Royally good days out

Plan a bank holiday fit for a king, with some of the best coronation celebrations across the country


Whether you’re a flag-waving monarchist or just looking forward to a bonus bank holiday, you’ll find a string of ways to celebrate the UK’s first coronation in 70 years.

Along with the official and ceremonial events in London and Windsor, plus street parties galore, there’s everything from special screenings to family-friendly activities taking place during the weekend of May 6 to 8.

Landmarks nationwide will be illuminated using drone displays, lasers and projections as part of the “Lighting Up The Nation” event on May 7, while local charities, volunteer groups and community projects will be in the spotlight for The Big Help Out on May 8.

We’ve rounded up some of the best options to mark the day.

Coronation screenings

The processions between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey will be broadcast on big screens around the country on May 6, as will the centuries-old coronation ceremony.

More than 30 public big-screen locations from Brighton to Belfast have already been announced, including Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, Millennium Square in Leeds, Lower Gardens in Bournemouth, Cardiff Castle plus sites planned in London and Edinburgh.

Add an extra regal touch by watching the screening at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight — favourite home of Queen Victoria. Fellow English Heritage sites Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire and Brodsworth Hall near Doncaster will have their own big screens too. Free admission, prebooking recommended.

Elsewhere, royal stronghold Nottingham Castle will also have big screens in its grounds, before the site’s full reopening in June.

Take a Coronation cruise

You might not own a royal barge but you can still head out on to the Thames to celebrate with several coronation cruises taking place. In Henley-on-Thames, Hobbs of Henley is promising a “right royal knees-up” with a DJ, Pimm’s and a British buffet on the menu, or an afternoon tea cruise. May 6-7.

And in London, City Cruises will be giving its sightseeing tours a regal twist, with special family activities and decorated boats.

Coronation celebrations at the Royal Mews, London

After the Gold State Coach’s outing for the coronation itself, there’ll be a chance to see the 260-year-old conveyance up close as part of a day of celebrations at the Royal Mews.

Taking place on May 7, visitors can also discover other carriages used in the coronation procession and the collection’s newest addition, the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, before spotting some of the Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays used to pull them, plus arts and crafts activities for kids.

Royal memorabilia at the Museum of Brands, London

Creating coronation souvenirs is nothing new, as London’s Museum of Brands proves with a special display covering 200 years of royal memorabilia.

During sessions on May 6-8, visitors can handle some of the items from the collection, with everything from commemorative mugs and tins to flags, magazines and bunting, alongside souvenir lighters, royally inspired cans of beer and chocolate bars from the coronations of George VI and Elizabeth II.

Coronation Joust at Chiltern Open Air Museum, Kent

Armoured knights will be enacting a string of spectacular medieval jousting displays, as well as exhibitions of hand-to-hand combat at Chiltern Open Air Museum in Kent from May 7 to 8.

In between the tournament challenges, there’s a chance to meet the knights and their horses, and discover more about medieval daily life.

Kings and Queens at Hever Castle, Kent

Embracing its own royal pedigree, Hever Castle has family-friendly activities running from May 6 to 8, such as regal face-painting and free craft sessions to decorate a crown or shield.

Previously home to two of Henry VIII’s queens, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, the castle also has a new exhibition titled Catherine & Anne: Queens, Rivals, Mothers, as well as the usual attractions in the grounds, from the mazes to the gardens and lake.

King of the Castle celebrations, Lincoln

Enjoy live entertainment at Lincoln Castle, with free admission to the castle grounds over the bank holiday weekend.

The castle will be dressed up for the occasion, plus there’ll be a big screen inside the walls showing the official coronation events — and lots of room on the grass to enjoy a picnic.

Big Coronation Celebration, Harrogate

There’s a three-day party taking place in Harrogate’s Valley Gardens featuring free fairground rides, circus workshops, family-friendly entertainment and an artisan market.

After livestreaming the coronation ceremony and parade, the big screens will also be showing a string of family films on May 6. And tying in with the community focus of The Big Help Out events, there will also be a community hub highlighting some of the town’s charities and community groups, plus opportunities to get involved.

Picnic in the Park, Temple Newsam, Leeds

Head to Temple Newsam on May 8 where the historic country estate is holding a variety of activities in the house and on the farm to celebrate.

There will be games and music to enjoy, or bring a blanket to picnic on the west lawn. Admission is £5, and includes entry into the house and farm.

Board the Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

Step aboard this floating royal residence, where King Charles III spent many of his own childhood summer holidays, and on May 6 and 7 you can enjoy the coronation special tea in the Royal Deck Tea Room, including a glass of sparkling wine.

There’s also the chance to explore all five decks of the Royal Yacht, from the State Apartments to the Naval Quarters, as well as booking special King’s Coronation private tours.

Celebrate at Balmoral, Aberdeenshire

The Scottish home of the royal family since 1852, Balmoral Castle will also be celebrating on May 6 with an array of family events.

Along with a falconry display, you’ll also be able to hear the Ballater Pipe Band and get a peek at some vintage buses. Screens in the coffee shop will be showing the live events of the day as well.

Discover royal Britain

The bank holiday weekend isn’t the only time to enjoy some royally-inspired events this year.

Crowns and coronations at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Get yourself in the mood for the big day with a special family event at the monarch’s official residence in Scotland on May 1, including a chance to decorate your own crown, design your own commemorative badge and discover more about everything from royal crowns to the symbols used on flags.

Coronation Robes at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire

The Dukes of Rutland have taken part in most coronations since James II’s in 1685 and the historic ceremonial robes made for the 9th Duke of Rutland for the Coronation of George VI in 1937 are on public display in the castle ballroom for the first time in more than 22 years. Until May 31.

Royal Connections at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

A major new exhibition is putting everything from crowns and coronets to robes and photo albums on display at Blenheim Palace, showcasing its centuries of links with the royal family. Runs to July 30.

Take a royal tour

Follow in the footsteps of Charles I and II (as well as Charles III) with a guide to royal day trips in Warwickshire, exploring locations visited by kings over the centuries.

Along the way, you could discover the site of the first pitched battle of the English civil war and the escape route taken by the future Charles II, as well as a royal castle and a filming location from The Crown.

Or head to Chester, where a new 90-minute tour traces more than 1,500 years of royal history, starting with King Edgar. From May 16.

Royal stays in Wales

More than 50 years on from his investiture as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle in 1969, you’ll find countless sites in Wales with links to King Charles III, as well as places to stay with their own royal heritage.

Ruthin Castle Hotel is set inside a historic castle built for Edward I, and has played host to Edward VII as well as the then Prince Charles, who stayed here the night before his investiture.

Or check into a holiday cottage on the Llwynywermod estate, the Welsh home of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Eat and drink like a King

There are more royal-themed afternoon teas than you can shake a scone at this summer.
Celebrate with cake overlooking the Royal Mews at The Rubens at the Palace from May 1 to August 28, while The Goring — granted a Royal Warrant for hospitality services by the late Queen — has both afternoon tea and a Coronation Tasting menu.

Or head to Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, which has hosted every British monarch since George I, for a menu including a range of products from the farm at the royal residence Sandringham House.

And the Windsor & Eton Brewery has launched a new beer to celebrate the coronation, brewed in Windsor using organic barley from the local Royal farm.

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