Tower of London ~ Ceremony of the Keys
The Ceremony of the Keys is basically the nightly locking of the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are housed. It's a ceremony that goes back 700 years!
When we decided we wanted to go to London, the Ceremony of the Keys was the first thing I booked! I booked this about a year in advance. I know that sounds kind of crazy - but that's what you need to do if you want tickets to see this incredible tradition first hand. But the good news is at least tickets are FREE! Can't complain about that!
Seeing the Ceremony of the Keys was definitely a once in a lifetime kind of experience. It's something that even a lot of Londoners haven't even experienced. In fact, on our tour most of the other people were locals.
When you arrive, everyone waits outside of the Tower gates until the Yeoman Warder comes out and begins calling people's names. One at a time he lets people through the gate. After you step through the gate, you're no longer allowed to take pictures or videos. It's a ceremony that has been done every single day at the Tower for over 700 years - and they take the privacy and secrecy very seriously.
The Yeoman Warder guided us to the Traitor's Gate and asked that everyone spread out a little along the wall so that everyone could have a good view of what was about to happen. He then explained the details of the ceremony beforehand so everyone knew what to expect. He was so friendly, informative, and very entertaining.
The Ceremony itself was very cool to see - but for me just being inside the gates and beneath the Tower of London at night, with no one else around besides our small group and the guards was the best part. I absolutely loved it!
The Ceremony was pretty short, maybe around 45 minutes, and once it is over the guards bring you back to the front gates. So you don't get any time to explore inside the Tower.
Check out my list of Quick Tips for the Ceremony of the Keys!
Check out my other suggestions for things to see in London!
Also check out my Ultimate U.K. RoadTrip Itinerary for more info on my epic 17 day adventure through England & Scotland!