The first crowning for 70 years means the UK is preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration, and there is no shortage of activities to enjoy.
From Pimm’s in the Isles of Scilly to Coronation ceilidhs in the North of Scotland, here’s our pick of events…
SOUTH EAST/HOME COUNTIES
Medieval jousting tournament: Armoured knights clash on Sunday, May 7 and Monday, May 8, at Chiltern Open Air Museum, Bucks (adults £10.50; children £7.50, coam.org.uk).
Churchillian Champagne party: With brass band on the croquet lawn at Winston’s former home, Chartwell in Kent, on Saturday, May 6, 5.30pm to 8pm (adults £20; children £15, nationaltrust.org.uk).
Here’s our pick of events to attend to mark the Coronation of King Charles, pictured above with Camilla
Themed treats: Enjoy a Churchillian Champagne party at Winston’s former home, Chartwell in Kent. Pictured is National Trust House and Collection manager Katherine Carter in the house’s studio, alongside Churchill’s paintings
Picnic: In the Coronation Garden, originally planted for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation — now reaching full maturity. Enjoy royal-themed teas, crown-making and celebratory seed plantings at Leonardslee Gardens, Horsham, West Sussex, on May 6 to 8, 9am-5pm (adults £14.50; children £6.50, leonardsleegardens.co.uk).
Changing of the guard: Watch the traditional event at Windsor Castle from restaurant windows while enjoying a celebratory afternoon cream tea with champagne at the Castle Hotel, Windsor. From £35, all weekend, castlehotelwindsor.com.
Queen Victoria’s favourite lawn: Picnic on the lawn at Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s favourite home, while watching the Coronation on a giant screen. Osborne House, Isle of Wight, on Saturday, May 6 (free, english-heritage.org.uk).
Steam trains: Ride on the Coronation-themed trains with live music and royal fancy dress on the Watercress Line, between the Hampshire towns of Alresford and Alton, on Sunday, May 7, from 1pm to 5pm (adults £5; children £3, watercressline.co.uk).
Two-hundred-strong choir: The ancient nave of Winchester Cathedral will be transformed with trees and shrubs, while the choir sings. There will also be live screenings, thanksgiving services and special historic tours all weekend (winchester-cathedral.org.uk).
Watch a Medieval jousting tournament at Chiltern Open Air Museum (above) in Buckinghamshire
Watch the traditional changing of the guard ceremony (above) at Windsor Castle
THE CAPITAL TAKES CENTRE STAGE ON THE BIG DAY
From a £150 Coronation Curry to a Royal Thames cruise, London is bursting with ways to celebrate.
- Amid live music and 4,000 fluttering Union Flags, Covent Garden will be Royal party central daily until May 14, with free-flowing bubbly, cream teas, live art displays, piano singalongs plus coronation screenings (coventgarden.london).
- Champagne & oysters in Kensington’s Abingdon Street party, stalls, magician, fancy dress. Adults £10/child £7, Sat May 6, 5pm-9pm (abingdoncoronation.com).
- Bring a dish along to the Big Broadwalk Coronation Lunch, with music, outfits for humans and pets, Regent’s Park, 12pm Sun May 7, book to guarantee table space (friendsofregentspark.org).
- Seven-course Indian Coronation banquets, with drinks and music overlooking Buckingham Palace, Thurs May 4, from 5.30pm, from £150pp (rubenshotel.com).
- Bunting and bars at a street party with vintage carousel, Chiswick Flower Market, Sun May 7, 9am-3.30pm, free.
- Perfect riverside picnic spots with kids in tiaras, Royal costumes, face-painting and crafts, Syon Park, Brentford, adults £5/children free, Monday, May 8 (visitheritage.co.uk).
Afternoon tea: Union Flag-covered Thames Coronation cruises offer a choice of celebrations: traditional afternoon tea or Pimm’s-fuelled evening discos, in Henley-on-Thames on Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 (tickets from £39, hobbsofhenley.com).
Shanty singalong: A women’s sea shanty choir will feature at a Pimm’s garden party with giant Coronation screens, barbecue fayre, pasties and ice cream, in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Austell, Cornwall, on Saturday, May 6 (adults £5; children free, heligan.com).
Maypole dancing: There’s also croquet, crown-making workshops and cream teas at a ‘quintessentially British’ musical garden party in Woolley Grange Hotel, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, on Saturday, May 6, 5pm to 8pm (adults £5; children free. Double room B&B from £120 per night, woolleygrangehotel.co.uk).
South Devon seaside: Join in free celebrations with Torbay’s seafront lights changed to red, white and blue, plus a Coronation concert with live screenings, music stages and stalls in Torre Abbey Gardens, Torquay, on Saturday, May 6 to Sunday, May 7.
