Built in 1745, the Parade in the heart of Westminster used to house Buckingham Palace's personal guards, also known as the Queen's Life Guard. In the time of Henry VIII, it was the place where tournaments were held but since then it has more typically just been used as it is today, for parades and other ceremonies. Today it still provides the setting for various military ceremonies throughout the year including the Trooping the Colour which marks the Queen's official birthday.
It used to be the traditional entrance to the Royal Palaces and is still guarded by mounted sentries from the Queen's Household Cavalry, with the Changing of the Guard taking place there every morning at 11 o’clock (Monday to Saturday) and at 10am on Sunday: the twelve mounted New Guard troops in traditional costume arrive from their Hyde Park Barracks while the Old Guard forms up on the north side of the Horse Guards Parade.
Horse Guard Parade is close to Downing Street and is situated across St James’ Park from Buckingham Palace; it is also only a short walk away from Trafalgar Square.
During the 2012 Olympics, a temporary arena was built here for 15,000 spectators to watch the Beach Volleyball tournament, during which tons of sand were delivered to transform the scene of the historic site.