Category Archives: London Events

State Opening of Parliament 2015

state opening of parliament 2014
The Queen arrives at Palace of Westminster for the State Opening of Parliament in 2014

The U.K. General Elections took place on 7th May 2015 and the State Opening of Parliament 2015 is due to follow on Wednesday 27th May 2015.

This is a fabulous event full of pomp and ceremony, with the Queen and Prince Philip riding by in one of their State Coaches, the State Crown rides in it’s own coach, there are Royal Bands, the Household Cavalry and much else besides and attracts huge crowds that line The Mall, Whitehall and Parliament Square.

 

What happens during State Opening: State Opening is the main ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar, beginning with the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, escorted by the Household Cavalry watched by a significant television and online audience.

state opening of parliament
Mounted Police

Once the Queen arrives she disappears from sight and all the traditions that surround the State Opening and delivery of the Queen’s speech take place behind closed doors, albeit with televised footage of certain aspects of the many ceremonies.

state opening of parliament
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh leave Parliament

The traditions surrounding the State Opening and the delivery of a speech by the monarch, can be traced back as far as the 16th century with the current ceremony dating from the opening of the rebuilt Palace of Westminster in 1852 subsequent to the fire of 1834.

The procession of the Monarch from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster is free to watch, it’s amazing to see and of course you should plan to get there early 😉 as always, it’s very very popular and the streets are soon lined with thousands of spectators. Best places to stand would be along The Mall, Whitehall and the south side of Parliament Square.

state opening of parliament
The Mace travels in it’s own coach

Just so you know, if you want to stand n Parliament Square you really must get there early as they close it off once a certain number of people are there. You can gain entry via the traffic lights on the corner next to Westminster Abbey…the west side of the square. For more information about the route click here

The ceremony that goes on behind doors is a fascinating glimpse into the historical traditions of the UK that you can read more about at http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/occasions/stateopening/

state opening of parliament
look carefully and you can just see the Queen

After the speech the Queen then returns to Buckingham Palace via the same route along which she arrived, so if you have the time and patience, then you will get to see The Queen and all the dignitaries, the Household Cavalry, the bands, the Crown etc all over again as they return to their respective homes.

state opening of parliament
The Queen’s Life Guard

It’s a brilliant event, I’ve been twice now and if the weather is good then it’s just wonderful. Do bear in mind that the weather in London is very changeable. Take a brolly and rain gear as it does sometimes suddenly rain.

state opening of parliament
Drummers

Nearest tube stations: Westminster & St James’s Park or from across the river; Waterloo Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

While you are there, after the event why not pop in and visit the Supreme Court (free) on the north side of Parliament Square

You can also see Westminster Abbey £, St Margaret’s Church (free), and the Jewel Tower £ (after the ceremonies).

You’re also in walking distance of St James’s Park, Horse Guards Parade and the Churchill War Rooms £ and Banqueting House £

On Birdcage walk is the ever so delightful The Guards Museum http://www.theguardsmuseum.com/ there is a fee for this but it’s a wonderful little museum and ever so worth it.

On Horse Guards Parade is The Household Cavalry Museum http://www.householdcavalrymuseum.co.uk/

Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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BNY Mellon Boat Race 2015

Nearly 200 years ago during Easter vacation in 1829, two young men decided to set up a boating challenge; ‘that the University of Cambridge hereby challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London, each in an eight-oared boat during the ensuing Easter vacation.’

bny mellon boat race 2014
spectators begin to arrive

The ‘Boat Race'; now known as the BNY Mellon Boat Race takes place by tradition on a weekend close to Easter; an annual contest between Oxford and Cambridge Universities.  Raced along the Thames Tideway between Putney & Mortlake, the two rowing crews pit their strength and skills against each other in a boat race that is amongst the oldest sporting events in the world; the Oxford/Cambridge challenge was first raced on 10 June 1829 in Henley on Thames, the 2nd race in 1836 in London.

In 2014 a clash of oars put one of the Cambridge rowers half into the water for 5 lengths and handed Oxford an 11-length victory.

bny mellon boat race 2014
Oxford win the race 2014
bny mellon boat race 2014
Cambridge reach the finish line 2014

Best viewing would be anywhere along the river between Putney & Mortlake. For the finish, the best viewing is to be had at Mortlake near Chiswick Bridge and along Duke’s Meadow and on the Chiswick Bridge.

bny mellon boat race 2014
not a space to be had on the bridge just before the main race #WhichBlueRU

There are a number of food vendors on the site so you won’t go hungry as well as which The Ship pub is open for business

bny mellon boat race 2014
food vendors
bny mellon boat race 2014
The Ship Pub at Mortlake – the fartherest white building ;)

Fast forward to 2015 and with just days to go to what has become the Annual Boat Race watched by thousands in London and millions around the world on TV, sporting history will be made on Saturday 11th April when the BNY Mellon Boat Race is joined for the first time by The Newton Women’s Boat Race.

