Changing of the Guard in London

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The Changing of the Guard is a ceremony in which the Old Guard in charge of the security of Buckingham Palace is relieved of their duties by the New Guard. This spectacular parade is a free event, that takes place in the morning and is one of the most important and famous tourist attractions in London.

During the Changing of the Guard you will see regiments of guards on horseback as well as guards on foot. They will be wearing the traditional red robes and the famous bearskin hats. The military musical band performs alongside the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard. They play both military music and more contemporary hits – which often surprises visitors, when they play songs that you wouldn’t expect!

The Changing of the Guard in London: The Complete Guide

1.       What is the Changing of the Guard?
2.       Schedule
3.       Route and map
4.       Where to see it
5.       Calendar
6.       Cancellations
7.       Walking tours of the Changing of the Guard in London
8.       What to do after seeing the Changing of the Guard
9.       Visiting Buckingham Palace in London

What is the Changing of the Guard in London actually about?

The Queens Guard is responsible for the security of two palaces in central London: Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace. St James’s Palace is located just 5 minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace. So, the ceremony of the changing of the guard in London can actually be seen from these two places: Wellington Barrack (at Buckingham Palace) and St James’s Palace.

Horse Guards is the official entrance to Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace. Horse Guards is situated between the beautiful park of St. James’s and Whitehall, the road that takes us from Trafalgar Square to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.  There are mounted guards at Horse Guards, and these guards also switch over at 11 am. This means that we will see mounted guards passing by Buckingham Palace twice – first at 10.45am, when the new mounted guard pass by towards Horse Guards, and then at 11.37am when the old mounted guard go back towards Buckingham Palace.

At 4 pm every day there is a dismounting ceremony at Horse Guards. This is known as the four o’ clock parade. The mounted guard that have been guarding Horse Guards from 11am is then relieved from duty at 4pm, by guards on foot. An officer will inspect the incoming Royal Guard, and after a long day of guarding the Queens’ Palace, the horses are taken to the stables to rest.

So when we talk about the Changing of the Guard, we have to cover the following four key places:

1.       Buckingham Palace
2.       Wellington Barracks
3.       Palace of St James
4.       Horse Guards

The schedule of the Changing of the Guards – In Detail

The Changing of the Guard in London is held on specific days of the month, and the exact dates are normally confirmed a month in advance. We would advise that you check the dates of the changing of the guard a few days before you travel to London.

Top tip: Many people think that the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard is held every day at Buckingham Palace, but in fact, this is not the case. So some days you´ll find that there are people waiting even if the Changing of the Guard is not scheduled to take place.

10.30 am: The new Guard of both detachments (Wellington Barracks and Palace of St James) get ready. At Wellington Barracks the new guard form up in the square of the barracks for inspection. They are accompanied by a military band that start playing a selection of music. The Royal Guard from the Palace of St James is not always accompanied by a musical band, but when there is a musical band you will be able to hear it very clearly from Marlborough Road, when the procession starts heading towards Buckingham Palace.

10.43 am: St James´s Palace detachment of the Old Guard step off for Buckingham Palace.

 Sentries remain at the Palace of St. James.

10.45 am: The mounted guard (Household Cavalry) ride past Buckingham Palace on their way to Horse Guards.

10.57 am: The new Guard leave Wellington barracks for Buckingham Palace.

11:00 am: Official start time for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

11:10 am:  The new guards leave Buckingham Palace for the Palace of St James’s.

11:25 am: St. James’s Palace contingent, of the Old Guard, leaves St. James’s Palace and head towards Buckingham Palace.

11:37 am: The old Guard that was on duty at Horse Guards rides past Buckingham Palace.

11:40 am: Old Guard who was on duty at Buckingham Palace leaves Buckingham Palace towards Wellington Barracks.

11:45 am: St. James’s Palace Detachment of The Queen’s Guard leaves Buckingham Palace.

