Daily

Changing the Guard
Buckingham Palace
Daily in summer, and on alternate days in winter. 1130 AM. A new troop of the Queen's personal bodyguards, The Brigade of Guards, march from either Chelsea or Wellington Barracks to relieve the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Mounting the Guard
Horse Guards, Whitehall
1100 weekdays, 1000 Sundays, a new Household Cavalry detatchment relieves the old guard.

Ceremony of the Keys
Tower of London
Talk about precise! At 21:53 every night the Chief Warder of the Yeomen Warders of the Tower of London locks the outer gates of the Tower and delivers the keys to the Resident Governor at Queen's House. Attendance is limited, so apply in writing well ahead to the Resident Governor.


Annual Ceremonies

Royal Epiphany Gifts Service
January 6
Officers of the royal household give gold, frankincense and myrrh in the Chapel Royal at St James Palace. The gold is changed for coin which is given to charity.

Old Bailey opening
early January
The Lord Mayor leads a procession from Mansion House to the Central Criminal Court to open the new session.

Court of Common Council Service
January
The Lord Mayor and his officers walk from the Guildhall to St Lawrence Jewry for church service prior to the sitting of the new Court of Common Council.

Charles I Commemoration March
last Sunday in January
500 members of the King's Army of the English Civil War Society in authentic period dress march in the footsteps of King Charles 1, from St James' Palace to the Horse Guards Parade. Wreaths are laid at the statue of Charles I in Trafalgar Square and the Banqueting House.

Blessing the Throats
February 3
Service at the Church of St Ethelreda (Holborn) attended by throat sufferers, remembers St Blaise, who saved a child with a fishbone stuck in his throat.

Scout & Guide Founder's Day Service
Saturday closest to Feb. 22
Scouts and Guides congregate at Westminster Abbey to remember Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the movements, on his birthday.

Cakes and Ales Sermon
Ash Wednesday
Members of the Worshipful Company of Stationers walk from Stationers Hall to St Paul's Cathedral to hear a sermon. Cakes and ale are dispensed either before or after the sermon.

Oranges and Lemon's Children's Service
March 28
A church service of thanks for the restoration of the bells of St Clement Dane of nursery rhyme fame. Children of the St Clement's Dane Primary School receive an orange and a lemon each.

Hot-Cross Buns Service
Good Friday
In a ceremony that dates back hundreds of years, 21 widows are given money and hot-cross buns after a church service at St Bartholomew-the-Great in Smithfield.

Spital Sermon Procession
second Wednesday following Easter
The Lord Mayor and other city notables walk from the Guildhall to St Lawrence Jewry to hear a sermon. These Easter sermons were preached at Old St Paul's Cathedral before it burned in the Great Fire.

John Stow's Quill Pen Ceremony
April 5
John Stow wrote The Survey of London in 1598. This memorial service, attended by the Lord Mayor, takes place at St Andrew's Undershaft. As part of the service, the Lord Mayor places a quill in the hand of Stow's statue.

Queen's Birthday Gun Salute
April 21
Hyde Park and Tower of London. A 41-gun salute to mark the actual (not the official) birthday of The Queen, fired by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Hyde Park (opposite the Dorchester Hotel), and a 62-gun royal salute fired by the Honourable Artillery Company at the Tower of London (on London Wharf).

Scottish Military Tattoo
April 21 (2002) dates may vary
Royal Albert Hall. The story of some of Scotland's heroes is inerwoven with the best of Scottish (& Irish) music, song and dance. The massed pipes and drums are led by the pipes and drums of the London Regiment. website: http://www.thescottishtattoo.com/

Lilies and Roses
May 21
Henry VI founded both Eton College and King's College Cambridge. Every year on the anniversary of Henry's murder in the Tower of London, delegates from the schools place flowers on the spot of the king's death - lilies from Eton and roses from King's.

Oak Apple Day
May 29
The Chelsea Pensioners honour Charles II, founder of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, on the anniversary of Charles II's escape after the Battle of Worcester. The king's statue is decorated with oak leaves in memory of the fact that Charles hid in an oak tree to escape his pursuers.

The Queen's Birthday Parade
2nd week June
Horse Guards Parade. SW1.
Trooping the Colour ceremony by the Massed Bands and Troops of the Household Division to mark the Queen's official birthday. The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace at 1040 and progresses down The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, arriving at 1100.

Queen's Official Birthday Gun Salute
June 16
41 gun salute to mark The Queen's official birthday. The salute is fired by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at 1252 (by Canada Gate), and by the Honourable Artillery Company at the Tower of London at 1300 (on London Wharf).

The Knollys Red Rose Rent
June 15
In the 14th century Sir Robert Knollys was fined for building an unauthorized footbridge across Seething Lane. In recognition of Knollys' noted military record the fine imposed was one red rose from his garden to be given to the Lord Mayor every Midsummer Day. Today a rose is carried by churchwardens of All-Hallows-by-the-Tower to Mansion House, were it is given to the Lord Mayor, along with a bouquet of roses for the lady mayoress.

Swan Upping
last Monday in July
The Dyers and Vintner's Companies have the right, established in medieval times, to keep swans on the Thames River. So, too, does the crown. Every year the Queen's Swan Keeper and Swan Markers from the two livery companies row in skiffs along the river to mark the cygnets (baby swans).

Doggett's Coat and Badge Race
late July or early August
Possibly the oldest rowing race in the world, this event was begun by Irish actor Thomas Dogett in 1715 to mark the crowning of George I. Six waterboatmen race against the tide from London Bridge to Albert Bridge. The prize is a scarlet livery with a large silver badge.

Admission of Sherriffs
September 28 or the Friday preceeding
The livery companies of the city elect two sheriffs on Midsummer Day. Today, the new sheriffs march from Mansion House to the Guildhall to be installed in office.

Election of the Lord Mayor
September 29
In a ceremony that dates from 1546, the Lord Mayor is selected at the Guildhall, then rides in state to Mansion House while the city bells ring out.

State Opening of Parliament
date varies, October/November
The Queen addresses both houses of Parliament from the Throne in the House of Lords. The State Opening takes place on the first day of the new parliamentary session, usually in October or November. Check current dates at www.parliament.uk

Quit-Rents Ceremony
late October
The City Solicitor pays the Queen's Rememberancer token rents for properties long ago leased - two knives, one blunt and one sharp, pay for land near Bridgnorth in Shropshire, and sixty-one nails and six horsehoes for a long-gone forge in the Strand. The origins of this ceremony go back so far they have been forgotten

Trafalgar Parade and Service
October 21 (or nearest Sunday)
A march to Trafalgar Square remembers the triumph of Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805. Wreaths are laid at the foot of Nelson's Column in the Square.

RAC Veteran Car Run
1st Sunday in November
In the very early years of the motor car, a man with a red flag had to walk in front of all cars. This event, also known as the London to Brighton Rally and only open to cars built between 1895 and 1904, commemorates the repeal of the "Red Flag Laws" in 1905.

Lord Mayor's Show
2nd Saturday in November
The new Lord Mayor takes up his post in a colourful procession to the Royal Courts of Justice in his State Coach, escorted by medieval-costumed bodyguards.

Installation of the Lord Mayor
November 8
Luncheon at Mansion House with the old and new Lord Mayors and representatives of the livery Companies, followed by a procession to the Guildhall for the official transfer of office.

Festival of St. Cecilia
November 22
Organ and choral music at St Sepulchres (Holborn) in memory of St Cecilia, patron saint of music.

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

about December 16
Every year Norway gives the gift of a huge Christmas tree to thank the people of Britain for their help in World War II. The tree is erected in Trasflagar Square and carol services are sung every evening beneath the tree until Christmas.

And One That's Every Three Years...

Royal Marines Band Beating Retreat
Usually in June 
Only performed every three years, this magnificent pageant of military music, precision drill and colour dates back to the 16th century.


Do you know of a traditional event that should be added to our list? Let us know.