Unleash your wild side: Child-free and alcohol at London Zoo Lates
Having grown up in London, the capital’s Zoo in Regent’s Park was an iconic destination during my childhood and holds many good memories. The bustling metropolis couldn’t be a less likely place to see tigers, lions, giraffes, etc. During adulthood, I only made one trip to London Zoo and was rather overwhelmed by the amount of families and school trips. As much as I love children, it was frustrating not being able to get anywhere near the animals due to the sheer volume of little people in between. So this is where London Zoo Lates comes in. The ZSL have clearly recognised this and every summer (June to July) for the past couple of years have opened their doors after-hours on Friday nights for adults only. There are limited tickets available, so make sure you snap them up early next summer.
Two friends and I went one warm summer evening – the night of the Olympics Opening Ceremony actually – and the atmosphere was buzzing. London was pretty hyped up anyway, but the combination of world food, entertainment, wild animals and alcohol seemed to make for a winning combination, giving the evening a festival-like feeling.
I was pleasantly surprised by the affordable prices of the alcohol and soon after arrival my friends and I were strolling through the aquarium with a bottle of cider in hand – quite surreal at first I have to admit. Bars were dotted around the zoo, but also included a Pimms Bar and Real Ale Bar. For food, there was a huge selection of choices at the ‘International Street Food Festival’ – I opted for a falafel and halloumi wrap and crepe with chocolate and strawberry for afters – yummy!
As well as getting an opportunity to enjoy the zoo without screaming children, there is also plenty of opportunity for guests to actually revert to childhood. Masks and animal costumes were available to buy, while there was a huge queue for face-painting (I confess I couldn’t quite bring myself to ride the tube home painted like a tiger – wimp!).
Just like in normal zoo opening hours, there were talks on various animals, including the Komodo dragons, Birds of Prey and, arguably one of the most popular spots in the zoo, Penguin Beach. There was also live music, a silent disco and stand-up comedy as well. In fact, I found there was actually too much to squeeze into the four hours it was open. Think I may have to go back next year!
- London Zoo Lates takes place every Friday night in June and July. Of course the zoo is open throughout the year as well. Located on Outer Circle (Regent’s Park), London NW1 4RY. Nearest tube: Camden Town (Northern Line) or Regent’s Park (Bakerloo Line).