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Trooping the Colour: Details for 2024 & How to Attend

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Say what you will about the British monarchy, but it has some really cool events and ceremonies. From royal weddings to funerary processions, today’s modern London traveler has had a good chance to watch royal rituals in action – probably on TV, if you don’t live in London. (I’m assuming you don’t since you’re on this sit for travelers!)

One essential event on the royal calendar is the Trooping the Colour, which occurs every year in June. This event dates back centuries and is full of the pomp and circumstance that some visitors can’t help but enjoy – even if you’re not a big fan of the monarchy as an institution.

Trooping the Colour Hero

If you’re planning to visit London in June and want to attend the Trooping the Colour, there are lots of details to know and keep in mind – and a very specific procedure for getting official tickets to the event. Below you’ll find all the details to try and secure your spot, and to plan alternative/backup options if needed.

Ready to watch an impressive display of Britain’s royal military, right in the heart of London? Here’s all you need to know!

Note: I don’t normally use the British spelling of things as this site is designed for North American visitors, but in this case, “colour” is the correct term to refer to the event and what occurs!

What is the Trooping the Colour?

Trooping the Color - Guards walking

Also known as the King’s Birthday Parade (or Queen’s, if the ruling sovereign of the time is female, as she was until recently), Trooping the Colour is an annual event in June, put on by London’s Horse Guards Parade.

This event is meant to celebrate the official birthday of the current British sovereign, King Charles III, whose real birthday actually falls on the 14th of November, and thus celebrates his birthday twice. For those who wonder about the reason for setting the date of the parade in June, it was done by Edward VII to hedge against the well-known capriciousness of British weather!

Dating back to 1685, the Sovereign’s Birthday Parade in 2024 will involve over 1400 soldiers (complete with bearskin hats, despite the warm weather), 200 horses, and 400 musicians (drummers and pipers), marching from Buckingham Palace down The Mall to Horse Guard’s Parade (by St. James’s Park.) The members of the royal family follow the soldiers on horseback and in carriages and, at Horse Guard’s Parade, King Charles, the Colonel-in-Chief, will inspect the troops.

The focus of the ceremony is the Colours, or the regimental flags, which were used as a rallying point on the battlefield. (They are so named because they display the colours of the uniform and insignia of the soldiers in the various units.) During the parade, one of the five Foot Guard regiments will slowly troop, or carry, its colour through the ranks of guards. The march will have two segments: a slow march, during which the colours are lowered before King Charles, and a quick march, during which the colours will fly.

The two-hour parade is succeeded by a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop in Green Park, before culminating with the royal family watching a Royal Air Force fly-past from the Buckingham Palace balcony. (The entire celebration takes about four hours.)

All in all, Trooping the Colour is a very popular event in the UK and some commonwealth countries, with millions watching it live or on TV. 

How to See Trooping the Colour in London

Attend the Official Event (June 15th)

Trooping the Color - House Guards Parade Ground

The Trooping the Colour will be held at the Horse Guards Parade on June 15, 2024, at 11am. This year, the No.9 Company Irish Guards will troop the colours of the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards in the Sovereign’s Birthday Parade.

To watch the event live from a seat in the stands, you will need a ticket, which you can enter a ballot to try and win. As of late April, the tickets have not yet been released, but do check that site daily, as they will go very quickly once they’re released – which should be any day now!

Everyone can apply to buy a maximum of four tickets, but keep in mind that the tickets are very popular! If you’re not one of the lucky few to get a seat, you can either watch the ceremony on the BBC or squeeze with the crowds standing at the edges of St. James’s Park.

Attend a Rehearsal (June 1st/8th)

Another way to see the live parade in London is to watch the Trooping the Colour 2024 rehearsals, which are held on June 1 and June 8. (These are also ticketed events, with tickets available through the same King’s Birthday Parade site.)

On June 1, the Major General will review the Trooping the Colour on Horse Guard’s Parade at 11am. The Colonel’s review is then held on June 8, at the same place and time.

Note: if you’re interested in military processions, there is also the Household Division’s military pageant “Beating Retreat.” It is conducted at the same location on the evenings of the Wednesday and Thursday before Trooping the Colour (June 12 and 13, 2024).

Enjoy the Guards’ Chapel Recital Series (May 28th/June 25th)

The Guards’ Chapel Recital Series is a series of free monthly military music shows held between January to July. Every event is held between 1:10pm to 2pm at The Guards’ Chapel on Birdcage Walk. The recitals closest to the Trooping the Colour 2024 will be on May 28 and June 25.

Bonus: Attend a Changing of the Guard

Trooping the Color - House Guards Parade Ground Changing of Guards

The best-known Changing of the Guard, also known as Guard Mounting, is held at Buckingham Palace. However, the ceremonies are also held at Horse Guards Parade and Windsor Palace. 

Buckingham Palace

Trooping the Color - Buckingham Palace with Flowers Blooming in the Queen's Garden

At Buckingham Palace, the procession is conducted every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, at 11 am, at Buckingham Palace Forecourt. (Arrive VERY early to get a good view of the 45-minute ceremony but note that the Changing of the Guard can be canceled at very last-minute notice – as late as 10:45am if the weather is bad.)

Note: This is also a very popular event in London – Buckingham Palace Gate gets so crowded that police officers are present during the event. Remember to be wary of pickpockets! 

During the Buckingham Palace ceremony, the red-clothed, bearskin hat-wearing guards on duty (or Old Guards) form up in front of the palace. There, they will be relieved of duty by the New Guards, who arrive from Wellington Barracks, accompanied by a full military band. 

The soldiers perform some marches whilst the band plays a variety of music during the handover. Then songs can be anything from a traditional military march to pop songs! They don’t take song requests but, in the past, James Bond movie music and the Game of Thrones theme song have been heard, lending the traditional ceremony a refreshing contemporary touch. This ceremony symbolizes the formal handover of the duty of guarding the palace between the Guards.

If you don’t want to squeeze, you can also watch the Buckingham Palace ceremony at four other spots: Friary Court in St James’s Palace, The Mall, The Victoria Memorial (second best spot), and Wellington Barracks (the New Guards will line up here to be inspected from 10.30 a.m.) Keep in mind that these other venues don’t offer quite the same experience though.

Horse Guards Parade

The Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade involves The King’s Life Guard. They leave the Hyde Park Barracks at 9:28am (Sunday) and 10:28am (weekdays) before riding to the Horse Guard’s Parade, where the ceremony occurs at 11am (weekdays) or 10am (Sundays). There is also a dismounted parade held daily at 4pm, during which the duty officer inspects The King’s Life Guard.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, on the other hand, holds the Changing of the Guard on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can watch it from Windsor High Street or Corn Exchange if you don’t plan to enter the castle.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to see and enjoy the Trooping the Colour in 2024, and other ways to watch the iconic military rituals during your London trip. Have any questions about attending Trooping the Colour in 2024, or the ceremonies in general? Let me know in the comments below!

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Zhen fell in love with London when she first visited at the age of 4. After that, she was lucky to have the opportunity to live in UK for 11 years, 7 of which were spent in London. (She particularly adores the areas around Kensington, Southwark and Baker Street!) As someone who loves both food and travel – don’t we all? – you can find her sharing her Asian food recipes over at greedygirlgourmet.com.

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