The 'Changing the Guard' ceremony at Horse Guards is quite similar to the one that takes place at Buckingham Palace, but it doesn't have any marching bands or music (unless you include the guy blasting out a few notes on his bugle). But it is also a lot-less crowded, and unlike the ceremony at Buckingham Palace this one takes place every day of the year -- in all weathers. So you might want to check the schedule for Buckingham Palace first, and if that one isn't running on the day you're going then this one makes a decent alternative.
The ceremony begins at 10.28 AM when the replacement guards start riding towards Horse Guards from Hyde Park Barracks. If you've got plenty of energy (and you will definitely need a lot of energy to keep up with the horses!) then you can watch them pass Apsley House and Wellington Arch before riding all the way down Constitution Hill to Buckingham Palace. They will then ride down the Mall and assemble on the parade ground.
A series of changeovers will then take place on the parade ground, with the horses riding in and out of a door in the courtyard. They will also switch-over the horses that are standing in the horseboxes on Whitehall. Unfortunately it isn't possible to see the entire parade in one day because it takes place in two different locations, so what you have to do is pick a spot beforehand and accept that you will miss half of the show. Luckily Craig has been twice and seen the whole thing from both places, so read his review of the ceremony beforehand, because it goes into detail about the timings and the best place to stand to see as much as possible. He's also included a lot more photographs. Feel free to ask him a question about the ceremony, or write your own review on the forum.
Even if you can't make the ceremony itself, then it's still definitely worth visiting Horse Guards just to see the two mounted sentries standing in the horse boxes (between 10 AM and 4 PM). This is one of the most popular photos for tourists. The guards are not allowed to smile or interact with the crowd, so you will frequently see some students trying to make them laugh. Craig has written a big review about Horse Guards as well.
At 4 PM the horses are replaced by Foot Guards during the Dismounting Ceremony (also known as the 4 O'Clock Parade).
tiffany007 – “Hello! How would I get here from the Hounslow Central station from underground tube?”
Admin – “here you go — londondrum.com/transport/trains-journey.php?stationfrom=hounslow-central&placeto=horseguardsparade it's a 5 min walk from Westminster station or you could just get the Piccadilly line all the way to Leicester square and walk from there, past Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall. it's a nice walk and it's not too far, maybe 15 mins, and you can see nelsons column along the way”
Craig’s review – “Not a lot of tourists know about Changing the Guard at Horse Guards which is a shame, because in some respects it's better than the one at Buckingham Palace. But I don't mean better as in better better -- the one at Buckingham Palace is definitely better. The backdrop is better, the crowds are bigger, and you get some marching bands as well. But if you've got some lit… continued”
Dismounting Ceremony At Horse Guards at Horse Guards – Every day – The Dismounting Ceremony (or 4 O'Clock Parade) is a short ceremony that takes place every day at Horse Guards.
Changing The Guard Buckingham Palace at Buckingham Palace – 2 Jan to 27 Feb 2019 – Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace is one of the must-see sights in London for every tourist's itinerary.
Major General’s Review, at Horse Guards – 25 May 2019 – Two weeks before they celebrate the Queen's birthday at Trooping the Colour, they hold the Major General's Review.
The Colonel’s Review, at Horse Guards – 1 Jun 2019 – One week before the actual 'Trooping the Colour' parade, they hold a second rehearsal called "The Colonel's Review".
Beating Retreat, on Horse Guards Parade – 5 to 6 Jun 2019 – Beating Retreat is a floodlit pageant of military music and drill on Horse Guards Parade, ending with a salute to the Queen.
Trooping the Colour, at Horse Guards – 8 Jun 2019 – Watch a parade of soldiers and bands marching down The Mall in 'Trooping the Colour', to celebrate the Queen's birthday.
Moments of Silence — Imperial War Museum – 21 Sep 2018 to 31 Mar 2019 – Moments of Silence uses recordings of the silences captured at Remembrance Services at 11 AM on 11th November
Check out our guide to all the daily parades in London
Here are some more free events in London if you want a cheap day out
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)