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London events,

May 03 2023

Royal Celebrations and Street Parties


As Union Jack flags line The Mall, generations of families, friends and neighbours gather to mark special royal occasions with street parties. Coronations, weddings, birthdays, and jubilees are the perfect excuse for a celebration on a national scale. So much so there are now competitions to create official royal recipes anyone can whip up in the kitchen and bring out to the street party. Picnics, fairs, music, children’s games, fireworks and fluttering bunting are all part of how the nation celebrates together, from Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands and beyond. 


The history of street parties

For James II’s 1685 Coronation, the London Gazette wrote, “The day was spent in musick and feasting, and the night in ringing of bells, bonfires, and fireworks.” So Britain certainly has a long history of coronation celebrations. But the familiar street party scenes we see today started in 1919 as Peace Teas after World War I. These were a treat for children who’d gone through tough times. Residents then began to organise similar sit-down events on national days of celebration. Eventually they turned into the street party scenes we see today. 


The Big Coronation Lunch and other royal events

Think royal-themed afternoon tea and flag-waving spectators lining The Mall. Royal events can include pop concerts, garden parties and special one-off celebrations to mark the occasion. For his coronation, King Charles III wanted a Big Coronation Lunch on Sunday 7th May for everyone wanting to host a street party. Then he allocated an extra bank holiday for the Big Help Out, requesting people volunteer with organisations up and down the country, for an hour, a day and maybe then for a long time, to mark the king’s years of dedicated public service. 


How to throw a classic street party

Close the road to traffic and hang Union Jack bunting across the street, house to house. Or claim space in a local park. Add in lots of trestle tables and chairs in a long line. Make plenty of jam sandwiches and put crisps in bowls and cordial drinks in jugs for the kids. Put aside some beer and wine for the grownups. And get your local bakers to make plenty of cake for everyone. Plus, for street parties celebrating royal occasions, there’s a signature dish you can put as your centrepiece with a royal seal of approval. 


For the 1953 coronation, the centrepiece was poulet reine Elizabeth, which we now know as coronation chicken. Chicken marinated with a curry sauce to eat cold in a salad or sandwich. For Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, a lemon swiss roll and amaretti trifle created by Emma Melvin won the title of Platinum Pudding. For King Charles III’s coronation, the royal dish is coronation quiche, made with spinach, broad beans, cheese and tarragon.


After all that partying, get a good night’s rest. We have comfortable central London hotels at a fantastic price. Stay at Thistle Bloomsbury Park, Thistle City Barbican or Thistle Piccadilly for a great stay in the perfect London location.