London’s tolerance for barbecues varies wildly depending on which borough you’re in. Only two boroughs, Camden and Islington, have sweeping pro-barbecue byelaws. Here’s a few of our favourite green spots to bbq in London:
Barbecuing in Camden
In theory, all Camden parks allow barbecues—but it’s sadly not quite that simple. Some parks in Camden Borough aren’t managed by Camden Council, so they’re strictly off limits for would-be grillers.
Most notably, these include a couple of the city’s bigger parks. Hampstead Heath and Regent’s Park (and the adjoining Primrose Hill) are ones to avoid—park staff can and will douse your charcoal mid-party.
Those two aside, Camden is packed with picturesque spots to fire up a grill on a clear day.
Lincoln’s Inn Fields
One of London’s most popular BBQ spots, and with good reason. Lincoln’s Inn Fields has several stretches of grass that are filled with revellers at the first sign of sunshine. There’s also a free public toilet on the eastern edge of the park. Being fairly central, it’s a good pick if you have friends coming from multiple directions.
Lincoln’s Inn Fields
This is one of London’s largest squares, and it’s surrounded by more museums than you could shake a stick at. There’s the British Museum just minutes away, as well as the Foundling Museum, Charles Dickens Museum and Postal Museum. Perfect if you want a little culture before you sit in the dirt to eat your charred meat.
Just peeking into the south edge of Camden, Cantelowes Gardens is a small park absolutely packed with things to do before you start grilling. There are table tennis nets, a five-a-side pitch, a skatepark, basketball hoops, an outdoor gym and a kids’ play area. It’s a popular spot for dog owners too, so be sure to keep a watchful eye on your food. Consider yourself warned!
On the north tip of Camden, Waterlow Park isn’t London’s best-known barbecue hotspot, but it attracts plenty of people—including visitors to the tomb of renowned philosopher Karl Marx.
If you’ve ever wanted to wander around the unusual (and allegedly haunted) cemetery on your own, now’s the time. As long as social distancing restrictions remain in place, you can book self-guided tours of the West Cemetery. When social distancing relaxes, you’ll go back to needing a tour guide. Tickets cost a tenner (usually £14).
Barbecuing in Islington
In regular times, barbecues are allowed in some capacity on most of Islington’s green spaces—and there’s no shortage of these to choose from. Most Islington parks close at 9 pm in summer, so be sure to leave plenty of time for everything to cool down so you can clean up when you’re done.
For years now, grill lovers often pick Highbury Fields as their favourite spot to bbq in London . It’s easy to see why too. It has plenty of nearby shops, public toilets and great transport links, including Victoria Line and Overground access at Highbury and Islington—just a few minutes’ walk away.
Back in 2019, the council held a consultation on introducing a designated BBQ area in Highbury fields. The council hasn’t been entirely clear on how or when this will be resolved, but for now, you might be best off sticking to the zone proposed in the original plans.
If you’re keen to walk off your meal, consider a pleasant stroll along the nearby New River Walk.
This park is perhaps best known for its ornate Victorian clock tower, but it’s also a popular spot for picnics and barbecues. Usually on weekends you can go inside the towers, which offers stunning panoramic views of the city, but tours are suspended until lockdown restrictions ease.
If you’re disappointed by the lack of barbecuing facilities on Hampstead Heath or Greenwich Green and still want to see the city from above, it’s well worth a visit. As you might expect, there’s no lift—just 170 or so narrow steps. Perhaps best to go up before you stuff yourself with food.
We recommend booking your clock tower tickets in advance when it does reopen. The tickets are free, but they do tend to sell out.
Caledonian Park Clock Tower
This aptly named Islington Park has a plenty of green space, a park and a community-run farm. We’ve seen all the classic barnyard critters there—including goats, sheep, cows and chickens. It’s free to visit, and makes for a lovely day out with little ones in tow.
Burgess Park (Southwark)
There aren’t that many parks explicitly allowing barbecues on this side of London—making Southwark’s Burgess Park a pilgrimage for anyone looking to fire up a grill south of the river.
The dedicated BBQ area is on the southwest tip of the pond. There’s a public toilet in the park, as well as a big Tesco supermarket a short walk to the north—everything you need for a day in the sun.
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