Their are two different ceremonies at Horse Guards -- both of which are usually forgotten by the tourists. The first one is the Changing the Guard ceremony, which takes place in the morning (10.45 AM Monday to Friday, and 9.45 AM on Sundays), and the second one is their daily inspection at 4 PM.
Known as the 'Dismounting Ceremony', or 'Four O'Clock Parade', this very short ceremony takes place in the courtyard behind the horseboxes (on the Whitehall side). The mounted sentries trot into the courtyard and are joined by a line of Foot Guards from the barracks, who are then inspected by a very vocal officer. He walks around the front and back of them, inspecting their uniforms for dust and the shine of the shoes. Then he does the same thing for the horses, before ordering them into the stables for the night. The whole thing takes no more than fifteen minutes from start to finish.
The horseboxes will then be closed for the night, and the courtyard will then be guarded by a couple of Foot Guards instead. The horses will return the next morning at 10 AM.
This is probably the least visited ceremony in London, because hardly any tourists know about. The guidebooks focus on Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace instead, and never mention this one. And whilst it is true that it is very short, and not a lot happens, Craig still thinks it's worth a visit -- especially if you've got kids. The big problem with Changing the Guard is the size of the crowd, because being wedged inside a mob of a thousand people for an hour with young ones is not much fun. But this is a great way to show your kids some pageantry without having to wait around all day. And it handily takes place at 4 PM too -- so you can squeeze it in between some other attractions and your evening's entertainment.
Read Craig's review of the Dismounting Ceremony before you go, which includes a lot more pictures, because it goes into detail about the best place to stand, and what time to arrive. Feel free to ask Craig a question about the Dismounting Ceremony as well, or write your own review on the forum.
You might like to visit our page about other military parades in London as well.
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