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Things to Do and See – Last Minute City Breaks

London is an exciting city and there is always something interesting going on whenever you decide to visit but the best time is early spring.  The weather is mild, the parks are full of blossoms and the tourist season hasn’t gone into full swing yet.  Late spring and summer of course, are prime times for visitors and prices soar.  Below is a list of the main events that take place in the city throughout the year:

Main events during the spring, March – May:

  • Convent Garden Fayre – 8th A day of puppet shows, workshops, maypole dancing, clowns and folk music.
  • Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the city with festivals and parades on 17th March.
  • Head of the River Race is on 25th March, boat crews come from all over the world to compete in the 4.25 mile race (6.8 km).
  • Easter celebrations from 14th-17th April all over London.
  • The London Marathon is run on 23rd
  • State Opening of the Houses of Parliament – it is the most important event of the year and takes place on May 18th. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh leave by coach from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster.  It is the Queen’s duty as Head of State to open every new session of parliament.
  • Museums at Night – 11th–14th May Explore museums after dark.
  • The Royal Chelsea Flower Show – 24th–28th May. A chance to admire the flowers and ladies’ hats!
  • Trafalgar Square – Experience live opera and ballet on the Big Screen free of charge – The Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein on 18th Bring a blanket and picnic, enjoy with friends or family.
  • FA Cup Final – 21st May at Wembley Stadium.
  • Royal Marines Beating the Retreat – Military marching ceremony 25th-26th

From June to August the weather can be lovely, very hot – or rainy, it is variable and unpredictable, better to bring your umbrella, just in case!  It is now the high season and prices are raised accordingly.

  • The Household Cavalry Beating the Retreat -Military marching ceremony, 8-9th
  • Trafalgar Square, Big Screen live Royal Opera, Verdi’s Nabucco at 7.30 pm on 9th May, bring a blanket and picnic, it is free of charge.
  • Trooping the Colour – military parade celebration (since 1820) of the Queen’s official birthday on 11th
  • Royal Ascot – Race horse meeting with magnificent horses and fancy ladies’ hats! 14-18th
  • Wimbledon tennis matches, enjoy watching the best tennis in the world accompanied with fresh strawberries! 17th June-10th
  • Greenwich & Docklands International Festival – free outdoor arts, street performances, dance and music. 24th June-3rd
  • Trafalgar Square, Big Screen live – Royal Opera, Il Trovatore – 14th Free showing at 7.15 p.m.
  • BBC Proms – Two months of special musical performances in unusual settings all over London: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Roundhouse, Old Royal Naval College and a large car park in Peckham to name a few.
  • Buckingham Palace tours of the State Rooms where you can see priceless treasures during the summer months. To celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday there is a special exhibition of outfits she has worn over the years.  Open to the public 23rd July-2nd
  • Notting Hill Gate Carnival – August, date to be confirmed. A memorable street festival, dancing to Calypso, everyone is welcome.

September to November – London is still quite busy with tourists until mid September and the weather is mild.

  • Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival – 25th A traditional celebration and unforgettable sight with people dressed in suits covered with pearl buttons.
  • Guy Fawkes Night 5th Firework displays all over London to commemorate Guy Fawkes failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.
  • Lord Mayor’s Show – 12th Magnificent parades through the heart of London – from military marching bands to samba music, a memorable day.

Prices drop considerably during the colder winter months (except of course, over the Christmas period).  The city is less crowded with tourists and it can be a magical time to visit either for sightseeing or just shopping.  The city takes on a special appearance over the holidays with all the famous Christmas lights and decorations plus the giant tree in Trafalgar Square.  There are pantomimes, concerts and church services.  It is one of the best places to be over the Christmas holidays.

New Year’s Eve finds the heart of London packed with revelers waiting for the New Year to begin.  Spectacular firework displays all along the Thames and at the London Eye are not to be missed.

In March and April the weather begins to improve and prices are still low, except for the Easter break.

  • Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the city on 17th March with processions and revelers dressed in traditional Irish green.
  • The Head of the River Race is on 25th March, when 400 boat crews come from all over the world to compete in the 4.25 mile race (6.8 km).
  • Easter celebrations from 14th-17th April all over London.
  • London Marathon is run on 23rd

So, as you can see, there is always plenty going on in this vibrant, exciting city making any time a perfect time to visit.