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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 06 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Sarah Barrell

The pomp and ceremony surrounding the British Monarchy is globally revered, and this, the annual parade in celebration of The Queen’s ‘official’ birthday (not on the actual date), is the tour-de-force of British tradition. Tracing its origins back to the 17th century, the event conveys the valour and pride that still lingers in one of the few remaining monarchical nations.

Regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies perform this traditional ceremony on a Saturday in June, when over 1400 officers and men are on parade in full regalia, together with two hundred horses. Over four hundred musicians from ten bands and corps of drums march and play. The Queen arrives to carry out an inspection of the troops, greeted by a Royal salute.

After around 2.5 hours, the event concludes with a fly-over by the RAF.

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Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
Frequency: annually
When: Saturday in June
Duration: 2.5 hours

Getting there & doing it

The parade route extends from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and back again.

Each year, the British Army website opens up a ballot where you can apply for one of a few seated tickets. They are allocated via ballot. Your written request must be submitted before the end of February, and places are announced in March. If you’re lucky enough to get one, remember to dress up for Her Majesty. There is a strict dress code on the website.

On foot, the Parade can be seen from The Mall along St James’ Park (access from District and Circle lines). The official website has a map showing the best spots. Of course, thousands of others will have the same idea, so arrive as early as possible to avoid the rush and to secure a good vantage point. It will be crowded – go for the electric atmosphere rather than expecting a prime view.

When to do it

The event is held on a Saturday in June. Events begin at approximately 10am, with the RAF fly-past at around 1pm.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

The Hub Covent Garden

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.6 miles]

A super-affordable, tech-savvy stay in very centre of the capital between The Strand and Covent Garden, with a buzzy café, popular with locals.

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The Resident Covent Garden

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.7 miles]

Low prices without sacrificing style or comfort are the order of the day at The Resident’s smart Covent Garden address.

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Z Hotel Covent Garden

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.8 miles]

A sleek, streamlined budget option with an exclusive edge, accessed via a ‘secret’ courtyard just behind Covent Garden Piazza.

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Henrietta Hotel London

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.8 miles]

A stylish boutique hotel with a standout bar, superb London Eye views and Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House right outside the door.

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