Springtime has well and truly sprung: today marks the spring equinox, when day and night are both approximately 12 hours long. To celebrate, here are our ten favourite parks and gardens in or near major cities, so even the most hardened urbanites can catch spring in bloom…
1. High Line, New York City
New York’s High Line is an elevated former freight railway turned public park, running through the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. The first section is now open in the Meatpacking District – go for a stroll to see wildflowers pushing through the old tracks and views from the Empire State Building to the Hudson. Book cheap hotels in New York.
2. Keukenhof, Lisse
Keukenhof Bulb Gardens in Lisse (25kms south of Amsterdam) is only open for two months of the year over springtime (this year: March 24th to May 20th, 2011). The landscaped gardens hold over seven million hand-planted flowers, with a whole rainbow of tulips and orchids as the stars of the show. Book cheap hotels in Amsterdam.
3. Buttes-Chaumont, Paris
The Buttes-Chaumont in Paris’s 19th arrondissement is a refreshing alternative to the manicured Jardins du Luxembourg, where you’re not allowed to sit on the grass. Made up of cliffs, lakes and landscaped English and Chinese Gardens, the park is a popular picnic spot for locals. Book cheap hotels in Paris.
4. Parque de Retiro, Madrid
Madrid’s Parque de Retiro has a boating lake, a beautiful glasshouse called the Palacio de Cristal used for art exhibitions and Europe’s only public statue of satan, El Angel Caído. Head to the rose gardens for a burst of floral colour and a glimpse of the peacock family who live here. Book cheap hotels in Madrid.
5. Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park, London
An ornamental woodland in the royal Richmond Park in south-west London, the Isabella Plantation has ponds, streams and a variety of exotic and English plants and flowers. In March you can see camellias, magnolias, daffodils and bluebells, while azaleas and rhododendrons flower in late April. Book cheap hotels in London.
6. Grand Park, Seoul
As well as colourful flowerbed displays, there are over 1000 cherry blossom trees at Seoul Grand Park that are beautifully lit-up at night. In the daytime, you can also check out the rose garden, petting zoo and amusement park. See hostels in Seoul.
7. Villa Borghese, Rome
A landscaped English garden in Rome? 16th-century ‘party villa’ Villa Borghese‘s gardens are now a public park, with the Villa Borghese Pinciana housing the Galleria Borghese art collection. This green space has three pretty, enclosed “secret gardens”, as well as a lake with a replica Roman temple at its centre. See cheap hotels in Rome.
8. Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo
The Vigeland Sculpture Park is the most striking part of Oslo’s Frogner Park – come to check out the flowering rose gardens among Gustav Vigeland’s poignant ’40s sculptures of human figures. See cheap hotels in Oslo.
9. West Potomac Park, Washington D.C.
In 1912 Japan gave Washington 3000 sakura, or cherry blossom trees, which set in motion the huge annual event that is now Washington’s cherry blossom festival (running this year from 26th March to 10th April 2011) . Take a stroll around the tidal basin in West Potomac Park to see the trees in bloom as well as catch sight of the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial across the water. See cheap hotels in Washington D.C.
10. Maruyama-koen, Kyoto
Since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster, lots of people have changed their travel plans to Japan. Meanwhile, the cherry blossom (the country’s national symbol) has gone into bloom – and one of the best places to see it is at Maruyama-koen park in the relatively unaffected Kyoto. See hostels in Kyoto, or find out other ways you can help Japan.