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If you're thinking about visiting the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening, then you might like to stump up a bit more money and include a tour of the Buckingham Palace gardens as well.
The Summer Opening allows you to see inside 19 of the State Rooms where all of the official functions are held. The self-guided tour begins in the Quadrangle and then enters the Grand Entrance and up the Grand Staircase to the Ball Supper Room and Ballroom (where they hold the investitures).
After that comes the State Dining Room, Blue Drawing Room, Music Room, White Drawing Room, and into the Picture Gallery with paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer and Canaletto.
Then you get to see Her Majesty's Throne Room, before descending the stairs into the Marble Hall and Bow Room, before stepping out onto the veranda overlooking the vast lawn.
At this point we would normally recommend enjoying a cup of Earl Grey tea in their tented cafe, before strolling to the exit via the western path of the garden (which is very bland and boring). But if you pay for a Garden Highlights Tour then you will be able to explore the eastern half of the garden instead, which is where all the landscaped grounds and flowerbeds can be found. This path runs roughly parallel with Constitution Hill towards Wellington Arch, and the guide will explain the history of all the plants and the garden buildings as you walk along.
Craig has been to the Summer Opening on numerous occasions (read his most recent review) and has also tried the Garden Highlights tour as well. You can read his review of the Garden Tour on our Buckingham Palace page.
Craig’s review – “There's an excited line of tourists outside Buckingham Palace. Half of us are dressed for a society ball and the other half the shops. There are people here who seem to believe you need to dress up to get inside. (Trust me, you don't.) The Queen must dread the Summer Opening. It's a bit like having a million in-laws come round your house at Christmas. But she's got a… continued”
Exclusive evening tour of Buckingham Palace – 21 Dec 2018 to 3 Feb 2019 – Enjoy a glass of champagne and a tour of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in the company of an expert guide.
Get a closer look at the Albert Memorial – First Sun of the month (Mar to Dec only) – Go inside the Albert Memorial's railings and see one of London's finest looking monuments from up close
Listen to a speech at Speakers’ Corner – Every Sun (around noon) – If you visit Speakers' Corner at Sunday lunchtime you can listen to an orator stand up and discuss whatever they like -- all in the name of free speech.
Sunday football on Hackney Marshes – Every Sun – Hackney Marshes is the home of Sunday league football, with over 70 matches played between dozens of amateur teams.
Be a zoo keeper for a day at London Zoo – Mon to Fri – Sign-up to be a zoo-keeper at London Zoo for a day and get close to the animals and help to feed them and muck them out
Volunteer to help out at Spitalfields City Farm – Every day – Spitalfields City Farm is a nice place to take your kids, but did you know that you can volunteer to help out on the farm?
Look for more Royal events this month
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
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans