Our Ilford activities roundup includes the sci-fi-like Thames Barrier, the UK’s largest bouldering park, fun-filled activity parks, historic religious temples and more.
Activities in Ilford
Looming out of the water like a sci-fi version of the Sydney Opera House, the Thames Barrier is one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world, protecting 125 square kilometres of central London from flooding and tidal surges. The visitor centre on the far side of the Thames from Ilford is packed with information and has a working model, VR tour, interactive exhibits and a cafe. Head to the other side of the river to find the Thames Barrier Park, with a large playground, football and basketball pitches and impressive views out towards the Barrier.
Located halfway between our London Ilford hotel and Ilford town centre, Valentines Park is 130-acres of green space home to 300-year-old trees, gorgeous ornamental gardens, wild-flowering meadows and Valentines Mansion, a Grade II listed Georgian manor open to visitors. There is plenty for kids and families too, with several playgrounds, cricket and football pitches, bowling greens and two separate cafes while the park also hosts regular events and shows including outdoor cinema and theatre productions.
Once a royal hunting estate, Hainault Forest is about 334 acres of forest solitude perfect for family fun with a zoo, fishing lake, cafe, adventure play area and miles of walking trails. Just 20 miles from the centre of London and several miles north of Ilford, the forest is a real green oasis home to over 100 bird species and a diverse range of woodland, flora and fauna.
London Sri Murugan Temple
Ilford and its neighbouring regions have long had a multicultural base, and that’s on display at the London Sri Murugan Temple in East Ham. The colourful Hindu temple devoted to Muruga has a striking ornate tower and is open daily in the morning and afternoon, perfect for exploring this religion, meditating or enjoying the calming interior.
Covering over 150,000 years of local history, the Redbridge Museum is a fascinating free museum in the heart of Ilford next to Cineworld. Opened in 2000, the museum covers a wide range of topics including World War I, the demographic makeup of Redbridge through the ages and some brilliantly recreated scenes and interactive displays. The small but compact museum is located on the second floor of the library building and well worth an hour or two of your time.
Fairlop Waters Country Park
There are plenty of parks and open spaces near Ilford, with Fairlop Waters Country Park one of our favourites. The three lakes are used for windsurfing, sailing and rowing boats while the more adventurous will love Aqua Bounce, a sprawling floating obstacle course: Think Ninja Warrior on water with inflatables, and you’re close. The park also has a nine- and 18-hole golf course, a climbing wall and adventure tower and the largest boulder park in the UK, perfect for clambering, climbing and exploring.