There are many British Armed Forces events and other military-based dates for the calendar each year where the public and military community can show their support for the services – or simply enjoy a day out with a military theme.
Forces.net has taken a look at events during 2020 across the country that may be near you, with a selection of free and paid for (mainly) family-friendly events to put in your 2020 diaries.
An unusual way to celebrate the traditional ‘Burns’ night is onboard HMS Warrior at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, PO1 3LJ.
An opportunity to pay a military-style homage to Scottish bard Robert Burns over a three-course, haggis-based dinner with drinks.
Tickets for the Black tie (or Scottish kilt) event cost £85.00. The evening starts at 19.00 (25th January), includes a mixture of toasts and readings and finishes off with dancing and music from a Ceilidh band.
- Rory Lewis, professional photographer and winner of Portrait of Britain 2017-19, hosts a free event (31st January) where he will discuss his inspiration behind ‘Soldiery’ a project featuring military personnel that captures the ‘evolving face of the 21st century British Army’.
The talk offers the opportunity for visitors to meet Rory, view his work and learn about his photographic techniques, followed by a book signing opportunity. Taking place at the Foyle Centre, National Army Museum, Royal Hospital; Road, London, SW3 4HT at 11.30 am. Booking is recommended.
- Militaria is one of the largest European military collectors show and will take place at the NAEC Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh, Kenilworth, Coventry, CV8 2LG (2nd February).
Past events have included visits by cast members of ‘Allo Allo’ and is the place to go for a vast array of military memorabilia including clothing worn by British troops in the Falklands and original American Vietnam era uniforms.
Previous visitors have managed to find Pacific ration boxes (complete with unopened food packages), unusual hygiene items including a British made cork handled shaving brush and a bar of French soap, a 1978 Para bergan and even a bayonet.
Doors open from 08.00 and adult tickets are £10.00. Children under 14 are free if accompanied by an adult.
- Berkshire Family History Society (17th February) is hosting a free one to one advice session with Trevor Maidment for anyone seeking help with military records or family research.
Open to non-members, the centre on the 2ND Floor, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading, RG1 3BQ is open 11.00-16.00 and visitors are advised to bring copies along of any documentation they need assistance with.
- Grand Military Gold Cup Day (6th March) is an afternoon of military racing featuring some of the military’s best amateur jockeys.
Taking place at Sandown Park Racecourse, Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9AJ, tickets start from £15 and two children go free with every paying adult. Visitors are allowed to BYO picnics including a (small) amount of alcohol per person.
- ‘March for Veterans’ is a ten-mile fully guided walk taking place in cities across the UK throughout March, including Cardiff, Colchester and Manchester on a selection of weekends.
An opportunity to get fit and raise money to help support veterans rebuild their lives after sight loss. Earlybird tickets are available for children and adults at £7/£12 (offer ends 31st January) or £15/£10 after.
- ‘No Man’s Land’ is a family-friendly WW1 and WW2 Living History Weekend featuring a large selection of WW1 nationalities with an estimated 400 re-enactors displaying equipment, weapons and uniforms.
A replica WW1 Observation Balloon and WW2 V1 rocket could be on site along with a range of other military vehicles, firing displays, live music and memorabilia stalls.
Taking place at Bodrhyddan Hall, Clwyd, Denbighshire, North Wales, LL18 5SB (18-19th April). Tickets available online soon.
Yeovilton Military Wives Choir In Concert (26th April). A chance to see the sell-out choir at the Octagan Theatre, Hendford, Yeovil, Somerset, BA20 1UX. Tickets cost £16 and the concert, which starts at 19.30 features modern-day classics, West End musicals and World War favourites.
- Ten Tors and Jubilee Challenge (1st-3rd May ) is an outward-bound challenge for youngsters and facilitated by a large-scale military deployment on Dartmoor.
Sports and ramblers teams, Armed Forces cadets and schools all take part with a choice of 35, 45 or 55-mile routes across the unforgiving terrain of the peaks in Southern England. There is a maximum limit of 400 teams and applications must be submitted between 4-24th Sept 19.
- The VE75 Weekend at Norfolk’s Old Buckenham Airfield, Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, NR17 1PU is an opportunity to re-wind the clock 75 years and experience military re-enactors and WW2 displays at the former wartime base.
The two-day event (9-10th May) will celebrate the 75th anniversary since the end of the war in Europe and features a Glenn Miller Tribute act who will entertain visitors in a traditional ‘WW2 Blister Hangar’.
Classic Car (pre-‘45) and vintage aircraft owners are invited to attend and take part in air and land-based displays and it is anticipated some original WW2 iconic aircraft may visit the skies overhead. Tickets go on sale soon.
- This year’s Armed Forces Day national event is hosted by Scarborough Borough Council and will take place in North and South Bay, Foreshore Road, Scarborough, YO11 1NT (Saturday 27th June) 10-17.00.
The free annual event is normally attended by the Prime Minister and a Senior Royal and gives the public a chance to recognise and support the work of the Armed Forces community.
