20 great days out for the Queen’s platinum jubilee

Knights, concerts and afternoon teas … where to royally enjoy yourself over the platinum jubilee bank holiday weekend

Pageant and party, London

The Queen’s platinum jubilee central weekend – the official celebration – kicks off at 10am on 2 June with trooping the colour on Horse Guards Parade in central London (also shown on big screens in St James’s Park and live on TV). At 9pm, the principal beacon will be lit: a 21-metre “tree of trees” made from 350 smaller trees. A further 1,500 beacons will be lit around the UK, overseas territories and Commonwealth. Other official events include a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s cathedral on 3 June, a Party at the Palace on 4 June, headlined by Queen (with Adam Lambert), Alicia Keys and Eurovision’s Sam Ryder, and a pageant at Buckingham Palace on 5 June. The pageant includes a River of Hope procession: 200 silk flags made and carried by schoolchildren, themed around the climate crisis and representing their aspirations for the next 70 years.

Picnic in the park, Windsor

The royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is a prime focal point for revelry, centred on the Long Walk in Windsor Great Park. Events include the lighting of the beacon and fireworks on 2 June, a concert at St George’s chapel on 3 June, a free “bring your own picnic” jubilee party on 4 June – with music, sport and cars from across seven decades – and a Big Lunch on 5 June.

1950s takeover, Belfast

On 4 June, the cultural venue 2 Royal Avenue is going back in time to 1950s Belfast, with art workshops, live music, storytelling, film screenings, a photography exhibition and dancing. The cafe will serve dishes from the decade (free, some ticketed events). Elsewhere in the city, the jubilee beacon will be lit outside Titanic Belfast and City Hall, which will be illuminated in royal purple on 5 June, is to host tea dances.

Garden party, Bath

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa Garden
The Royal Crescent hotel & spa. Photograph: Jason Ingram

Bath is taking things a step further, illuminating a host of landmarks in purple on 2 June, including Pulteney Bridge, the Guildhall, the Roman Baths and the abbey (free, 10pm). Bath on the Beach opens for the summer on 2 June in Royal Victoria Park, and is giving away free Pimm’s over the weekend (booking required). There is a Big Jubilee Picnic on the lower lawn of the Royal Crescent on 5 June, with free face painting, children’s entertainers, and arts and crafts (free, 12-5pm). The Royal Crescent hotel & spa is throwing a garden party, with afternoon tea, live music and lawn games (£55).

Double deckchairs, York

York city centre

York is making a bid to have the most bunting over the bank holiday: the city centre will be dressed with more than two miles of it. In St Sampson’s Square, archive footage of the Queen’s visits to the north will be shown on a big screen, alongside daily screenings of the animated film The Queen’s Corgi (2-4 June). Other green spaces around the city will have giant union jack deckchairs, big enough for two, including Dean’s Park, St Anthony’s Garden and Museum Gardens. The Spring fair and food festival at York Racecourse includes more than 40 traders, DJs, bands, a vintage funfair, the lighting of the beacon and a Big Jubilee Lunch. There is a service of celebration at York Minster on 4 June; a jubilee outdoor market at Carlton Towers, also on 4 June, with Pimm’s and strawberries and cream; and lots of gin tastings at the York Gin Shop (2-5 June).

Proclamations and palaces, Norwich

Quayside and the River Wensum, Norwich.
Quayside and the River Wensum, Norwich. Photograph: eye35.pix/Alamy

Town criers will read a proclamation to the Queen as the beacons are lit on 2 June, in Norwich and towns across Norfolk. Chantry Place shopping centre is turning into Chantry Palace for the weekend, with royal guards on sentry duty, a throne and red carpet, and a corgi-themed family trail (2-5 June). At Norwich cathedral, there is a performance of Handel’s Coronation Anthems on 4 June (from £15 adults/£5 children). The Assembly Rooms is serving the Queen’s favourite afternoon tea, which includes a chocolate biscuit cake crowned with gold leaf (£24.95, until 30 June).

Bands and beers, Bristol

Bristol Cathedral

Bristol is hosting an all-day Big Jubilee Lunch on College Green on 5 June, with live music and activities including making a royal paper flotilla, while raising money for local food charities (free). The Mall, a pub in Clifton, has Platinum Fest on 3 June, with live bands and food stalls (free, 1-10.30pm). Berwick Lodge hotel has a Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea Party, with a pianist, a Berwick Bake Off, garden tours and more (from £29.95). The new Bedminster Beer Trail launches over the bank holiday weekend – drinkers collect stamps from independent pubs, bars and breweries along the way to claim a free festival beer at the Bristol Beer Factory tap room (2-5 June).

