Ceremonial Events | London / State, Royal & Military Ceremonies

London hosts high profile ceremonial events every year, including The Queen's Birthday Parade, Beating Retreat, The State Opening of Parliament, State Visits and more that epitomise the history, pomp and pageantry for which Britain is famous worldwide.

This quick guide to the State Occasions, Royal and Military Ceremonial Events that take place in London has links to lots more information including how to get tickets and where you can watch them from the sidelines.

Changing the Guard

Grenadier Guards Colours

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, with the Foot Guards in their red tunics and iconic bearskin caps, is probably one of the best known ceremonial events in the world.

Changing The Queen's Life Guard takes place daily on Horse Guards Parade where the men and horses of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment stand guard at the official entrance to Buckingham and St. James's Palace.

Changing the Windsor Castle Guard takes place within the precincts of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest continuously inhabited castle in the world, which is one of the Queen's three official residences.

The Queen's Birthday Parade

Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards Parade

Trooping the Colour, also known as the 'The Queen's Birthday Parade', takes place in June each year to mark the Sovereign's official birthday.

More than 1,400 officers and men and approximately 400 musicians from the Massed Bands of the Household Division take part in The Queen's Birthday Parade.

There are two full dress rehearsals, prior to The Queen's Birthday Parade, 'The Major General's Review' and 'The Colonel's Review', which gives visitors an opportunity to see a vibrant display of pomp and pageantry in these highlights of the ceremonial calendar.

Household Division Beating Retreat

Household Division Beatiing Retreat

Beating Retreat brings together music, guns, horses, precision drill, and fireworks to create an amazing sunset spectacular on Horse Guards Parade.

On two evenings in June, set against the backdrop of St James's Park, the Massed Bands of the Household Division and guest performers deliver a not to be missed pageant.

State Opening of Parliament

HM The Queen travelling by coach to the State Opening of Parliament

The State Opening of Parliament is a royal ceremony steeped in history that dates back to the fourteenth century.

The Queen travels by coach, escorted by the Household Cavalry, from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster along the Royal Route.

State Visits

Carrige procession during State Visit

State Visits are formal visits to the United Kingdom by Heads of State from overseas.

State Visits normally begin with a ceremonial welcome attended by The Queen and other senior members of the Royal Family either on Horse Guards Parade or in Windsor.

Gun Salutes

Kings Troop RHA firing a Gun Salute

Gun Salutes mark special royal occasions including The Queen's Birthday and those of other senior members of the Royal Family.

In London, salutes by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, in either Hyde Park or Green Park and at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company.

Garter Service

Garter Day 2105-dw-01

The Knights of the Garter gather at Windsor Castle, wearing their blue velvet robes and black velvet hats with white plumes, for the Garter Service every June.

The procession route is lined by troops from the Household Division and the Queen's historic bodyguards, including the Corps of Gentlemen, Yeoman Guards, Yeoman Warders, (Beefeaters), accompany the Knights.

Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph

Remembrance Sunday is a day for the nation to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves in two world wars and other conflicts, to secure and protect our freedom.

Ceremonial Events Calendar

There is lots more to see and hear, including concerts from the Bands of the Household Division and pageants including The Lord Mayors Show so it is worth checking our ceremonial events calendar to see what is on when you are in London.