The British know how to put on a show. Whether it is to do with the origin, history, pageantry, creativity of the staging or the physical setting, a combination of factors combine together to create some special major events that have generated a worldwide reputation. Some of these events have been annual fixtures for centuries while others are more recent. Few would dispute the audacious scale, ingenuity and humour that went into the opening ceremony staged for the London 2012 Olympics in London.
Amongst the oldest of the major events we have featured above is the Lord Mayor’s Show, an event that can be traced back to 1215 when the first Mayor of London was appointed. This street procession attracts thousands to the roadside and a global audience of millions to the TV screen. The appetite for British pageantry it seems is unquenchable and though rooted in historic sentiments and the icons such as the golden state coach, pageantry has evolved into a modern style with an inclusivity that engages people from all walks of life. With businesses, members of the Forces, charities and ordinary Londoners involved, the future of events that could have been abandoned as anachronistic in a world where the delivery of entertainment is so highly evolved, are still guaranteed.
Trooping The Colour
Ceremonial traditions such as the Trooping of the Colour parade are unsurpassed in their spectacle and choreography. This has developed into an art form at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo where bands and display teams from the British Armed Forces put on an evening show, and it is also televised to a global audience. In fact, the Brits can’t get enough military entertainment! The Royal International Air Tattoo, the largest military air show in the world, unites thousands of people with hundreds of different contemporary and historic aircraft indulging a collective British obsession for flying machines.
Live theatrical and musical performances are about so much more than seeing and hearing artists in the flesh. The shared experience with others is the key, even when that might not be especially comfortable. Camping is de rigueur at Glastonbury Festival and Cambridge Folk Festival. The whole occasion would not be the same without canvas and the connection with nature. Later in the summer the urban setting of the City of Edinburgh is home to two of the world’s largest arts festivals simultaneously, where appetites for the controversial and experimental are celebrated alongside the world’s leading performing artists.
Some major events feature on the summer social calendar where every year tickets are in high demand. The Chelsea Flower Show, set in an unfeasibly compact venue, is nevertheless the focal point for global horticultural design excellence. Attending is more about association with that reputation for quality than it is about seeing the show exhibits themselves. A curiosity of the British is their desire to run the gauntlet of our famously unpredictable weather. The stakes cannot be much higher than planning a picnic in the interval at the top end Glyndebourne Opera Festival while in full evening dress.
Crufts Dog Show
In Britain, there is an event for every hobby and pass-time you can think of and two of our biggest national obsessions are dogs and boats! The Crufts event is the world’s largest dog show and a celebration of all things to do with dogs. The Southampton Boat show is the equivalent for boats with hundreds on show. Thousands of visitors attend to indulge their passions.
Please browse our gallery of selected great British Major Events above for inspiration, and click to find useful information and links to help you discover and enjoy them.