Presenting our guide to London 2017: from pomp and circumstance to world-famous sporting events, exquisite flower shows and multicultural celebrations, there is truly something for everyone. Brought to you by the team at the London Pass, the guide includes one-off events and well known favourites that come back year after year.
Start the new year with a bang at the annual fireworks display on the river and head off to the New Year’s Parade the next morning. The parade theme for this year is ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ – expect giant balloons, music and 8,000 performers from London and around the world.
Chinese New Year falls on 28 January this year and the main celebrations will take place the following day, with colourful performances, a parade and more fireworks.
Following on from Chinese New Year, the Magic Lantern Festival runs for most of February. Featuring huge lanterns and light installations, this year’s festival is being held at Chiswick House and retraces the ancient Silk Road on an adventure from Europe through the Middle East, India and China.
Why not treat a loved one to a special Valentine’s Day meal or outing? There will be plenty of themed and other events available.
To experience a taste of Irish culture, food and dancing, join the annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations on March 17th. There will be a parade in central London and a festival in Trafalgar Square with many smaller events taking place around the city.
As the weather gets warmer, it’s time for the famous Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge universities. Did you know that traditionally both teams are known as ‘blues’ and both boats are known as the ‘blue boat’? And if you think that sounds confusing, Cambridge is represented by light blue and Oxford by navy (blue).
The London Marathon takes place on April 23rd, the world’s largest annual fundraising event according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The event attracts thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators every year.
Celebrations of St George’s Day (England’s patron saint) are also due to be held in Trafalgar Square around the 23rd, although the exact date is still to be confirmed.
The Museums at Night festival takes place in May – a great time to discover new exhibitions, talks and even live music in historic surroundings. The festival offers a mixture of free and ticketed events after dark. Firm favourites include the British Museum, Natural History Museum, V&A, National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery.
During the daytime, the Chelsea Flower Show kicks off the outdoor season in style, with stunning show gardens and floral exhibits.
The Trooping of the Colour is the Queen’s official birthday and is celebrated in June every year (although her real birthday is 21 April). You’ll enjoy a colourful military parade with hundreds of soldiers, horses and musicians, but be quick and book in advance. Tickets are so popular that they have to be allocated by ballot. Want to learn more about the troopers and their history? Be sure to plan a visit to the Household Cavalry Museum!
There are a lot of other events this month: the Taste of London food festival, West End Live (a free event in Trafalgar Square with the cast of some of theatreland’s most popular shows and musicals) and the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival all take place in June.
Another busy month kicks off with the Hampton Court Flower Show – a chance to enjoy six days of horticultural displays and green-fingered fun, against the backdrop of Henry VIII’s historic home, Hampton Court Palace.
Also taking place in July, Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tennis tournament still played on grass and a chance for you to see world-class players in action. Tickets are so hotly sought after, that queueing for Wimbledon day-tickets has become a tradition in itself. Over the course of the tournament, around 54,000 tennis balls (and more than 140,000 portions of strawberries) are served. Didn’t manage to get any tickets? Don’t fret, you can experience the majesty of Wimbledon and learn all about this world-famous tournament with a visit to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
If you are of a musical disposition, why not book tickets to the Proms? This eight-week programme of concerts takes place mainly at the Royal Albert Hall and makes classical music accessible with affordable prices and an informal atmosphere.
Other events for this month include cycling bonanza RideLondon, the Pride parade and a variety of other music festivals.
The Buckingham Palace Summer Opening takes place in August and September – a truly special event, as it’s the only time of year that visitors are admitted into the Palace building. The most iconic royal building in the country and the London residence of Her Majesty The Queen, Buckingham Palace is one of only a few working royal palaces left in the world. During the Summer months, this beautiful historic building opens up to the public while the Queen makes her yearly visit to Scotland. Visitors can visit the lavish State Rooms as well as the beautiful gardens.
Another highlight of our guide to London 2017 is the Notting Hill Carnival. A celebration of Caribbean culture since 1966, it attracts over a million visitors and is one of the world’s largest street festivals with floats, live music and spectacular costumes.
The month-long Totally Thames Festival takes us into autumn. It includes around 150 events on or around the river, ranging from archaeology to opera, organised walks and fireworks. Given the river’s central role in London’s development and history, it is the perfect way to find out more about the city – and to have a little fun.
Another key event is Open House London, every September. You’ll have free access to around 800 buildings that are usually not open to the public, including private homes, government buildings and historic sites. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to visit 10 Downing St.
Cultural celebrations taking place in Trafalgar Square include Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and Africa on the Square, part Black History Month. Halloween is of course very popular with London school kids (and adults) too, with special events held across the city. Get in the spooky mood with our rundown of some of London’s Most Haunted Spots!
Remember, remember, the fifth of November! Look out for bonfires and firework displays on Bonfire Night, organised in many public parks across London, to commemorate the failure of Guy Fawkes to blow up parliament in 1605.
The Lord Mayor’s Show also takes place in November and dates back to 1215. King John I tried to win favour with Londoners by letting them choose their own Mayor, but insisted that every new Mayor must leave the safety of the City of London and swear loyalty to the Crown. The ritual procession continues to this date, with an enjoyable festival-like atmosphere.
London is often at its loveliest in the run-up to Christmas. You can admire the enormous Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, donated every year by the citizens of Norway and enjoy the festive lights across most of the city. Open-air ice rinks, Christmas markets and an annual funfair in Hyde Park are some winter must-sees.
This is of course just a short guide to London for 2017, with only a small selection of the events taking place. For a more comprehensive overview, be sure to follow our blog, Facebook page and Instagram for more of what’s happening when you plan to visit!
May 3, 2018 by Leisure Pass Blogger
April 27, 2018 by Megan Hills
April 13, 2018 by Megan Hills