What's happening at Historic Royal Palaces?

Feasting with the Tudors at Hampton Court.

What’s happening at Historic Royal Palaces, July-September 2018? 

This summer, Historic Royal Palaces offers a whole host of dazzling exhibitions, outdoor events, and family-friendly activities. Highlights at Hampton Court Palace include a celebration of all things food and feasting, as Henry VIII’s newly reopened kitchens form the backdrop to a specially commissioned performance piece telling the lavish history of banqueting at the palace. Meanwhile, a Tudor Joust and the Real Tennis Champions Trophy offer visitors the chance to immerse themselves in life at the court of King Henry VIII.  

Over at the Tower of London, the final days of Queen Anne Boleyn - one of the royal palace and fortress’s most infamous prisoners - will be brought to life in a play which runs throughout the summer. In July, East Wall comes to the Tower, an extraordinary outdoor spectacle of dance and music that celebrates East London’s rich cultural heritage. August Bank Holiday also marks the return of family festival Go Medieval, promising the chance to experience the drama as medieval knights go head to head in sword fighting combat.


East Wall. 18 July – 22 July. Tower of London 

Experience an extraordinary outdoor performance this July at the Tower of London, inspired by the communities of east London. Internationally-celebrated director Hofesh Shechter, Historic Royal Palaces, East London Dance and LIFT are coming together to bring a large-scale spectacle of dance and live music to the moat of this iconic landmark. East Wall will feature a cast of over 150 dancers, musicians and community participants from Tower Hamlets and surrounding boroughs. From grime to gospel, krump to contemporary – this mashup of old and new will come together to embrace east London’s diversity and put its rich cultural heritage centre stage.

See website for ticket information: https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/explore/east-wall/#gs.ZtchU4Y

The Last Days of Anne Boleyn. 5 May – 28 August (Friday - Tuesday) Tower of London

Experience the final days of Queen Anne Boleyn - one of the Tower of London’s most infamous prisoners - brought to life in a new play, which runs throughout the summer at the Tower. The Last Days of Anne Boleyn explores the Tudor Queen’s final 17 days at the famous fortress, from her imprisonment and interrogation, through to her trial and execution. Using contemporary sources - including Anne’s own words from letters to her husband, Henry VIII and her final speech on the scaffold – the 35-minute performance paints an intimate and moving picture of this tragic history, right in the very place where it happened.

Included in palace admission

Go Medieval at The Tower. 4 August – 6 August. Tower of London 

Go Medieval, an immersive Family Festival, returns to the Tower of London this August Bank Holiday. Step into 1445 as England celebrates the arrival of a new Queen, Margaret of Anjou. At the heart of the festivities are the fierce medieval knights who go head to head in sword fighting combat. Kids can have a go at firing a real crossbow and get a closer look at the impressive swords used by the heroic knights. Try on the opulent fashions of the day and practice the art of pastry jumbles with medieval cooks as the Tower’s dry moat is transformed into a medieval court fit for a Queen. 

Included in palace admission. 

Feasting with the Tudors. 28 June – 3 September. Hampton Court Palace

To celebrate the re-opening of Henry VIII’s famous kitchens, a specially commissioned play at Hampton Court this summer explores the fascinating history of banqueting at the palace. Join Thomas Cromwell as he arranges a feast to celebrate the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves. With Henry’s mood threatening to cancel the occasion, courtiers, musicians, and politicians are all watching nervously to find out what happens next…

The 30-minute play will run Thursday – Monday in the Great Hall. 

Included in palace admission.

Real Tennis Champions Trophy. 17-22 July. Hampton Court Palace

The Real Tennis Champions Trophy will return to the palace in July and is set to be bigger and better than before.  With the world’s greatest players set to participate, it offers a unique chance to soak up the action on the world’s most historic court, a designated National Monument. The tournament kicks off with qualifying rounds on 17 July and will culminate in a grand final on 22 July, which will see two players battle it out on the Royal Tennis Court to lift the trophy.  The 2018 Real Tennis Champions Trophy is proudly supported by Mitsubishi Electric. 

Tickets: Matchday tournament tickets start from £25 and include palace admission.

Hampton Court Palace Food Festival. 25 – 27 August. Hampton Court Palace

Enjoy a summer celebration of food and drink in the elegant East Front Gardens at the Hampton Court Palace Food Festival. Visitors will be treated to live cookery demonstrations from top chefs and experts including Michel Roux Jr, Nadiya Hussain, and Melissa Hemsley, as well as live music, culinary masterclasses, street food stalls, pop-up bars and hand-picked artisan producers. There’ll also be activities to keep the little ones entertained, with everything from shire horses and a Circus School to Tudor cookery.

All tickets include free palace entry. 

Tower of London Food Festival.  7 September – 9 September. Tower of London

Head to the Tower of London this September for a fabulous food and drink festival in the historic dry moat, complete with live cooking demos from top chefs such as Michel Roux Jr, Nadiya Hussain, Melissa Hemslsey and Dr Rupy Aujla. Also on the menu are a host of tempting street food stalls and artisan food producers, promising everything from gin and tonic to sweet treats and an array of ales. There’ll also be a bandstand with live music, with relaxing deckchairs on hand to soak up the festival atmosphere. 

