Did you know that green spaces make up nearly half of London? From Royal Parks to wild wetlands, the capital proves that you don't have to decamp to the countryside to enjoy nature.
This July, a new festival is here to help Londoners discover this great urban outdoors, with hundreds of free events taking place in forests, rooftop gardens, and riverbanks all over the capital.
But National Park City Festival, which runs 20-28 July, is more than just a celebration. It's also part of the Mayor of London's ambition to make over 50% of the capital green by 2050.
With London's population on course to surpass 11 million by then, this won't be easy. Parts of the city will inevitably become more densely developed, which means governing bodies will have to make a concerted effort to preserve, and build upon, the natural environment.
Making London the world's first National Park City certainly isn't a bad place to start. So, without further ado, let's have a look at how you can get involved, shall we?
Green Heritage Challenge
Show off your detective skills and follow the clues on the London Parks and Garden Trust's website to discover an array of heritage parks and gardens across the capital. Along the way, you'll find ancient trees, curious structures, and a host of captivating characters. Don't forget to snap a few photos once you've found each location — there are prizes for the best entries.
Love a high altitude oasis? Luckily for you, London has loads of them. Not all of these are public, of course, but for National Park City Festival some incredible private rooftops will be free for you to explore. We're particularly intrigued by Carnaby Roof, a founding member of the 'Wild West End', featuring lots of pollinator-friendly plants, sedum roofs, and bird feeders.
National Park City Splash
The Living Thames
You can't beat a good nature documentary, especially when it involves Sir David Attenborough. The broadcaster, naturalist, and all-round national treasure introduces this The Living Thames, an odyssey along the river and out to sea. See it at The Scoop.
Wander into the depths of Epping Forest to the tune of an ever-changing symphony. This incredible musical composition, blasted out through a network of hidden speakers, was created using data stimulus from the species of flora and fauna that inhabit the woodland.
Equal parts sublime and absurd, Grass Men makes a spectacle of living costumes, that explores our relationship with nature in an urban environment. This is just one of the performances at the National Theatre's River Stage, a free outdoor celebration of theatre and entertainment.
Wildlife Bio Blitz
Help build a picture of the biodiversity in the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden. This BioBlitz event should be great fun for kids — and, given that they'll be the ones responsible for conserving London's green spaces when we reach 2050, it's never too early to get them excited about the great outdoors.
Haven't found what you're looking for yet? You can explore all the National Park City Festival events here.