The Newton Women’s Boat Race, established in 1927 will for the first time race the same course and Sir Steve Redgrave, one of Britain’s greatest ever Olympians with present the trophies to the victors!. Be there or miss out! Saturday 11th April 2015 4.50pm for The Newton Women’s Boat Race & 5.50pm for the BNY Mellon Boat Race #WhichBlueRU

The race has not been without some excitement; in 2012 some bloke jumped into the river causing mayhem with the race being restarted at the half-way point.

bny mellon boat race 2014
The support boats follow close behind

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Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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The Passion of Jesus, Trafalgar Square, London

The Passion of Jesus; Trafalgar Square London

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
Jesus and his disciples

For the last four years the Wintershall Players have performed The Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square, a realistic, emotive play that left me feeling elated, shaken and amazed. The first time I became aware of the play was in 2011 and in 2012 I decided to attend the play myself. I managed to squeeze myself into a tiny spot on the steps leading towards the National Gallery but felt I was rather too far away from the area where most of the play was delivered. But that said, it was extraordinary! I am not at all religious and yet I found this play to be so beautifully delivered that I was left feeling bemused and …shaken I think would be the word. I loved it. It was enlightening and shocking and I wondered at the time of how it is we humans react to something that is unknown and frightening. I was so enchanted that I decided to go again in 2014 (I was working in 2013) and it was just as amazing, shocking and wonderful as the first time.

This time around I managed to get myself a spot on the corridor leading to the steps and whilst it was rather an uncomfortable postion (my bottom doesn’t like cold concrete LOL) it was an amazing vantage point.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
John the Baptist

The play expands right from the area behind Old Nelson and up the steps in front of the Gallery. I felt like I was right in the thick of it. The players walked within inches of me and with them so close the emotions conveyed felt a lot stronger.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
a Roman Centurion arrives to pass judgement

The sheer joy when Jesus arrives on the donkey is palpable and even though they are actors playing a part, the emotion they inject into their characters leaves you feeling like you have suddenly been transported back 2,000 years to Israel and right into the life of Jesus. Having the Roman soldiers marching by was quite scary

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
Roman soldiers

and watching as Jesus, whipped torn and bleeding struggling to carry the cross within inches of me was so incredibly emotional that even today as I write it’s brought tears to my eyes…it’s truly an extraordinary scene….so much so that a gentleman from the audience was so overcome that he jumped up and tried to carry the cross himself.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
Jesus carrying the cross
the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
bloodied and torn

As each scene is played out, you can feel the tension of the crowd rising their emotions getting higher and higher – the scenes of the thieves and Jesus being lifted onto the crosses is mesmerising and totally shocking….I was in tears as were many others in the audience. When Jesus is lowered to the ground and taken into the cave people were openly crying in the audience…it was incredibly moving and emotional. And then suddenly like a wraith in cloths of white, surrounded by an unearthly radiance, Jesus returns to shouts of joy and celebration….extraordinary and breathtaking……it truly is a play of highly charged passion.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
an ethereal Jesus returns

I can highly recommend this play if you haven’t yet been. As I mentioned earlier I’m not in any way religious, but this well-known, centuries old story played out so beautifully right in front of your eyes, is something out of the ordinary; the characters played by people who are clearly very involved in the story.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
ladies heading to market

This is a wonderful addition to the annual events in London calendar and I hope that it continues for many years to come and although I will miss it again this year, I am most certainly planning on going again in 2016.

The Wintershall Players will once again perform the adapted version of the ‘Passion of Jesus’ at Trafalgar Square on Good Friday 3rd April 2015.
This is a FREE event and attracts upwards of 20,000 people. If you would like to attend I suggest you get there early.
There are two performances: 12noon and at 3:15pm
The venue is open-air and the weather in April can be variable….the first year I went it was cold and wet. Last year started out sunny with blues skies, albeit chilly, but that soon changed to grey cloudy skies and cold!! #whatsnew? LOL
Wear appropriate clothing and do take along something like a cushion to sit on (no chairs allowed). Many people had blankets and spread themselves out, but space is of a premium so they had to pack things up to squeeze more attendees in before the play started.
Parental guidance is recommeded for young children, the performances are very very realistic especially the crucifixion.

Big screens are used so wherever you are you can see and hear the acting.

the passion of jesus
The Passion of Jesus – Trafalgar Square London
3 April 2015 – nb these are scenes from the 2014 play

British Sign Language interpreters will be available for both London performances.

