In Depth

Royal wedding street parties: where to celebrate this weekend

Up and down the country, the British public is preparing to celebrate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding is set to be a highlight of the British social calendar - and part and parcel of any royal event is a good old-fashioned street party.

It is estimated that around ten million people attended street parties in 1977 for the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth, while in 2011 an estimated 5,500 street parties requiring road closures were held for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

“Street parties in the UK started in 1919 as ‘Peace Teas’ after World War One as a treat for children in those times of hardship,” says The Street Party Site. This was the first time parties were organised by residents on a mass basis, evolving from earlier traditions such as parades, tea parties and fancy-dress parties for children.

This year, the BBC has waived the TV licence fee for communities wanting to screen the wedding live, and many councils are waiving charges for road closures.

Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry said: “We’ve made it easier than ever for local residents from all backgrounds to come together to celebrate the royal wedding and we hope councils will get into the spirit by helping people wishing to organise street parties.

“With the FA Cup final taking place on the same day, there’s never been a better reason to hold a street party.”

Where are street parties happening this year?

Bristol has been dubbed the “street party capital of the UK” and this weekend the city will be showing off its credentials.

“There are dozens of streets closing all over Bristol on Saturday to celebrate the marriage of Harry and Meghan and a number of community centres and shopping centres will be holding their own special events to mark the occasion,” says the Bristol Post.

Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire will be in “full party mode”, ranging from a mock royal wedding to broadcasting the ceremony in a church, says the Nottingham Post.

The nave of Winchester Cathedral will host a live screening of the royal wedding, before members of the public will be invited outside to enjoy food, drinks and family friendly entertainment.

Royal wedding celebrations will also be incorporated into this year’s Chelsea in Bloom flower show, which transforms the streets of the west London borough into a walkable artistic visual experience.

In Wales, there have been at least 17 applications for road closures, with parties taking place in Cardiff, Barry, Penarth, Beaumaris and Penllergaer. According to WalesOnline, there is only one large street party planned north of the Brecon Beacons - in Anglesey, where Harry’s brother Prince William served as an RAF search and rescue pilot.

The Dreamland amusement park in Margate, Kent, is hosting a unique street party with an inflatable church, mass bouquet toss and free entry for anyone named Harry or Meghan or anyone wearing a wedding dress. It will be transforming its food court with party benches and bunting, and will be screening the wedding and FA Cup final.

Numerous hotels and restaurants are also offering special afternoon tea or brunch packages to mark the wedding. Fortnum and Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon in London, Fairmont St Andrews in Scotland and Cloud 23 at Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel are among the eateries celebrating Harry and Meghan’s big day.

Meanwhile, the art deco cinema Regents Centre in Dorset is hosting a live screening of all the action, as well as a prize for the best-dressed guest.

How to hold your own street party

With less than a week to go before Meghan and Harry’s wedding, the not-for-profit organisation Streets Alive recommends keeping it simple. “Avoid committees and unnecessary bureaucracy, or the whole thing will grind to a halt,” founder Chris Gittins told The Times. “All you need is a network of active people. Everyone is automatically invited because it is their street.”

The organisational process is, Gittins says, three-quarters of the event, “because the relationships you build with your neighbours last forever”.

If the party is private and for residents only, you may not need a formal Risk Assessment, says The Telegraph. “Parties on a quiet street that will not affect surrounding roads are classed as small events.”

According to the StreetParty.org.uk, you do not need to tell the council if you hold a smaller event that does not require permission for road closures.

If you’re planning on a larger do, it’s worth noting that many councils have eased road closure restrictions and removed the cost of a road closure permit.

“These include Guildford, Bromley, Salford, and Croydon, to name a few,” says the Telegraph. The fee has also been waived in Liverpool.

But if you’ve run out of time to close the road, “you can always arrange a ‘street meet’ using pavements, parking spaces, gardens or driveways which doesn’t require permission”, adds the Telegraph.

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