There are actually two detachments of the Guard that need changing -- the one at Buckingham Palace and one at St. James's Palace, a short walk down The Mall. The St. James's Palace detachment begins first, marching to the Palace at 10.45 AM (a few will remain behind, until they are replaced by the New Guard). They will then form up on the Buckingham Palace forecourt. Meanwhile, the New Guard will march from Wellington Barracks in Birdcage Walk at 10 AM, complete with trumpets and drums, ready for the ceremony to start at 11 AM. (You can go and stand outside the iron railings of Wellington Barracks before the ceremony starts, if you like, and watch the new guard being put through their paces.)
The ceremonial changeover will then take place on the Buckingham Palace forecourt, and the New Guard will head towards St. James's Palace at 11.10 AM -- which then frees up the contingent that was left behind to head to Buckingham Palace at 11.25 AM. Finally, the Old Guard will leave the Palace at 11.40 and head back to Wellington Barracks again, followed by the St. James's Palace detachment at 11.45. You will then have to stand around for five minutes waiting for the the crowd to disperse. Phew!
A word of warning: Changing the Guard is the most popular military parade in London, and it gets extremely busy. You will most likely find yourself wedged inside a crowd of several thousand people. If you want to bag yourself a spot right up against the Palace's railings then we recommend getting there no later than 9.30 AM (and preferably a lot earlier if you want the very best spots). If you find that the railings are already full, then try and stand on the Queen Victoria Memorial instead. If that is full as well, then stand on the linking road between Birdcage Walk and the Palace, as the military band from Wellington will march straight past you.
But whatever you do, make sure you have a read of Craig's review of Changing the Guard before you go, because he tells you all you need to know about the timings, the best places to stand, the size of the crowd, and it will give you a feeling for what the ceremony is like to attend. Feel free to ask him a question about the ceremony on his blog.
You can also talk about Changing the Guard on the forum, or maybe share your own experience -- let us know what you thought of it!
Note: You might also see some other soldiers marching down The Mall whilst the ceremony is going on -- but they are taking part in Changing the Guard ceremony at Horse Guards instead (which is also worth a visit). You might also enjoy the Dismounting Ceremony at Horse Guards, and the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. You can see the entire list of daily parades in London here. Or maybe you'd prefer some military events and exhibitions instead?
Vannatta – “Right, the changing of the guard is one of the most busiest attractions in London for sure.”
grajack18 – “Following your advice we decided to view the Changing of the Guards today. As others have mentioned, it was wall to wall people, but highly recommended. It might be worth mentioning the timing is 30 minutes earlier than suggested in your post. Luckily we arrived early, as you suggested. Corrected times are available online. (Not able to include the link) Thanks, -Graham”
Craig’s review – “Important note: The timings have changed since I wrote this review. Everything now takes place 30 minutes earlier than I say below This is what the final five minutes of Armageddon is going to be like, with everyone crushed up against the Pearly Gates with their heads wedged between the metal bars trying to get a look inside. To say this place gets packed would be a… continued”
Changing The Guard At Horse Guards at Horse Guards – Every day – Changing the Guard at Horse Guards is similar to Buckingham Palace but it's less crowded and takes place every day
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.
Buckingham Palace Summer Opening – 20 Jul to 29 Sep 2019 – Step inside Buckingham Palace and see the lavishly decorated State Rooms and all the treasures from the Royal Collection
Buckingham Palace and Garden Highlights – 22 Jul to 29 Sep 2019 – Why not combine a visit to the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening with a tour of the Queen's gardens as well?
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
Renewal — Life After The First World War – 21 Sep 2018 to 31 Mar 2019 – An exhibition of black and white photos showing the rebuilding and changes that took place after World War I.
I Was There — Room Of Voices – 21 Sep 2018 to 31 Mar 2019 – Hear the personal stories of the soldiers, civilians and children who lived through the Armistice at the end of World War I
Check out our guide to all the daily parades in London
Look for more Royal events during February
Here are some more free events in London if you want a cheap day out
If you enjoy Buckingham Palace then you might like to visit Clarence House (you can walk it in 6 mins), Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace (catch the train from St James’s Park to Queensway), Royal Mews (you can walk it in 4 mins) and Windsor Castle