24 September 2021

The Big Lunch is the UK's annual neighbourhood get-together to celebrate community connections, inviting people to enjoy time together every year on the first weekend in June, as part of the Month of Community.

This year the Coronation of King Charles III and the Queen Consort brings us extra opportunity to get together and celebrate on 6-8 May.

But where did our love of bringing our celebrating together outside come from? Sarah Boniface, our Head of PR and Campaigns, did a little digging...

street party from 1953 coronation

Wind back a centruy, and it was Peace Teas for children to mark the end of the First World War in 1919 that kickstarted our national love affair with street party celebrations. Replicated in 1935 for the Jubilee of King George V, again in 1937 to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI, and for VE and VJ Days at the end of World War II in 1945.

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 finally cemented the association of national and Royal moments with popular coronation street party celebrations across the UK.  Since then Jubilees, Royal Weddings and important Royal birthdays and the turning of the millennium prompted their return with societal benefits flowing from these joyful national occasions.

Throughout the past century, celebrations have traditionally drawn people out of their homes to come together in their streets, parks, gardens, communities grounds and places of worship to mark special days.  With an explosion of bunting, people gather around tables laden with food to chat, laugh and have fun, the revelry often including games, music, pageants and entertainment bringing an air of carnival.

Momentous events over the decades have revived community spirit, but although joyous celebrations and a feeling of community togetherness echo, over the decades since World War II levels of community connection have been in steady decline.  An early understanding of this societal breakdown prompted educational charity the Eden Project to explore how to holt or slow the social fragmentation, searching for a way to reconnect people at a neighbourhood level.

Back in 2009, the Eden Project launched The Big Lunch, looking to the UK's street party tradition for inspiration in an effort to create an annual moment when everyone can stop to celebrate together over food, to make friends and have fun.  Making the event annual was intentional to establish a regular pulse nationally that focuses on sparking community connections.

On the first weekend in June each year, The Big Lunch initiative has encouraged people everywhere to celebrate what matters to them and make connections with each other where they live in the belief that when people get to know each other better, stronger, happier, more resilient communities begin to grow.

Recognising the importance of this work, Her Majesty The Queen honoured the Eden Project by inviting them to create The Big Jubilee Lunch, including it as an official part of her 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations and 2022 Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall became Patron of The Big Lunch in 2013 showing support for the important benefit the annual event has for communities across the UK. 

Royal Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and the ongoing support of The National Lottery help The Big Lunch to encourage people to make connections, celebrate diversity and what matters to them where they live. Connected communities where people know one another have increased resilience, making them better equipped to face the challenges that lay ahead.

The tradition of street parties is part of our national identity. The Coronation Big Lunch is a glorious moment when everyone can celebrate what that means to them, our diversity, who we are and what we care about, to have fun and make new friends from 6-8 May 2023.

We certainly can't wait to celebrate this year, and we'd love you to join us!

Order your free Coronation Big Lunch pack now, and ask your friends and neighbours to save the date for The Big Lunch in their diaries!