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'Beating Retreat' is an annual pageant of military music and marches on Horse Guards Parade. It's a magnificent example of the kind of pomp and pageantry that London does so well. It always takes place in the week before Trooping the Colour.
The ceremony dates back to the late 17th-century, when the beating of drums and lowering of flags signalled to the battlefield troops that the camp gates were about to close. These days it's more of a military concert with marching bands, and includes the lowering of the Regimental flag at sunset.
This year's pageant will be performed by the Massed Bands of the Household Division (which is drawn from the two Household Cavalry Regiments and the five Foot Guards Regiments).
The evening will end with a salute to the Queen (or possibly another high-ranking member of the Royal Family), followed by a fireworks display.
Horse Guards is quite a small seating area, and tickets are hard to come by. So if you want to attend Beating Retreat make sure you buy a ticket in plenty of time.
glenking – “Definitely worth a look, as its close to Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, but its really just a big empty courtyard. there's nothing actually in it, just some nice buildings and architecture around the sides. I've never been there when there's been anything on, like Trooping the Colour, and i can imagine how that would be quite a sight, but if you go on a cold rainy day in November like i did, then expect to stay just a few minutes before you move on. a tip: dont forget the little walkway under the arch that leads onto Whitehall where the soldiers stand. it's in the middle, and its a good little shortcut otherwise you have to go around to Admiralty arch”
londonlover – “I had a walk past Horse Guards the other day and its all closed up for a beach volleyball tournament. I know it sounds daft, but they are tripping tonnes of sand into it so they can play this game. I think Horse Guards is where they are holding volleyball tournaments in the Olympics, so it's probably a dry-run for that. Horse Guards is going to be closed until the end of August until they finish this tournament. Its probably still worth a look though.. ive seen beach volleyball on the telly a few times and there's lots of things to look at (if you know what i mean )”
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.
Aftermath — Art In The Wake Of World War I – 5 Jun to 16 Sep 2018 – Tate Britain's 'Aftermath' exhibition will explore how British, German and French artists responded at the end of World War I.
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