Diamond Jubilee celebrations get underway

Diamond Jubilee celebrations get underway

Fireworks, food, music, theme nights, street parties, flags and paraphernalia have been popping up in the most unexpected of locations as Britain gears up for the Jubilee celebrations.

The streets and historic monuments of London are decorated in red, white and blue and in case that wasn’t enough to remind travellers why this is a special weekend, the largest ever photograph of the Royal Family has been displayed on a prominent South Bank building in London.

The giant picture, measuring 100m by 70m and weighing in at nearly two tons, took a team of eight people over 45 hours to erect and will be in place until the end of June.

The chosen picture, which was snapped during the Silver Jubilee in 1977 is one of the most memorable photographs ever taken of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and their children..

As the British public are getting in the mood for the festivities set to take place over the weekend, it has emerged that 4 million brits will take an overnight stay in the UK, generating £700 million while

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Meanwhile international visitors are also expected to descend, with more than 2.9 million passengers passing through Heathrow airport in the next two weeks. Today is Heathrow’s busiest day for arrivals
before the four-day Bank Holiday weekend, with over 103,000 passengers expected to fly through the UK’s only hub airport.

A Heathrow spokesperson revealed to BTN that they were expecting a high number of visitors from America, specifically JFK airport, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt in particular.

In conjunction with the Jubilee and the Olympics, VisitBritain have rolled out a £125million marketing campaign in a bid to create a real legacy for British tourism which will last for many years to come.

“The Diamond Jubilee (2nd-5th June) will showcase London and Britain around the world highlighting our culture and heritage which we know is a key draw for many of our overseas visitors.” A VisitBritain spokesperson revealed.

“Royal locations across Britain which tourists can visit include- Windsor castle, Buckingham Palace, The Palace of Holyrood House (Edinburgh), Balmoral, Sandringham, Kensington Palace, Caernarfon Castle (North Wales), Ruthin Castle (North Wales), St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London and The changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.”

The national tourist board also revealed that Brits are getting into the Diamond Jubilee spirit, with 14.5 million people planning to take part in some sort of related activity, such as local street parties, the official celebrations in and around London, or other Jubilee events around the country.

Visiting friends and family is the most common activity planned for the long weekend, with 30 per cent of Brits planning a trip for this purpose.  18 per cent will enjoy going out for a meal, 15 per cent are looking forward to taking part in outdoor leisure activities such as walking and a further 15 per cent are planning general days out.

There is also a trend towards last minute booking, as many potential visitors are expected to book at the last minute.

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive, added “Obviously there are a lot of people still undecided about their plans for this weekend, and this ties in with the increasing trend we have seen for last-minute booking.

“Anyone looking for inspiration or waiting for a special offer should check out http://www.great2012offers.com for t,housands of great deals on accommodation, attractions, travel, meals out and more across England - this is a weekend you won’t want to miss!” He added.

In terms of celebrations, the double bank holiday will kick off with the Epsom Derby, which will be attended by the queen.  Organisers have revealed that they are expecting more than 200,000 people to attend
the horse-racing event, which normally attracts 135,000 race-goers.

Meanwhile the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant is expected to be one of the weekend highlights as more than 1,000 boats – ranging from rowing boats, historic boats, to canoes -  escort the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh down the River Thames.

More than 5,500 police and 7,000 private stewards will be on duty for the concession, which will be interspersed with 10 musical barges carrying choirs and orchestras.

A number of local street parties and festivals will also be taking place, including the family-friendly festival in Hyde Park and Battersea Park.

Then there is The Big Lunch initiative, which was conceived by the Eden Project and aims to get as many people across the UK to have lunch with their neighbours in an act of community and friendship.  The
Big Jubilee Lunch will take place on Sunday 3rd June with a record number of people expected to take part.

Another major highlight will be the highly anticipated concert organised by Gary Barlow, to be attended by the queen. Headline acts for the concert – which will take place at Buckingham Palace - include Jessie J, JLS, Elton John, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney and Cliff Richard.

For the duration of the weekend, Transport for London is urging the public to leave their cars at home and use public transport.

Live coverage of the celebrations will be transmitted on giant screens in 22 locations around the UK. Meanwhile millions of viewers are expected to tune in from around the world to get a glimpse of the Jubilee
Celebrations.

Jonathan Ofer, managing director of The Deerbrook Group, which asset manages for the owner, Archlane Ltd. explained: “When this Silver Jubilee photo was taken 35 years ago, the South Bank was an unvisited stretch of the Thames – not the centre of business, tourism and culture that it is today.

The combination of Britain’s history, pageantry, culture and heritage and a celebration of the Queen’s 60th anniversary on the throne are expected to have international appeal.

Around 2 billion people around the world are estimated (by the BBC)  to have watched the Royal Wedding of Kate and Prince William and VisitBritain is expecting a large global audience for the Jubilee along with countless tweeting, facebook comments and YouTube videos to be posted globally.

Already a strong driver in attracting visitors, Britain’s culture and heritage’ generates just over £4.5 billion in total spending by overseas tourists and supports 100,000 jobs.