Although other events take place across the country, the Scarborough event will see a week-long programme featuring a flag-raising ceremony, a children’s parade, a series of military-themed short films and culminates in a display of land, sea and air assets on Saturday.
- Beating Retreat (10-11th June) is two evenings of spectacular military music, pageantry and drill, featuring cannons and fireworks ahead of the Queen’s Birthday Parade on Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AX.
- Trooping the Colour (13th June) also takes place on Horse Guards Parade.
Trooping the Colour parade route stretches between Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards along which over 1,400 officers and soldiers march in ceremonial uniform to military musicians and drums before the Queen arrives by carriage and takes the Royal Salute. She then returns to the Palace to watch an RAF flypast from the balcony.
Seated tickets for Beating Retreat start at £20 for the evening shows that begin at 20.00 and tickets for Trooping the Colour are £5-20 via ballot allocation.
- July is a busy month for Airshows across the UK. Three of the best include; Wales Air Show in Swansea Bay, Swansea (July 4-5th), the Flying Legends Airshow at IWM Duxford, Cambridge (July 11-12th) and the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire (July 17-19th). Expect breath-taking aerobatic displays, vintage war-planes, The Red Arrows and state of the art modern fighter jets.
The Welsh event is free to attend. Flying Legends prices are to be confirmed and tickets start from £44 (under 18s free with paying adult) for RIAT.
- This year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo ‘The Platinum Edition’(7-29th August 2020) will be its 70th anniversary year and is one of the largest international events of the military calendar.
The spectacular event of 2020 will see amongst others, the Pipes and Drums of the Irish Guards, the Bands of the Scots and Irish Guards and the Tattoo Dance Company perform on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle to over 8,000 visitors each night. The sell-out event is led this year by the Royal Navy and ticket prices range between £25-£90.
- A SAS Test Week Route March across the highest peaks in South Wales offering a chance to test yourself on the arduous route of Welsh terrain UK’s Special Forces use during their Selection process.
There is a choice of Full Endurance Route (64km), Half Endurance Route (32km) or a Guided Full/Half. The latter options are led by DS with no previous navigational skills required.
For the unguided routes, personnel must first prove themselves to have a good level of map reading/navigation experience or attend a complimentary course run by Jason Bowen. Competitors can choose from a range of weight (25-55lbs) to carry. Safety staff may remove those from the event who are not considered fit to continue.
The event starts at 01.00 on 12th September from Talybont Reservoir Layby, Talybont-on-Usk, Merthyr Tydfil, LD3 7YS and tickets are priced between £67.58-159.
- A chance to watch the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines perform at the Exmouth Pavilion, The Esplanade, Exmouth, EX8 2AZ. (23rd Sept).
Royal Marines musicians are considered some of the most versatile in the military musical world and are expected to provide every conceivable musical ensemble. The evening’s entertainment starts at 19.30 and tickets are priced between £11-13.
- The Battle of Britain Air Display (3rd Oct) is a celebration of the skill and bravery of the pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain 80 years ago, with a chance to see a special display of pre ’45 warplanes.
Tickets are £15 (under 12s go free) for the event held at Norfolk’s Old Buckenham Airfield, Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, NR17 1PU between 10.00-16.00.
- Race Day At Shuttleworth (4th Oct) is one of the final air shows of the year and The Shuttleworth Collection boasts an impressive collection of vintage aircraft and Edwardian vehicles and racing cars. The event offers a mock air display and live music as well as an opportunity to visit the museum, hangar and gardens.
Opening hours are 09.00-18.00. Air display is at 14.00 and a talk by a pilot at 10.30. Ticket prices are £25 or £16.50 for members and children under 15 go free. Held at the Old Warden Aerodrome, Nr Biggleswade, Bedfordshire SG18 9EP.
- Remembrance Sunday is held on the Sunday nearest to 11th November and marks the end of the First World War, 1918 at 11.00. The Cenotaph in London remains the largest event of its kind and is attended by the Royal family, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries.
- The Festival of Remembrance is held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP and hosted by the Royal British Legion (RBL) to commemorate all lives lost in conflict. The event is attended by members of the Royal Family and features military musicians and UK headliners.
A matinee and an evening performance are held on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday. Tickets are not usually released until later in the year (August) and are highly sought after with only the afternoon performance open to the general public (the evening is reserved for military personnel, their families and member of the RBL).
- The Chelsea Pensioners attend a selection of Christmas events each year, some of which are open to members of the public. Last year they held three free Christmas Carol Services in Battersea Park, the Royal Chelsea Hospital and Sloane Square. Due to space limitations, the Wren Chapel event at the hospital was on a first come first served basis and details of the 2020 events will be confirmed closer to the time.
- The historic Guards’ Chapel, Household Division, Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London, SW1E 6HQ holds an annual Christmas carol concert and features military musicians. The event is free to attend and more details will be released closer to the time. More from Forces.net