Troop Movements: Map

Where to watch the Changing of the Guard in London

This is one of the attractions in London that tourists flock to see. To make sure that you don’t miss a thing during the Changing of the Guards, we would firstly recommend arriving early, and secondly, know where the best spot to stand is.

The majority of people will crowd right in front of Buckingham Palace at the gates, to see the changing of the Guard. There are more places from which the ceremony can be seen, but just bear in mind that the whole ceremony cannot be seen from just one spot.

  1. Gates at Buckingham Palace: If you can get to the front row, just in front of Buckingham Palace at the gates, you’ll have a great view of the ceremony, but you won´t probably see the Household Cavalry very well.
  2. Victoria Memorial: Just in front of Buckingham Palace you’ll see the Victoria Memorial, and standing on these steps will offer great views of the ceremony,. The steps on the Victoria Memorial are probably one of our favourite spots to see the Changing of the Guard in London.
  3. Green Park entrance: You could stand at the Green Park entrance which is on the right of the main entrance of the Palace – but we wouldn’t say that this is the best option to be honest, as you won’t see the actual changing of the guard, but you will get to see the household cavalry as they go by.
  4. The Mall: This is the main road that leads up to the main entrance of Buckingham Palace. We would recommend to stand at the junction with Marlborough Road. You’ll be able to take brilliant photos from here.
  5. Wellington Barracks

If you are not that interested in seeing the relay itself, but you want to take some really cool pictures of the Guard walking or riding towards Buckingham Palace, we would recommend waiting at The Mall, which is the street that goes from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. More specifically we would recommend that you stand at the entrance of Marlborough Road.

The Changing of the Guard Calendar in London: Exact Dates 2019

The Changing of the Guard ceremony in London begins at 10.30am with the relief of the guards happening at 11am at Buckingham Palace. The ceremony lasts approximately 30-45 minutes.

The Changing of the Guard will normally take place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday of the year. During the months of April, May and June the changing of the guard also takes place on Saturdays. During the summer it takes place every day of the week.

However, although this is generally the schedule, there can always be exceptions, with the exact dates usually confirmed one month in advance. Below we have put together a list of confirmed dates and the provisional dates for each month. This information is updated every month, and the exact dates of the Changing of the Guard are only available the month before (sometimes only a few days!) This is why it’s so important to check the dates just before coming to London.

> January
> February
> March
> April
> May
> June
> July
> August
> September
> October
> November
> December

Changing of the Guard in London January 2019 Confirmed dates

The Changing of the Guard in January will take place on 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28 and 30 January 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Dates confirmed.

In January we also celebrate the New Year with events January 1st

Changing of the Guard in London February 2019 Confirmed dates  

The Changing of the Guard in February will be held on days: 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25 and 27 February 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Confirmed dates. 

* Exceptions: On February 3, 8 and 15, the change of guard is celebrated normally, but without musical accompaniment from the Palace of St James’s.

Changing of the Guard in London March 2019 Confirmed dates  

The Changing of the Guard in March will be held on 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29 and 31 March 2019. Confirmed dates. 

Changing of the Guard in London April 2019 Confirmed dates 

The Changing of the Guard in April will be held on 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26 and 29 April 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Dates confirmed.

In April we will also be celebrating Easter in London. The Changing of the Guard will not be taking place on Sunday 28th April as this is when The famous London Marathon is taking place this year.

The Queen´s birthday falls on the 21st of April, which is why the Changing of the Guard will also take place on this day.

Changing of the Guard in London May 2019 Confirmed dates

The Changing of the Guard in May will take place on days 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10*, 12, 13*, 15, 17*, 19, 20, 22, 24, 25*, 26*, 27*, 29 and 31 April 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Dates confirmed.

* Exceptions: On May 10, 13 and 17 there will be rehearsals for the grand ceremony Trooping The Colour. On the 25th of May there will be a Review of Trooping the colour and tickets can be bought to attend this rehearsal on the official website. There won’t be any music or ceremony on 26th and 27th May.

