London’s been through a lot over the last 805 years, but the Lord Mayor’s Show has gone ahead during every single one of them. Since 1215, even through war, plague and terrorism, the show has always gone on, and 2020 will be no exception.
One of London’s biggest traditional events, the annual parade has been referenced in Pepys’s diaries and in works by Canaletto and Hogarth. It was born when King John allowed London to elect its own Mayor on the condition they travelled to Westminster once a year to swear loyalty to the crown. It’s this pilgrimage which has transformed into the show we know today. Usually, it involves a huge procession moving through the City of London with 7,000 people, 200 horses, 150 floats, cadets, carriages and bands. But this year (as with every other event) things will be a little different.
Organisers have said 2020’s show will be a ‘contained and televised spectacle’. Taking place in a closed-off Guildhall Yard on November 14, the reduced show will have performances from a military band, charities, and the Lord Mayor’s Pikemen and Musketeers (that’s a unit of the oldest regiment in the British Army, fyi). You won’t be able to view it from the pavement like normal. Instead, the whole thing will be live-streamed on BBC One – so you can get a close-up view from your sofa.
The show will be a tribute to to the doctors, nurses, care home workers, delivery drivers, shop workers, teachers, Royal Mail staff, rubbish collectors, and all the other people that have kept this country going for the last six months – and NHS frontline staff will take part in the day.
William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said: ‘From doctors, nurses, and midwives to care assistants, social workers, and bus drivers, these, and countless many other key workers and their organisations, have responded with admirable skill, commitment, and dedication to the pandemic. We owe them an immeasurable debt of gratitude so, [...] we will use the Show to express our recognition of their contribution to London and the country.’
This year’s Lord Mayor’s Show will be televised live on BBC One on Saturday November 14 from 11am to noon.
Other things to look forward to this year: Frieze Sculpture’s outdoor art is taking over Regent’s Park again.