The UK is preparing to celebrate the platinum jubilee weekend in style, with 1,458 public events and 1,775 street parties or private events officially registered to take place from 2 to 5 June.
The celebrations are spread out across the country, with 240 in and around London, 208 around Manchester, 133 near Birmingham, 98 in Scotland – including four in the Orkneys and one on the Isle of Lewis – 21 in Northern Ireland and two in Guernsey.
But the royal family’s platinum jubilee website is calling for more people to get involved. “There are lots of ways you can take part in the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations, whether you are a local authority, school, business, community group, or want to get involved yourself,” said a spokesperson for the site, which is offering a Toolkit To Plan Your Jubilee. It includes free photographs of the queen, children’s games, recipes and a free to download platinum playlist that includes Ed Sheeran, the Spice Girls, Kylie Minogue and Elton John.
“The special extended bank holiday weekend will provide an opportunity for communities and people throughout the United Kingdom to come together to celebrate the historic milestone,” they added.
The country will spend a total of £823m celebrating the bank holiday weekend, spending an average of £83 each on food, drink and union flag-inspired decorations, according to MoneySupermarket.com. That is almost three-quarters more than the £480m that 34% of Britons said they planned to spend celebrating the royal wedding in 2018.
Waitrose has reported sales of Pimm’s are up by more than 260% on last year, while searches for Jubilee are up 176% on their website in the past two weeks. Searches for platinum jubilee food and drink are up 114% and garden party recipe up 59%.
John Lewis has similarly reported that searches for Jubilee on its website are up 55% week on week. While in a sign that street parties are already being organised, it said searches for outdoor chairs increased 33% compared with last month, with searches for bunting up 31%.
B&Q said it had sold 100,000 metres of bunting, while Sainsbury’s reported sales of union jack cake stands are up by 2,783% week on week.
The traditionally ironic English sense of humour is on show among the memorabilia available to mark the historic royal event: Mattel has launched a limited-edition Barbie doll inspired by the Queen, several gnomes shaped like the Queen have gone on sale on eBay, as well as mini-sculptures of the Queen inside a snow globe that plays the national anthem – and corgi-shaped salt shakers. Amazon and Etsy are stocking solar-powered bobble heads shaped like the Queen and even a “Pin the Diamond on the Crown” game.
In contrast, the public and private celebrations are largely steeped in tradition – albeit with a few unusual outliers: the South Bank in London will be holding an event to teach children to write punk songs and throwing an LGBTQI+ club night for insurgents with a “seditionary crew of abolitionists, unpardonables and ne’er-do-wells”.
In Bristol, a hippy singer-songwriter called I-Sha-Vii on a self-proclaimed mission to make the people around her happier, will perform.
Mainly, however, the festivities follow more time-honoured patterns: there will be a Make, Bake and Decorate a British Treat Box Fit for a Queen event in Manchester. Locals in Thornhill will cook pizza together. Bedale Community Library is throwing a tea party, while there will be a Picnic at the Pub in Shrewsbury.
There will be a wildflower display and free flower arranging in Beddington, a child’s funfair in West Sussex, readings of royal fairytales by author Sally Pomme Clayton based on her recent book The King with Dirty Feet. In Stoke Poges, there is set to be a Best of British Disco Karaoke.
There will be fireworks as national charities and councils light the UK’s 1,500-plus community and commonwealth beacons – a long-held tradition of celebrating royal jubilees, weddings and coronations stretching from across the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories.
The ceremony of lighting the beacons will begin at 9pm on Thursday 2 June when the principal beacon, involving The Tree of Trees – a 21-metre high “tree” constructed of 350 smaller trees) – is lit in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Members of Girlguiding will light a further 70 beacons up and down the country, while former servicemen and women from Walking with the Wounded have said their lights will shine on top of the highest peaks of each of the four nations in the UK.