Ceremonial Events | Household Division / Beating Retreat

Beating Retreat is a colourful pageant of military music and precision drill carried out by the the Mounted Bands of the Household Cavalry and the Massed Bands of the Household Division and guest performers.

On two successive evenings in June, each year, Beating Retreat takes place on Horse Guards Parade.

History Of Beating Retreat

Beating Retreat has its origins in the early years of organised warfare when beating or sounding retreat called a halt to the days fighting, a return to camp and the mounting of the guard for the night.

An order from the army of James II of England, dated to 18 June 1690, had his drums beating an order for his troops to retreat and a later order, from William III in 1694, read:
"The Drum Major and Drummers of the Regiment which gives a Captain of the Main Guard are to beat the Retreat through the large street, or as may be ordered.

They are to be answered by all the Drummers of the guards, and by four Drummers of each Regiment in their respective Quarters".

The original call of Retreat, to mark the end of the days fighting was beaten on drums as were most battle orders.

The use of brass bugles, as military signaling device, came to England in 1764 where it was gradually accepted in the foot regiments.

The massed bands we see today are a modern innovation, added to provide spectacle, to the Beating Retreat ceremony.

Getting Tickets

You can buy Beating Retreat tickets online or in person, from the Guards Museum
Address: Guards Museum, Birdcage Walk. About 500 metres from Buckingham Palace.

Ticket prices start at £ 10 (GBP 10).

Getting To Horse Guards

Address: Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AX

By Underground

The nearest tube stations are:
Charing Cross - About 6 minutes walk. Bakerloo, & Northern line
Embankment - 10 minutes walk Bakerloo, Northern, District & Circle line

By Train

Nearest, mainline, train station:
Charing Cross- About 6 minutes walk

By Bus

Busses: 11, 12, 159, 24, 3, 453, 53, 87, 88,
N109, N11, N136, N155, N2, N3, N381, N44, N87

By Car

Not recommended, the Horse Guards is in the congestion charge zone.
Parking is difficult to find and expensive.

Getting Around London

Visitor Oyster CardThe Visitor Oyster Card is the cheapest and most flexible way to travel around London.

Valid on London Underground, buses, trams and Dockland Light Railway (DLR).

  • Cheap - a single tube journey will cost £4.30 with cash but a maximum of £2 with an Oyster card
  • Smart - You will never be charged more than a price of a London Travelcard
  • Easy - your card is reusable and the credit never expires

London Travel CardThe London Travelcard gives you access to unlimited travel on London Underground trains, buses, Dockland Light Railway, trams and overland trains within London.

  • Cheap: with one ticket you get unlimited travel, [ within the zones your Travelcard covers], working out much cheaper than buying single tickets
  • Easy: one ticket for one day or one week!