A funfair is on Paignton seafront all weekend, with Coronation fireworks from a floating platform at 9pm on the Saturday. Brixham harbourside has music/singsongs/Coronation cakes/parades and breakfasts on board trawlers all weekend (englishriviera.co.uk).
Strawberry Pimm’s: This local speciality will be served at a Coronation bring-a-plate tea party on tiny St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly, on Saturday, May 6.
Coronation singalong: With a Prom, street parties, church tours, Coronation screenings, music and a kids’ crowns-and-capes parade in Marlborough, Wilts, all weekend (marlborough-tc.gov.uk).
Live screening: Watch the Coronation in the Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire on Saturday, May 6 (free, english-heritage.org.uk).
Cups, mugs and plates: Stoke-on-Trent’s potteries have been busy producing Coronation souvenirs. See them being made on workshop tours and buy them at factory shops including Emma Bridgewater (Charles mugs, £23, emmabridgewater.co.uk) and Moorland Pottery (mug, £19.50, moorlandpottery.co.uk).
Stoke’s tribute: Stoke-on-Trent’s potteries have been busy producing Coronation souvenirs. Above is a Coronation plate at the city’s Emma Bridgewater Pottery Factory
You can also get involved in a World of Wedgwood royal archive tour (May 3 to 5), DIY Coronation souvenir decorating (May weekends) and tea and fizz parties (May 3 to 7, worldofwedgwood.com).
The landmark tower: The tower of the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire, will be illuminated red, white and blue. The interior will be full of flowers, with tea parties, live screenings and special services (free entry, elycathedral.org).
Picnics: Eat on the grass, with music playing from the bandstand and flags on the ramparts at Lincoln Castle on May 6-8 (free, visitlincolnshire.com).
Visit Charles’s home: What better place to celebrate with private champagne garden tours and traditional cream teas (highgrovegardens.com)?
The biggest Coronation party: Oldham council is promising the region’s largest event, with live screenings in Parliament Square, plus a town-centre festival of British tribute acts including Queen II, The Threetles and Gladness, on Saturday, May 6 (oldham.gov.uk).
A bring-your-own Coronation lunch: Alcohol is banned at the free family-friendly event outside Leigh Town Hall in Greater Manchester on Sunday, May 7, 11am-4pm. Then the Mayor of Wigan will host a Mesnes Park garden party with funfairs, live entertainment and food stalls, on Monday, May 8, 11am-4pm (wigan.gov.uk).
Home-made crown parade: There’s also a funfair, family games, market stalls, pet shows and a picnic in the park in Workington, Cumbria, on Saturday, May 6; 11am-5pm (visitworkington.co.uk).
Barton Laws beacon: Traditional beacons have been dumped in favour of laser and drone landmark illumination in many places — but Wigton Town council in Cumbria didn’t get that memo.
The beacon will be lit as a town crier, bagpiper and choir join in the celebrations on Saturday, May 6, from 7pm (visitlakedistrict.com).
Many picnics are being arranged across the country in honour of the occasion
Coronation parade: The North West’s most individual celebrations are in Accrington, Lancashire, where a metallic gold open-top Coronation double-decker bus will lead the parade. Children can follow an ingenious ‘augmented reality royal trail’ using phone apps and there is a royal throne for selfies in the Market Hall. The town crier will ‘Cry for the King’ all weekend (hyndburnbc.gov.uk).
Fairground rides: There’s also an artisan market, circus workshops and live music at a three-day party in Valley Gardens, Harrogate, North Yorks. Live Coronation screens switch to family-friendly cinema in the evenings (free, May 6-8, visitharrogate.co.uk).
Giant live screening: Watch from the picnic lawn at Brodsworth Hall & Gardens in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, on Saturday, May 6 (free, english-heritage.org.uk).
Britain’s Got Talent: See stars from the hit show perform. Children can make their own crowns and Coronation events will be screened in Darlington Market Square on May 6-7, 11am-6pm (free, darlington.gov.uk).
Fifties-style street party: The party takes place among historical collections, with vintage bus tours at Beamish’s open-air museum of the North East in Stanley, Co. Durham, on May 6-8 (family ticket from £38.50, beamish.org.uk).
The first crowning for 70 years means the UK is preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration
Special bell-ringing: Plus garden picnics, choir performances, a royal exhibition and Coronation services all weekend at York Minster (yorkminster.org).
Black-tie banquet & ball: Toast the King, sing the national anthem and enjoy the ball hosted by the Yorkshire Vice Lord-Lieutenant, with dancing to a big band, in the Grand Assembly Rooms, York, at 6.30pm on Sunday, May 7 (tickets £55, tickettailor.com).
Scottish country dancers: Dancers from across the world gather for a Coronation buffet ball at Greyfriars, Edinburgh, on Saturday, May 6, at 6.30pm (tickets from £52, rscdsedinburgh.org).
