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Events and Festivals in London

Notting Hill Carnival

Trooping the Colour

Trooping the Colour is a wonderful military parade performed by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies and takes place annually on a Saturday during the month in which the British Monarch celebrates their official birthday. This annual event has taken place since 1820 and is filled with authentic British pomp and pageantry and is a celebration that is highly anticipated by the British people. It is held in the London capital on Horse Guards Parade by St. James’s Park and is watched by members of the Royal Family, invited special guests and members of the general public. It’s a bright and wonderful show with plenty of marching, saluting and grace. You can catch a glimpse of the monarch who rides in a private carriage followed by musical bands mounted on horses and marching guards all spruced up in their colourful and elegant uniforms. The ceremony ends with the monarch and the rest of the Royal family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, a further march-past the gates of the palace, a 41-gun salute by the troops in Green Park and lastly a Royal Air Force flypast. This event is a true celebration set in the heart of the English capital and a magnificent example of British customs and traditions which, to this day, continue to be deep-rooted in the hearts of its people. Definitely an event not to be missed when in town!

 

Wimbledon, The Championships

Wimbledon or the Wimbledon Championships is a prestigious tennis tournament and the oldest of its kind which has boasted spectators such as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, Britain’s Prime Ministers and International film stars in the past and present day. Since 9 July 1877, the best of the best tennis players have competed at this world-renowned annual event which has taken place at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London. Some of the most well-known names in tennis have played their best games and one several titles on Wimbledon’s court such as Roger Federer, Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Rafael Nadal, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Serena and Venus Williams. Wimbledon is held during two weeks normally commencing in late June and ends in early July and makes up one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments also known as the Majors - the others being the US Open, the Australian Open and the French Open. Wimbledon is also the only Grand Slam tournament to still be played on the game’s original surface, on grass. The five main events within Wimbledon are the Gentlemen’s Singles, Ladies’ Singles, Gentlemen’s Doubles, Ladies’ Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Tickets are on sale to the general public but due to the tournaments’ popularity, high demand means it is hard to get your hands on a golden ticket. In fact to get your hands on a ticket, an applicant must be chosen at random by a computer. That doesn’t mean you can’t try your luck!

 

Chinese New Year

If you want to celebrate the Chinese New Year without having to go all the way to China, then the next best place to do so is London. For two weeks in January or February of each year, London’s Chinatown and Trafalgar Square burst to life with Chinese decorations, traditions, festivities, music and dance.  Hundreds of thousands of people descend to the West End of London to watch this spectacular Chinese event put on by London’s Chinese communities. Celebrations include parades, lion dances and fireworks. There are also many stalls put up throughout Chinatown selling typical Chinese foods and crafts. It’s an entertaining festival that you certainly won’t want to miss. All you’ll need to remember are these four simple words: “Kung Hei Fat Choi” which means Happy New Year in Chinese.

 

Notting Hill Carnival

The Notting Hill Carnival is a three day street festival held in the month of August in Notting Hill, London. Extremely influenced by black immigrants from the Caribbean, predominantly from Trinidad, the streets of Notting Hill come alive with music, dance and vibrant colours. Having started as a humble event in 1966, the Notting Hill Carnival (read more) has expanded into a full on multicultural arts festival which is attended by more than two million people each year making it the largest street festival of its kind. Following in the footsteps of the West Indian carnival, great importance is placed on fantastic costume displays, similar to other carnivals across the globe, in addition to steel drum music. Other elements include a mixture of soul and calypso songs, reggae music, hip-hop and funk music to liven up the streets of London during the 7.5 km long parade. Also lining the streets are stalls selling delicious exotic foods and interesting crafts from across the seas.

