If you live in the UK, you’ll know there’s a Coronation happening in London on Saturday 6th May, 2023. It’s exciting, it’s patriotic. It’s going to be an incredible day.
It’s also going to make travelling around the capital an absolute nightmare. But don’t worry, read on for some brilliant tips on how to navigate London on what will be the busiest day in the city during most of our lifetimes.
What is a Coronation?
In short, it’s a wonderfully opulent, televised event of a man or woman trying on a new hat. But in this case, the “hat” is the historically rich and symbolic St. Edward’s Crown — last worn by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at her Coronation in 1953 — and will formally declare Charles King of the United Kingdom and the 14 Commonwealth realms.
The Coronation will begin in Westminster Abbey at 11am and end with King Charles III appearing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at around 2.15pm - to the delight of the crowd of adoring supporters or those simply gathered to witness what is sure to be a cultural event to remember.
I am going to be in London for the Coronation - what do I need to know?
London is going to be very, very busy. Any bank holiday weekend is chaotic in London, but one that includes a Coronation? That’s different gravy. If you’re one of the 100,000 planning to travel to the capital on May 6th, then it’s vital to be prepared. Here’s how to get ahead of the game:
- If you want to see the King on his way in or out of Westminster Abbey, you need to get there early. Very early. The viewing areas along the procession route open at 6am - but the queues will be forming well before this. You’ll likely need to be nearby from the wee hours.
- The Coronation will be on big screens in parks across London, including Hyde Park, St James’ Park and Green Park. These will also show the Coronation Concert from Windsor Castle on Sunday 7th May. Again, you’ll need to arrive very early to get a spot.
- Don’t fancy the queues? Don’t worry, the whole of London will be magical over the Coronation weekend. Wherever you go, you’ll have a wonderful weekend in the capital. Head to slightly quieter parts of the city and join the festivities there - with parks, pubs, and indeed streets hosting celebrations. Royal Boroughs will be particularly vibrant - check out Richmond, Greenwich or Kingston-upon-Thames.
- The tube will be packed, particularly on the Saturday. Make sure to take water with you on any journey you make on public transport, as you may find yourself waiting on packed platforms for long periods. Allow an extra 45 minutes for your journey. TFL have pulled together a very handy guide, and use CityMapper to keep on top of any delays or cancellations.
- Walk! Often route planners won’t show walking as your quickest option - but London is a relatively pedestrian-friendly city, and you can get across London relatively quickly on foot. When you factor in the unpleasantness of queuing underground, then walking can often be an attractive alternative.
- If you’re driving in - make sure you’re aware of road closures. Much of Westminster will be impossible to navigate by car - make sure to check for road closures over the 5th and 6th May. If you are wanting to park centrally, then aim to get into London by Thursday and pick your car up on Sunday or Monday. JustPark still has spaces available that you can book for the whole weekend - so you don’t have to worry about your car.
- Or an even better option would be to park further out, and get the tube in. JustPark has lots of spaces around key TFL intersections. If you’re coming from the West, consider parking in Maidenhead, Ealing or Acton, and catching the Elizabeth Line to Leicester Square. Or from the East, look at Abbey Wood or Romford or Stratford.
Looking to get out of London for the weekend?
Don’t fancy spending the weekend in the capital and are looking for an escape? Driving out of the capital is still likely to be busy (it is a bank holiday weekend after all) - but it should be a lot easier than for those driving in. Soak up the carnival atmosphere elsewhere - JustPark has affordable parking in many other British cities with historical Royal connections. York, Edinburgh, Bath will all feel particularly regal, with lots of stuff going on that will make for a highly memorable weekend.