Castles and palaces

Jousting at Hampton Court Palace.
Jousting at Hampton Court Palace. Photograph: Ian Bottle/Alamy

Several of the UK’s castles and palaces are holding special events. At Hampton Court Palace in south-west London, there is Jubilee Joust in the gardens where knights will compete for the Jubilee Cup (1-5 June, included in standard entry price).

This year’s exhibition in the ballroom of Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire features a dress the Queen wore on the last jubilee, and the coffee shop is serving a special afternoon tea (£15 entry + £30 for afternoon tea, 2-5 June).

Exhibition at Balmoral.
Exhibition at Balmoral. Photograph: WPA/Getty Images

Cardiff Castle is hosting a Platinum Jubilee Concert on 4 June, with choirs, orchestras and singers including Bonnie Tyler (£32.50 adults, children free).

At Lincoln Castle, visitors can join the Great British Jubilee Picnic in the grounds, with entertainment from the castle bandstand (free, 2-5 June).

Gala concert, Birmingham

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is performing a programme of works presented by John Suchet that will include music from the coronation, works dedicated to the Queen and Princess Margaret, music from across the Commonwealth, and some of the Queen’s favourite tunes (2 June, from £13). Other events in Birmingham include a four-day celebration in Victoria Square, with family games, a funfair, and live music (2-5 June).

Great British Bands, Skegness and Mablethorpe

Two Lincolnshire seaside resorts, Skegness and Mablethorpe, are celebrating British bands formed during the Queen’s reign, with tribute acts to Coldplay, the Spice Girls, Oasis, the Beatles, Madness and, of course, Queen. The concerts, which are free, start at 1pm on 4 June and all bands will be playing in both locations. The events conclude with fireworks displays on the beach at 10pm.

Flotilla, Humber estuary

A flotilla of 70 vessels will parade from Victoria Pier in Hull to the Humber Bridge on 2 June, including pleasure boats, harbour tugs, a lifeboat and a trawler. Viewing points (free) include the pier and St Andrews Quay in Hull; Water’s Edge country park in Barton-upon-Humber; and Hessle Foreshore. The event re-enacts the Humber flotilla of 2012, celebrating the Queen’s diamond jubilee, in turn based on one from 1897 for Queen Victoria. The action starts with a family gala in Hessle from 3pm, followed by the early evening flotilla and culminating with the national beacon lighting at 9.45pm.

Platinum street party, Bishop Auckland

11Arches Park in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, claims to be throwing one of the biggest jubilee street parties in the country (4 June). The afternoon starts with an equine stunt show, Fina and the Golden Cape, a family-friendly tale with jousting, trick-riding, vaulting and chariot-racing. The show is followed by live music on the lake and a giant party, with seating for 2,500 people inside and outside the Arches Hall. Guests can choose from hampers at outdoor communal tables (£30 adults/£20 children) or a three-course indoor dinner with wine (£59). There are themed bars, an open-air dancefloor, a live broadcast of the jubilee concert and, for the finale, a light and water show with fireworks.

Manchester flower show

Manchester Flower Show

This urban flower show (2-5 June, free) is jubilee-themed this year, with city-wide floral tributes. The Queen’s Jubilee Trail has 10 professional displays to discover, from a giant queen bee to a floral representation of the crown jewels. There are many more displays in shop windows, doorways and planters, by florists, artists and community groups, on themes including the Queen’s Gambit. The fringe festival has alternative displays in venues including Noma, the Science and Industry Museum, First Street and the Great Northern Warehouse, such as Sex-Pistols-inspired punk posies. Bars and restaurants will have outdoor pop-ups, and there is a floral cocktail crawl around 10 venues: the summer garden spritz at the Harvey Nichols x Manchester Gin bar sounds suitably celebratory (raspberry gin and rose vermouth, £8).

Exmouth festival, Devon

The Exmouth festival (free, 2-5 June), which usually takes place in May, has held back to join the June jamboree this year. The designated Jubilee Celebration Day is 5 June. There will be a Big Jubilee Lunch, a communal art attempt, circus skills workshops, and theatre and live music including jazz and swing. Elsewhere in Exmouth, there is a big band concert at the Exmouth Pavilion (2 June, £17) and a Jubilee Beacon Trail around town.

