This year marks Queen Elizabeth of England’s 70th year as Britain’s reigning monarch, the first such anniversary in recent history. In response, the country is holding a pioneering Platinum Jubilee, marked as a national holiday with both official and casual celebrations springing up all over London. The event will take place over the extended upcoming weekend of June 2nd to June 5th, and is guaranteed to be a one of a kind experience, especially for visitors who haven’t experienced a royal party before. Entertainers, performers, members of the royal family and locals will all be part of the fanfare, ringing in a work-free weekend that is bound to go down in history.
Once you arrive in the capital, the Heathrow Express is the quickest and easiest way to reach Central London right from the airport. The sooner you can get some rest, the sooner you can get ready for the very first ceremony of the Platinum Jubilee. Keep an eye out for the newly opened Elizabeth Line, which adds three railways to London’s Underground; additional service will be available on Sunday, June 5th to accommodate Jubilee Weekend celebrations.
To give the event an extra kick, the Queen’s annual birthday celebration is being moved back to coincide with the start of the Platinum Jubilee weekend. Known as the Trooping of the Colour, the parade is an ode to the British army’s loyalty to both the queen and Britain itself. Steeped in tradition, the ceremony sees the queen making her way through London in a carriage to watch the Horse Guards Parade and military band performances as Foot Guards march by in unison. After her Coach ride down the Mall and back to Buckingham Palace, the Royal Air Force will salute the queen from the skies, along with 41 guns sounding out from London’s Green Park.
While seated tickets for the Trooping of the Colour usually sell out in March, you can catch the parade at various points throughout its path to and from Buckingham Palace. The route leads from the Palace down The Mall, circling back at Horse Guards Road. If you arrive early, you may be able to find a street-side spot along the Mall to watch from. The Mall runs along the north edge of St. James Park, which also provides views of the parade route. Even if you don’t glimpse the queen through the crowd, it’ll be hard to miss the Royal Air Force fly-past above Buckingham Palace as the parade wraps up.
The following day, historic St. Paul’s Cathedral will lead a Service of Thanksgiving honoring the queen’s seven decades of service. Starting in late May, the Cathedral will also be hosting an exhibit showcasing original royal artifacts defining Jubilee events throughout centuries of British history. Titled “Jubilee: St. Paul’s, The Monarch and the Changing World,” the exhibition will be included with standard Cathedral admission.
Taking place on Saturday, June 4th, the Platinum Party at the Palace sees some of the country’s most popular performers take the stage at Buckingham Palace. While the ballot to win tickets has long since closed, the BBC will be airing the entire event the same day. If you weren’t able to score tickets, take the day to explore the city’s other Jubilee- related events. “Life Through A Royal Lens,” hosted by Kensington Palace, brings an archive of royal family photographs under one roof, including ones taken by the public. Westminster Abbey is another classic destination; to celebrate, the Abbey is holding events like Platinum Jubilee Breakfast and Afternoon Tea.
While the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is on most London bucket lists, you’ll have to plan ahead in the weeks leading up to the holiday weekend. Viewing in front of the Palace will be restricted to visitors because of the Platinum Jubilee set up. This means that the Changing of the Guard will continue as planned on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings, but public access will be regulated and very limited. With that said, it’s best to arrive as early as you can to make sure you can watch the traditional routine from a perfect spot.
Sunday, June 5th, marks the date of the Big Jubilee Lunch, celebrated all over London in the form of block parties, cookouts and outdoor picnics between friends, neighbors and complete strangers. If you’re just visiting and don’t know anyone in the city, the Platinum Jubilee’s official website has a handy search tool to help you find events taking place near you. Attending a local Big Jubilee Lunch is a special way to get to know London’s communities and participate in one of the city’s best-loved traditions. After lunch, get ready to attend the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant, which acts as the closing ceremony of the weekend. The Pageant happens outside of Buckingham Palace and chronicles the Queen’s story through music, theater, circus arts and other performances. Both big name celebrities and local street performers contribute their talents to the celebration, and it is free for the public to attend.
Once the Jubilee is over, summer in London still has plenty to offer, so take a few days to keep exploring. Located in Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Gallery holds rotating exhibits from the extensive royal collection. Rarely seen masterpieces and artifacts are selected to highlight elements of British history within the historic space. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the gallery is open between 10:00am and 4:30pm.
Open between June and September, the Tower of London’s “Superbloom” event will honor the Platinum Jubilee by bringing fauna and flora to the iconic 13th century moat surrounding the tower. Seeds sown in Spring will grow throughout the moat, changing color and form as the season progresses. Visitors can take in this unconventional botanical garden via a specially designed “Superbloom” slide or a series of walking paths. After the installation closes, the new landscape will continue to thrive on the grounds of the Tower as a living salute to this year’s Jubilee anniversary.
No London getaway is complete without an afternoon tea, so take on tradition in style with a seat at Ting’s Skyline Afternoon Tea. Taking place until September 30th at The Shard, this isn’t your average teatime; panoramic views from one of London’s best known skyscrapers will accompany your Jubilee-inspired pastry selection, scones and savory snacks. Afternoon tea is available every day from 12 to 4pm, and reservations can be made online.
Picking a hotel that actively takes part in the festivities can amp up your Jubilee Weekend even more with special offers, packages and discounts. Located just above St. James’ Square, The Dilly is offering hotel branded bikes for guests to use at their convenience, along with bespoke picnic baskets to enjoy on your ride.
Overlooking the Thames and the London Eye, Corinthia London is offering Platinum Jubilee Celebration packages and Royal Fanfare specials that include an English Breakfast, hotel credits, upgrades and more.
As you might already be able to tell from the sheer variety of events on the calendar, the Platinum Jubilee is as much about the queen’s remarkable story as it is about a city coming together around a shared history. Celebrate like a local this June and beyond; the festivities may officially last only a weekend, but spirits run high all summer.
For more things to do in London and hidden gems, head to Visit London.