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London: The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

by Moderator May 2012 - last edited February 2013 by Community Manager

In case it had somehow escaped you, 2012 marks the Queen's 60th year on the throne, and the central weekend of 2nd - 5th June will see London erupt into an explosion of red, white and blue. If you're visiting our capital, here's our selection of the best Diamond Jubilee events and activities taking place over the four-day Jubilee weekend...

Jubilee Family Festival at Hyde Park

Over the weekend of 2nd - 3rd June a two-day family festival will take over Hyde Park, with parades, live shows, and acts from the British TV and entertainment industry and around the Commonwealth. A handful of much-loved children's TV characters including Thomas the Tank Engine, Fireman Sam and Angelina Ballerina will be paying a visit, as will stars of Strictly Come Dancing and War Horse, and a host of Bollywood and Maori Kapa Haka dancers. A special Disney Zone will be set up where kids can come and meet life-size versions of characters like Lightning McQueen from Cars, and in what's sure to be a highlight for many, a 70-minute Disney concert featuring all the Disney princesses and a full line-up of recognisable characters will take place at the end of each day. The festival takes place from 10.30 am to 7.30 pm both days and tickets cost £20/£12.50. Under 3s go free.

Hyde Park © Roland Nagy

Hyde Park © Roland Nagy

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

The Jubilee Pageant takes place on Sunday 3rd June. More than a thousand boats will gather on the River Thames, including pleasure cruisers, working boats, rowing boats, steam vessels, narrowboats, service and fire boats, historic wooden launches and even kayaks - all decked out with colourful bunting, streamers and Union Jack flags. Boats spouting geysers, a floating belfry and music and pyrotechnic barges shooting daytime fireworks into the air will add more sparkle to the occasion and bring the river to life. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family will take part aboard the Royal Barge, The Spirit of Chartwell. The pageant route is about 7 miles long and runs from upriver of Battersea Bridge finishing downriver of Tower Bridge where the bascules will be raised in salute. From here, the boats will disperse to West India Docks.


Visitors can watch the Jubilee Pageant for free along the River Thames, where there will be around 50 big screens televising the action. Some suggested viewing locations include the Albert Embankment opposite the Houses of Parliament, the Bankside river frontage of the Tate Modern, and on the Westminster side, Victoria Embankment and Victoria Tower Gardens. Around a million spectators are expected to view what will be the largest flotilla on the river for 350 years.

The Big Jubilee Lunch along Piccadilly

In what will undoubtedly be one of the best and biggest street parties of the weekend, Piccadilly - one of London's most historic streets - will play host to the Big Jubilee Lunch on Sunday 3rd June, stretching all the way from Piccadilly Circus to the top of St. James's Street. Some of the area's grandest hotels, department stores and artistic establishments will be out in force, laying on entertainment and showing off their wares, including Fortnum & Mason, The Cavendish, The Wolseley and the Royal Academy of Arts. Expect everything from cream teas and ice-creams to a full hog roast, along with vintage cars, a community market, a BAFTA showreel of British cinema and the chance to twirl around on the dancefloor to the Ritz Restaurant's resident house band.

Piccadilly Circus © Matt from London

Piccadilly Circus © Matt from London

The Queen's Carriage Procession

After a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday 5th June, a formal carriage procession will convey the Queen along Whitehall, the Mall and on to Buckingham Palace, in the 1902 State Landau built for Edward VII's coronation. All the senior royals including Willam and Kate will be following close behind, accompanied by military bands and the Sovereign's Escort. Although balloted grandstand tickets outside Buckingham Palace have long since been snapped up, there is plenty of room for spectators all along the historic route. Once at Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family will appear on the balcony for an RAF flypast and a celebratory 'Feu de Joie' (Fire of Joy) - an ear-splitting cascade of rifle fire from the Queen's Guard.


Header shot © Herry Lawford. Hyde Park © Roland Nagy | Dreamstime.com, Piccadilly Circus © Matt from London

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About the author: Maxine

Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.