Logo for the King Charles III Coronation

Portsmouth has long-established links with royalty, not least because the city is home of the Royal Navy and the location of its oldest port. Over the years, kings and queens have descended on Portsmouth, previously to watch battles unfold, but more recently to welcome dignitaries and celebrate the city's heritage.

Now, Portsmouth is recognising the coronation of King Charles III. The city will host a number of events and celebrations to mark the occasion, and provide plenty of things to see and do over the bank holiday weekend. Here's a flavour of what to visit and things to do over the Coronation Bank Holiday weekend.


Royal attractions

Take a tour of Portsmouth with a difference and enjoy all the top attractions and places to visit with a royal connection. There's everything from wedding venues to warships.

Royal Garrison Church in Portsmouth under a blue sky

Old Portsmouth's Royal Garrison Church is a popular tourist spot all year round, with its war-damaged roof and surrounding greenery making it a popular photograph subject. There's more to the old building than just being photogenic, though - it was where the previous King Charles married Catherine of Braganza on 21 May 1662. As well as being a wedding venue to royalty the building has also been a medieval hospital, munitions store and a hostel for pilgrims.

The nearby Portsmouth Cathedral (St Thomas's) is today the custodian of Charles and Catherine's marriage certificate.

Head back around another 150 years and you reach one of the most famous monarchs in British history - Henry VIII. Portsmouth was very well known to the man who had more weddings than Ross from 'Friends', with it being where he built a castle and watched sea battles take place.

View out from the ramparts of Southsea Castle

Southsea Castle was built to give it a vantage point overlooking the Solent, ideal for defending England against the French fleets. It also utilised irregular curves, edges and angles - rather different to the other fortifications in use at the time. This was a direct borrowing of castle designs sweeping the continent at the time, which were used to ensure the archers inside had no blind spots. It's said Henry VIII even helped design the castle and had a say in its distinctive shape.

It was from within Southsea Castle that Henry VIII watched the Battle of the Solent - a win for the British fleet but something of pyrrhic victory as it saw the sinking of the Mary Rose. Henry VIII's beloved flagship sank for reasons that are still up for debate, but one thing that's for certain is that it wasn't her maiden journey. Despite a strangely persistent belief that it was one and done for the Mary Rose, she actually sailed for 34 years before sinking to the bottom of the Solent in 1545. There she would rest for 437 before finally being raised back to the surface - an operation of which the now King played a part, first diving to the wreck site and then later watching the raising in person.

View of the Mary Rose © Mary Rose Trust

Today the ship's hull stands proudly in the middle of a world-class museum, where a whole host of Tudor artefacts are on display. In fact, so much was raised from the sea bed that it changed the way we think about Tudor life, it shifted the timelines on certain things we took for granted, and is still being used today to map things such as the diversity of 16th century England.

If all that wasn't enough, Henry VIII himself (or, at least, someone who very much embodies the king) still makes regular appearances at the museum, guiding visitors around and offering unique insight into the life of this most famous - and, indeed, infamous - royals.


Coronation-themed events

As well as the attractions with a close link to royalty, plenty more are putting on events to mark the occasion and give those visiting over the bank holiday weekend plenty to do.

Staying at the Mary Rose, there's a crown-making workshop for youngsters free with a valid museum ticket. As well as making a paper crown, visitors can create a Coronation or Tudor flag, all the while learning about British history.

For adults, there's the chance to see the very suit in which Charles dived to the wreck site, or hear the dockyard's gun salute on the Sunday.

Meanwhile at nearby Boathouse 4 there are activities for the whole family right across the Coronation weekend. Kids can try their hand at bage-making workshops and complete a fun activity sheet, or even try their hand at rope-making. All this is in addition to the interactive displays and regular 20-minute sailings out on F8.

Entry to Boathouse 4 is free, you don't need a ticket to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to enter, simply get a Historic Pass from the gate. Some of its Coronation activities are free, others come at a cost.

Sunday will see Victoria Park host the Coronation Big Lunch event. It begins with a Teddy Bear's Picnic for youngsters to enjoy a spot of lunch with their favourite soft toys, before an afternoon of free live music organised by the Wedgewood Rooms. The Floor Fillerz, South Coast Ghosts, EMZ All Stars, The Military Wives Choir and SD Studios are among those gearing up to perform.

Up at Port Solent there's a royal theme to its free live music event. Royal Rhythms will welcome some of the region's best tribute acts and bands - all of which have a distinctly regal connection. Head along to The Boardwalk to enjoy Kingz of Leon, Forever Queen, and Craig Jefferson with his tribute to 'The King' - Elvis Presley.

On the Sunday itself, Fort Nelson hosts a Coronation Gun Salute to mark the moment the new king is crowned, with a 21-round salute. Head to the Parade Ground at midday to watch the big gun firing, then whilst you're there take a look around the museum itself, and see the Standing With Giants exhibition.


Other events

Not so interested in the Coronation, or just want to see what else is on in Portsmouth over the bank holiday weekend? We've got you covered.

At Gunwharf Quays you can sample some of the best street food the South has to offer, as chefs from across the region come together for the Street Food Award Southern Heats. This illustrious competition provides vendors the chance to go on and represent the UK and showcase their food to a global audience, so you know it'll be nothing but good stuff.

There are three days of competition, where you get to vote for your favourite, before the winner is declared on Monday 8 May.

Want to get away from Britain altogether? Well there's a way (sort of) without even leaving Portsmouth! Fiesta is a brand new Mexican-themed festival taking place at Portsmouth Guildhall. If you like nothing more than tacos, tequila and tostadas then you're in luck. There will be cocktails, live Mariachi music, Lucha libre wrestling, pinatas, and plenty more besides.





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