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Maritime Greenwich Lights Up to Celebrate 20th Anniversary of World Heritage Status. Image Courtesy of Vickie Flores 2017

Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site celebrates 20 years

Maritime Greenwich is marking 20 years since it was awarded World Heritage Site status with a stunning lighting event, illuminating the sites that represent over 500 years of Greenwich’s cultural heritage.

A programme of special anniversary events will take place throughout the year, commencing with the lighting event on World Heritage Day, Tuesday 18 April. After the lights are switched on at 8:30pm, visitors to the World Heritage Site will see famous Greenwich landmarks illuminated in spectacular fashion, showcasing the culturally and architecturally significant buildings that form Maritime Greenwich.

The much loved London landmarks that will be lit up include the Royal Museum Greenwich sites; Cutty Sark, the Queen’s House, National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory Greenwich; as well as the Old Royal Naval College. The dazzling lighting event will be the first time the buildings have been lit up in unison in Maritime Greenwich’s history and will take place for one night only. 

Greenwich Park and the grounds of the National Maritime Museum and Old Royal Naval College will be opening late until 10pm for the occasion, giving visitors more time to view the spectacular event and witness the beauty of historic Greenwich as it has never been seen before. 

Inscribed by UNESCO in 1997, Maritime Greenwich was given the prestigious World Heritage Site status due to its role in the progression of English artistic and scientific endeavour in the 17th and 18th centuries. The culturally significant buildings that form the site reflect two centuries of Royal patronage, as well as the preservation of the works of great architects Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren, which represents an important point in the evolution of European architecture.

Maritime Greenwich has also obtained global significance due to its association with the development of navigation and astronomy. For over 250 years it was the national centre for research into astronomy, time-keeping and early solar and magnetic astronomy, leading to the Greenwich Meridian being named as the Prime Meridian of the World in 1884. 

Cllr Denise Hyland, Chair of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site Steering Group and Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said:

“Greenwich is renowned around the world as the home of time and a place with a rich royal and maritime history. A lot has changed in our borough in the twenty years since Maritime Greenwich became a World Heritage site but one constant that has remained is the appeal that it has with visitors from around the world. Each year 18 million people visit our borough spending £1.24 billion in the local economy. As we reach this momentous anniversary, the celebrations we have planned will help to reinforce why people keep coming back here time after time.”

Kevin Fewster, Director of Royal Museums Greenwich, said:

“We take great pride in being part of Maritime Greenwich, one of the most significant World Heritage Sites in the United Kingdom. The 20th anniversary event is a fantastic opportunity for us to bring people together to see the architectural beauty of Maritime Greenwich, centred on The Queen’s House and the Grand Axis that it defines, and celebrate the heritage that played such a significant role in British and World history.”

Brendan McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Old Royal Naval College and Chair of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site Executive Group said:

“This is a unique opportunity to showcase this very special place, raise awareness of World Heritage and give people a chance to appreciate our internationally significant architecture in a way that hasn't been done before. It has been a privilege for the Old Royal Naval College to work closely with World Heritage Site partners in bringing this event to fruition.”

Maritime Greenwich is located a short walk from the Cutty Sark DLR, and Maze Hill and Greenwich train stations. The closest tube stations are North Greenwich (to change to local buses) and Canary Wharf (to change to DLR), both on the Jubilee line.

This event is being made possible by the kind support of SLX, a division of Stage Electrics Partnership Limited.



  • Greenwich Hospital
  • Old Royal Naval College
  • Royal Borough of Greenwich
  • Royal Museums Greenwich
  • The Royal Parks
  • St Alfege
  • Trinity Laban
  • University of Greenwich
  • Visit Greenwich