 

London Marathon

The London Marathon, one of the six world marathons that form the World Marathon Majors, is a huge annual event held in the English capital during the month of April. This long distance marathon which is 26 miles/42 km in total distance, dates back to 29 March 1981 and has been held every year ever since. Set largely over a flat course around London’s River Thames, the race begins around Blackheath and finishes in the Mall alongside the famous St. James’ Park. Lining the streets are spectators cheering on the thousands of runners which make this event so significant. The London Marathon is a distinguished event as it is currently holds the record for the largest annual fund raising event in the world having raised over £450 million for charity causes since 1981. The mission of this marathon, since it’s very beginnings is to bring together men and women, black, white and yellow from across the globe to laugh, cheer and suffer together all in the name of a good cause. Not only is the marathon run by professional athletes, you will see many amateur runners (common person and celebrities) as well as disabled persons competing to reach the finish line. The London Marathon is a truly inspirational event that invites anyone to participate so if you fancy a challenge during your holidays, this is your chance!

 

The Boat Race

Held on London’s famous river, the River Thames, The Boat Race is an annual rowing race which is well-established in the British sporting calendar. It commonly takes place on the last Saturday of March or the first Saturday of April. Competing against one another are the Oxford University Boat Club and the Cambridge University Boat Club, two of the most notorious and prestigious universities of the United Kingdom. The Boat Race began in 1829 and has been held annually since 1856 except during WWI and WWII. The course covers 4.2 miles/6.8km in total and starts in Putney, ending in Mortlake. The Boat Race attracts hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators to the river banks to watch the event live although millions of viewers will watch the grand race on television. It’s certainly an event not to be missed if you happen to be in town.

 

Chelsea Flower Show

If you’re a horticultural enthusiast or simply enjoy the look and smells of flowers in bloom, the Chelsea Flower Show is most definitely an event for you. This annual event, held during five days in the last week of May, takes place in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea and has been given the status as the world’s greatest flower show. The Chelsea Flower Show is most famous for featuring full-sized gardens with cutting-edge designs, unique floral collections, rare species and new plants which are a result of new-breeding schemes.  Themes range from sophisticated oriental to stylish Victorian with the use of wildlife and fascinating wild plants. Chelsea’s Flower Show is also a great event to learn all about the latest advances in gardening, flower arranging and garden design as well as the most recent gardening tools, machinery, garden furniture and contemporary statuary.

 

London Fashion Week

As one of the most modish cities in the world, London could not go without a fashion week and because it is so fashion forward it holds two London Fashion Weeks each year! Both February and September are two months eagerly awaited in the fashion world. This glamorous and star-studded event is an enormous event which belongs to the “Big Four” fashion weeks, along with Paris Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week. The event congregates fashion fanatics and buyers in their thousands and showcases only the very best English designers and their latest seasonal collections. Orders in the past have been estimated to range between a jaw-dropping £40 million and £100 million! Starting immediately after London’s fashion week is the London Fashion Weekend which is purely retail-focused and open to the general public. So if you fancy a peek at the latest trends, make sure to pass by!

 

London Pride  

London Pride is an annual event which fights for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights and equality. Held during the month of June or July, the modern-day London Pride festivities comprises in a Mardi Gras-like parade in which people march, sing and dance through streets in central London such as Regent Street and Oxford Street in order to promote their cause. After the grand parade, political rallies are held in Trafalgar Square in front of a vast crowd. Anyone who is a supporter of gay rights is invited to participate in London Pride. You will find that large numbers of LGBT-friendly people taking part in standing up for the rights of loved ones and friends. London Pride has had several famous patrons including Sir Elton John and Sir Ian McKellen. The city of London was the host of the 2012 World Pride Parade.

 

Mayor’s Thames Festival

The Mayor’s Thames Festival is known as London’s biggest outdoor festival which by the way is absolutely free! This much loved event celebrates the River Thames – London’s iconic river which flows through the core of the capital. The Thames Festival offers a full weekend of free events that include - street dancing, street art, feasting on bridges, racing on the river Thames, live music, art festivals, carnivals with costumes and floats as well as riverside activities. Attending the Thames Festival is a great way to mingle with the Londoners and experience the lively and pulsating vibe for which London is loved for. 

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