Changing of the Guard in London June 2019 ✓ Confirmed dates

The Changing of the Guard in June will be held on days 1*, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8*, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 of June 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Confirmed dates

* Exceptions: On the 1st of June there will be a rehearsal for the grand ceremony Trooping The Colour which takes place on Saturday 8th June, to celebrate the queen’s birthday.

Changing of the Guard in London July 2019 ✓ Confirmed dates

The Changing of the Guard in July will be held on days 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31st of July 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Confirmed dates.

Changing of the Guard in London August 2019 ✓ Confirmed dates

The Changing of the Guard in August will be held on days 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28 and 30th of August 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Confirmed dates.

* Exceptions:  There will be musical accompaniment from the Palace of St James on the 7th and 9th of August in addition to the musical accompaniment from Wellington Barracks. On August 4th the Changing of the Guard will take place without a ceremony or musical accompaniment due to the London Ride cycling festival  that takes place on these days.

Changing of the Guard in London September 2019 ✓ Confirmed dates

The Changing of the Guard in September will take place on these days: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29 and 30th of September 2019 at the Palace of Buckingham. Confirmed dates.

Changing of the Guard in London October 2019 ✓ Confirmed dates

The changing of the Guard in October will take place on the following days: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13*, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28 and 30th of October 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Confirmed dates.

* Exceptions:  On the 13th the Changing of the Guard will take place at 8am without musical accompaniment or traditional ceremony due to the Marathon that takes place in London on this day.

Changing of the Guard in London November 2019 X Provisional dates 

The changing of the Guard in November will take place on the following days: 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28 and 30 November 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Provisional dates

Exceptions: on Remembrance Sunday there will not be a ceremony during the changing of the guard. One of the main highlights in November in London is the switching on of the Christmas lights.

Changing of the Guard in London December 2019 X Provisional dates 

The Changing of the Guard in December will take place on the following days: 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 27, 28 and 30 December 2019 at Buckingham Palace. Provisional dates

In December, in addition to the changing of the guard, we celebrate Christmas in London and the most important night of the year: New Year’s Eve in London

Cancellation due to rain

You’ve probably heard the rumours, it does occasionally rain in London… The bad news is that the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard in London can be cancelled last minute without any notice due to bad weather. If the ceremony is cancelled, it will not be rescheduled for a later time or date. However, in our experience it has to rain a lot for it to be cancelled, and a few raindrops won’t stop it from happening!

Walking tours of the Changing of the Guard in London

A great option is to join one of the walking tours of the Changing of the Guard. A tour guide will tell you about the history and curiosities of this fantastic ceremony, but you will also get the opportunity to walk alongside the Queen´s soldiers. There is also access to a platform where you will get a perfect view of the whole thing.

⇒ More information: Changing of the Guard Walking Tour

What to do after the ceremony

Once the ceremony is over we would suggest that you go explore the nearby areas by foot. You will be close to tourist hot spots like St James’s Park and Trafalgar Square. Take a look at our itinerary 1, a walking route that starts at Buckingham Palace and that you´ll find on our free mobile app.

See our London Itinerary 1: From Buckingham Palace to Covent Garden

Visit Buckingham Palace

Not many people know this, but you can actually visit different parts of Buckingham Palace. The spectacular Royal Mews are one of the finest working stables in existence. Here you will be able to see the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, the Gold State Coach, and the carriage horses. The Royal Mews are open all year round to the public.

The state rooms at Buckingham Palace are open during the summer. We highly recommend doing this if you’re looking to do something special during your visit to London.

The Queen’s Gallery has been a gallery for the Royal Collection since 1962, and it hosts a programme of changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection. It is open to the public all year round.

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Hello! We moved to London (Yes, the best city in the world) in 2010, and since then we have been discovering everything that this fantastic city has to offer. We regularly plan our friends' trips to London, so we thought we would create PlanTripLondon.com and share our suggestions with the world for everyone to be able to plan the perfect trip to London!

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