The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch

Thursday 18th April 2024

Tickets for the city's hottest event - raising funds to meet the current urgent need to support veterans of HM Armed Forces into employment on sale now

General FAQs

Who attends the lunch?

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Every year guests include senior leaders from the City’s business and professional communities; members of Livery Companies and Ward Clubs; the senior officers of all three of HM Armed Forces and members of both Houses of Parliament.

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What's the history of the lunch?

The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch (LMBCL) first took place in April 2008, hosted by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress at Guildhall, the centre of the City of London’s Governance, ceremonial and philanthropy. It was a Civic and Guildhall event, but with several differences. A fixed price gave access to unlimited curries and accompanying drinks, there would be no seating plan, everyone would serve themselves – and go back for seconds – and everyone would sit on benches!

From the outset, the Lunch had several purposes. First to raise funds to support soldiers and former soldiers, both regular and reservists, who had served in Iraq and, subsequently, in Afghanistan and their families. Secondly, to raise awareness in the City community of the role of the Armed Forces of the Crown. Third, to build awareness of the national charity that works ceaselessly to support soldiers and former soldiers and their families – the Army Benevolent Fund. Finally, to emphasise to City workers, the breadth and depth of the City’s philanthropy to those in society who need help and support.

The first Lunch in 2008 attracted 700 guests and was held in a marquee in Guildhall Yard as the Guildhall kitchens were out of action at the time. Following its success, the attendance grew year on year and by 2016 the Lunch had grown to the extent that we now use all the principal rooms in Guildhall. Over the last 15 years, the Lunches have contributed a total of over £2.8million to help those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From 2018 onwards, The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch has supported all members of the Armed Forces and their families; through the three single service charities, The Army Benevolent Fund, The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. 

The Army Benevolent Fund proves the administrative support that underpins the Committee’s work and the successful delivery of not only one of the City’s biggest fundraising occasions - which it has done since 2008 - but also what is increasingly an all-year-round programme supporting veterans into employment.

Additionally, since 2019, The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch will link with the Civic and Mayoral theme of employment and employability and provide financial support for veterans to take part in the Pain Management Programme at King Edward VII Hospital’s Centre for Veterans’ Health, as well as Lifeworks. 

Who is the Royal Guest of Honour?

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Because of strict security measures, the Royal Guest of Honour is announced only a few days before the Lunch. Previous Royal Guests have included HM King Charles (when HRH The Prince of Wales), HRH The Princess Royal, HRH The Duke of Kent, and TRH Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

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Who does the Lunch support?

The Lunch supports veterans of His Majesty’s Armed Forces, through the three National Service Charities – The Army Benevolent Fund, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

For 2024, the Lunch will continue to provide financial support for veterans to take part in programmes designed to help prepare them for employment:

The Pain Management Programme at the King Edward VII Hospital's Centre for Veterans’ Health addresses the individual issues, both physical and psychological, involving pain that prevents a veteran from leading a full life. Chronic pain is the most significant barrier to a veteran being able to find and sustain meaningful employment, which is the ‘backbone’ of their future wellbeing and impacts every other aspect of their personal lives and their families. It costs £6,500 to fund the PMP for one veteran. For 2022 we hope to fund up to 15 veterans waiting to go through the programme. You can find out more about the Pain Management Programme here.

Since 2022, the Lunch supports another programme for the next three years; Lifeworks. Lifeworks’ sole focus is to find employment, education and training for veterans from all the Services and their families. It offers practical advice, guidance and support regardless of the length of service and is available nationwide, wherever veterans live. The Lifeworks team is made up of highly experienced career coaches and vocational assessors, helping veterans decide on career and training opportunities and develop skills to job search and write a CV. Each course costs £1,500 but is always free of charge to the veterans taking part. Through the 2022 Lunch, we hope to fund 65 veterans through a Lifeworks course. You can find out more about Lifeworks here.

What is The Lord Mayor's Big Curry Lunch Committee?

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A 100-strong volunteer committee help to organise all aspects of the Lunch and is chaired by the Lord Mayor and Mr Michael Hockney. They meet on five separate occasions and are instrumental in securing prizes for the auction and draw, selling tickets and corporate packages and sourcing sponsorship. The Committee is made up of a range of individuals from a variety of backgrounds including leading business people from the City - senior accountants, bankers, investment managers, lawyers, the chairmen of financial and professional institutions - senior figures from both Houses of Parliament, the serving and retired military community, the Church, the Court of Alderman and other senior members of the Corporation.

