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London. early February. should I try for Ceremony of the Keys or too late?

London. early February. should I try for Ceremony of the Keys or too late?

Old Jan 14th, 2010, 10:09 AM
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London. early February. should I try for Ceremony of the Keys or too late?

last minute trip to London : ) yeah! First week of February ...

We are planning on going to the Ceremony of the Keys with the kids in April, but this would be a bonus so I would know what to do with the kids... Should I send a priority mail letter and request them for the first week of February or am I too late ?

(also, I'll check out the playground in dispute under the London Eye!)
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Old Jan 14th, 2010, 11:08 AM
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You've got 2-3 weeks, that's been the recent turn around time for tickets. Since you already know that you're going in April I wouldn't try this time.

As for knowing what to do with the kids... how do you mean? Dress them warmly for standing outside and that's all you need to know really. The guard will let you in the gate and escort you up to where you stand to watch the ceremony. Both times I've stood near the front with most of the other people attending to my right. This way you get a view of the guards locking up the gates. There aren't really any bad spots as it's a pretty small group.
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Old Jan 14th, 2010, 02:54 PM
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I_R, knowing what to do with kids ? Its the control freak in me! Its been a few years (10+) since I've been to London and I don't remember many of the nitty gritty details. If I can do a few things that we'll go back and do as a family and by knowing where to go, what time to be places, how long to allow, etc. it will make vacation as a family easier. I realize I may be sacrificing some things that <b> I </b> would like to do, but that is the reality of kids. I love Europe, it is in my best interest if my kids love Europe and if that means some short term planning and recon, I'm all for it!
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Old Jan 14th, 2010, 07:50 PM
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If you have specific places in mind, ask how long to allow, etc! There are quite a few on this board who live in London or who have taken their kids through recently and can help with ideas. How old are your kids?

To the original question, I don't think you have enough time to get tickets for the Ceremony at this point. However, I wouldn't be to worried about it. When you go in April, try to go to the Tower of London before the Ceremony, either that day or earlier in the week. That way your kids can see it in the daylight first so it won't be scary to see it at night. I thought it was pretty well lit, but a young child might be a bit scared. There's a bit of stamping and there's a few shouted phrases. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD1ySTxhHLQ There's a video of it that show's all there really is to the ceremony.

You show up outside the main gate (by the shop, but don't worry you can't miss it) by 9:30. Do NOT be late. The guard opens the gate at 9:30 to escort everyone in, he gives a brief history of the ceremony and goes over the rules (silence and no photos) and then joins the ceremony himself. When the Keys are taken up to the guards on the steps, the group follows and listens to the very brief tune. Then you're escorted out a few moments after 10pm.

When you go to the Tower during the day, be there when they open for the day and go straight for the crown jewels. If you go there first, you can wander through at your own pace. When you get to the crowns inside there's a conveyer belt that takes you in front of them. At the end of the belt, turn a sharp right to go up the 3 stairs and go back to the beginning, there's a conveyer belt on the other side of the crowns as well. This way you can see both sides of the crowns and the items in the cases with them. A lot of people don't realize that there's a second conveyer belt and how they can get back to the start of it. Once you've seen the crown jewels, join a yeoman warder tour. They meet right where you entered the Tower complex, are free and are a lot of fun. The yeoman warders all have a ton of information and things like that are a lot more fun with a good story! Do know that you can't have an umbrella open while on the tour so if the weather is iffy, make sure everyone has a hooded jacket or poncho.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 07:07 PM
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I'm going to be in London in mid-May. Too late to request key ceremony tickets? Is it really worth it?
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 07:20 PM
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"<i>Too late to request key ceremony tickets?</i>"

Probably not - especially if you have flexibility re which night you attend.

"</i>Is it really worth it?</i>"

For most people - absolutely!
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 07:25 PM
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HImom: is it really worth what? Writing for the tickets? Going at 9:30? Would you be doing something else at that time?

If you write for the tickets now, I think you will be in time.

Iowa_Redhead gives great information for visiting the Tower above. I think if you've never been to the Tower of London, a day visit is better than a night one, because one only gets to see a small portion during the Ceremony of the Keys.

But if you've already visited the Tower in the past, I have to say that I enjoyed the ceremony.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 07:32 PM
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Thanks--I've been with hubby--15 years ago but our kids have never. Maybe we'll see the Tower in the day, have a meal & then go to the ceremony in the evening. I'll write for tickets today. It will be fascinating & probably beat standing on the wall & watching the changing of the Guard, which we did in 1995. LOL!
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Old Mar 27th, 2010, 04:04 AM
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We enjoyed it... I think janisj is right that to really appreciate it, you need to see the entire Tower first. The part for me that was so cool was using your imagination... what it was like hundreds of years ago. Much harder to do that with JimBob running around, 'honey, get my picture'.

When we do it, we plan to walk over The Dickens Inn beforehand for dinner (in St. Katherine's Dock area). It is close, and looks to be a decent option for meals... if it is nice outside, they have a great outdoor eating area.

http://www.dickensinn.co.uk/
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Old Mar 27th, 2010, 09:22 AM
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"<i>Maybe we'll see the Tower in the day, have a meal & then go to the ceremony in the evening. </i>"

That would seem logical -- but it isn't really . . .

The Tower closes at 5:30 PM and the ceremony isn't until 9:30, leaving 4 hours to fill.

Definitely do both if you can (daytime visit and the Ceremony), but they don't have to be on the same day. In fact it is probably better to do them on different days. Consider the Ceremony a 'night time' event like going to the theatre. You can tour sites and have dinner in ANY part of London earlier in the day. Then go back to the hotel to get warm jackets if necessary and head out to the Tower around 9-ish.
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