Jubilee Elgar festival, Worcester and Malvern

The Elgar festival has concerts, street performances, talks and workshops at venues across Worcester and Malvern (3-5 June, ticketed). It includes music with a connection to the Queen, including Elgar’s Nursery Suite and Vaughan Williams’s Te Deum, and performed by the English Symphony Orchestra and the Elgar Festival Chorus in Worcester Cathedral. Other performances include the English String Orchestra playing Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro; and Elgar for Everyone family concert; and a jubilee prosecco tea party and swing concert in Henry Sandon Hall.

Blenheim Palace food festival, Oxfordshire

The food festival (from £20.50, 2-5 June) coincides with the jubilee this year, so as well as the usual guest chefs (Raymond Blanc, Gennaro Contaldo), masterclasses (pasta-making, cocktail-mixing), stallholders, street food and bars, there is a special jubilee garden. This is the place to have a pint, some fizz or a cream tea while watching the Lollipops, a vintage vocal trio, and the resident brass band.

Corgis and cupcakes, Warwick

The Market Square is the centre point of the celebrations in Warwick on 2 June, with free live music through the decades, classic cars and a steam train. Food and drink is available from local businesses, including picnic boxes. Schoolchildren have been baking jubilee-themed cupcakes and cookies for a cake competition, with the winners announced at the event. Finally, there is a Wiggle of Corgis: families can spot corgi stickers in shop windows around town leading up to the jubilee – and the real things wagging their tails in the square on the day.


Rachel Dixon

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
10 top tips from our London correspondent
Ditching the usual tourist suspects, Guardian Travel’s reporter takes us on a tour of his favourite clubs, bars, venues and restaurants around London

Will Coldwell

21, Feb, 2017 @1:32 PM

Article image
What to see near Epping: a guide to London by tube

To mark 150 years of the tube we travel along London's Central line, taking in attractions near 16 popular stations. Stop at Epping for sausages, steam trains and, of course, the forest

Henry Eliot and Tom Meltzer

09, Jan, 2013 @8:00 AM

Article image
London 2012: the best cafes and restaurants on the tourist trail

Eleanor Morgan's guide to superb places to eat and drink round the corner from London's top sites

Eleanor Morgan

20, Jan, 2012 @10:45 PM

Article image
London pub tour

There's more than one historic pub in London town, so why not let a guided tour take the strain of taking you to find them?

Steve Keenan

19, Jan, 2013 @7:00 AM

Article image
The best of strolls: walking Charles Dickens’ London
Fagin’s den, the blacking factory and the writer’s house are among the sites visited on our expert’s Charles Dickens walking tour of London. Wot larks!

Peter Fiennes

30, Dec, 2019 @6:30 AM

Article image
Horniman Museum, London: ‘Interactive, intelligent and inspiring’ – review
The new World Gallery raises the bar yet further for this free local institution, brimful of music, nature and dazzling displays from cultures the world over

Gemma Bowes

28, Jun, 2018 @10:11 AM

Article image
What to see near St Paul's: a guide to London by tube

To mark 150 years of the tube we travel along London's Central line, taking in attractions near 16 popular stations. Stop at St Paul's for the cathedral, a heroic park and an atmospheric drink

Henry Eliot and Tom Meltzer

09, Jan, 2013 @8:00 AM

Article image
What to see near Chancery Lane: a guide to London by tube

To mark 150 years of the tube we travel along London's Central line, taking in attractions near 16 popular stations. Stop at Chancery Lane for law, learning and eccentric drinking

Henry Eliot and Tom Meltzer

09, Jan, 2013 @8:00 AM

Article image
Will the new Sherlock Holmes escape room be the best in Britain?
‘The most anticipated game in the history of escape rooms’ is nearly here. We get immersed in Sherlock Holmes and round up the best of the rest in the UK

Rachel Dixon and Jane Dunford

11, Oct, 2018 @5:30 AM

Article image
Bath: baking with a French accent

Baguette recipes, bistros and boules, it's time to say 'Allo 'Allo to an unexpected side of Bath, the most English of spa towns

Jeremy Seal

19, Jan, 2013 @7:00 AM