Royal events and ceremonies
Discover celebrations fit for a king and queen: from the Household Cavalry to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo or spotting Royals among a clutch of huge hats at the races at Royal Ascot. Marvel at a 700-year-old tradition, the Changing of the Guard, or feel the rhythm of the drums outside an ancient castle - no matter where royal ceremonies take you, expect to find the nation packed with places to get that regal fix.
Embark on a royal adventure, with daily ceremonies and annual events that leave the skies dazzling with fireworks and our cities alive with military parades. With a jam-packed calendar of events - some of them free, there’s something for every royal enthusiast on every budget to get stuck right in.
Everything you need to know before attending Royal Ascot
The Royal Procession
See the arrival of The Royal Family at 2pm on each day of Royal Ascot. The horse-drawn Royal carriages can be seen from all the enclosures as they arrive and circle the parade ring, before they enter Royal box at the top of the Grandstand.
The Saturday and Ladies’ Day on the Thursday are the hottest tickets in town so book early to avoid disappointment. Enclosure upgrades and add-ons include access to private bars and fine dining packages.
Dress codes differ depending on your chosen enclosure. In the Royal Enclosure, men are required to wear a waistcoat and tie, a top hat and black shoes. Dresses worn by ladies must fall just above the knee or longer. Hats should be worn, but if a fascinator (a headpiece) is worn it must have a base greater than four inches. The Grandstand requires suits to be worn by men, and women to wear hats, while no formal dress code exists for the Silver Ring.
Pack a picnic or book one of 18 restaurant packages, ranging from Michelin-starred food in the Royal Enclosure to The Villiers’ Club - a private garden at the heart of the Village Enclosure featuring live bands, sandwiches and sweet treats.
Travelling to Ascot Racecourse
Royal Ascot is less than a 10-minute walk from Ascot station. London Waterloo is under an hour away by train and Reading station is under 30 minutes away. By car, the village of Ascot is within 10 miles of the M4, M3 and M25 motorways.
The Changing of the Guard
What is it?
Who are the Guards?
The Guards, recognisable by their parade uniform of red jackets and bearskin hats, are mainly infantry soldiers protecting the Royal Family, Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace.
How many Guards are there?
The number of guards can vary from three officers and between 31 and 40 soldiers.
What happens during the change over?
The guard on duty at St James’ Palace is inspected at 11am and then marches, accompanied by drummers or a military band to Buckingham Palace. There, the guard on duty is also inspected before a New Guard regiment arrives from Wellington Barracks to takeover. Symbolically, the key to the palace is handed over from the Old Guard to the New Guard.
How often does this happen?
The Changing of the Guard takes place daily at 11am from April to July, but only every other day in autumn and winter. It lasts for 45-minutes.
Royal Ceremonies to watch out for
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Party to the beat of the drum at Edinburgh Military Tattoo, filled with marching bands, bagpipes, drummers and traditional dancers. Taking place outside the dramatic setting of Edinburgh Castle, you’ll be wowed by regiments and military units from around the world, rousing music and a grand firework display.
State Opening of Parliament
To commence each new Parliamentary year, starting in May, see a member of the Royal Family travel to the Palace of Westminster in a State coach, escorted by the Household Cavalry. The Imperial State Crown and regalia travels in front in a carriage of its own.
Trooping the Colour
Over 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians come together each June in a great display of military precision, horsemanship and fanfare to mark the sovereigns official birthday. Watch the procession move from Buckingham Palace and down The Mall to Horse Guard’s Parade, with members of the Royal Family riding on horseback and in carriages. The display closes with an RAF fly-past including Britain’s iconic Red Arrows, and is watched by the Royals from Buckingham Palace’s balcony.
Guard Change at Windsor Castle
Changing the Guard at Windsor Castle encompasses colourful spectacle and British pageantry. The ceremony usually takes place three times each week at 11am within the Castle grounds. Watch the Old Guard forming up outside the Guard Room and a New Guard arriving, led by a Regimental Band, Corps of Drums or a Pipe Band.
Ceremony of the Keys
At exactly seven minutes to 10pm every night at The Tower of London, see the Chief Yeoman Warder (also known as Beefeaters), escorted by one of the Guard, secure the Palace and Fortress in the ancient custom of the Ceremony of The Keys.