Horse Guards Parade at St James's Park

An old tournament ground that now serves as an area for royal and military ceremonies.

TravelCurious Tip

If you happen to be in London for the annual Trooping the Colour or Beating Retreat ceremonies, they are an absolute must-see.

Nestled between Downing Street, Whitehall and St. James’ Park, Horse Guards Parade occupies a prime location in central London and is just a five minute walk from the Houses of Parliament. The vast parade ground has been an important venue for English royalty for centuries, and it continues to dazzle visitors with regular military spectacles that showcase the best that the British Army has to offer.

In the time of Henry VIII, Horse Guards Parade was an enclosed courtyard attached to the enormous Palace of Whitehall, and it played host to a number of jousting tournaments during his reign. The palace burned to the ground in 1698, but the Parade remained in use as a military facility, and was once the headquarters of the Duke of Wellington.


Marching as to War

These days, Horse Guards Parade is London’s primary military parade ground, and is used for some of the armed forces’ most important events. It is sometimes thought that the Changing of the Guard only occurs outside Buckingham Palace, but in fact the same ceremony that is put on here every day is in many ways even more impressive. It is an astonishing display of military discipline and organisation. Every inch of the soldiers’ uniforms has been scrubbed, brushed or polished to perfection, and the result is a gleaming mass of bright-scarlet men marching precisely as one. Horses are often involved, always immaculately trained and presented. You aren’t allowed too close to these, but there are usually police horses positioned immediately outside the parade ground, and the friendly officers on top will often let children or adults pat them.


Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in London
Downing Street
The home of some of the most important members of the British Government, including the Prime Minister himself.
Whitehall Place
Recognised as the centre of Her Majesty's Government and the seat of power for the United Kingdom.
The 40 Elephants Bar
The hotel's cocktail bar is inspired by the Victorian 40 elephants all-female gang, which operated in the area for over 75 years.
Great Scotland Yard Hotel
Tracing back to 997 AD, with 5 centuries occupancy by Scottish royalty (think Margaret, Queen of Scots) and later serving as HQ for the Met police - the GSY hotel is home to over a millennia of stories waiting to be told.
The Cenotaph
A national war memorial in London.
Old War Office Building
The neo-Baroque building served as Churchill's Old War Office during World War II.

Related Tours

Horse Guards Parade, Westminster & Tower of London: Full-Day Tour
Experience a full-day private tour of London's spectacular Royal landmarks with a private and knowledgeable Blue Badge guide and discover the most popular sites including the Tower of London, the best of Westminster and the opportunity to see the Changing of the Guard. 

On your private full-day tour, you will:

  • Visit  Parliament Square and see the famous Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey (from the outside only);
  • Walk through St James’s Park, see the giant marble memorial to Queen Victoria in front of Buckingham Palace and follow the famous Changing of the Guard parade;
  • See St James's Palace and Horse Guards Parade;
  • Walk along Whitehall to see number 10 Downing Street and through Trafalgar Square;
  • Enjoy a scenic boat ride along the Thames with views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Globe Theatre;
  • Explore the Tower of London, a former royal castle turned traitor's prison;
  • Go round the White Tower, the armoury and mint; 
  • Step inside the dungeons and torture chambers, walk the battlements and visit the Chapel Royal; 
  • Learn about the Princes in the TowerHenry VIII and the fate of his wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the young Lady Jane GreySir Walter Raleigh, and many others; 
  • Meet the ravens and the Beefeaters or Yeoman Warders who guard the Tower;
  • Admire the dazzling Crown Jewels;
  • End outside the Jewel House where you are free to explore more at your own leisure or exit the Tower with your guide. 

Please note: that the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace happens on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, but can be subject to change and weather conditions. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays you will see the changing of the Horseguards at Horse Guards Parade on Whitehall.
You can check the schedule here: https://changing-guard.com/dates-buckingham-palace.html

Enjoy Royal London on this fantastic day tour that begins in the heart of Westminster, follows the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and ends with the sight of the dazzling Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. 

