Special events at the Royal Palaces in London
Royalty and all things royal are perennially popular with London’s 18 million yearly visitors, and the Royal Palaces regularly stage special events and exhibitions. Here are our favourites for 2016 which range from a very special visit to Buckingham Palace to an experience of the gruesome ‘Terrible Tudors’;
Exclusive Guided Tour of Buckingham Palace State Rooms
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the Queen. From 23rd March to 2nd May, the Palace is offering special guided tours of the State Rooms.
The tours fall outside of the normal open to the public season, and the tour groups are limited to thirty people. Ticket price is £80 per person.
Accompanied by an expert guide, this is a unique opportunity to enjoy exquisite English and French furniture, Sèvres porcelain, paintings by Van Dyck and Canaletto and sculptures by Canova from the Royal Collection. The tour lasts two to two and a half hours, and concludes with champagne served in the Grand Entrance.
Only a limited number of places are available, so pre-booking is essential.
Tel: 020 7766 7300 (09:00 – 17:00)
Also at Buckingham Palace: The Changing of the Guard 11:30am – usually daily during the summer, and alternate days in winter.
Buckingham Palace Summer 2016 Opening
23 July 2016 – 31 August 9:15 – 19:45, last admission 17:15
1 Sep- 2 October 9:15 – 18:45, last admission 16:45
This year’s special display, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe, celebrates the Queen’s 90th Birthday, and features many garments worn by her Majesty. The Palace tours are very popular, so advance booking is recommended.
Tudors at the Tower Family Festival
While not a Royal residence, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London is one of London’s top tourist attractions.
Tudors at the Tower is a fun event for all the family and runs from 30th April – 2nd May from 10:00am to 5:00pm. For the festival the castle moat becomes a lovingly staged recreation of the excitement and bustle of the preparations for the coronation of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.
Family activities include Tudor crafts and games, and this is also your opportunity to learn to be a court fool, try out a crossbow, meet blacksmiths, stone masons and other craftsmen of the period, join in a masque or learn ‘knightly skills’ so that you are fit to be presented to the new Queen.
Ticket price is included in the admission to the Tower of London, and under 5s go free.
Also at the Tower of London: The Crown Jewels – a priceless collection of royal crowns and symbols of monarchy, which includes some of the world’s most beautiful and spectacular diamonds.
Yeoman Warder tours – be entertained and informed by the colourful “Beefeaters” with their tales of royal prisoners, intrigue and executions.
Opening times: Tue – Sat 9:00-16:30, last admission 16:00 Sun & M 10:00-16:30, last admission 16:00.
Hampton Court Palace Encounters with the Past
From 18th March to 29th August 2016, characters from the various eras of Hampton Court’s past will be bringing the palace to life. Visitors will be able to interact with historical figures as they explore the palace and grounds.
During this period, from 26th May to 2nd June 2016, Hampton Court also has a visit from the Birmingham Stage Company. Terrible Tudors is part of the Horrible Histories series of “history with the nasty bits left in.”
Performances are in the open air in the East Front Gardens. Bring a blanket and choose where to sit on the lawns to enjoy tales of headless wives, the Groom of the Stool and the Spanish Armada.
Book ahead for Terrible Tudors, and use your ticket to get a discount on entry to the Palace.
Also at Hampton Court: the palace gardens, home of the Hampton Court Flower Show and the famous Hampton Court Maze. (Last admission to the Maze 15:45)
Family trails are available at the information centre. Collect a pack of quizzes and activities for all the family, and take it back completed to collect a prize.
Opening times: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 16:30, last admission 15:30
Fashion Rules Restyled – Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace, London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is planning ten years of exhibitions, to display some of many thousands of items of clothing from the seventeenth century onward.
Fashion Rules Restyled is the first of these exhibitions, and features ball gowns, dresses and accessories worn by three of the world’s most famous women.
The style decisions of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana had a huge effect on fashion. Although their choices had to reflect their position, each of them developed their own style, and a fondness for particular designers.
Designs by Norman Hartnell, Hardy Amies, Zandra Rhodes, Bruce Oldfield and Catherine Walker, are displayed in the newly refurbished Pigott rooms. Special lighting and cases and carefully constructed stands have no visible dummies to distract the eye, so that the impact of the garments is undiminished.
From Princess Margaret’s New Look dresses and signature sunglasses and headscarves, to the Queen’s bejewelled gowns for state visits and Princess Diana’s slim, tailored look, the exhibition offers a fascinating insight into how the worlds of monarchy and fashion interact.
Also at Kensington Palace: The state apartments – don’t miss the fabulous King’s Staircase – and the Palace Gardens.
Opening times: Mon– Sun 10:00 – 17:00
Last Admission 16:00