Address: Trafalgar Square, London
Performance times: 12Noon and 3:15pm
Nearest tube stations: Charing Cross, Leicester Square and Embankment
Nearest rail station: Charing Cross and Waterloo with a tube ride.
Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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For more information about this and other plays visit their website

and if you missed it in the last 5 years, click here for the recording in Trafalgar Square from 2014
“For the first time in 2010 the Wintershall Players performed an adapted version of the Passion to thousands on Good Friday at Trafalgar Square, London. The performance has attracted increased crowds from 2011 through to 2014 and The Wintershall Charitable Trust are pleased to be able to perform the Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square for you on Good Friday again in 2015.

Changing the Guard, Buckingham Palace

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace takes place daily from April 2015 to July 2015

changing the guard buckingham palace
Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace is one of my favourite events, it’s free and it’s also the most easily attended as it happens just about every day…barring cancellations for bad weather and alternate days in winter with any changes to be confirmed as and when on their website (see below).

changing the guard buckingham palace
The relief Guards arrive

Changing the Guard is a spectacle with roots in a long line of history and tradition that dates back to 1660.
Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official residence in London and has to be guarded day and night. This traditional military ceremony has taken place at Buckingham Palace since 1837 during Queen Victoria’s reign.

changing the guard buckingham palace
Guarding the Palace

It’s a really colourful event; Military Bands, Foot Guards, Mounted Guards – alive with pomp, ceremony, tradition, bands, soldiers, horses and history; a combination that draws huge crowds.  As the time approaches you can actually feel the tension mounting and the first strains of the bands in the distance usually sending a ripple of excitement through the by then enormous crowds.

changing the guard buckingham palace
The Horse-Guards arrive sending a thrill of excitement through the crowds

The Changing the Guard ceremony or Guard Mounting is the process involving a new guard exchanging duty with the old guard at the palace on a daily basis in spring & summer and on alternate days in autumn & winter, (if it’s very wet then the ceremony may be cancelled).

Times for Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
11:15 – Guards, with band, start to arrive at Buckingham Palace
11:30 – Official start time for Changing of the Guard
12:00 – Changing of the Guard ceremony ends

Guard Mounting takes place in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace and lasts about 45 minutes. The event usually starts at 11:30 and it is recommended that you get there early, I usually plan to get there by 9.30 to secure a good spot as by 10am the crowds start filling the space in front of the railings and you won’t get to see as much.

changing the guard buckingham palace
the Band prepares to play ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Queen

The Bands in full- dress ceremonial uniforms and Foot Guards in full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins usually start arriving a few minutes beforehand and if it is the Queen’s birthday then the band usually plays ‘Happy Birthday’.

Well worth getting there early for. :)
Changing the Guard is an exceptionally popular event on the London calendar and listed as one of the top London attractions.

changing the guard buckingham palace
after playing a few tunes the Band prepares to leave

The Guard which mounts at Buckingham Palace is known as The Queen’s Guard and divided into two attachments: Buckingham Palace detachment – responsible for guarding the palace and the St James’s Palace detachment which is responsible for guarding St James’s Palace. When the Queen is in residence there would be 4 guards on duty and 2 when she is not.

changing the guard buckingham palace
Two Guards on duty when the Queen is not home

Usually provided by the battalion of the Household Division, occasionally guards are provided by other infantry battalions or units. Guardsmen are drawn from one of five regiments of Foot Guards: the Coldstream Guards, the Grenadier Guards, the Irish Guards, the Scots Guards and the Welsh Guards.

changing the guard at buckingham palace
The various Regiments

They are not only ceremonial guards but serving soldiers who perform duties throughout the world.

changing the guard buckingham palace
large crowds gather for the event; Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace

If you want a good view of the ceremony in the forecourt you simply have to get there really early.
Please check their website for days and times.   Occasionally during other Royal Ceremonial events such as Trooping the Colour, Changing the Guard will not occur.

why not visit the State Apartments at Buckingham Palace during the Summer Opening

Buckingham Palace, The Mall, City of Westminster, London is listed on the 3 Days in London App.

Nearest tube stations: Green Park – Jubilee, Piccadilly & Victoria lines. Westminster – Jubilee, Circle & District lines. St James’s Park – Circle & District lines. Victoria – Victoria, Circle & District lines.
Buses: a number of buses service the area.
Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk
National rail: Victoria – Plan your journey: http://nationalrail.co.uk

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What you can see in the area:
Queen Victoria Memorial
The Mall
Canada Gates and WW2 Canadian War Memorial – both at Green Park
Green Park
St James’s Park & the pelicans
Wellington Barracks
The Guards Museum, Birdcage Walk
The Ritz Hotel on Pall Mall (near to Green Park Station)
All you ever wanted to know about ‘Changing the Guard’.

