Roundhay Park is one of the most popular parks in Leeds due to its size, grandeur and array of things to do and see. The park covers over 700 acres of rolling parkland, lakes, woodlands and formal gardens. The park has cafes, a visitor centre and is also home to the ever popular visitor attraction, Tropical World.
How to find us
Roundhay Park is three miles north of Leeds city centre, off the A58 Wetherby Road at Oakwood. The address is:
Roundhay Park Estate Offices,
Getting to Roundhay Park
Buses to and from Leeds 2 and 12.
For further information, please contact us on the form below or by calling the Parks and Countryside switchboard on - 0113 3957400. This phone number is staffed from 8am - 4.30pm, Monday to Thursday and 8am - 4pm on a Friday. Outside of these hours you can leave a message on the answerphone.
Roundhay Park is accessible to wheelchair users.
Things to see and do at Roundhay Park
Roundhay Park is home to Tropical World, a very popular visitor attraction and zoo themed around the habitats of the tropics. The most popular animals at Tropical World are the baby meerkats and the crocodiles but there's loads more to see there too. For more information, please visit the Tropical World web page which you can find by clicking on the related pages below.
Visitor Centre (Mansion)
Enjoy our public exhibition space to find out more about the park. The visitor centre is open from 10am - 4pm in winter and 10am - 6pm in summer. It is open all year except, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.
The Visitor Centre also has public toilet facilities and pre-bookable access scooters available on loan.
We have gift shops in the Mansion and at Tropical World.
Roundhay Park has 2 playgrounds, an area for younger children to play by the big lake and a play area for older children which is currently under construction on Soldiers Field. This play area is situated by a popular skate park opposite the Canal gardens.
There are two purpose built classrooms at the Mansion. These rooms can be booked in advance by contacting the Bookings and Licensing team on 0113 3957400.
In the park you can find an abundance of wildlife including woodpeckers, common warblers in spring and summer, mute swans, visiting whooper swans, great-crested grebes and herons. Mammals include foxes, roe deer, voles, moles, rabbits and grey squirrels.
The Monet Garden, which is themed around the gardens planted by the french impressionist Monet at Giverny in France, was introduced to the park during summer 1999. This now forms the entrance to the specialist gardens section of the park (to be found just off Mansion Lane), which now contains four medal winning RHS Chelsea Gardens and a garden themed around the Alhambra gardens in Spain.
Next to to Tropical World are the some more specialist gardens based in a walled area known as Canal Gardens whic was formerly a vegetable garden for The Mansion. Surrounded by the high wall, it is a sheltered sun trap and there are some wonderful flower beds, rose gardens and other landscaped areas to explore and enjoy.
Roundhay Park also offers many different sporting facilities including bowling greens, White Rose canoe club, tennis courts, football and cricket pitches and a grass cycling track.
Roundhay Park hosts numerous large scale events such as Bonfire Night (for 70,000 attendees) and the Leeds Asian Mela, along with many sporting, charity and fund raising events. The Park has also hosted major pop concerts, including Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Simple Minds, Madonna and Robbie Williams. To book Roundhay Park for an event, see the Booking parks related page below
Roundhay Park is proud to have been awarded a Green Flag in recognition of it's quality for the past 7 years.
Roundhay Park completed its £8 million Heritage Lottery Fund Restoration Project in 2009 which restored the original landscape design known as 'Picturesque Landscape'.
Restoration works restored and repaired existing buildings and structures and enhanced and improved existing pathways and public facilities. Roundhay Park is now regarded as a Grade 2* park which indicates its exceptional national significance.
Brief History of the park
The word 'Roundhay' originates from the Anglo-Saxon 'Rund-haeg' meaning circular hay or round enclosure.
Roundhay Park was originally a hunting park for the De Lacy family during the thirteenth century. Ilbert De Lacy was granted the estate by William the Conqueror in return for his loyal support of the King during his military campaigns.
In 1803 the entire estate was purchased by Thomas Nicholson, who developed the natural features of the park into an impressive country estate complete with ravine, gorge, top lake, landscaped gardens, woodland walkways and waterfalls.
In 1811, Nicholson commissioned the architect John Clarke to begin work designing a mansion. It took fifteen years to complete the building.
The mansion was constructed in Greek Revival style and was the perfect house for the successful businessman. The mansion had seventeen bedrooms in total and a drive that was three quarters of a mile long.
The sham castle, known as a folly, was designed in the form of a medieval gateway. Every fashionable park had a folly, as a place of retreat and contemplation. Originally the castle had a wooden roof which allowed for dinners and social activities to take place.
The most impressive design was the 33-acre lower lake constructed in just two years by soldiers who had returned from the recent Napoleonic wars. The lake was aptly named the ‘Waterloo Lake’.
In 1871, a family death with no heir to the estate resulted in the court of chancery issuing a decree empowering lawyers to sell the park.
In 1871, Sir John Barran, Mayor of Leeds, acquired the estate for the people of Leeds. On the 20th of September 1872, Prince Arthur officially opened Roundhay Estate as a public park and was cheered on by 100,000 people.
In 1882 Sir John Barran presented an ornate drinking fountain as a personal gift to the park. This is known as Barran's Fountain. The fountain is designed in the classical style of architecture, to compliment The Mansion.
With new roads and a tramway constructed, the park was accessible for all. The increased popularity of the park encouraged new amenities.
In 1894, a vast sports arena and grass cycling track were built.
Boating became popular on the lake so a steamboat, the Maid of Athens, took visitors on trips around Waterloo Lake. An outdoor swimming pool, known as the Lido, was also added in 1907. It was very popular and stayed open until the early 1980s.
The park became a venue for spectacular events such as a realistic naval re-enactment on Waterloo Lake where a fully rigged ship was destroyed by a torpedo and the tightrope walker, Charles Blondin, aged 72, crossed the Upper Lake on a high wire.