Your guide to the Lord Mayor’s Show
When it comes to tradition and pageantry, it doesn’t get much better than the Lord Mayor’s Show. This annual event has been taking place for more than 800 years and includes 165 horses, 35 carts and carriages, and 20 bands. If you’re visiting London on 10 November, then you really shouldn’t miss out on this spectacle.
A historic occasion
It was in 1215 that this exciting tradition was first started. After many attempts to organise itself into a commune, the City of London was given permission to elect a new mayor annually, but with one proviso. The individual given the honour must leave The City and travel to Westminster to swear allegiance to the crown.
Some 802 years and 34 monarchs later, the annual event still takes place, although the mayor no longer makes the journey alone. Over the years, the route, which was once through open countryside, has become a thriving city, and the expedition a huge show, complete with procession, flotilla and fireworks.
The procession will set off from Mansion House in The City at 11:00. The state coach, containing the new mayor, joins the procession right at the end, behind all of the marching bands, military detachments and worshipful companies. It will be around an hour before he brings up the rear to make the three-mile journey to Westminster.
Where to view the procession
Such a long route means there are plenty of opportunities to see the parade go by. The best atmosphere is found between Bank and St Paul’s from 11:00 and 12:30, although it’s worth turning up early to get a good spot. Alternatively, you can position yourself between Blackfriars and Mansion House to see the procession making its return journey from 13:15 to 14.30.
For a premium view, you can purchase a ticket for one of the two grandstands that sit on either side of the processional route near St Paul’s Cathedral. If this is your planned course of action, be sure to book tickets in advance, as these spots sell out every year.
Back when the newly-elected mayors of The City first started their annual journeys to Westminster, it was much quicker and safer to travel up the Thames than over land. To pay tribute to this early method of making the trip, a flotilla will travel along the river prior to the procession, taking the mayor to his starting point in The City.
As well as the lord mayor, sailing in the traditional QRB Gloriana barge, the flotilla will be made up of a selection of other vessels. These will include 24 traditional boats belonging to many of the livery companies and port authorities still represented in London today.
Viewing the flotilla
The banks of the Thames make natural viewing areas to see the flotilla going past. Pick your favourite spot in line with the correct timings and you can’t go wrong. The lord mayor will step on board QRB Gloriana at 08:30 at the Westminster Boating Base in Pimlico, before setting off towards Waterloo Bridge.
It is expected that the flotilla will reach this crossing point by 09:00 and then London Bridge at 09:20. One of the most majestic sights of the whole river parade will occur at 09:25, when Tower Bridge will open its bascules in salute as the flotilla goes by. Arriving at St Katherine’s Dock at 09:30, the lord mayor will disembark by the HMS President.
At the end of a spectacular show of pageantry, the party is brought to the close with not just one bang, but multiple explosions. From 17:15, the skies above London will be awash with colour, as the new mayor sets off a stunning fireworks display.
Watching the fireworks
Centred on the Thames, the fireworks will be visible from far and wide, but it’s best to get into a good position if you want an optimum view. Head to the riverbank between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, choosing either Victoria Embankment or South Bank and soak it all in.
Be prepared for the Lord Mayor’s Show
It is England in November, so be sure to bring items to wrap up warm and keep yourself dry should they be required. A sturdy pair of shoes for walking to your position is also a good idea, as well as water and snacks to keep you going during the day.
Follow the #LordMayorsShow hashtag on social media to get more information about the parties taking part. Live updates will let you know more about the groups passing by in the procession and their fascinating histories.