Meet your guide at Westminster for a tour outside the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Learn about the political history of Parliament Square and its relationship to The Crown. Westminster Abbey has been the site of 38 coronations since 1066, and numerous royal weddings and funerals, including the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and Her Majesty The Queen's state funeral. 

From Westminster, wander up Birdcage Walk where you will follow the pomp and pageantry of the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Follow the Guardsmen and military band, with their famous red coats and black bearskin hats to Buckingham Palace. Head into Trafalgar Square, via Horseguards Parade, and along Whitehall - the political nerve centre of the UK and the address of 10 Downing Street - home to the British Prime Minister. 

Enjoy a scenic boat ride along the Thames to Tower Bridge. You'll get to see London and Waterloo Bridges, the London Eye, the Globe, the skyscrapers, and St Paul’s Cathedral from the boat. 

Your guide will then accompany you to St. Katherine's Docks for lunch (not included), after which you will enjoy an exclusive private tour of the infamous Tower of London, with reserved tickets included. 

Then it's time to enter the Tower of London! Walk past Traitor's Gate and discover the many stories and scandals hidden within the walls of this ancient building.  It was formerly a moated royal palace, that became an armoury, a royal mint, a zoo... and most famously the traitor's prison! You'll meet the Beefeaters and the ravens who guard the Tower and discover the stories behind some of the Tower's most famous prisoners from the young Princes in the Tower to Queen Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey whose graffiti you can still see in her prison cell. 

Explore the White Tower, the oldest part of the fortress, walk the battlements, enter the torture chambers (if you dare!) and visit the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, where some very famous queens are buried.  

Best of all, you will be able to admire the dazzling Crown Jewels which are kept behind extensive security in the aptly-named Jewel House. 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the strict security measures in place and the moving viewing platform, your guide cannot accompany you but will wait for you at the exit. 

End your tour inside the Tower to explore more at your leisure - or return to modern life with your guide! 
City of Spies: Espionage in London & Churchill War Rooms Private Tour
This exciting City of Spies private tour has been created exclusively to take you on a fascinating journey through London's espionage history during the Cold War, the origins of MI5 and MI6, and to learn about Churchill's role in bringing down the Nazi regime. 

On your private city of spies tour of London, you will: 

  • Learn London's rich history of espionage at St Ermin's Hotel, where Winston Churchill's meeting known as 'Setting Europe Ablaze’ occurred in 1940, and walk past the Caxton bar located inside this famous spy hotel used by intelligence service officials to meet up;
  • Discover the stories of double agents known as the Cambridge Five: Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, John Cairncross, and Sir Anthony Blunt;
  • Hear the plots to overthrow the government at some of the most powerful institutions in Westminster, including Downing StreetWhitehall, and Westminster Palace;
  • Learn about the extraordinary life of Sir Mansfield Cumming, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) first director, known as MI6; 
  • Explore the Churchill War Rooms with your private guide and get up close to the Cabinet Room;
  • See the Map Room, the beating heart of the war rooms;
  • And discover the Telephone Room that allowed direct communication between the US and the UK government.

Your tour guide will take you on a journey through the streets of London to uncover the main characters and buildings that shaped the history of the world while telling you stories that seem more like Le Carré novels than real life. 

After your walking tour, you will visit the Churchill War Rooms, located below the streets of Westminster. An underground network of bunkers that functioned as British wartime offices, planning, and map rooms.

It was here that much of Allied intelligence and strategy was discussed and planned in WWII, as well as serving as a place of refuge and shelter for the government during the blitz. Your guide will give a detailed and fascinating tour of this place that has been left exactly as it was since 1944. 
Royal London: Private Half-Day Tour with Horse Guards Parade
Explore London’s most popular sites on this Royal London half-day tour, including spectacular parks and royal sites in Westminster.

On your private tour, you will:

  • Experience the Changing of the Guard, one of the most popular attractions in the city;
  • Discover Whitehall and 10 Downing Street, the UK Prime Minister's office;
  • Walk by the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, an iconic symbol of London;
  • Hear fascinating British history and London's incredible past;
  • Walk around the Mall, St. James's Palace, and Horse Guards Parade;
  • Explore St James's Park, the oldest Royal Park created for sport-loving Henry VIII and a once-famous duelling venue;
  • See Buckingham Palace from the outside as you learn more about Royal History;
  • Finish your tour at Trafalgar Square, home to the iconic Nelson's Column, the National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery.

Please note: that the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace happens on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, but can be subject to change and weather conditions. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays you will see the changing of the Horseguards at Horse Guards Parade on Whitehall.
You can check the schedule here: https://changing-guard.com/dates-buckingham-palace.html

On your tour, your guide will reveal the secrets of the power and politics of Westminster, while seeing some of the most popular landmarks. Learn all about the Houses of Parliament, the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, and be inspired by its mighty history. 

Amble through the fabulous gardens and sights of St James's Park and have the opportunity to see the Changing of the Guard in front of magnificent Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the UK’s sovereigns since 1837. 

This ceremony, seen by millions every year, is a must-see attraction in London. It takes place every other day between Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace and Wellington Barracks, and is the perfect reminder of the tight relationship between the armed forces and HM the Queen.

Walk along the Mall and learn curious facts about British kings and queens, who turned the British Empire into the most dominant power on Earth. 

Your tour finishes with a walk through Trafalgar Square, where your guide will show you the best places to grab a bite to eat in the area or direct you to some of the world's most famous artwork, located only metres away in the National Gallery. 
Family-Friendly Royal London: Private Half-Day Tour & London Eye
Discover the most popular sites in Royal London on this family-friendly half-day tour, where you will see London’s unmissable attractions, parks, and finest Royal sites with an expert tour guide while keeping your family entertained. 

On this family-friendly private tour, you will:

  • Explore London with a tour guide handpicked for leading family-friendly tours;
  • Pass by the Statue Of The Duke Of Wellington and walk under the famous Wellington Arch;
  • Admire the grandiosity of Buckingham Palace from the outside and discover the Victoria Memorial;
  • Visit St. James's Park and see the Pelicans donated to King Charles II by a Russian ambassador during a visit in 1664;
  • Walk past Whitehall and 10 Downing St, UK's Prime Minister's office;
  • Enjoy a walking tour of Westminster, where you’ll see Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey;
  • Finish your time enjoying panoramic views of the city from the London Eye, a family favourite!
This tour is ideal for those families who would like a taste of London in half a day and want to see London’s unmissable attractions and finest Royal sites in an exciting four hours. 

Whether your family is interested in history, nature, experiencing iconic British traditions or marvelling at beautiful Royal Palaces and Parks, this tour has something for everyone.

Get a peppering of tales, fun facts and stories about London, British Culture and tradition. Hear of the Secret tunnels which lie beneath Buckingham Palace, and the many attempts to steal the Crown Jewels. And the infamous 14-year-old cat burglar caught stealing the late Queen Victoria’s underwear. See London’s famous palace guards, the household cavalry mounted on their famous black horses, and maybe even members of the royal family, if you are lucky!

On this half-day tour, you will also avoid the rush and busyness of a group tour, and enjoy a more intimate, flexible experience. Your tour ends with an adventurous ride on the London Eye. 

Your personal guide will help you quickly navigate London and ensure you have the smoothest, most enjoyable day possible creating great memories with your family. 
Churchill War Rooms: Westminster Underground Bunkers Private Tour
Step into the world of Wartime London in the late 1930s and 1940s, where you will hear the stories of larger-than-life Winston Churchill, explore the underground bunkers that British wartime officers used during that time known as the Churchill War Rooms and learn about the resilience of Londoners during that time. 

