The Lord Mayor’s Show 2014

This historic, annual festival celebrates the swearing in of the new Lord Mayor of London. This isn’t actually the man we all know of as the city’s mayor, Boris Johnson, but an annually elected person who serves as an ambassador for the city. This is a tradition that has been going on since the time of Pepys’ diaries, and is steeped in pomp and ceremony, with horses, music, a procession, and a golden carriage. The day culminates in a spectacular firework display over the Thames, which, given the event is on November the 8th, just three days after Guy Fawkes night, is timely!

Photo by Garry Knight
Photo by Garry Knight

What Happens on the Day?

The main part of the event happens in the morning, with the procession leaving Mansion House at 11am. They then pick up the new Lord Mayor of London, and take him in a golden carriage through the streets all around the Square Mile. They pass St Paul’s Cathedral, where the mayor comes out to receive a blessing. The procession then heads back along Embankment at around 1pm.

The procession is no small thing, featuring hundreds of horses and thousands of people, representing all different organisations from London. It is quite a spectacle, and if you are a Londoner looking for something to make you feel patriotic, this event is up there with the last night of the proms! If you are a visitor who wants to see some of the flamboyant ceremony that London has been known for for centuries, this is also a great way to do it, with people in elaborate uniforms, perfectly trained horses, and the new mayor in his finery.

You can watch the parade from the street anywhere along the route, though it is best to take a spot early as it can get crowded pretty fast! There is a grandstand where people can pay for a better view, however tickets for this go on sale in May and are usually all gone by early October, so you may have to settle for the street view!

The Fireworks Display

The tradition of setting off fireworks on November 5th in celebration of the thwarted attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament is one of England’s best known, and due to the timing, years ago they began incorporating a lavish fireworks display into the Lord Mayor’s Show. The fireworks were not part of the event in 2012, to the disappointment of many people who attend the show annually, but they were brought back last year and will be a feature for 2014, too.

The beautifully choreographed display is set off from a barge on the River Thames, which sits between Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo Bridge. Both bridges are closed to traffic for the event, as are the roads along the embankment in this area, so you can watch from the side of the road to get the best view, though the display is visible from lots of vantage points throughout central London.

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