The Lord Mayor’s Show has marched (and floated and trotted, and occasionally fought) through 800 years of London history, surviving the black death and the blitz to arrive in the 21st century as what must be the oldest, grandest and best-loved civic pageant in the world.
The 2019 Show is on Saturday November 9th. It starts early with the river pageant then the magnificent Lord Mayor’s procession sets off from Mansion House at 11am.
It all begins with the ancient and justified caution of King John. He tried to win London’s support by allowing it to choose its own Mayor, but he insisted that immediately after election the Mayor must leave the safety of the City of London, travel upriver to distant Westminster and swear loyalty to the Crown.
Over the centuries this inconvenient journey became one of London’s favourite rituals. It moved from river barges to horseback and then into the magnificent State Coach, and around it grew a rowdy and joyful mediæval festival that became known as the Lord Mayor’s Show.
The ancient pageant is now bigger than ever. It is a London institution and hasn’t missed a year since Wellington’s funeral blocked the whole city in 1852. The modern procession is over three and a half miles long and fills the whole space between Bank and Aldwych from 11am until about 2.30pm, cheered by a crowd of around half a million people and watched live on the BBC by millions more.
There are fewer sword fights these days but the floats are grander than ever and it’s a great day out for every generation. You are all warmly invited to come to the City of London on November the 9th and take your place in eight centuries of London history.