Spring,  London History,  Seasonal

How to Commemorate VE Day in London

Thanks for visiting my site! Google penalized my site and made it impossible to find, so I appreciate that you use another search engine and trust me to help me plan your trip.

If you’re a history buff or knowledgeable about World War II, you probably already know that London is an excellent destination for those interested in this chapter of history. As in many countries that participated in World War II, there are specific dates and holidays observed throughout the calendar year to mark the importance of the Allied victory in 1945. One such date is VE Day, which is not generally noted in the U.S. – but which does still have significance in London and the U.K.

In this post, I’ll cover the basics of VE Day and how you can learn more about it/commemorate VE Day in London if you’re visiting in early May. Much like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day (also called Armistice or Remembrance Day in the U.K.), VE Day is an opportunity to honor those who served and fought for the future we now live in – and engaging with this history while visiting London is an amazing experience.

What is VE Day?

VE Day in London - Black and White Images

Victory in Europe Day, otherwise known as VE Day, is acknowledged every year on May 8th. It marks the events of this day, back in 1945 when the Allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, which therefore saw the end to World War II in Europe. 

On the day itself, in 1945, millions of people rejoiced in the news that Germany had surrendered, relieved that the stress and intensity of six years of war was finally over. A national holiday was declared in Britain, with towns and cities across the country, and indeed the world, marking the victory with jubilant street parties. 

Ways to Memorialize VE Day

There are plenty of ways to acknowledge VE Day in London – always in a respectful and sensitive manner. 

If you’re not looking for a specific experience or event, you could watch films and interviews telling the stories of people who lived through the original VE Day; hearing the experiences firsthand is quite moving and can really give you an insight to what it was like. Many churches will also hold special services to commemorate VE Day in London, so joining one of those can be a lovely way to memorialize the occasion.

Here are other ways to commemorate VE Day in London during your trip.

Observe Two Minutes of Silence

To be honest, if you’ve heard of a two-minute silence in London, it’s probably with regards to Armistice Day/Remembrance Day, which is observed on November 11th each year. In 2020, then-Prince Charles led a special two-minute silence to mark VE Day on its 75th anniversary, but this isn’t a common event. (There hasn’t been an announcement of whether this might occur again in 2025 for the 80th anniversary.)

Attend Mass at Westminster Abbey

There was a huge mass/service at Westminster Abbey on VE Day in 1945, making this an important location in London if you’re looking to commemorate the day. There are special services held on May 8th each year to commemorate VE Day, but these are strictly by invitation only. Since my guess is that neither you nor I will be getting an invite any time soon, you could choose to visit the Abbey on VE Day and observe your own two-minute silence.

Visit the Imperial War Museums

Photo courtesy of Gobbolino the witch’s cat via Flickr

The Imperial War Museum in London is open daily from 10am to 6pm and offers free entry to all. It is one of the world’s leading museums focused on the history of world war and conflict. It was founded way back during the First World War and gives a platform to the extraordinary experiences of ordinary people whose lives were affected by war. 

There’s a super collection of information and memorabilia related to VE Day at the museum so it is the perfect place to spend some time learning about the event and the lives of those who experienced it back in 1945.  

Discover the Churchill War Rooms

VE Day in London - Guards' Chapel Recital Series

The Churchill War Rooms in King Charles Street, London, is another fantastic location to find more information and resources relating to VE Day. It is open daily from 9:30am to 6pm and tickets start from £32. It is highly recommended that you book in advance to avoid disappointment as the museum can get very busy. 

You will discover the war rooms left exactly as they were by Churchill himself at the end of WW2. This gives an unrivaled insight into this iconic leader and how he led the country to victory. 

Book a Private Blitzwalkers Tour

A Private Blitzwalkers Tour is the ultimate experience for those wishing to find out more about London in the war, about all the main events at this time, and indeed about the London VE Day celebrations that followed.

These fascinating guided walks take visitors on a unique tour which is supported by photos that provide a ‘then and now’ perspective, life-like props for the group to examine as well as a whole host of personal accounts from people who lived the events, which truly bring the experience to life. These tours are a great opportunity to ask the questions that you won’t necessarily find the answers to on Google! Prices for the tours do vary, so be sure to check out the website for more details prior to booking. This would be a fantastic way for you to commemorate VE Day in 2024.

Have any other questions about VE Day, how it is commemorated in London, or how you can observe a day of memory for those who served? Let me know in the comments below.

Avatar photo

Vikki grew up in south east London and enjoyed all aspects of the city for many years before she left to travel the world. She still has family in the city and brings her kids back to enjoy all the wonders of London whenever she can.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *