London city break guide.

An insider’s guide to London, featuring the best hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, attractions and things to do, including how to travel there and around. By Sophie Campbell, Telegraph Travel’s London expert. Click on the tabs below for the best places to stay, eat, drink and shop, including the best things to do and what to do on a short break.

There can be few more cosmopolitan cities on earth in the early 21 century and people pour in from across the world to visit, work or live. Colossal infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, King’s Cross-St Pancras and the Embassy Quarter and Battersea Power Station projects south of the river, are transforming the skyline.

Culturally, London is surfing the wave of recent events, including the Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympics. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has reopened and is anchoring another new quarter of London. Spaces such as the British Museum, the Royal National Theatre and both Tate galleries are expanding. The range of restaurants, bars, theatres, sports, pop-ups, performance art and large-scale events is astounding. Right here, right now, London is somewhere you have to be.

Newer attractions like the London Eye give a fresh perspective on London’s age-old landmarks
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When to go

London is always open for business, but expect skeleton service on big holidays and weather extremes (by our standards) may cause transport havoc. Shoppers pour in from across the world for January and July sales. The Frieze Art Fair has turned October into an unofficial art month. The quietest time is post-Christmas to late March and the busiest is July/August, when school groups arrive like noisy swallows to replace the holidaying business market. There is no summer exodus as in Paris or Buenos Aires.

Getting there

Flights

There are four airports, London Heathrow (due west), London Gatwick (south east), London Stansted (north east) and London Luton (north).

Internationally renowned venues like the Royal Albert Hall attest London’s cultural clout
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Airport Links

Trains with the word “Express” in them will be fast but expensive (cheapest prices, as shown, are online): Heathrow 15 minutes/£35 adult return (heathrowexpress.com) – note this service now goes every 30 minutes, instead of every 15; Gatwick 30 minutes/£31.05 adult return (gatwickexpress.com); Stansted 47 minutes/£32 adult return (stanstedexpress.com). If not in a hurry, take the bus – they make several stops in central London,  so may go near your hotel – or take the local stopping train with Southern (southernrailway.com). Victoria to Gatwick takes 36 to 58 minutes and costs £11 for a single, but be sure it stops at the airport.

Cruises

Ships moor at Tilbury, 25 miles from central London in the Thames Estuary (londoncruiseterminal.com). There is a shuttle bus to Tilbury Town railway station, a mile away, where C2C trains reach Fenchurch Street in 35 minutes. Most passengers travel into London by coach, which takes approximately an hour.

Train

Eurostar (08432 186186; eurostar.com) runs out of St Pancras International (020 7843 7688; stpancras.com): Paris 2hrs 15 from £69, Lille 1hr 20 from £69, Brussels 3hrs 4 minutes from £69. For other European destinations contact Voyages-sncf (0844 848 4078; uk.voyages.sncf.com).

Trafalgar Square at dusk, with the National Portrait Gallery and St Martin-in-the-Fields behind it
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Getting around

Car

London traffic is unforgiving and most roads adhere to the mediaeval spaghetti system rather than a nice grid. Still want to drive? If you live in the UK, join ZipCar (0333 240 9000; zipcar.com)- joining fee £59.90 or £6 per month, and pick up a car for as little as £5 an hour or £49 per 24 hours. The Congestion Charge is paid automatically. EasyCar (easycar.com) does good deals on small cars – from as little as £10 per day at Heathrow.

Bike

London’s Cycle Hire scheme (UK 0845 026 3630; overseas +44 (0)20 8216 6666;tfl.gov.uk/barclayscyclehire) has made thousands of blue bikes, nicknamed “Boris Bikes” after the cycling Mayor of London, available across the city. A new sponsor will be announced in Spring 2015, but the scheme is steadily spreading, reaching from Hammersmith in the west to East India Dock in the east and from Camden Town in the north to Putney. Access £2 for 24 hours, £10 for seven days and £90 per year. Usage is free up to 30 minutes, but rises steeply after two hours (£10 for two-and-a-half hours).  Download the map or phone app showing the latest docking stations: not all are shown on the information posts.

For longer periods, the London Cycling Campaign (lcc.org.uk) has a list of hire shops: On Your Bike (onyourbike.com) near London Bridge in Montague Close, SE1, does day hire for £18 for the first day and £10 thereafter and a week for £45.

London city break guide
The range of restaurants, bars, theatres, sports, pop-ups, performance art and large-scale events is astounding.
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Taxis

London’s renowned Black Cabs (tfl.gov.uk), famous for their long training, are the only ones allowed to ply for hire and are only available if their orange lights are on (tricky to see in summer). Minimum fare is £2.40 and fares jump after 8pm and again after 10pm. Download the Hailo app (hailocab.com/london) to find the Black Cab nearest to you for no extra charge. They are facing fierce competition from companies such as Uber (uber.com) and Taxicode (taxicode.com) as well as cheaper, but less regulated, minicabs. If using these, ask a friend or venue for a reliable company, check the fare in advance and be sure they know your name before getting in. Cabwise (tfl.gov.uk/cabwise) will text you the nearest Black Cab or minicab. Text CAB to 60835 (35p). If you want to tip, aim for 10 per cent or round up the fare.

Public Transport

The Tube, or Underground, is a fantastic network when running smoothly. The newest line is the orbital London Overground (coloured orange on the map), connecting 20 London boroughs. Buses are cheaper, slower, have better views and mightily improved signage and maps, but no longer accept cash. It’s now impossible to get around London on public transport without an Oyster Card, the plastic travel cards used by most Londoners: pay a refundable £5 deposit online (0343 222 1234; charges may apply; tfl.gov.uk) or at a station. Increasingly UK residents are using contactless payment cards, which have the same fares as Oysters, and these can also be used with cards issued abroad by major companies such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Visitor Oyster Card: If you live outside London or abroad, these cost £3 (non-refundable) and come pre-loaded with for pay-as-you-go use, starting at £10. They can be ordered online and sent to 58 countries in advance.

London city break guide
Buses are cheaper, slower, have better views and mightily improved signage and maps.
Beware “open” stations (for example, at Customs House for ExCel on the DLR); it’s easy to forget to swipe out and get clobbered for the maximum day charge.

Without the card, a single Zone 1 & 2 tube journey costs £4.80. With it, £2.90 peak and £2.30 off-peak and your travel costs are capped for the day at £6.40. A single journey on a bus costs £1.50, capped at £4.40 per day, and you can also buy a new Bus & Tram Day Pass for £5 (seven days £21). Use your Oyster to top up pay-as-you-go or load a Travelcard.Anytime Day Travelcards cost £12 Zone 1 to 4 (Zone 1 & 2 Day Travelcards no longer exist) and seven-day Anytime Travelcards start at £32.10 (Zone 1 & 2). An Oyster also gets you a 25% discount on the Emirates Air Line cable car and 10% off the Thames Clipper River Bus service.

Increasing numbers of overland trains accept Oyster cards.
If you want to do one journey of a single stop, you can pay a one-stop fare of £2.30 Oyster/Contactless, £4.80 cash.

Go nowhere in a hurry in London without checking Tfl Live Travel News (tfl.gov.uk). Huge infrastructure projects cause stations and lines to shut and buses to re-route, especially at weekends. You can also download apps from Tfl to check on live travel times for tubes and buses and help you plan your journey: incredibly useful.
For the latest London culture, lifestyle and travel news, visit the Telegraph’s London portal at telegraph.co.uk/london
Trooping the Colour: there are plenty of opportunities to experience regal pomp and pageantry in London
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Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destination/uk/england/london/42276/London-city-break-guide.html

The Sightseeing Tour Company

Sightseeing Questions – Are there any tours that go to Harry Potters Hogwarts School

This is a question we are often asked and the great news is there is a tour we found that visits.

Please see below.

The most common confusion for people wanting to visit is; what are they looking for and where is it?

Well the answer is Hogwarts is actually Alnwick Castle in the beautiful Northumberland area of North East England.

Hogwarts – Alnwick Castle

This is some way from London and the easiest way to tour there is from Edinburgh, which is very comfortably reached by train from London and well worth an overnight visit.

Here is some more reliable information from official tourism and local government sites

Alnwick Castle

Visit Scotland

Northumberland National Park

Railway Information

We found this great tour, departing Edinburgh that visits Alnwick

Harry Potters Hogwarts Alnwick Castle Berwick and Scottish Borders

Description

A day spent in the Borderlands of Scotland and England. Our tour follows the ancient Roman Dere Street that connected Scottish Caledonia with Roman Britannia through the Scottish Borders

Stopping at Melrose, home to the remains of the Cistercian Abbey and the burial place of the heart of Scottish King Robert the Bruce who lived and fought in the area that we are travelling through today Continuing South we cross the border and travel onto imposing Alnwick Castle, one of the great castles of Northumberland that has stood for nearly a millenium

Originally built to protect the north of England from Scottish border reivers and invaders, more recently Alnwick Castle and its perfectly manicured gardens have found fame as one of the settings for the fictional Hogwarts school in the Harry Potter movie series After almost 3 hours to explore Alnwick Castle we head towards the ancient gateway town of Berwick upon Tweed, a strategic walled town at the estuary of the River Tweed, that has swung between Scottish and English control over many centuries There is time to explore the city walls or visit the Georgian army barracks before returning to Edinburgh along the rugged coast of Berwickshire and East Lothian

Adult Prices from £35 to £40

Discount Prices £32 to- £37

Filming at Alnwick

Your day includes time in Melrose to visit the historic Cistercian Abbey, burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart brought back from the crusades in Moorish Spain and the best of the Scottish Borders and Northumberlan

Cross the border at Coldstream and enjoy lunch and the afternoon at Alnwick Castle and Gardens, scene of Hogwarts Castle in Harry Potter’s first 2 movies, before returning to Edinburgh along the dramatic east coast of Berwickshire and East Lothian, stopping at the ancient walled town of Berwick upon Tweed

We found this and many thanks to them, at www.bestvaluetours.co.uk

 

Sightseeing Question – When can I go inside Buckingham Palace? Are there organised tours?

An absolute must if you get the opportunity is a visit inside Buckingham Palace to see the magnificent State Rooms.

Buckingham Palace State Dinning Room

However, you need to plan your visit for a time when they are open to the public.

Buckingham Palace is all but full time working palace, hosting many state functions, plus week days for much of the year,  it is home to the Queen.

Here are the 2013 Dates and Prices

The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace

27 July -31 August  2013
Open daily 09:30-19:00
(last admission 16:45)

1-29 September  2013
Open daily 09:30-18:30
(last admission 15:45)

A typical visit lasts between 2 and 2½ hours

The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace

Adult  £19.00
Over 60/ Student (with valid ID)  £17.50
Under 17  £10.85
Under 5  Free
Family  £50.00 (2 adults and 3 under 17s)

For further information see the Official Buckingham Palace Website

Are there organised tours?

The sad fact is there are hardly any, however we have had a good look around and did manage to find this excellent tour that visits Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle in the same day.

Looks good value against going separately.

Here is the Windsor Castle Official Site with individual prices:

Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle Day Tour

Windsor Castle Over 900 years of royal history are waiting for you in Windsor Castle, which is perched high above the River Thames just outside of London. From William the Conqueror all the way through to our current Queen, successive monarchs have lived here and left their mark on what is now the largest continuously occupied castle in the world.

Amazing Windsor Castle

We shall be amongst the first people to enter Windsor Castle, so you can see for yourself the splendour of St. Georges chapel and the sumptuous state apartments. Windsor itself is a pretty town full of traditional shops and historic pubs. Shakespeare is said to have written his play The Merry Wives of Windsor in one of them! After our visit to Windsor, we drive through Runnymede, where King John signed the Magna Carta.

Buckingham Palace

After lunch we head to Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of Her Majesty The Queen, which serves as both her home and office. Visitors to the State Rooms can see many of the magnificent rooms which form the heart of the working palace and are used regularly by the Royal Family for official entertainment, ceremonies and State functions.

The Palace guides are on hand to point out the numerous works of priceless art in the lavishly furnished rooms. Afterwards, you can enjoy a walk along the south side of the Royal Garden and look out across the picturesque lake constructed in the 19th century. The tour ends in the Palace allowing you free time to explore at your leisure.

We found this and many thanks to them at, www.bestvaluetours.co.uk

Sightseeing Questions: Do I Save Money on an Organised Tour?

This is a question we are often asked and the answer is a big yes!

Aside from the services included of an expert guide and the fact the whole day is organised for you – you will save a fortune by taking a regular tour v making your own way.

Let us look at an example of say a day out to Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Dover Castle:

Beautiful Leeds castle in Kent

These are the entry costs if you go alone:

Leeds Castle £19.75

Canterbury Cathedral £9.50

Dover Castle £16.50

Train London to Dover / Canterbury to London £46.10

Bus Dover to Leeds Castle / Canterbury £8.60

Total = £100.45

We have used this example as price comparison, in reality with the time it takes on bus and train it would not be possible to fit into a day.

We found a great value tour that includes all this at only £74, plus also has a Free River Cruise and London Walking Tour, worth £30.

Leeds Castle, Dover and Canterbury plus Greenwich Boat Tour

Private Visit to Leeds Castle Described as ‘the loveliest castle in the world’ by Lord Conway, Leeds Castle sits in 500 acres of landscaped parkland across two idyllic islands, deep in the heart of the magnificent Kent countryside.

Exclusive to BestValueTours at Leeds Castle we have the ultimate Tudor treat for you! Upon arrival at Leeds Castle you will be greeted by your guide. Discover the history of this magical castle and sample a glass of mead as Henry VIII would have! (During the summer months, the Mead is unavailable on Saturdays).

Magnificent Canterbury Cathedral

Visit Canterbury Cathedral Centre of English Christianity and home to a succession of 104 Archbishops since Augustine, Canterbury is a magnificent medieval city that’s a must for any history buff. Discover the scene of Archbishop Thomas Becket’s gruesome murder at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Learn the intriguing history behind this captivating masterpiece of medieval architecture. Marvel at the cathedral’s spectacular stained glass windows, many of which have survived from the late 12th and early 13th centuries.

White Cliffs of Dover Visit the gateway to England and admire the famous the White Cliffs of Dover, a stunning stretch of coastline that faces continental Europe. You’ll also see Dover Castle, a commanding medieval fortress rising over the English Channel and a key film location in ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’.

Greenwich Overlooking the River Thames, Greenwich is a stunning World Heritage site bustling with fine maritime landmarks. See the Old Royal Naval College designed by Sir Christopher Wren, as well as the Royal Observatory and world-famous Cutty Sark, a fascinating 19th-century clipper ship.

Thames River Boat Ride Get a fresh perspective on London’s attractions with our River Thames boat ride from Greenwich to Embankment Pier, passing Tower Bridge and stunning St. Paul’s Cathedral along the route. This tour will finish at Embankment Pier in London at around 6.30pm.

Free Walking Tour – Special bonus Why not follow in the footsteps of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge or take in the places where the Fab Four worked and played in London. The walking tour you decide to go on will surely captivate you, with it being an experience to truly remember.

We found this and thanks to them, at www.bestvaluetours.co.uk

 

London Easter 2013 – How far in advance do I need to book out of London tours?

We get asked this question every year and always say as soon as possible or you will miss out, but every year the same thing happens, people wait until the very last minute when they arrive in London and are amazed everything is fully booked.

To enjoy these great tours over Easter, book now.

Easter 2013

Eater is early this year so dont get caught out – its just 10 weeks away!

Here are the dates:

Good Friday 29th March 2013
Easter Sunday 31st march 2013
Easter Monday 1st April 2013

Visiting London at Easter

You will find valuable ‘Official Tourist Information’ at Visit London

Are there any new tours for Easter 2013?

Yes – at last launching from Easter 2013 is a brand new tour that includes Highclere Castle home of Downton Abbey and Christchurch Oxford, home of Harry Potters Hogwart’s Great Hall.

Filming Downton Abbey

Longstanding friend of the Carnarvon family, Julian Fellowes had Highclere Castle in mind as he wrote Downton Abbey. He often commented he wanted a house which spectacularly testified to the confidence and soaring optimism of the Edwardian period.

Magnificent Highclere Castle

The success of Downton Abbey took everyone by surprise from the first nervous apprehension whether anyone would like the first episode or stay with it for the second or third… the series has become a phenomenon with appreciative viewers all around the world.

Thanks for this to Highclere Castle and for more reading see:

Filming Downton Abbey

Some History of Highclere

Highclere Castle was once the home of the 5th Earl of Carnavon, famous for his excavations in the Valley of the Kings with Howard Carter in 1922. Many Egyptian artefacts are housed in a permanent exhibition in the basement; however the interiors and furnishings of Highclere Castle reflect the influence of successive generations of the family since the early 18th century.

Thanks for this from basingstoke.gov and for further reading see:

Highclere Castle History

And here is the brand new Easter 2013 tour we have found and well done to them for launching this at last

Brand New Highclere Castle home of Downton Abbey and Oxford

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, boasts one of the world’s greatest – and oldest – universities, as well as some of the finest architecture in Europe

The colleges themselves, which make up the university, are amongst the architectural highlights, their ivy-clad stone walls protecting beautiful chapels, halls and libraries. We enjoy a unique tour which journeys through the heart of this ancient building before we head to the college’s spectacular dining hall, chosen as a key location in the Harry Potter films

Harry Potter Great Hall

Our tour allows us to access parts of the hall usually out of bounds to the public. We will also linger by the open fire as your guide reveals anecdotes about the movie and the remarkable links of Christchurch with the Alice in Wonderland stories

After the tour of Christchurch, there is time to wander through the ancient streets of Oxford with your tour guide. Why not try out a pub lunch at one of the many famous inn’s of Oxford

Our trip to Oxford promises an unforgettable experience for young and old alike

After lunch we head for Highclere Castle made famous by the Downton Abbey TV series

Built by Sir Charles Berry who also built the houses of Parliament, this is the countryseat of the Earls of Carnarvon. The tour of the Castle’s public rooms includes the magnificent public main hall, the library and sitting rooms in addition to other rooms featured in Downton Abbey

Why not spend some time enjoying the enjoying the parklands created by Lancelot “Capability” Brown who also designed the grounds of Blenheim Palace or indulge yourself with tea and cake at one of the tea rooms once you have finished touring the Castle

Departing Highclere Castle we head back to London and arrive back at approximately 6.30pm

We found this and thanks to them, at www.bestvaluetours.co.uk

Sightseeing Question – Are all London Tours Much the Same?

Thinking all London tours are much the same, is a common mistake, as is the belief that some of the cheaper tours are better value.

The reality is that there is a huge difference between what is and what is not included and this is worth looking closely at when booking.

An Open Top bus is a great way to Tour London

The more expensive all inclusive tours generally offer the best value and are far cheaper than trying to go alone and paying separately at each location.

Here are some individual entrances cost:

Tower of London £20.90

Westminster Abbey £18.00

St Pauls Cathedral £15.00

Buckingham Palace (Inc Garden and Mews) £33.25

London Eye £25.00

That’s a total of £122.25 before other attractions are included, a tour guide and transport.

If you look around it is possible to find a tour that includes all the above for half that price.

For further London information, here is the ‘Official Tourism Site for London:

Price is not the only difference on London tours; some include unique extras that are well worth doing.

For example we found this excellent tour that includes afternoon tea at Harrods.

Tea at Harrods and Vintage Double Decker Bus Tour:

Part 1 – Vintage Double Decker Bus Take your seat on board the Harrods Vintage double decker bus. The former 1960’s routemaster has been beautifully restored and is the perfect way to experience London. If the weather is good we will use our classic open top bus.

Part 2 – See all the sights of London Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge and the Tower of London, all brought to life by our professional guide.

Part 3 – Cruise on the River Thames Join us for a cruise on the River Thames, onboard our luxury air conditioned catamarran. The cruise is a great way to see some of London’s hidden treasures including Sheakespeare’s Globe, the Golden Hinde Boat and Cleopatra’s Needle, as well as the wonderful bridges that span the river. Have your camera’s at the ready for the perfect photo of the London Eye.

Part 4 – Watch the inspection of the Guard Next we head to Horseguards Parade to watch the world famous Guard Inspection ceremony. Horsegaurds is the gateway to the Royal Household including Buckingham Palace and everyday at 4pm the mounted cavalry appear, dressed in their famous uniforms, while they are being inspected.

Champagne Afternoon Tea at Harrods

Part 5 – Champagne tea in the Georgian Restaurant, Harrods To end the day we head to Harrods for a Champagne tea in the classical Georgian restaurant. Relax and enjoy the music from the live pianist while the waiters serve us delicious homemade scones served with strawberry Jam and clotted cream, a pot of Georgian blend tea and a glass of Champagne.

We found this and many thanks to them, at www.bestvaluetours.co.uk

Now the New Years Celebrations are over, what’s next? St Patrick’s Day

If it’s a really good fun event you are looking for, you would have to go a long way to beat the St Patrick’s day celebrations in Dublin.

Here’s some more information for you:

Dublin 14-18th March 2013

As part of ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’ for the first time ever, St. Patrick’s Festival are inviting up to 8,000 people around the world to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin on 17 March 2013 – The People’s Parade is a once in a lifetime opportunity and applications are now open!

Join the Party!

As a participant in The People’s Parade you will march in procession through the streets of Dublin, passing many historic landmarks along the way including the GPO, Trinity College, Dublin Castle and City Hall.  You will soak up the vibrant atmosphere; feel the energy, wave to the audience along the 2.5 km route and best of all once you have finished you can marvel at the spectacular performance section of the parade that follows.

Build lifelong memories, display your Irish pride, celebrate all that is good about Ireland and being Irish (even if you are just an honorary Irish person for one day!) and savour your unique journey through the heart of Dublin City- the journey of a lifetime!

St. Patrick’s Festival 2013 takes place from Thursday 14th to Monday 18th March, we hope to see you there!

For further reading see the official Government website:

Also worth a look is Ireland and Dublin’s official sightseeing sites:

We found this great fun packed tour for you:

London to Dublin 4 Day St Patrick’s Day Tour

Day 1-London to Dublin

Check in at St. Christopher’s Hostel, Shephard’s Bush, London @ 5.30am and get excited. Today you get on a coach and board a ferry, arriving into Dublin by sea! There’s no better way to start your journey. You’ll arrive into Dublin at 5pm and once you’re checked in to your Dublin hostel, it’s time to join us for a few welcome drinks and some proper Irish hospitality!

Day 2 – Dublin The Fair City

Take a trip around the Guinness Storehouse and discover all there is to know about the black stuff. After our walking tour through the sights and streets of Dublin there’s the chance to enjoy the music and dancing at all the festival events.

Day 3 – 17th March 2013 St Patrick’s Day

Join the Party!

Today is the day you’ve been waiting for, St. Patrick’s Day! Grab your spot early as the streets of Dublin fill fast. Get ready to have your senses bombarded with colour, music and scenes you will not forget. This is St. Patrick’s Day done by the Irish on their native soil… expect a wild one! Join us for the St. Pat’s Party

Day 4 – Dublin to London

After an incredible time celebrating St Pat’s, say goodbye to the Emerald Isle until the next time. We board the ferry and make the journey back to London. You can leave Ireland but it will never leave you! You will arrive into London at approximately 6pm.

We found this tour and thanks to them at www.bestvaluetours.co.uk

Looking for Something to do on New Years Day? – Changing the Guard Information

Well a great start to the day will be a visit to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard. However whilst the Palace will be there is all its glory, there is no Guard change on the 1st January.

Are there any alternatives is a question we are often asked today?

Yes – Changing of the Queens Life Guard

The Queen’s Life Guard leave Hyde Park Barracks at 10.28am weekdays (9.28am Sundays) and ride to Horse Guards Parade via Hyde Park Corner, Constitution Hill and The Mall. The ceremony of changing the Life Guard then takes place on Horse Guards Parade at 11am weekdays (10am Sundays).

The mounted sentries outside the Whitehall entrance to Horse Guards (who change every hour) are on duty each day from 10am until 4pm, at which time there is a dismounted parade of the Guard. There are two dismounted sentries on duty until the gates are shut at 8pm, when only one sentry is left on guard until 7am when the second sentry returns on duty. No one, who is not in possession of the password, can gain admission to Horse Guards after the gates have been closed.

The changing of the Queen's Life Guard on Horse Guards Parade

Spectacular Changing of the Queens Life Guard

When The Queen is in London, the Guard consists of 1 Officer, 1 Corporal Major (who carries the Standard), 2 Non-Commissioned Officers, 1 Trumpeter and 10 Troopers. This is known as a Long Guard.

When Her Majesty is not resident in London, the Guard is reduced to 2 Non-Commissioned Officers and 10 Troopers. This is known as a Short Guard. In early times the Guard was as much as 100 strong and provided Escorts to accompany the Sovereign if he or she travelled by road.

At the time of Guard Changing, the Old Guard forms up on the north side of the enclosure on Horse Guards Parade and the New Guard on the south side. As the New Guard arrives each Guard carries their Standard and the trumpeters of both Old and New Guards sound a Royal Salute on the arrival of the New Guard and on the departure of the Old Guard. When both Guards have formed up in the enclosure, the Corporal Major, Senior NCO and the sentries of the first relief of the New Guard leave for the Guard Room which is then handed over. The sentries of the Old Guard, after being relieved, rejoin the remainder of the Old Guard on the north side of the enclosure. The Standard and trumpeters only parade with a Long Guard.

For further reading visit – Changing The Queens Life Guards

A few more pointers for you:

The life guards rotate each day and the duties are shared between the The Life Guards and the Blues and Royals.

There are many different regular and guest regiments who guard at Buckingham Palace.

In January these will be shared between the:

Click on each regiment to see further information about them

1st Battalion Irish GuardsNijmegen Coy Grenadier GuardsF Company Scots Guards2nd Battalion The PWRR and Number 7 Coy Coldstream Guards.

For further information on Guard changing at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle see;

Trooping-the-Colour

We have also found for you a great New Years Day Tour:

This looks good value including, London Tour, Entrance to London Eye. a River Cruise and lunch!

New Years Day Complete Tour with London Eye River Cruise and Lunch

London Panoramic Tour and Tower of London

A whistle stop tour of London’s famous monuments, have your cameras at the ready for our photo stop at the spectacular Tower of London.

Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard

A mass of red tunics, bearskins and Buckingham Palace – an unforgettable experience! (Subject to weather conditions and timetable changes).

St Paul’s Cathedral and City of London

Uncover the history of our capital city, from the Great Fire in 1666 to the Blitz of 1940-1, as our tour takes you to the key locations where it all began.

Take in the Bank of England as well as the residence of the Lord Mayor at Mansion House in the financial district. Visit the iconic London landmark of St. Paul’s Cathedral, completed in 1708 and witness Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece.

River Thames Boat Ride

Take to the water on a River Thames boat ride and travel along London’s array of attractions.

Tour includes London Eye Experience

End your day in style! Take to the skies on a London Eye experience and enjoy breathtaking views of London in the luxury of your glass capsule. If you are tired you can use your tickets on another day (within 30 days). Your tour will finish at the London Eye.

We found this and thanks to them at www.bestvaluetours.co.uk

 

Staying in London for the New Year’s Celebrations – Looking for New Year’s Day Lunch ideas with a Difference?

How about a Traditional British Lunch with all the trimmings, a great festive atmosphere with like-minded company in a beautiful rural pub.

Every year we get asked the question, what alternatives do we have to give us a Christmas Dinner with a difference.

Well there are a number of tours that leave London for the day to glorious locations and include a lunch stop at a traditional English Country pub, who serve a fabulous lunch with the back drop of a roaring open fire.

Warwick Castle at New Year

One such location we recommend is Stratford-upon-Avon:

For further reading we recommend the official local government tourist site:

Local History of Stratford written by Tim Lambert

Stratford upon Avon was founded by the Saxons when they invaded what is now Warwickshire in the 7th century AD. The name Stratford is made up of Celtic and Saxon words. It was the straet ford that is the ford by the Roman road. Avon is a Celtic word meaning river or water.

At first Stratford Upon Avon was a typical village but in the late 12th century it was transformed into a town. (At that time trade and commerce were growing rapidly and many new towns were founded). In the year 1196 King Richard I granted Stratford the right to hold weekly markets. (In the Middle Ages there were few shops so if you wished to buy or sell anything you had to go to a market).

Soon the town of Stratford Upon Avon was up and running and there were many craftsmen there such as blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, brewers and bakers. Stratford was also known for its malting industry. (Processing barley for brewing).

Medieval Stratford Upon Avon would seem tiny to us. It probably only had a population of between 1,000 and 1,500. However towns were very small in those days. However by the 13th century Stratford had a small grammar school.

Furthermore in the Middle Ages people formed religious communities called guilds. The Guild of the Holy Cross was formed in Stratford in 1269. The guild had its own chapel which still stands.

To continue reading Tim Lamberts excellent work,

visit his non-commercial site at; Local History  

You can further helpful information on this lovely area at the official local government site for the Cotswolds:

We also found this excellent tour that includes a Traditional Lunch at Stratford-upon-Avon:

New Years Day Tour with Lunch. Cotswolds, Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon and Warwick Castle

Follow in the footsteps of Oxford’s famous students, from C.S. Lewis to Bill Clinton, as you stroll the captivating college courtyards and cobbled lanes of this historic university town. Take in the famous ‘dreaming spires’ and see the the Bodleian Library – one of the oldest libraries in Europe – on your travels. You’ll be captivated by the unspoilt narrow alleys and ancient squares of this naturally beautiful town.

Beautiful Cotswold Village – Castle Coombe

Christ Church

A treat for moviegoers of all ages, Christ Church is instantly recognisable as one of the major locations for the Harry Potter films! Marvel at the magical grandeur of the Great Hall, used as the setting for Hogwarts. The Cotswolds

Enjoy views of breathtaking countryside, sleepy villages, and bustling market towns as we drive through the charming scenery of one of England’s most beautiful regions. Shakespeare’s Stratford-Upon-Avon – Shakespeare’s Birthplace

A market town with a difference, Stratford-upon-Avon is the famous home of arguably the world’s greatest writer, William Shakespeare. Visit the picturesque half-timbered house where the legendary Bard was born to gain fascinating insights into his childhood.

Warwick Castle

Be part of Britain’s Greatest Medieval Experience! Deep in the heart of Warwick Castle, the Great Hall becomes a hive of activity! Immerse yourself in battle preparations and feel the weight of a medieval sword. Become a soldier – try on a battle helmet for size! Visit the spectacular State Rooms and feast your eyes on Victorian party preparations.

We found this tour and thanks to them; at www.bestvaluetours.co.uk

What’s a good way to see the Thames Fireworks on New Year’s Eve?

New Year’s Eve 2012 Fireworks

Celebrate the end of a year like no other and welcome 2013 with a bang, watching the Mayor’s spectacular, free New Year’s Eve fireworks in London.

I heard a rummer 2012 maybe better than last year – is that possible?

The night skies will come alive in a blaze of light and colour on Monday 31 December 2012 with a display of stunning pyrotechnics by the London Eye on the South Bank.

Courtesy of London.Gov and for further information see their link:

2013 Thames New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Here is another idea, we found this river cruise New Years Eve Party – the best view must be from the river?

New Years Eve Champagne River Cruise Party

Description

You will be welcomed aboard with a drinks reception.

Our staff will then take you to your reserved table, where a luxuriant 4-course dinner will be served as you cruise on the River Thames, through central London down to Greenwich and back.

You will marvel at London’s iconic sights, all with beautiful night-time illumination.

After dinner, the evening will continue with a live DJ and dancing amidst beautiful festive decorations.

Spend the remainder of the cruise dancing to an array of classic party tunes, or head out on deck to take in the breathtaking sites of London, all ready to meet the New Year, 2013.

At midnight you can toast the arrival of 2013 with a complimentary glass of Champagne whilst listening to Big Ben ringing in the New Year and admiring fantastic London fireworks.

Dancing will continue until the early hours.

We found this at and thanks to them: www.bestvaluetours.co.uk