History of Trafalgar Square
A significant site since the 13th century, it was home to the King's Mews during Edward I's reign, which ran north from Charing Cross, where the Strand from the City meets Whitehall from Westminster. From Richard II's reign to Henry VII's, the Royal Mews stood at the western end of the Strand. The name "Royal Mews" is derived from the practice of keeping hawks here to moult; the word "mew" dates back thousands of years. Mews were rebuilt as stables in 1534 and remained here until George IV moved them to Buckingham Palace.
By 1732, the King's Mews were divided into the Great Mews and the Green Mews to the north by the Crown Stables, a large building designed by William Kent. The National Gallery occupies its site today.
New Years Events at Trafalgar Square
For many years the public have gathered unofficially to watch the fireworks alone in the town square. The lack of organised celebrations was partly because the town council were concerned that encouraging more partygoers would cause too much traffic in the little square.
Since 2003, a New Year’s fireworks display centred on the London Eye and South Bank of the Thames is provided as an alternative to traditional celebrations. Since 2014, New Year's celebrations have been organised by the Mayor of London in conjunction with the charity Unicef who head up ticketing of the event.
The fireworks display was cancelled when the COVID-19 pandemic spread and the next event due to take place is in 2022.
Christmas at Trafalgar Square
Every year since 1947, Norway's capital city, Oslo has presented a Norway spruce (or sometimes a fir) as London's Christmas tree in gratitude for Britain's support during World War II.
At a seasonal ceremony, lights are switched on to decorate the Christmas tree. The ceremony is held twelve days before Christmas Day with a large number of people attending the festivity, which is freely open to the public.
There are usually several nights of Christmas carol singing and other performances and events following the switch-on. The tree is then taken down on the twelfth night of Christmas for recycling. In 1980, Westminster City Council threatened to cancel the event to save £5,000, but the decision was reversed.
Sporting Events & Parades
A number of sporting events and victory parades have been held in Trafalgar Square over the past few decades. A giant video screen was erected in June 2002 for England's FIFA World Cup quarter final against Brazil. On 9 December 2003, England celebrated their victory in the Rugby World Cup, and on 13 September 2005, the English won the Ashes series.
A watch party was held on 6 July 2005 at Trafalgar Square to celebrate London's bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics at the 117th IOC Session in Singapore, hosted by Katy Hill and Margherita Taylor. Countdown clocks were erected in March 2011, but they were shut down a day later due to weather and engineering problems.