye) which features some impressive laser beam decorations best seen during the darker hours.

There's even a handful of statues scattered all throughout the park, like the “Walking Man” sculpture designed by Dhruva Mistry, and a statue of a seated Lord Holland designed by George Frederic Watts.

The park also boasts a massive outdoor chess set, a merry-go-round, and a children's play area with complex climbing equipment, a zip wire, a giant see-saw, a tire swing, as well as a separate fenced-in play area for younger children.

Special Tips

  • Make sure you take the time to stroll around the surrounding residential streets, which have some of the most expensive houses in London (some worth as much as £10 million!)
  • If you're visiting during the spring months, try to visit Holland Park in May when the cherry trees are in full bloom.
  • If you're attending an opera performance at the theatre, try to linger around once the show finishes as several of the singers may come out for photos.
  • If you feel like taking a stroll around the area, Kensington Palace and Hyde Park are an 18-minute walk away, Notting Hill is less than a 17-minute walk away, and Royal Albert Hall is a 30-minute walk away.