The annual Buckingham Palace Summer Opening is set to begin on July 25th and runs through September 27th, 2015. Many visitors to London don’t realize that the palace, which is the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II, is not open to the public for most of the year. While tourists are welcome to watch the Changing the Guard ceremony that regularly takes place outside, Buckingham Palace only opens its doors to visitors for two months in the summer each year.
A Royal Welcome
Each year the palace’s summer opening features an exclusive special exhibition and this summer’s visitors are in for a real treat! Entitled A Royal Welcome, this year’s special exhibition takes a look at how the palace prepares for special events like state visits, royal engagement and garden parties. For the very first time, summer opening visitors will be able to walk through Buckingham Palace’s Grand Entrance, a privilege usually reserved for heads of state and royalty.
The pièce de résistance of the exhibition will undoubtedly be the palace ballroom. Visitors will have a chance to see the magnificent space furnished and decorated for a state banquet. This will include an enormous 170-seat dining table fully bedecked with fine china, cutlery, and glittering candelabras. During the tour, visitors will also learn about all the work and preparation that goes into planning the palace’s lavish affairs.
Alongside this spectacular display will be an assortment of gifts presented to the queen by various heads of state as well as the sword the Queen uses to grant knighthoods.
What to Expect When You Visit Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace’s summer openings give the public an unprecedented opportunity to explore one of the few remaining active royal residences in the world. The tour takes you through 19 lavishly decorated State Rooms, several of which were used to entertain guests in celebration of the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The State Rooms are quite literally fit for a queen and contain beautiful treasures collected by the Royal Family over the centuries. As you explore each room, you’ll encounter paintings by Rubens, Vermeer and Rembrandt. The State Rooms also hold an impressive collection of Sèvres porcelain and beautifully preserved antique furniture from France and England.
Buckingham Palace offers several different ticket and tour options:
- The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace: Grants visitors access to the State Rooms (including the A Royal Welcome exhibition) as described above.
- A Royal Day Out: Grants visitors access to the State Rooms (including the A Royal Welcome exhibition), The Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews.
- The State Rooms and Garden Highlights Tour: Grants visitors access to the State Rooms (including the A Royal Welcome exhibition) and Buckingham Palace’s beautiful 39-acre garden.
- Exclusive Guided Tour: An exclusive guided tour of the State Rooms (including the A Royal Welcome exhibition).
Opening Dates and Other Practical Information
25 July – 31 August 2015
Open daily from 9:30 to 19:30 (last admission 17:15)
1 September – 27 September
Open daily from 9:30 to 18:30 (last admission 16:15)
A typical visit lasts between 2 hours and 2 hours 30 minutes. The tour route is about half a mile and the palace (yes, the palace!) advises that visitors wear comfortable shoes.
If you are lucky enough to be visiting London between July 25th and September 27th this year, we highly recommend you take the opportunity to visit Buckingham Palace. This year’s A Royal Welcome exhibition is truly special and will never be repeated again. Tickets are likely to sell out quickly, so book your Buckingham Palace tickets in advance if you can!