Hampton Court’s 500th anniversary party

Music, feasting and a spectacular light show for Hampton Court’s 500th anniversary party.

Easter weekend sees the launch of an action-packed season of anniversary celebrations! From 3 – 6 April 2015
The beautiful Tudor Palace; Hampton Court

This Easter, Hampton Court Palace will be marking its 500th anniversary by throwing a spectacular party, celebrating 500 years of one of Britain’s best-loved historic buildings.  Easter weekend sees the launch of an action-packed season of anniversary celebrations!  From 3 – 6 April 2015

Kicking off a season of anniversary entertainments, the weekend will see the Tudor kitchens fired up and the famous wine fountain flowing once more, as revellers from the palace’s past gather to raise a glass to 500 years of history. Each day is set to culminate in a stunning Son et lumière show in the Privy Garden, followed by a fireworks display above the palace.

hampton court palace 500th anniversary easter weekend
Make Goode Cheere Who Wyshes

Hampton Court Palace has been home to some of Britain’s most infamous monarchs: from the serial husband Henry VIII, to his iconic daughter Elizabeth I, to the raucous Restoration King Charles II. Presiding over itinerant courts, each of these famous figures arrived at the palace via the famous West Front, built by Cardinal Wolsey. In the spirit of that long tradition, five royal carriages will be parking up in the palace driveway at Easter. Specially recreated by Pinewood Creative at Pinewood Studios for Hampton Court’s anniversary, the carriages will give visitors a King or Queen’s eye view of the palace!

Easter weekend sees the launch of an action-packed season of anniversary celebrations! From 3 – 6 April 2015
Base Court

Each day from Easter, visitors will encounter characters from across the palace’s 500 year history as part of an innovative new season of ‘Time Plays.’ Bringing to life some of the most dramatic episodes in the palace’s history: from the undisputed king of drama himself – William Shakespeare – rehearsing in the Great Hall, to a ‘Tudor ER’ moment after a jousting accident, the ‘Time Plays’ will combine intimate moments with large scale ceremony and ritual, reflecting the palace’s history as both a home and as a backdrop for royal pageantry.

hampton court palace 500th anniversary easter weekend
George I at Court

Hampton Court’s Tudor Kitchens are amongst the palace’s biggest attractions for visitors – and for the first time, from Easter, historic chefs will be firing them up every day, with meat from the spit in the Great Kitchen even making its way into sandwiches for sale in the palace café! The replica Tudor wine fountain in Base Court will flow once more, so visitors can raise a royal toast to the palace each day.

The anniversary party begins in earnest over the Easter weekend, as Hampton Court reopens at night for an evening of festivities, culminating in a unique, specially commissioned 3D projection onto the South façade of the palace. The projection will present the palace’s 500 year story: from the laying of the first stone under Cardinal Wolsey’s instruction, to the present day. Accompanied by period music, the show will end with spectacular fireworks above the palace.Easter weekend sees the launch of an action-packed season of anniversary celebrations! From 3 – 6 April 2015 With pop-up food and drink bars around the palace serving everything from Tudor roast beef to champagne, for a more sophisticated taste of the Baroque Court, it promises to be a fitting spectacle to mark a momentous anniversary!

Easter weekend sees the launch of an action-packed season of anniversary celebrations! From 3 – 6 April 2015
explore the palace by night

Ticket Prices:
Day entry prices, Adult: £19.30 / £18.20 online, Child: £9.70 / £9.10 online, Concessions: £16.00 / £14.90 online, Family (up to 2 adults and 3 children): £48.20 / £44.90 online.
Hampton Court: The Party, is a separate ticketed evening event. Adult: £22 / Concessions: £20 / Members: £20 / Child: £10 / Family ticket: £50.  Buy your tickets direct through the HRP website

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland, helping everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. Raising all their own funds and depending on the support of visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and HRP manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information, visit hrp.org.uk

Pinewood Creative is a design and build partner that delivers bespoke creative services and solutions combining world class expertise with the latest digital technology. Operating out of a purpose built 30,000 sq ft workshop at the heart of Pinewood Studios, specialist services include sculpting, mould making, prop making, vacuum forming and CNC milling, alongside a comprehensive range of 3D digital services including 3D print, 3D body scanning and digital modelling.

The Pinewood Studios Group is one of the leading providers of studio and related services to the worldwide film and television industries. Synonymous with world class British and international productions, our studios have an impressive heritage and have been home to some of the most successful features films and TV shows ever made.

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Plan your Journey: Nearest train station : Hampton Court from Waterloo

Getting to Hampton Court Palace