All tickets include free palace entry. 


Here Be Dragons exhibition and trail until 30 September. Kew Palace

To mark the re-opening of the Great Pagoda at Kew this summer, little ones will be able to enter the world of dragons and dragonologists at the Here Be Dragons exhibition. Once they’ve learned what it takes, it’s time to go on a dragon discovery adventure and find the five fearsome dragons located around the gardens.  The adventure begins at the Welcome Centre next to Kew Palace.

Included in admission to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Pride at the Palace. 29 June – 1 July. Hampton Court Palace

This summer Hampton Court Palace will be playing host to a special series of evening tours, exploring some of the most outrageous, touching and illicit Queer stories from history. Learn stories of gender and sexuality from Hampton Court’s Tudor courts to ancient Greece, against the backdrop of Henry VIII’s famed pleasure palace. This event is for age 16yrs+.

Tickets: £15

Hampton Court Flower Show. 2 – 8 July. Hampton Court Palace

The Royal Horticultural Society’s largest flower festival returns to Hampton Court this July and will for the first time be celebrating iconic figures of the horticultural world. This year, Historic Royal Palaces will showcase their own garden at the show in partnership with the Royal Parks Guild. Commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War, ‘Battlefields to Butterflies’ will be a horticultural tribute to the parks and garden staff who died in the battle. Joint tickets will also be available, offering entry to both the Flower Show and the palace, to provide a fun-filled day out.

Joint tickets for show and palace entry: £50 (Tuesday/Wednesday) / £44 (Thursday/Friday/Saturday)

Tudor Joust. 14 & 15 July. Hampton Court Palace

The grounds of Hampton Court will once again ring out with the sound of charging horses hooves and the clash of cold metal, as King Henry VIII and his court take up residence for that most Tudor of royal sports; the joust. Recreating all the pomp and ceremony of a lavish court entertainment, visitors will be immersed into the sights, smells and sounds of the Tudor court. 

Included in palace admission.

Tiny Explorers. 18 & 25 July, 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 August, 5 September. Kensington Palace

These multi-sensory storytelling sessions for under 4’s will transport little ones into a magical world of stories. Each session involves music, movement, messy play and more, and separate sessions specially-designed for different development levels are also offered to suit babies not yet walking and walkers under 4. 

Tickets: £8 per child.

Curious Kew Evening Tour. 19 July, 16 August & 20 September. Kew Palace

Visit Kew Palace after hours to enjoy exclusive access to rooms not normally on the public route, while discovering strange tales of the life and times of George III and his family, the palace’s most famous former inhabitants. 

Tickets: £15

Great Georgian Wedding Weekend. 28 & 29 July. Kew Palace

To mark the 200th anniversary of the historic double royal wedding at Kew, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage will be hosting a special celebratory weekend. Visitors can meet the family of George III and other characters from 1818, enjoy tours of this unique building and even play popular garden games of the period.

Included in admission to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Luna Cinema. 4 & 5 August. Hampton Court Palace

Enjoy an alfresco screening in the splendid grounds of Hampton Court at the Luna Cinema summer screenings. This year will see blockbuster favourites The Greatest Showman (4 August) and The Shape of Water (5 August) screened on the East Front lawn of the palace, providing a truly unforgettable floodlit backdrop.

See website for ticket information: www.thelunacinema.com/hampton-court-palace/

Luna Cinema. 7 – 9 August. Kensington Palace

The beautiful backdrop of Kensington Palace provides the perfect for setting for the Luna Cinema’s summer screenings. For the first time, the films will be screened on the East Front so audience members can enjoy a direct view of Queen Victoria’s former home. Visitors can choose from three films in August, Romeo& Juliet, Victoria and Abdul, or The Greatest Showman.

See website for ticket information: www.thelunacinema.com/kensington-palace/

Kids Luna Cinema. 7 – 12 August. Hampton Court Palace

New for this year, a series of child-friendly screenings from the Luna Cinema will be taking place at Hampton Court in August. Located in the palace’s Twentieth Century Garden, three different films will be shown each day, with a whole range of family favourites playing throughout the week, including Beauty and The BeastPaddington 2Up, and many more. Films begin at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm daily.

See website for ticket information: www.thelunacinema.com/hampton-court-palace/

Confessions at the Tower of London – Justice. 27 September, 19:15 – 20:45. Tower of London 

Hear live storytellers and poets confess their innermost secrets in the atmospheric chapel of St Peter’s ad Vincula, curated by Inua Ellams, the Tower of London’s Poet in Residence for 2018. Inspired by the story of the attempted theft of the Crown Jewels by ‘Colonel’ Thomas Blood in 1671 and his subsequent pardon by King Charles II (in spite of being caught red-handed), this intimate performance explores the themes of miscarriages of justice.

Tickets: £20.00 / £18.00 HRP members, suitable for ages 18+.

Poppy Watt