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Trooping the Colour is one of the must-do events in London. But did you know that they hold a rehearsal two weeks before, called the Major General's Review? (A second rehearsal, called the Colonel's Review, is held one week later).
This rehearsal still involves the foot soldiers, the marching bands and horses, but misses out the Royal Family and the RAF flypast. (Major General Smyth-Osborne will be standing in for the Queen this year.) The upside is that it's far less crowded than the real thing, and you will have much more space to see the soldiers. This means that you might prefer it if you've got little kids, because the real thing attracts a crowd of thousands and thousands, and can be incredibly tiring for young ones.
You can watch the soldiers marching up The Mall towards Horse Guards for free, but you will need a ticket to sit inside Horse Guards parade ground. See qbp.army.mod.uk for more details about how to apply.
Craig has never been to the Major General's Review itself, but he has written a big review of Trooping the Colour. You might like to read that first, to give you a taste for what the real parade is like.
If you enjoy military parades then you check out our page of parades and ceremonies in London as well, because there are plenty more parades to see throughout the year.
Guest – “Well that's a shame, I just bought the tickets and then saw the dress code, but thought that would just be for the actual ceremony... Unfortunately we will not have room in our luggage for fancy dress... I now have two tickets for May 26th that can go to someone else... I guess we will have to stand.”
Admin – “it's probably worth double-checking with them first, because their info does say 'encouraged to look smart' and 'may result' (rather than 'will result'), so you might be alright with just shoes and a shirt/dress”
Craig’s review of Horse Guards – “When people talk about Horse Guards they usually think of the gravel parade ground where the military bands do Beating Retreat, but the best part is actually the small courtyard that faces onto Whitehall. That's where you'll find all the horses and foot soldiers. Everyone loves a horse. Especially when it's got a soldier on top. If you put a soldier with a shiny swor… continued”
Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London – Every night – The Ceremony of the Keys is over 700 years old, and represents the traditional locking up of the Tower of London at night.
Changing the Guard at Horse Guards – Every day – Changing the Guard at Horse Guards is similar to the ceremony at Buckingham Palace, but is usually a lot less crowded.
Yeoman Warder tour, at the Tower of London – Every day – One of the best ways of seeing the Tower of London is alongside a Yeoman Warder (better known as the "Beefeaters").
4 O’Clock Parade, or Dismounting Ceremony – Every day – The Dismounting Ceremony (or 4 O'Clock Parade) is a short ceremony that takes place every day at the Horse Guards.
Private tour of the Churchill War Rooms – Every day – Enjoy a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms, and experience Winston Churchill's wartime bunker from behind the glass.
If you enjoy Horse Guards then you might like to visit Downing Street (you can walk it in less than 3 mins), Parliament Square (you can walk it in 6 mins) and St. James’s Park (you can walk it in 6 mins)
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans