This summer, Buckingham Palace opened their gardens for the first time to allow visitors to have a picnic on the lawn of the most famous palace in the world. We’ve never been to Buckingham Palace, only ever seeing it through the gates. So, as soon as I saw that tickets were released I booked them – and couldn’t wait to visit.
What is Buckingham Palace?
I’m sure most people know of Buckingham Palace and have a good picture of it in their minds. Buckingham Palace is the official London residence and administrative headquarters of the Queen of the United Kingdom. It’s the centre of many state occasions and over the years we have seen so many royals wave from that famous balcony at the front.
When can you visit Buckingham Palace?
Part of the Royal Collection Trust, Buckingham Palace has always allowed tours of the State Rooms, The Queen’s Gallery and The Royal Mews but until 19th September you can visit the Buckingham Palace Gardens Thursday to Monday.
What happens when you visit the Buckingham Palace Garden?
When we arrived at the entrance to Buckingham Palace Garden, through the Royal Mews on Buckingham Palace Road, we walked through a gift shop and then had an airport style security experience before our visit began. This is standard practice at the Palace and also places with current royal connections like Windsor Castle.
We started our trip walking through an exercise arena for the royal horses and picking up a garden trail for the children before coming straight out into the Palace garden. There were staff everywhere, saying a friendly hello and pointing us in the right direction. There was a real buzz, it’s such a happy day out.
What can you see in the Buckingham Palace Garden?
When you visit the Buckingham Palace Garden you can explore the whole of the Great Lawn with Buckingham Palace as the backdrop. The first time we saw the palace we were blown away. It’s an incredible sight.
The Great Lawn is well known to most people as home to The Queen’s Garden Parties. Around eight thousand guests attend each one – wouldn’t that be amazing to be invited to? The Great Lawn was originally formal gardens, with lines of trees and walkways but it was changed to a more natural garden by George IV.
You can also walk along the 156 metre Herbaceous Border which contains a really diverse collection of plants. Each week when the Queen is at the Palace, she is given a bouquet of flowers from this border for in her room. It’s so nice that the flowers get to be enjoyed both inside and outside of the Palace.
Another big focal point of the gardens is the lake, easily viewed from anywhere on the Great Lawn. The artificial lake covers 3.5 acres and once, during Queen Victoria’s reign, there was a fountain in the middle. Back then it was used for royal ice skating parties when it froze in the winter!
Some areas of the garden – like the Rose Garden and wildflower meadow – are only accessible through pre-booked guided tours. Spaces are limited and do book up quickly. We decided not to book as we didn’t know if the children would find it very interesting and so just explored the areas allowed on our standard ticket.
Is there a cafe at the Buckingham Palace Garden?
We took a picnic with us to the gardens and enjoyed it on the lawn, people watching and enjoying the view of Buckingham Palace. As well as the vast lawn, there were also shelters set up in case the weather turned. It’s so nice that they’d thought of shelter for guests!
There are also other options catering available if you didn’t want to bring a picnic. There are various refreshment stands available right in front of the Palace, including the Garden Cafe, selling everything from hot and cold drinks to cakes, sandwiches and ice cream. There’s even afternoon tea selections available.
There’s also a pretty impressive toilet block – considering it’s in a marquee style tent. The toilets were super clean and felt more like a really upmarket hotel rather than a temporary toilet block at a tourist attraction. There were baby change facilities and accessible toilets too.
We spent a couple of hours at the Buckingham Palace Garden and had a great time. It was so nice to do something that we’ll probably never do again and it was such a nice addition to our mini-break in London. I’m so glad we got to explore Buckingham Palace Garden and hope they open the gardens again next year for more people to experience it too.
You can find out more and book garden tickets and tours over on the Buckingham Palace website and for reference the address is: Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
You can see a video of our trip to Buckingham Palace Gardens here: