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There are literally hundreds of events that take place throughout London. Some are for very specialist audiences but those listed here attract audiences from every corner of the globe and from every walk of life.
Whether you fancy joining in the exuberance of one of the many parades through the streets – such as the Notting Hill Carnival, revelling in the pageantry that some historic ceremonies provide, like the Changing of the Guard, or simply attending one of the fantastic shows or exhibitions (e.g. Hampton Court Palace Flower Show), you are sure to find something that will capture your imagination and leave you wanting more from this great city.
Most are free to enjoy but you may find some where tickets must be obtained before hand, so if you are planning your short trip in advance, you should check the calendar to see if there are any events taking place while you are in the city.
Read more on this destination in the AA Key Guide to London.
Top London events
Ceremony of the Keys
Every evening at 9.53pm the ceremony of locking up the Tower begins. For free tickets, apply in writing to the Ceremony of the Keys office, at the Tower of London at least 2 months in advance.
Changing of the Guard
Footguards in full dress uniform - red tunics and bearskin hats - can be seen changing shifts in a stirring display of pageantry at three locations in London, Buckingham Palace, Horseguards and the Tower of London. You will need to arrive early to get a position with a good view.
New Years Parade
Up to 10,000 dancers, musicians and floats gather in Parliament Square at noon and parade up Whitehall, round Trafalgar Square and along Piccadilly.
January - February
Chinese New Year
Chinese dragons snake their way around Chinatown collecting money and gifts.
March - April
Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race
Annual race held on the Thames, from Putney to Mortlake, between rowing eights from Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Virgin London Marathon
More than 30,000 runners compete in one of the world's biggest road races.
Chelsea Flower Show
Fabulous flower show st the Chelsea Royal Hospital, attended by the Queen and huge crowds.
Trooping the Colour
On the Queen's official birthday the 'colour' (flag) of one of her seven Household regiments is carried for her inspection at a military ceremony on Horseguards Parade.
June - July
City of London Festival
Dance, music, theatre, cinema and literary events, plus walks, across the city of London.
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships
This is the oldest major tennis championship in the world and the only one played on grass. In the early rounds, you can queue for tickets on the day, but the only way for members of the public to get tickets for the final 4 days is to enter a public ballot the autumn before.
June - August
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
Held at the Royal Academy, this is open to every artist in the country from the humblest amatuer to the greatest professional. Anything can be submitted, drawings, prints, sculptures. The exhibition often has a theme, to inspire. Around a thousand works are chosen to go on display and all are for sale.
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
The world's largest annual flower show.
London Pride Parade
Themed floats and exotic costumes celebrate London's gay and lesbian community and end with a Pride in the Park event in Hyde Park.
July - September
BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts
The world-famous Proms feature an eclectic mix of music from world premierers and startling modern music to classical standbys. The last night, held in Hyde Park, draws huge crowds.
Notting Hill Carnival
More than a million people get together for this event - one of the biggest street parties in Europe. Fabulous costumes, steel drum, bands and mega sound systems.
Great River Race
Around 300 Cornish gigs, chinese dragonboats with drummers, cutters, longboats and other craft compete to win the UK Traditional Boat Championship.
Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival
Victorian costermongers (market traders) elected their own 'royalty' to protect their trading interests. Today, the pearly kings and queens, who mostly devote their spare time to raising money for charity, gather in their elaborate outfits covered in mother-of-pearl buttons.
October - November
London Film Festival
The UK's biggest film festival, centred on the National Film Theatre and the Odeon West End.
State Opening of Parliament
The Queen arrives in a state coach attended by the Household Cavalry to reopen Parliament officially following summer recess.
Lord Mayor's Show
The newly elected Lord Mayor of London processess with about 140 floats to the Royal Courts of Justice, where the oath of allegiance is taken before the return journey. There are spectacular fireworks in the evening from a barge moored between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge.
Remembrance Sunday Parade
The Queen, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries lay wreaths to commemorate those who have died fighting in wars.
November - December
Celebrities are invited to switch on the Christmas lights decorating the most famous shopping streets, plus a huge Norwegian spruce in Trafalgar Square - an annual gift from Norway since 1947 to express the nation's gratitude for British support during World War II.