The year is 2037. In a London boardroom, a group of creatives are trialling their latest must-have gadget, a peculiar device that looks like a tampon collided with the Hobby Craft glitter aisle. The Park Pocket Tequila Shot Dispenser is set to make big money this birthday season, pending a pop-up hologram campaign with one of Kris Jenner’s great-grandchildren. On the wall behind them is a graph charting the popularity of the park birthday tracing back to 2020. Ah yes, the year the park birthday boom began. “More glitter,” the director says, “Get Stormi Junior’s people on the phone”.
Yup. We have zero doubts the park birthday is here to stay. Especially after spending the last year discovering that chilling on a nice patch of grass and not having to pay a £20 entrance fee is actually kind of nice. Although you’re at the mercy of the British weather, the park birthday can still involve excellent food from London’s best restaurants, high-end booze, and birthday cakes that’ll put old Colin the Caterpillar to shame. Here we’ve rounded up all the classic restaurant birthday situations and given you plenty of options to recreate them in London’s best green spaces, including entertainment, activities, and park suggestions. Now all you need to figure out is which birthday plan to go for and whether you’re willing to invest in a gazebo.
A Strictly Boujie Situation
Your usual birthday situation: A super lowkey entirely casual six-course dinner for 18 of your closest friends.
Birthday is a loose term. To some it means a day spent eating cake and getting a cheque from their nan that they’ll never cash because going to Barclays is a faff. But to others it is an entire month - no, a season - of self-celebration where they throw caution to the wind and go on a social media spree of referring to themselves as the birthday queen / king. If you’re into the latter then let us introduce you to both Hideaway on Mayfair’s Mount Street and The Savoy’s online delivery operation. Between this truffle-palace of a café (from the people behind Hide) and one of London’s most legendary hotels, you can enjoy a spread of lobster rolls, truffle croque madames, a signature (albeit pricey) afternoon tea, and plenty of bubbles. Collect directly from Hideaway then find a cosy spot amongst the daffodils in Green Park and have the good people from the Savoy drop-off patisserie circa sundown. More power to you if you send a cheeky ‘Everyone, please Monzo.me £20 towards the Moët budget before arrival mwah xoxo’ text.
Pub Meets Park
Your usual birthday situation: The pub. Your favourite pub. The one that is your second home and smells like a heavenly concoction of mould, lager, and worn-in regret.
If you’ve spent lockdown wearing a blanket as a scarf and blubbering ‘pub’ to an empty room as soon as 5pm on Friday rolls around then same. But until the return of your beloved old faithful, we give you this big multipack from The Umbrella Project, complete with apple cider, their signature whisky-finished ginger beer, and more. Or, if you’re also partial to a cheeky last-orders cocktail you can get involved in their £80 party drinks hamper that includes everything from bottled negronis to rhubarb cider. Grab some quintessential pub grub in the form of scotch eggs from Borough Market’s Scotchtails and find a sunny spot in Leathermarket Gardens. In terms of entertainment, we’ve got our eye on this pocket pub quiz game that will probably end in an argument about geography but hey, that’s all part of the fun.
The Birthday Vacay ft. Mezcal Margaritas
Your usual birthday situation: Passport, sun cream, out of the country.
Shoutout to everyone who believes that their birthday doesn't counts if they’re not on home soil as the clock turns midnight. Here’s to all the sweet memories of turning 21 (again) whilst drinking a rum cocktail on a giant inflatable flamingo. Although travel is a big old no-no, you can still bring that vacation feel to your birthday with what we lovingly call a Big Tapas Situation. Hit up Llerena’s online shop for their iberico ham that regularly features in our dreams, plenty of artisanal queso, and forego a birthday cake for Santa Nata’s same-day pasteis de nata delivery. Throw in several of the letterbox ‘Mezcallitas’ from Two Hundred Rye Lane and a sighting of a lost parakeet and you’ll convince yourself you’re in Barcelona in no time. Bonus points if you sit under one of the palm trees in Holland Park.
A Very Casual, Very Cool Pizza Picnic
Your usual birthday situation: An incredibly on-point dinner at a restaurant with one syllable. Brat. Flor. Bao. Noble Rot. Wait, that one’s three syllables, but you get the idea.
You’re a simple creature. You don’t need balloons or glitter. You like a nice casual birthday involving good wine, great company, and okay, maybe a couple of sentimental tears on the bus home after your sixth glass of beaujolais. That’s why ASAP Pizza is the perfect comrade for your park birthday. This New York-style pizza delivery operation is from the people behind Flor, so you can expect top quality ingredients, garlic bread covered in fresh parmesan and cultured butter, as well as orange wine or a bottle of bubbles if you’re feeling fancy. Stick some candles in their Tuscan castagnaccio cake and play a couple tipsy rounds of boules and you’re good to go.
Wine, Cheese, And More Wine
Your usual birthday situation: Gordon’s wine bar. Well, actually it’s a total pain in the ass to get in, so you usually end up at another equally lovely wine bar drinking Rioja until the wee hours with your all-time best friend, cheese.
If your idea of personal growth is working your way through every glass on the wine list that’s described as ‘sophisticated’ then we’ve got the perfect park plan for you. Wine bar lover, meet Provisions’ cheesy feast board. Provisions’ cheesy feast board, meet wine bar lover. You’re going to get along swell, especially if you also include our other friends, this magnum of Beaujolais and these fun reusable glasses. If you’re really looking to up the wine bar ante, invest in Diogenes the Dog’s excellent wine pack that includes bottles like a Riesling pet nat, moscato orange wine, a natural white, and all comes in a handy tote bag. Pop this Wine Bar Grooves playlist on your portable speaker and just be sure to bring along a picnic blanket that you won’t cry over if there’s a spillage or two. Or three. Bottoms up.
A Big-Deal Brunch
Your usual birthday situation: Brunch babes!
Sure, you’re usually crying in a puddle of your own tears with a blood-alcohol content of 27 billion by 5pm, but boy has it always been worth it. Bring that energy to one of London’s big green spaces with cocktails, eggs, and enough maple syrup to attract every single ant in a four-mile radius. Kick off with bottled espresso martinis delivered from Heads and Tails, or go all-in on their six-bottle cocktail deal to add some old fashioned and negroni into the mix too. When it comes to that essential birthday pancake fix, go with a classic order from The Breakfast Club who just so happen to be delivering across most of London. If you’re missing the bright neon lights and upbeat silliness of your favourite brunch spot, order these gloriously OTT drink shimmers and a box of funfair activities. And always remember, brunch isn’t a location, it’s a state of mind.
Hit The 'Club'
Your usual birthday situation: A big, sweaty night out at a club that is named after a wild cat or is a synonym of ‘fire’.
Look, is it really too much to ask to be so close to a D-list celebrity that you can smell the aura of Paco Rabanne? Social-distancing truly has robbed us of so much. But to channel your favourite club night in the park you’re going to need a portable speaker, this novelty beverage belt, and a beloved best mate who loves you enough to actually wear said novelty beverage belt and pretend to be a shot server. Whether you’re heading to Brockwell Park, Shoreditch Park, or Hyde Park, you can order directly from one of Meat Liquor’s many loud and proud restaurants. We’d opt for some classic stomach-liners like their spicy buffalo sauce ‘Monkey Fingers’, a couple burgers, and some onion rings, but it’s their booze offerings that will really set the tone. Think £7.50 bottled house cocktails, Hennessy-packed hard shakes, and individually bottled Jägermeister shots. Hello good times and inevitable hangover. Just be sure to head to one of the parks that’s open late, as you don’t want the party vibes to end as soon as nightfall hits.