Plant a tree: Hold your own private tree-planting Coronation memorial ceremony with a piper, photographer and commemorative plaque, then enjoy a Charles-style watercolour art lesson and finally sup champagne (free for any guests called Charles) at Glenapp Castle Hotel in Ballantrae, Ayrshire. A two-night Coronation package throughout May costs from £350 per person per night (glenappcastle.com).
Champagne is free for any guests called Charles at Glenapp Castle Hotel in Ayrshire as part of its two-night Coronation package
CURIOSITIES AND SINGALONGS
- Tours of Royal London on thrice-daily flag-covered Routemaster double-deckers with official guides, enjoying a cream tea, throughout May, from Victoria Coach Station, £45, b-bakery.com/london/bus- tours/coronation-bus-tour.
- Windsor Coronation Concert has a secret line-up of ‘global stars’ (rumours include Take That and Lionel Richie) alongside community choirs on the East Lawn, live on BBC TV. Sunday, May 7, bbc.co.uk.
- Take over the microphone to help broadcast 14,000 celebratory messages to radio enthusiasts around the world via pop-up ‘Radio Coronation’ short-wave station. It will use 80ft masts in Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College gardens, free event, May 4-8, ornc.org
- Singing flag-waving anthems, the Royal Albert Hall’s Coronation Prom, Saturday, May 6, from £45, royalalberthall.com
- Enjoy King Charles III free-range lamb pie and Monarch’s Way beer while a costumed Charles II impersonator performs at Worcester’s half-timbered King Charles pub. This is where Charles II hid after losing the Battle of Worcester. Event takes place May 6–8 (@TheKingCharlesIIPub).
Pipes, drums, choirs and rock bands: Musicians combine to celebrate amid family picnics, climbing walls, face-painting and more at Aberdeen’s Duthie Park on Sunday, May 7, 11.30am-2.30pm (free, aberdeencity.gov.uk).
Classic cars: Admire the vehicles and enjoy a variety concert, pipers, choirs, a funfair, stalls and a tea dance in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, all weekend (weareinverurie.co.uk).
Royal castle: Watch the Coronation at the Royal Family’s Scottish retreat, with pipe bands, a falconry display, royal family photo exhibition and collection of vintage buses in Balmoral, Aberdeenshire, on Saturday, May 6 (adult £16.50; child £8.50, balmoralcastle.com). Enjoy a tasting of King Charles’s favourite whiskies at a nearby hotel on May 5-8 (thefifearms.com).
Three-day festival: The Coronation event in Cardiff should be a particular magnet for foodies and will feature music from acts including Scouting for Girls, Toploader and Craig Charles, as well as celebrity chefs and Bake Off stars. The Coronation will be screened at the castle by the city’s Bute Park from Saturday to Monday (adults from £21, foodiesfestival.com).
Brass bands: Usk in Monmouthshire has a pretty main street which will decorated and closed to traffic all day. Besides the bands, expect crown-making and royal fancy dress parades on Sunday, May 7, 11am-11pm. A royal service will be held at St Mary’s Church at 6pm. All events free.
Firework display: Watch the display over the Bristol Channel from Penarth Pier on Saturday, May 6 at 9pm (visitthevale.com).
Brecon Beacons runs and walks: The Coronation Mountain Challenge includes walks and runs organised by Christ College Brecon, on Sunday, May 7, 10am (from £5, timeoutdoors.com).
TAKE A RAMBLE ALONG THE HISTORIC MONARCH’S WAY
By Harry Mount
Fingers crossed, the Coronation will go ahead without a hitch. Still, if Charles III has any jitters, he can console himself that he’s a lot more secure than his namesake, Charles II, during the English Civil War.
After losing the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles II had to make an escape from Oliver Cromwell.
Winding route: Harry Mount
With mounted officers, he zig-zagged 625 miles through Worcestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire, before sailing for France from Shoreham, West Sussex.
What a thrill it is today to walk the Monarch’s Way — for 20 miles — through secluded corners of Warwickshire and Gloucestershire. Because Charles II was being chased from all directions, his flight from his pursuers was far from being a straight line.
That’s the joy of the Monarch’s Way — established as a walking route in 1994. It takes you into spots you’d never stumble across if you weren’t walking in the footsteps of a fugitive king.
In Shropshire he was disguised as a farm labourer, in a leather doublet and green breeches with an old, grey, greasy hat and a coarse linen shirt. His allies even gave him a mullet haircut.
I followed Charles II as he swerved off the Fosse Way. The fields here are much the same as they were back in the 1650s and I had this thought: if Charles II had not survived, it’s a good bet his namesake wouldn’t be getting crowned next month.Travel Facts
The Arden Hotel has doubles from £135 and The Manor House Hotel also has doubles from £135, cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk.
Harry Mount is author of Et Tu, Brute? The Best Latin Lines Ever (Bloomsbury).