On your private Churchill War Rooms tour, you will: 

  • Enjoy the personalised attention of a knowledgeable private guide throughout your tour;
  • See the Winston Churchill memorial and the partially bombed buildings from the blitz;
  • Stop at some of the most iconic buildings in London: Houses of ParliamentWestminster AbbeyDowning Street, The Cenotaph, the Old War OfficeMI6 headquarters and the Gurkha Soldier memorial;
  • Visit the Churchill War Rooms and travel back in time to the times of the Second World War while your tour guide gives you a private tour of these underground bunkers;
  • Explore the Cabinet Room, hidden under the streets of Westminster and hear the stories about those who worked and lived here;
  • Discover the Transatlantic Telephone Room, which connected Churchill directly to the US president and find out how they disguised this tiny room;
  • See the BBC Broadcast Room, where all speeches were televised from;
  • Visit the Map Room, used around the clock to collate information for King George VI, Churchill,  and the armed forces;
  • Walk the Churchill War Rooms' top-secret winding corridors and get a glimpse of what life would have been from 1939 to 1945.

Begin exploring the heart of London’s parliamentary district. This was the brain and nerve centre for British and Allied forces in Europe and abroad. See the Winston Churchill memorial, and learn about his adolescence, personal life and fascinating rise to government. 

Your guide will take you to see the partially destroyed buildings from the blitz and visit The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the Prime Minister's residence. Next visit The iconic Cenotaph war memorialspecial service headquarters and Ghurka memorial.

After your walking tour, dive into the Churchill War Rooms, an underground network of bunkers that functioned as British wartime offices, planning and map rooms. It was here that much of Allied intelligence and strategy was discussed and planned in WWII, as well as serving as a place of refuge and shelter for the government during the blitz.

As you explore the massive layer of concrete known as “The Slab”, you discover that the Churchill War Rooms actually consists of two separate museums. 

The Cabinet War Rooms, whose centrepiece is the fascinating Map Room, detail the strategic and tactical exploits of the war room as a whole. This is where Churchill held no less than 115 cabinet meetings, hammering out the details of Allied offensives across Europe. 

The Churchill Museum unpicks the life and works of the great man himself, from his early childhood to his state funeral. Particularly interesting is the large collection of passionately devoted letters he wrote to his wife Clementine, exposing the softer side of this famously tough statesman.

Your tour finishes in the War Rooms, and you are free to continue exploring at your own leisure or ask your guide for recommendations for food, including Churchill’s local pub. 

The Best of London: Private Driving Tour in an Iconic London Taxi
Explore the best of London by the hand of a well-informed cabbie and professional driver guide, who knows the city like the back of his hand, including the most popular attractions and many hidden gems on this panoramic sightseeing tour of London. 

On your private driving tour, you will: 

  • Enjoy hotel pick-up from any central London hotel;
  • Catch the ‘Changing the Guard’ ceremony for tours starting at 10 am or earlier;
  • Hop back in for an easy drive to Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster;
  • Stop at several quintessential London must-sees, including Buckingham PalaceTrafalgar SquareHyde ParkRoyal Albert HallSt Paul’s Cathedral, and St James's Palace;
  • Drive alongside the Thames River to the Tower of London, where true stories seem more like fiction than fact!

Please note: that the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace happens on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, but can be subject to change and weather conditions. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays you will see the changing of the Horseguards at Horse Guards Parade on Whitehall. You can check the schedule here: https://changing-guard.com/dates-buckingham-palace.html

Your guide will meet and greet you at your central London hotel (or preferred pickup location) and at the conclusion of your 4-hour tour, you can be dropped off at your hotel or any central location of your choice. 

On this half-day tour, your guide will stop at a minimum of 6 popular locations to tell you about the fascinating history of these iconic attractions. 

This is less of a whistle-stop tour than most of the London highlights tours and invites you to slow down, while those around you hop on and off of buses without enough time to truly appreciate the layers of history and wild stories that surround so many London icons. 

There will be plenty of opportunities throughout your tour to take those treasured photos – and if you want to take time out, your London guide knows all the best places to grab a coffee. 
James Bond Filming Locations in London: Private Driving Tour
Delve into the world of espionage with Bond, James Bond on a private tour of London to uncover many filming locations in the city of London that you have seen in your favourite movies for over 40 years.

On your James Bond filming locations tour, you will:

  • Travel in the comfort of a private and iconic London Taxi;
  • Relive your favourite spy flicks and their lead characters with an accredited London Driver Guide who's a 007 aficionado
  • Become a special agent of "His Majesty’s Secret Service" and explore the haunts throughout London where Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig each brought Bond to life;
  • Explore the places behind the stories in Ian Fleming’s iconic novels and the subsequent films;
  • Learn about the real-life world of the Secret Service as you tour Westminster, Whitehall, Downing St, and the National Gallery.

London is a city unlike no other in respect of its long associations with the world of espionage - the spies, double agents, traitors, heroes and villains from every continent played out their cloak-and-dagger games of cunning, deceit and treachery on the mean streets that we shall traverse. 

Like in real life, the city has played host to some incredible spy moments on the big screen, including in Bond film scenes over the past 55 years. Your 007 expert tour guide is here to take you undercover and whisk you through the film locations from ‘Dr. No’ through to ‘Spectre.’
 
James Bond fans will not only get to see those film scene sites - but also most of London's iconic landmarks, plus a special visit inside one of the world's most famous spaces, the National Gallery.
The Heart of Royal London: Private Tour with Afternoon Tea
Situated just across Green Park from Buckingham Palace and other royal residences like St James’s Palace and Clarence House, the Sheraton Grand is perfectly positioned to enjoy the many stunning sites of London. The hotel has long enjoyed links with Royal London, and it is even rumoured that the late Queen Elizabeth II had dancing lessons in the Tudor Rose  room when she was still Princess Elizabeth. 

On your private tour, you will:

  • Set out along Piccadilly - famous for its gentlemen's clubs like Whites, iconic shops like Fortnum and Masons, and exclusive hotels including the Ritz; 
  • Walk across pretty Green Park passing famous royal residences like Clarence House and Buckingham Palace, picking up tidbits of royal gossip along the way; 
  • Stop outside St James’s Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard assemble and follow the guards as they play a medley of tunes and march down the Mall towards the majestic Buckingham Palace; 
  • Enjoy this famous spectacle (on days it is running) before walking up through St James’s Park and Birdcage Walk;
  • Admire the mounted Household Cavalry at Horseguards Parade on their black stallions; (Only on morning tours)
  • Walk around Parliament Square to see the magnificent Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben;
  • Learn about the coronations of the Kings and Queens since 1066; 
  • Hear about Guy Fawkes and the infamous Gunpowder Plot;
  • Learn about the House of Commons and House of Lords - and Charles Barry the architect (who also designed Downton Abbey - or Highclere Castle!); 
  • Stroll up Whitehall - the nerve centre of British politics, passing by the Cenotaph, the State Departments, and the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street;
  • End your tour at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane with a delicious Palm Court Afternoon Tea including sandwiches, freshly baked scones and delicate pastries hand-crafted by the talented pastry team.

Please note: that the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace happens on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from August to May, but can be subject to change and weather conditions. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays you will see the changing of the Horseguards at Horse Guards Parade on Whitehall. During June and July, the Changing of the Guard occurs daily.

The Sheraton Grand enjoys an unparalleled position in the heart of London, on Piccadilly just across from Green Park and Buckingham Palace. Our prestigious hotel is famous for its magnificent Portland stone façade and its Art Deco style - it's classified as a Grade II listed building.

Walking into the hotel feels like stepping into an episode of Poirot! Indeed the hotel has been used for several films and TV series including The End of the Affair starring Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore, and the Golden Compass starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman.  Learn more about the exquisite Ballroom, the Tudor Rose Room - where a young Princess Elizabeth had dancing lessons, and the Palm Court - the beating heart of the hotel (and a wonderful place to enjoy our award-winning Afternoon Tea) after finishing  your tour of royal London. 

You'll first walk across Green Park which connects the hotel to Buckingham Palace and the Mall. You’ll see many royal residences, as well as statues of former monarchs as you walk to the back of St James’s Palace to see the Changing of the Guard assemble. 

The Guardsmen are famous for their red jackets and giant black bearskin hats. You’ll have the chance to see them and follow them as they march along the Mall, accompanied by the military band playing a mixture of regimental and modern tunes, then watch the historic guard change at Buckingham Palace forecourt.  

Next, you'll stroll through Birdcage Walk and St James’s Park to Parliament Square - the heart of royal and political London. 

With your expert guide, you’ll learn all about the history of British politics and royalty in front of Westminster Abbey and the two houses that make up the Palace of Westminster, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. You’ll hear many stories from history - like Guy Fawkes and the infamous Gunpowder Plot, Oliver Cromwell and the Civil War, and the coronations of every monarch in the Abbey since William the Conqueror on Christmas Day, 1066. It is also where many royal weddings have happened, including the Queen Mother and George VI, and William and Kate - the new Prince and Princess of Wales

Stroll along Whitehall - the political centre of the UK, learning about the subterranean Churchill Bunker and war rooms. You'll pass the Cenotaph and other war memorials, and Downing Street - home to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister. (You might meet Larry the Cat - who has outlasted the last five prime ministers!)

At Horseguards Parade, you will see the smartly dressed soldiers of the Household Cavalry, with their famously shiny black boots and plumed helmets, sitting on King's Guard on their impressive black stallions. 

After the tour, you will be invited to experience a traditional British afternoon tea in the Palm Court! The Palm Court is just one of the original features of the hotel from when it was completed in 1927, with beautiful Art Deco interiors. 

The afternoon tea includes a selection of delicious pastries, sandwiches and freshly baked plain and golden raisin scones served with a homemade selection of seasonal preserves and clotted cream. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the heart of Mayfair!
The Premier Classic London: Private 4-Hour Tour in a London Taxi
The Premier Classic London Experience is the perfect way to discover the marvellous city of London for first-time visitors and for those that have a short time in the city. 

On your private driving tour, you will: 

  • Enjoy hotel pick-up from any central London hotel;
  • Discover the best 6 and most popular attractions that are the essence of the city;
  • Get a taste of the real London with a “cabbie”, a professional driver-guide who knows the city inside out,
  • Visit notable sites and landmarks while your local guide shares interesting stories and history at each locale;
  • Stop at several quintessential London must-sees, including Buckingham PalaceTrafalgar SquareHyde ParkRoyal Albert HallSt Paul’s Cathedral, and St James's Palace;
  • Catch the ‘Changing the Guard’ ceremony for tours starting at 10 am or earlier (subject to weather and scheduled);
  • Hop back in for an easy drive to Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster;
  • Drive alongside the Thames River to the Tower of London, where true stories seem more like fiction than fact!
  • Enjoy drop-off in any central London location of your hotel.

Please note: that the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace happens on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, but can be subject to change and weather conditions. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays you will see the changing of the Horseguards at Horse Guards Parade on Whitehall. You can check the schedule here: https://changing-guard.com/dates-buckingham-palace.html

During the Premier Classic London Tour, your knowledgeable guide will warmly greet you at your central London hotel or chosen location. 

Throughout the 4-hour tour, you will have the opportunity to discover the history behind at least 6 popular London landmarks, all while comfortably riding in an iconic London Taxi.

This tour has been designed for those who want to take their time to appreciate the rich and fascinating stories that surround these iconic attractions, without feeling rushed or overwhelmed, and our fully customisable to suit your needs and interests.

Your guide will ensure that you have plenty of chances to snap memorable photos and can even recommend the best spots for dining, shopping, or any other of your interests for the rest of your trip.

It's important to note that this tour doesn't include entry to any attractions or requires tickets. 

At the end of the tour, you'll have the option to be dropped off at your hotel or any other central location of your choice.
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