London is gearing up for the May 6 coronation of King Charles III with a three-day weekend of festivities.
It’s been 70 years since the last one, so expect the party of a lifetime—and getting there will be easier than ever, thanks to nonstop flights from Pittsburgh International Airport to London Heathrow Airport on British Airways.
After a nearly two-year pause in service resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, BA returned to Pittsburgh in June 2022 with daily flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Just in time for the coronation, BA will add a fifth weekly flight on Mondays starting April 24. A sixth weekly flight will begin May 14.
The flights leave Heathrow at 4:45 p.m. local time and arrive in Pittsburgh at 7:50 p.m. local time. Return flights leave Pittsburgh at 9:50 p.m. and arrive in London at 10:10 a.m. the next morning.
“We are delighted that expanded service from Pittsburgh will make it even easier for visitors to book their next trip to Britain, and we hope that this once-in-a-lifetime celebration inspires visitors to discover our unforgettable attractions, world-class hospitality and the warm welcome waiting for them,” said Paul Gauger, executive vice president of Visit Britain.
For those who can’t cross the Atlantic, Britsburgh is a local organization that highlights Pittsburgh’s cultural ties to Great Britain with year-round programming touching on British history and traditions. But if you’re lucky enough to be heading to London, here’s how to navigate the regal merriment.
While Charles technically ascended to the throne when his mother Queen Elizabeth II died in September, the coronation is the sovereign’s formal investiture.
On Coronation Day, Saturday, May 6, ancient pageantry will be on full display. The morning Coronation Service is not open to the public but the King’s Procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey will be packed with spectators as King Charles and Queen Camilla make their way to the abbey, which has hosted every British monarch’s coronation since 1066.
Afterward, members of the Royal Family will return to the palace, waving at well-wishers from the balcony.
On May 7 at Windsor Castle, approximately an hour from London, the star-studded Coronation Concert will take place. No need to leave the capital to enjoy the entertainment, as the concert will be broadcast live on pop-up screens around the city. London’s most iconic locations will be illuminated as part of the Lighting up the Nation event, adding some eye candy.
On May 8, the new king and queen are encouraging a nationwide day of volunteering called The Big Help Out. Details on London-based charitable endeavors can be found here.
Royal-themed events and activities
Grosvenor Square plays host to Mayfair’s Coronation Garden Party, a free event on May 6-7. Big screens will be set up to watch the coronation and concert, with food and drink for sale. The interactive throne should add cheeky fun.
Be dazzled by bling at Kensington Palace’s Crown to Couture exhibit, running from April 5 to Oct. 29, 2023. Dignified outfits from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection will join sparkly gowns worn by pop stars such as Lady Gaga and Lizzo.
Afternoon tea is a quintessentially British affair. From April 24 to May 31, book a seat on the Coronation Afternoon Tea Bus, a traditional double-decker bus. Enjoy tasty tidbits as you cruise past landmarks from Big Ben to Hyde Park.
The Adria is a posh boutique hotel in South Kensington, ideally located to take part in the celebrations. Special coronation programming includes curated picnic hampers from Harrods and guided walking tours.
Situated near Westminster Abbey, down-to-earth Hub by Premier Inn offers clean, compact rooms for a fair price.
When it comes to British fast food, pie and mash is a time-tested favorite up there with fish and chips. It’s a flaky pastry wrapped around minced beef, served with mashed potatoes and doused with parsley sauce known as liquor. Manze’s multiple locations have been serving it for generations, including a luscious vegan version.
London’s Indian restaurant scene is legendary. Located in upscale Chelsea, Kutir enjoys a refined menu and stunning setting fit for a king.
If you dream of hobnobbing with royalty, snap a selfie with the life-like wax figure of King Charles at Madame Tussauds, or soak in the opulence of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, a fortress in the middle of the city.
For a birds-eye view of Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, take a ride on the London Eye, the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel.