A person in a weed b
The author at the 4/20 gathering in Hyde Park, London.

Photos of People Celebrating 4/20 in Hyde Park, London

I went down to the annual weed gathering armed with my wits and a multipack of crisps, in case I got the munchies.

4/20 is to weed smokers what Halloween is to… people who love ghosts. Not my best sentence but then: I’m fucking stoned on secondhand smoke. That’s because right now I’m surrounded by crowds of people skinning up to celebrate the most important day on the cannabis calendar.


For the last two years, London’s official 4/20 event at Hyde Park has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. That didn’t stop weed lovers from gathering here in small groups in 2021 to smoke drugs and eat packaged supermarket goods. Armed with only my wits and a multipack of Monster Munch crisps (in case I catch a bout of the dreaded ''munchies''), I headed down this year to investigate.

Today’s crowd is bigger, better, and even… higher than ever before. Looking around, there are students, skaters, artists, ravers, rastas, rappers, hippies, yippies, yuppies, crusties – even the Met Police have come down in uniform to support the cause. Cheers lads! 

“I just hope we don’t get nicked,” Cheech from Liverpool tells me. Like everyone else I talked to, he’s speaking anonymously as cannabis is still a Class B drug in the UK. “It took us four hours to get here. I’m sick of being arrested. It’s happened so many times it’s ridiculous. Look at them, police, sneaky bastards, taking weed off people – why can’t they leave us in peace?”

A young person holding a handful of weed at 4/20 protest in London Hyde Park.

Cheech holding up weed.

Weed is the UK’s most popular recreational drug. 30 percent of adults in England and Wales have tried it at least once. Personally, it prangs me out (why is my mouth so dry!?) but it seems like everyone else here is having a good time – and more power to them. According to YouGov data, 53 percent of us support the legalisation of cannabis, but it’s still illegal to possess, grow, distribute or sell anywhere in the UK – isn’t it high time we chill out?


“I support legalisation one million and ten percent,” Leoni, 19, tells me. “I’ve had family members and friends get into trouble with the law just for carrying a bit of weed. They’re not bad people. The law needs to change.”

A person in a bucket hat holding a giant spliff at 4/20 protest in London Hyde Park

London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to replace the prosecution of young people caught with small amounts of cannabis with a counselling scheme. Better than getting a criminal record, sure – but still a waste of time for everyone involved. Think of all those hours you could spend eating pizza and watching reruns of Peep Show instead?

“Sadiq’s scheme feels like a cop out because it still insinuates that smokers are doing something wrong,” says Mags Houston from Drug Science, the UK’s leading independent scientific body on drugs. “It shouldn’t be a message of, oh, you won’t be arrested. It should be a message of ‘this is a medicine and it can help people with all sorts of chronic illnesses.’”  

Police talking to someone in a bucket hat with weed logo at 4/20 protest in London Hyde Park

The author with police.

Of course, London’s left-wing mayor doesn’t have the power to change the UK’s drug laws. Only a majority government with a progressive agenda will do that. Unfortunately, unless Jah smites the Tories and their Middle England voter base before the next election, the UK will continue to follow the Mr Mackey school of thought (“drugs are bad, m’kay”) until at least 2024.  


At 4.20PM on the dot, a sea of people raise their spliffs into the sky – it’s like the New Year’s Eve countdown, except most of us have lost the ability to count down from ten. 

Looking around, I’m starting to think that Daily Mail readers might have got it wrong. Weed smokers aren’t an existential threat to anything. Maybe this killer street drug is actually, you know, good? Maybe I could even enjoy smoking the stuff? 

“It’s the best feeling in the world, nothing beats it, trust,” says Bob, a 17-year-old from Colchester. I take a cautious toke of his spliff and feel a warm, tingly sensation in my chest and — OMG CRIPPLING ANXIETY WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF? Happy 4/20, folks. 

@snakedenton / @_yushy

A man lights up a spliff for someone in a Dobby mask at 4/20 protest in London Hyde Park
A person with curly hair holds up a nugget of weed at 4/20 protest in London Hyde Park
A man in a bucket hat holds up three spliffs like Wolverine claws at 4/20 protest in London Hyde Park
A person holding a spliff and a lighter saying "smoke it" at London's 4/20 protest in Hyde Park
A person in Jamaica flag colours lying on grass at London's 4/20 protest in Hyde Park
A person holds a giant spliff at 4/20 protest in London Hyde Park
A person holds up a grinder full of weed at 4/20 protest in London Hyde Park
A person dressed as a weed superhero holds up a giant spliff at 4/20 protest in London Hyde Park
A person holding spliff in tattooed hand at London's 4/20 protest in Hyde Park