Who is on the Committee?

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The full 2024 Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch Committee List can be found here.

What is a Silent Auction?

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Silent auctions are auctions held without an auctioneer, with bidding taking place online, via handwritten bids in person, or both.  The LMBCL Silent Auction opens online at the beginining of January, and continues as a live auction on the day of the Lunch.

Who is the Lord Mayor of the City of London

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The Lord Mayor of London is the City's mayor and the leader of the City of London Corporation. One of the world’s oldest continuously-elected civic offices, it is entirely separate from the Mayor of London. The present Lord Mayor is Alderman and Professor Michael Mainelli.

What is a Livery Company and how do they support the Lunch?

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The Livery Companies of the City of London, currently 110 in number, comprise London's ancient and modern trade associations and guilds. The Lunch is supported by over 50 of the Livery Companies in the City of London. You can see which Livery Companies support the Lunch here.

They all support the Lunch through many different channels. These include: 

  1. Making a £6,500 contribution to fund a veteran through the PMP, either individually or in partnership with another Livery Company 
  2. Making a £1,500 contribution to fund a veteran through Lifeworks 
  3. Making a donation of any amount
  4. Putting on an event in support of the LMBCL
  5. Advertising the Lunch events and activities to their members
  6. Running a Livery Company selling stall on the day of the Lunch

What is a Ward Club and how do they support the Lunch?

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City of London Ward Clubs are civil society organisations based in the wards of the City of London. You can see which Ward Clubs support the Lunch here. Ward Clubs support the Lunch through various channels. These include:

  1. Making a £1,500 contribution to fund a veteran through Lifeworks
  2. Making a donation towards the Lunch.
  3. Buying tickets on behalf of their members to the Lunch.
  4. Advertising the Lunch to their members.
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Are there other events that support the Lunch?

Yes, there are a number supporting events for the Lunch. These include:

  • The Lord Mayor's Launch Reception: Each year the Lunch is launched by the Lord Mayor in November. The reception is attended by the Civic and Mayoral Party, the LMBCL Committee, sponsors, supporters and Livery Masters and Clerks. During the evening the Lord Mayor makes a speech outlining the aims and objectives for the Lunch that year.
  • The Garden Launch: Every January or February there is a launch for the opening of the Commemorative Garden in Guildhall Yard. The Garden is designed (and maintained) by the Worshipful Company of Gardeners and remains in place until the evening of The Lord Mayor's Big Curry Lunch. The Lord Mayor, a Royal Guest of Honour, celebrity gardeners and Masters and Clerks from the Livery Companies and Ward Clubs in the City are usually in attendance.
  • The Lord Mayor's Thank You Party: Each year the Lunch is followed by a 'Thank you Reception' in May, to thank all those involved on the day. The Lord Mayor announces the final result of the Lunch that year and publically thanks key sponsors and supporters.
  • Other Satellite Events: Committee Members and Livery Companies sometimes hold their own events in support of the LMBCL and any funds raised goes towards the final total. To hear about what Satellite Events are on throughout the year, please get in touch with Priscilla L Kwabi on

Event FAQs

I want to book several tickets, but don't yet know the names of my guests - do I need to fill out all their details?

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You do not need your guest details to book your tickets, you may 'skip' that section of the booking form; however, we will need their names no later than 28th March 2024. Please fill these in on your profile on our website under 'manage tickets'.

If your guests name is not assigned to a ticket by the 28th March they won't be able to enter the Guildhall.

Will there be first aid onsite?

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Yes, members of St John Ambulance will be present in the Guildhall. 

How do I access my ticket?

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Your ticket will appear in the form of a QR code on your LMBCL website profile. You will need to download this QR code to gain entrance to the Guildhall. 

Your QR code is specific to you, and has your name, ticket time and entrance on it.  

Check out our guide to accessing your tickets here

I want to book tickets for a group (10 or more) and take advantage of the corporate area. Can I do this directly?

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We prefer all tickets to be purchased through the website under a group ticket package, however if you are having problems please contact Katy Wildman on 0207 811 3201 or Priscilla Lafayette Kwabi on 0207 811 3202 or e-mail

Do group attendees need to bring identification?

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Yes, every attendee is required to bring and present their QR Code ticket and photo ID.
The name on the ID must match the name on the ticket.

What are the main timings on the day?

