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By Laura Turner

As the biggest park in the North West, Heaton Park is one of Manchester’s best-loved outdoor spaces.

Spanning over 600 acres of land, it’s home to the Grade I listed country house Heaton Hall and has something for everyone, from an Animal Centre to a picturesque boating lake and the country’s only restored tramway.

Now foodies can rejoice as the lakeside dining domes at Heaton Park Cafés, which started as a pop up in the pandemic, are back.

Heaton Park Dining Dome
There are three new dining pods. Credit: Heaton Park Cafe

There are three air-conditioned domes in total, which can be booked for either afternoon tea or small plates in the evening.

Each dome can fit up to six people and there is a minimum spend of £60 (per dome, not per person).

We visited on a glorious Saturday afternoon to try out the afternoon tea and ride one of their new electric boats around the lake.

Heaton Park lake
Book a boat or pedalo on the lake. Credit: Heaton Park Cafe

Fitted with shaded glazing and beautifully decorated foliage, it’s clear a lot of effort has gone into this unique dining experience.

When the dome door was shut, we couldn’t help but notice how peaceful everything became. The exterior noise seemed to just disappear.

The waiter gave us some time to browse the menu and popped back shortly to take our order. We opted for the Classic Afternoon Tea (£23.95pp) and an Iced Coffee (£3.30). Within less than 10 minutes our food arrived at the table – we couldn’t believe the speed of the service, very impressive!

Afternoon Tea Heaton Park dome
The adult afternoon tea. Credit: Laura Turner

A vegan alternative is also available and includes items such as Barbecue Jackfruit Sandwiches, a homemade ‘not so Sausage Roll’ and Pistachio Carrot Cake.

Visiting with little ones? Heaton Park Cafés has that covered too. Served on a decorative wooden boat, the Children’s Afternoon Tea (£14.95) features lots of little delights such as a mini scone and a Manchester Bee sandwich. They can choose from either a Babyccino or fruit juice to drink.

afternoon tea Manchester
The children’s afternoon tea comes in a boat. Credit: Heaton Park Cafe

The adult version was served on a large tin platter and had a perfect balance of sweet and savoury treats, including a Homemade Sausage Roll, Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownie and the biggest Scotch Egg we’ve ever seen.

But our favourite thing had to be the Pineapple & Passionfruit Meringue – perfectly sweet with just the right amount of sharpness – and the Victoria Sponge.

We then ordered a pot of tea (£2.20) and tucked into the giant homemade Scones served with Jam and lashings of Chantilly Cream.

Victoria Sponge Heaton Park
The Victoria Sponge was a favourite. Credit: Laura Turner

One thing worth mentioning is the portions here are very generous. We just about managed to finish all of our food, however those with smaller appetites may want to share a platter or get some items boxed up to take away.

With full bellies, we headed over to the lake where we hopped onto an Electric Boat (£19.95 for 25 mins) to explore the park some more.

This unique way of travelling around is a great way to get a little closer to nature, soak up the sunshine and entertain the children. A must if you’re visiting Heaton Park. Pedal Boats (£12) and Swan Boats (£16) are also available.

Heaton Park on Middleton Road, Manchester is open daily from 8am-9:45pm during the summer. (Hours may differ in the winter months)

A minimum spend of £60 applies when booking the lakeside dining domes and is deducted from the food and drink cost during your meal

Book a dome at Heaton Park Cafés here

Read next: Best afternoon teas to book in London

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