Once known as Battlebridge, the London neighborhood known today as Kings Cross got its name from being a crossing point where the Romans fought the Celtic leader Boudica. The name changed due to the construction of a monument to King George IV that stood in the crossroads of what is now known as Euston Road, Gray’s Inn Road, and Pentonville Road from 1830 to 1845. Now mostly known for Kings Cross Station, the district (and the station) found new popularity as the home to Platform 9 ¾ in the Harry Potter book and film series. Of course, Kings Cross has plenty going on, and we’ve outlined our ten favorite things to do in and around the neighborhood.
Identified Flying Object
Just a short walk from the train station is one of the more colorful art installations in London. Designed by artist Jacques Rival, IFO is a giant illuminated birdcage just outside the station. While it mostly stays on the ground, IFO has been known to launch into the air on special occasions. It exists as a framing device for the square during the but lights up brilliantly at night.
Granary Square Fountains
Granary Square’s fountains make for a wonderful splash park in the summer considering they’re ground level, and you can easily walk on them to get your feet (or the rest of you) wet if you so choose. A number of events including the KERB street food market are hosted here throughout the year, but we really think you’ll want to download the fountains’ app so you can control them in a giant game of Snake.
Drink, Shop, Do
Exactly what it says on the tin, Drink, Shop, Do, is a combination bar/café, retail establishment, and craft center. If you come in on the right night, you might also find live music and a dance party going on. Of course, the best thing to do is to make something with your friends while having a drink, and DSD has craft events ranging from card-making to LEGO robot-building.
St. Pancras Old Church
Believed to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in the United Kingdon, St Pancras Old Church was once the center of life in the district before the population moved. It fell into disrepair until it was reconstructed in a Victorian Gothic style in the 19th Century. The Church hosts concerts and other performance events as well as being an active house of worship.
House of Illustration
The first public art gallery in London dedicated solely to illustration, the HOI is one of the newest art museums and galleries in the city, having open in 2014. HOI hosts exhibits dedicated to illustration in all forms including advertising, comic books, children’s literature, doodling, cartoons, fashion design, scientific illustration and more. It also puts on classes and offers lectures for the creative in us all.
London Canal Museum
London’s canals have played an important role in the city’s transportation network, moving goods and people for hundreds of years. The London Canal Museum documents this history and features exhibits dedicated to the people who lived and worked the canals. The most current temporary exhibition features postcards of the canals from days gone by, but be sure to check their website for new exhibitions and events before you go.
And once you’ve taken in the history of the canals, you can go outside and explore Regents Canal. Running through Central London, Regents Canal is one of the most beautiful areas of the city. While once it was a major transportation pathway for ships moving goods through the city, today is a gorgeous walk thanks to the plants, historic buildings, and canal houseboats that line the waterway. There’s always something going on and plenty of places to eat as you walk along the waterway.
Camley Street Natural Park
Unfortunately closed at the moment, this wonderful spot of nature in the middle of a bustling city will reopen in Spring 2019, so you better start making your plans to visit it now. Managed by London Wildlife Trust, you can engage in some nature-watching or maybe even pond-dipping here. The park is home to ducks, geese, bats, and kingfishers, so there’s a lot to see here.
You don’t have to be a bibliophile (book lover) to take in the United Kingdom’s largest repository of printed works. Much like the National Archives in the United States, the British Library has a copy of everything ever printed in the UK and houses a number of important documents on exhibit such as the Magna Carta. Whether you intend to check out an exhibition or find something to read, the library can meet your literary needs.
Kings Cross St. Pancras
Of course, at the center of it all is Kings Cross St. Pancras Station. Likely to be your way into and/or out of Kings Cross, the station’s worth visiting on its own for its glorious architecture and art installations such as the aforementioned IFO and The Meeting Place. Also previously mentioned, it’s a majorly important location to the Harry Potter franchise, and hosts a store dedicated to Rowling’s Wizarding World as well as a “real” Platform 9 ¾ for you to take pictures.