Pearly Kings & Queens Harvest Festival

Published: 04/09/2023 By Allan Fuller

Pearly Kings And Queens Harvest Festival - Have A Right Old Knees-Up at This Legendary Event! 

Dust off your best button-smothered jacket — the London Pearly Kings and Queens Costermongers Harvest Festival is back.

Pearly kings and queens have been a fixture of London since road sweeper Henry Croft decided to pimp up his threads in the 1870s, and the annual harvest festival — held on the last Sunday of September — is probably the most famous pearly fixture on the calendar. 

From 1.30pm on Sunday 24 September 2023, pearly kings, and queens from across London and beyond will assemble in Guildhall Yard, in the City of London — where there will almost certainly be hearty renditions of cockney standards like The Lambeth Walk and Knees Up Mother Brown. The pearlies will be joined by various mayors, dignitaries, and Chelsea Pensioners — and if previous years are anything to go by, frivolities such as maypole and Morris dancing — possibly even folks dressed in Dickensian garb — will unfold.

At 2.30pm, the pearlies — laden with harvest goods to donate to charity — process to St Mary-le-Bowon Cheapside (home of the famous Bow Bells), where a special harvest festival service takes place from 3pm. (Members of the public can attend the service, although it gets packed.) There's obviously another chance to catch the pearlies when they file out of the church later on.

Pearly kings and queens are renowned for their charitable work, so while the whole event is free, have some cash handy to place into a pearly cap or two. Says Clive Bennett, Pearly King of Woolwich, "This event is a testament to the enduring spirit of our city and the diverse communities that make London so vibrant. We invite everyone to join us for a day of entertainment, cultural heritage, and unity."

Image credit: Adrian Murphy