Jubilee starts with traffic delays and fine weather

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The Jubilee celebrations got off to a very British start last night – travel congestion trapped those attempting to reach the festivities and those doing their best to escape.

The Jubilee celebrations got off to a very British start last night – travel congestion trapped those attempting to reach the festivities and those doing their best to escape.

Traffic delays at the weekend were expected to be among the worst seen and yesterday's jams were 50 per cent longer than those of a normal Friday.

Queues began building in the morning on roads leading out of London and into the West Country. But traffic was also busy in the opposite direction because visitors planning to attend celebrations rushed to enter London before some city centre roads are closed to traffic. More than two million are expected to attend the capital's celebrations, which start with a classical concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palace today.

A spokesman for AA Roadwatch said: "We are seeing jams, especially in the roads around London. Unusually there is queuing in both directions. Our advice is to use public transport if possible or you could be in for long delays."

The prospect of a rare sunny weekend and England's opening World Cup match on Sunday were expected to increase the rush for the roads.

This is forecast to be one of the hottest weekends of the year so far, with yesterday's sunshine predicted to continue until Sunday evening and temperatures reaching 24C (75F).

But the two public holidays are likely to see a return of the thundery showers that were a feature of May. Temperatures on Tuesday were considered unlikely to reach 20C.

Drivers have been advised to stagger their journeys and the Highways Agency said it was suspending routine maintenance on main roads in an attempt to keep as many lanes open as possible. But many roads in cities across the country will be closed ahead of and during jubilee events, with London the hardest hit.

By mid-afternoon, motorists on the country's busiest road, the M25, were in tailbacks and there were long queues on the M11 north-east of London.

Rail companies estimated that 500,000 people began their journeys out of London yesterday and train companies had recommended that passengers book in advance to be sure of getting a seat. Train companies in the South-east have added extra carriages to services to and from London for jubilee events.

The first of an expected 1.5 million people planning to escape the four days of celebrations by flying abroad also started their trips yesterday.

The Association of British Travel Agents reported that the Canary Islands, Majorca, Ibiza, Spain and Cyprus were among popular destinations.

"Some are going to get away from the World Cup, others are planning to watch the matches from their resorts," said an Abta spokeswoman.

A third of the remaining residents were expected to attend a local event over the jubilee holiday period, according to the English Tourism Council. It forecast that British residents would take 2.7 million trips to, or in, England over the holiday.

"English tourism will certainly benefit from the jubilee celebrations and the extra bank holiday," said Alan Britten, chairman of the ETC.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said crowds were expected at many English seaside resorts over the weekend to enjoy the fine weather.



From street theatre in Cardiff to theatrics in the sky...



Saturday

Noon: Cardiff Bay hosts performances from some of Europe's and Britain's top street theatre artists.

7pm: Belfast City Hall celebrates Northern Ireland's "Golden Moments" of the past 50 years.

8pm to 10pm: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh host a classical concert featuring Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace. The concert will be broadcast live on big screens along the Mall and in the Royal Parks, as well as on video screens across Britain.

Sunday

10.45am: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attend an ecumenical jubilee service with representatives of all Christian churches at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. The service is followed by a walkabout in Windsor. Other members of the Royal Family attend services around the country. The Prince of Wales and Princes William and Harry are in Swansea; the Earl and Countess of Wessex are at Salisbury Cathedral, the Duke of Kent is in Belfast, and the Princess Royal is in Ayr.

6.30pm: The Welsh National Opera holds a free concert in Cardiff Bay.

In Chatham, Kent, a three-day Jubilee Navy Days celebration begins, featuring an international fleet of warships.

Choirs, orchestras and military bands hold rehearsals for events on the two bank holidays.

Monday

1pm: A nationwide peal of bells and a gun salute at Hyde Park in London open celebrations.

1pm to 10.30pm: Edinburgh's golden jubilee garden party, featuring street theatre, music, dance and a Celtic and world music concert.

4pm: A 12,000-strong audience for the pop concert at Buckingham Palace starts to arrive. The concert is broadcast on big screens on the Mall and in Royal Parks.

7.30pm: Former Queen guitarist Brian May opens the concert by playing the national anthem on roof of Buckingham Palace. Performers include Pop Idol Will Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Rod Stewart and The Corrs, and it will end with a finale of "All You Need is Love" led by Sir Paul McCartney.

10.30pm: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh drive along The Mall escorted by 300 children carrying lanterns to light the first of nearly 2,000 beacons that will unite celebrations across Britain and the Commonwealth. Fireworks are launched from the roof of Buckingham Palace and the display is relayed on screens outside the palace.

Tuesday, Golden Jubilee Day

10.42am: A salute by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery starts a carriage procession from Buckingham Palace. Fanfares mark the procession's progress through central London to St Paul's Cathedral, where the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London join a thanksgiving service conducted by the Dean of St Paul's, Dr John Moses.

12.40pm: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attend a lunch banquet at Guildhall, where the Queen, Tony Blair, and the Lord Mayor of London make speeches.

1.40pm: Processions begin in the Mall, beginning with the masquerade bands from the Notting Hill Carnival, performing for the first time outside of the annual festival in west London. Patti Boulaye leads 5,000 singers in a gospel choir, culminating in a finale of "Amazing Grace". About 1,000 children and young people aged from seven to 18 perform "Together Talking", a song to celebrate shared communication, which they will stop and sing at different points, finishing with a rendition for the Queen at the Victoria Memorial. A 50 years parade divided into five sections marks each decade of the Queen's reign, and features a float showing typical living and eating habits of each 10 years.

Flag bearers from all the Commonwealth countries make up another parade, accompanied by children in national dress.

5.35pm: The Royal Family returns to the Palace when barriers on the Mall will be lifted to allow crowds to move to the front of Buckingham Palace, where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will appear on the balcony.

5.55pm: Celebrations close with a fly past by 27 aircraft flying at 1,500 feet, including RAF combat aircraft, the Red Arrows and Concorde.

Chris Gray

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