Family fun in and around London

Crystal Palace Park

Posted by on Wednesday, 28 March, 2012 in Farms, Featured, Museums, Parks, Sporting Events, Sunny day, Walks

Crystal Palace Park

After our successful trip to Greenwich Park a couple of weeks ago, this week we set off to explore another of London’s fantastic, green spaces: Crystal Palace Park.  Although the Crystal Palace that gave the area its name is long gone, the Park retains a number of quirky attractions that make it worth a visit.

Terrace of former Crystal Palace

The original Crystal Palace was erected in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.  Once the Exhibition was over, and following an intense debate about the Palace’s future, Parliament ruled that the building should be removed from Hyde Park.  The designer of the Palace, Joseph Paxton, formed a company to buy the Palace in order for it to be re-built (and enhanced) at the top of Sydenham Hill in South London.  The Crystal Palace was opened by Queen Victoria in 1854 and went on to host exhibitions and events, became a training base for servicemen during the First World War and housed John Logie Baird’s workshops and television studio, before the building was destroyed by fire in 1936.

Lake and dinosaurs

The site of the former Crystal Palace and its grounds now make up Crystal Palace Park.  Within the parkland you can see the Italian terraces and ornamental stonework that were once part of the Palace’s formal gardens and take in views across London.  By far the most famous inhabitants of the Park, and particularly popular with children, are the 26 huge stone dinosaurs, dating back to Victorian times, which lurk amongst the foliage around the Park’s lake – South London’s very own Jurassic Park.

Other highlights for us were trying to find our way out of the Park’s maze and visiting the small farm next to the National Sports Centre, which has alpacas, Shetland ponies, goats, Kunekune pigs and more.  And if dinosaurs, a maze and a farm aren’t enough for you, the 180 acre Park is a wonderful place for a stroll, with wooded corners, vast open parkland, lakes and open air amphitheatre, as well as the usual children’s playground.


Interest rating

The Park is a lovely place for a stroll with a young baby.  Older children will enjoy the farm, dinosaurs and maze.  If you are interested in the history of the Crystal Palace, there is a very small museum which contains photos and other ephemera relating to the Palace and its various uses.

Kunekune pig

Admission cost

Admission to the Park, maze, farm and museum is free.


The farm and maze are fully accessible to pushchairs.  The Museum has a steep flight of steps to the front door and no step free access.  The upper level of the Park (site of the former Crystal Palace and its formal terraces) has several flights of steps.  The main parkland, lakes and dinosaurs are accessible to pushchairs.


There is a café with a large, enclosed outdoor terrace.  Hot and cold food, drinks and snacks are available.  There are also several cafés, pubs and other eateries in Crystal Palace town centre, a short walk from the park (exit the park past the farm and National Sports Centre).

Shetland pony


The park is a perfect place for a picnic.

Opening times

Monday to Friday – 7.30 am

Weekends and Bank Holidays – 9.00 am

Closing times depend on the season.

The small Crystal Palace Museum is open at weekends and on Bank Holidays.

National Sports Centre

Getting there

By car: Free parking is available at the Penge West entrance, next to the National Sports Centre close to Crystal Palace station and in other residential streets close to the Park.

By train: the nearest station is Crystal Palace (National Rail and London Overground).  Crystal Palace station has several flights of steps and no lift.

By bus: a large number of buses serve Crystal Palace, Penge and other areas adjoining the Park. For details see TFL’s journey planner




Escape from the Maze








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