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11.45am The Lunch opens
12.30pm First Lunch sitting begins in the Great Hall
1.15pm Second Lunch sitting begins in the Great Hall
2.00pm Third Lunch sitting begins in the Great Hall
2.45pm Prizes are drawn in the Old Library
3.00pm The Lunch closes

What else goes on at the Lunch?

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  • Diamond and Champagne Bar: each glass or bottle of Pol Roger Champagne purchased enters you into the draw to win a diamond pendant designed handmade by Susannah Lovis. You can buy a glass of Champagne for £20; three glasses for £50; a bottle for £100.
  • Watch and Cocktail Bar: each Coq d’Argent cocktail purchased gives you entry to a draw to win a bespoke hand-made watch from Harold Pinchbeck. One cocktail is £20; four cocktails are £50; eight cocktails are £100.
  • Prize Draw: in the Old Library and Livery Hall you will find opportunities to take part in the draw. The draw allows you to put your ticket in the ‘pot’ for the draw prize you particularly want. Staff will be selling draw tickets throughout the Lunch: one ticket for £20; three tickets for £50; seven for £100.
  • Silent Auction: this year’s prizes for the silent auction promise to be spectacular. Further details will be released in February 2023. The online auction will close at midnight before the Lunch and the highest bid online will become the opening bid at the Lunch. You can take part in the bidding throughout the Lunch, using the stands in the Old Library, Livery Hall and East Crypt or bid using your phone and going to the auction website. If you must leave the Lunch before bidding closes at 3.00 pm, maximum bids can be left during the Lunch on the system.
  • Coffee and chocolates are available in the Old Library to enjoy after Lunch.
  • Livery Company Selling stalls: there are several Livery Stalls selling a range of items, including flowers, fresh fruit, Charity merchandise and signed books

What are the specific lunch sitting times?

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There are three specific sittings for Lunch in the Great Hall. These are:

  • 12:30 pm
  • 1:15 pm
  • 2:00 pm

Lunch takes place for all guests in the Great Hall where food is served buffet-style; seating is not reserved, allowing guests to meet and network with others.

Guests are welcome to stay for the duration of the Lunch (11:45am - 3:00pm) and take part in all the activities available.

When booking your tickets, please specify which sitting you would prefer.

Will I receive a printed ticket in the post?

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No - This year we are making an effort to be as paperless and green as possible so all tickets will be in the form of downloadable QR codes which you can access by logging back into your LMBCL website profile that you made when you purchased the tickets.

Can I arrive earlier than my specified Lunch Sitting time?

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Yes, all activities begin at 11.45am and remain open until the end of the Lunch. However, we ask guests to ensure they go to lunch in the Great Hall at their alloted time (12:30 pm, 1:15 pm or 2:00 pm), as each Lunch sitting has a carefully managed capacity.

Is there reserved seating?

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No, there is no reserved seating in the Great Hall.

Is the venue suitable for guests with accessibility needs?

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The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch welcomes guests and volunteers with disability.  The Guildhall building has a number of different levels but is well-prepared for wheelchair users and/or those with other mobility concerns. There are passenger lifts, chairlifts, and disabled WCs around the building.  

If you would like to discuss your specific needs before attending the Lunch, please contact Priscilla at or on 0207 811 3202. 

The Army Benevolent Fund's staff team will be onsite during the Lunch, and will be happy to help you in any way they can.

Does the curry Lunch have a sustainability policy?

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The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch Committee takes great care to follow the lead set out in the City of London’s Vision and Policies on Sustainability.

In terms of the lunch menu offered, our supplier is Noon Products, the largest supplier of Asian food products to the UK grocery trade. Noon Products works closely with most of the large supermarket chains and sets the highest standards for its sourcing. We have negligible food waste.

In line with the policies of the Corporation and Party Ingredients, the City catering company that oversees the Lunch at Guildhall on behalf of the Corporation, we do not use single-use plastic at the Lunch, the purified still and sparkling water we offer both use tap water, our coffee is Fair Trade and all glass bottles are recycled.

The Corporation and Party Ingredients are both London Living Wage employers.

Left over food from the Lunch is also not wasted, but instead distrubuted to the large group of volunteers that help at the event.

What is the dress code?

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Lounge Suit or equivalent 

Livery, Ward Club and City Club members

Badges of Office

Military Personnel 

Officers - Service Dress with leather/medals

Warrant Officers – No2 Dress with leather/medals

Soldiers – No2 Dress with medals