Chance Encounters: Greenwich Royal Borough Celebrations
Fireworks to celebrate the Greenwich Royal Borough Honour
Empty fridge and growling stomachs had driven me and my flatmate out again on Sunday evening. This time we decided to stay somewhere close by with the DLR (the local metro) not working again (don’t even get me started how bad the DLR is), so we decided to head south of river to Greenwich which has most restaurants/pubs nearby.
I had commented to my friend how weirdly quiet the Greenwich foot tunnel was as we passed below Thames, but when we re-emerged above ground on the south side, we could hear loud voices. It was quickly after that that we saw massive amounts of people also.
The Greenwich foot tunnel was surprisingly quiet for Sunday
We were still far so we couldn’t quite see what all the fuss was about, but this being London, I knew it could either be a riot or a celebration of some kind. And I’m always up for both!
As we got closer we figured that it was not the end of capitalism, but a parade of some kind. And if there is something I’ve learned about parades, is that there usually is something worthwhile at the other end, like the metaphorical pot of gold.
There were drums...
... and ships
There were also these tall illuminated paper figures
So we followed the party which was what many people had decided to do. Some of the people were carrying lighted ships made of paper, I was guessing that they were representing the Cutty Sark or this was some kind of sea related festival.
There were also bands going in the midst of the people, horns, drums and such filled the air with constantly changing music depending on where you happened to be.
We passed a huge tent that had music blasting out of it with people dancing, but we didn’t stop as there didn’t seem to be any food around. There should always be food around these kind of events.
Royal Naval College illuminated
Tent with a band and music
Eventually the procession dispersed into the huge open yard at the Royal Naval College. There wasn’t anything that interesting going on so we went in search of food with my friend, but couldn’t find any. So we came back to the yard where various good natured snowball fights had broken out as courtesy of last night’s snow storm.
The bands stopped at the Royal Naval College
As we wandered aimlessly there seemed however to be certain direction in other peoples steps as lot of people started converging to the river front. And I could guess what that meant, so I dragged my friend along, although he was starting to complain about the lack of food.
We had just reached the river front when the first rocket went up. Excellent!
Now these were proper fireworks, unlike the ones we saw previous weekend at the Chinese New Year celebrations.
After the last rocket with the smell of gunpowder still in the air we made our way back towards central Greenwich and found ourselves a pub. It was only there when I talked with the waitress that I learned the reason for the festivities. Queen had apparently bestoved the title of Royal Borough on Greenwich, the first such title in 80 years. And there still are only four Royal Boroughs in England.
Now I still have no idea what’s the difference between a Royal Borough and just a normal borough, but apparently it is something you should celebrate with lavish fireworks, which works for me.
And this is why I love London, just a random walk for some food turned out a small adventure with live music and awesome fireworks celebrating something that hasn’t happened in 80 years.
Have you ever stumbled on something special when you didn’t plan to?