London’s Beating Retreat Military Ceremony

Brass bands, galloping horses and cannons being fired – it’s not what you expect to find in most cities, but it is fitting for London, a place filled with hundreds of years of traditions. Whether it’s Changing the Guard or Trooping the Colour, London knows how to do pomp and pageantry. And this month is no exception, as you can witness a piece of living history when the world-famous Beating Retreat, with its military music and precision drill, takes place.

On 30 and 31 May at 7pm, the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines perform Beating Retreat on Horse Guards Parade in honour of its Captain General, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Changing the GuardThe Massed Bands perform every two years as a part of Beating Retreat. There are more than 250 musicians taking part in the event, including all five Royal Marine Bands on parade and a drum display by the Royal Marines Corps of Drums.

Living History
The concert dates back to June 1690. Before the invention of clocks and watches, the sound of a drum or trumpet would act as a signal for soldiers. It was King James II who issued for drums to be beaten to signify when troops could stop fighting and retreat. Today, the military concert usually marks the lowering of the regimental flag at sunset. 

To watch this magnificent event, tickets for Beating Retreat can be purchased on the day and online; we strongly recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment. The event lasts for around 75 minutes. All proceeds go to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines service charities. 30th-31st May. From £10. Horse Guards Parade, SW1A 2AX. 023 8017 0513.

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