With 1 April coming up, it is time to channel your inner Dennis The Menace and play some harmless pranks on friends, work colleagues and family. One thing you can be absolutely sure of, though, is that the prices you see online for Special Offers in London Hotels for the likes of Park Grand Lancaster Gate are no joke, no matter the date, time or year: they are the real deal. These are some of the best April Fools Day pranks from the 1600s until the present.
Before getting into the best of the best, it is interesting to examine where the notion of April Fools Day even comes from. Unfortunately, though, there is no one answer to this, only guesses as to the origin of the day from various literature and countries.
A public service announcement: April Fools Day, or All Fools Day, or just 1 April, is not a public holiday and if anyone tells you otherwise, it is likely an April Fools prank. So, be wary or risk a very angry boss when you fail to set your alarm this fine April’s morning…
1698: Lion-washing at the Tower of London
If you tried to convince anyone these days that there were lions in Kensington Palace Gardens, you would be met with an eye-roll and maybe a charitable chuckle. However, back in 1698, when rumour had it that there would be lion-washing at the Tower of London, people flocked from out of town to see it (as you would have too, if you genuinely believed there were wild lions just off the River Thames!) But, as it were, this was all a tricky ruse which ended up being so successful that pranksters were printing fake lion-washing tickets for years before people clocked that this was all In case you thought this was a repeated typo, and perhaps people believed in fake lion-watching? No, no: people went to see lions having a bath at the Tower of London (to no avail, of course).
1957: The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
The best part about a prank being carried out by a respected BBC news show like Panorama was that you are likely to take it for its word – especially in 1957 when Fake News wasn’t exactly a part of everyday culture. They had fake footage of Swiss farmers and their “spaghetti crop” after a “very mild Winter”, and had viewers gasping in disbelieve as spaghetti was picked from the trees and pulled from the ground by Swiss peasants. Not only did people believe it, but they were calling up the BBC, asking for details on how one can get their hands on, yes, a spaghetti tree. To top it all off, the BBC would respond to these curious viewers, saying, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” It is all well and good claiming you wouldn’t be tricked by such a ludicrous claim, but it is a certainty that at least one or two people out there would be manically Googling, “Does spaghetti grow on trees?” after watching the evening news with a bowl of spag-bol.
2015: Draco and Harry are dating!
In 2015, Tom Felton really caught out some fans – especially his doting teenage girl followers. He is known on a far more wide-spread level as the actor who played Draco Malfoy in the iconic British fantasy film series which has taken the world by a storm, Harry Potter. He announced on Instagram that him and Daniel Radcliffe (ie. the actor who plays Harry Potter himself) were actually dating. Though no judgement on our part if this were the case, it turned out that a romance between Slytherin and Gryffindor would remain a prank rather than a reality.
2019: Jimmy and Maisie give ultimate Game of Thrones spoilers
April 2019 saw the world in the adoring throws of the Thrones, with the HBO smash-hit series Game of Thrones in full swing in its final, exhilarating season. Maisie Williams, also fondly known as Arya Stark from the series, was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The two of them were dastardly masterminds, and acted out a bit of a scene in which Maisie pretends to “let slip” that her character dies. Fans were horrified, and the two pretended to be mortified by the mistake… She begs Jimmy to edit out the spoiler, runs off the stage, Jimmy follows her, then the two jump out shouting, “APRIL FOOL’S!” Now that is commitment.
If you really back yourself to pull off a lion-washing event, then by all means: try your luck. However, here are some of the simplest, historical pranks that have been used again and again throughout the belly-aching years.
- Swapping the sugar in the sugar pot for salt makes for a very unpleasant bowl of morning cereal, and a total gag.
- Sticking a note on someone’s back without their noticing, saying something harmless but silly like “wink at me”, so you get a confused note-wearer for quite a chunk of the day!
- Turn items upside down while someone is sleeping – waking up to find your desk with the legs facing the sky is always a shock, and never fails to incite a giggle.
- Make a big announcement: “I’m engaged”, “I’m moving to Timbuktu”, “I am quitting my job to join the travelling circus”: all of these can cause just the right amount of panic to your mum prior to a jovial “APRIL FOOLS!” exclamation.
It is safe to say pranksters have been storming the streets way longer than even some Hotels close to Paddington Station or London Hotels Near Hyde Park have been around – spaghetti harvesting experts included – everyone has always been pretty down to have a good laugh on this bizarre day which doesn’t even have a set origin. So remember, next time you are feeling cramped on the tube or cold and a bit grumpy, there aren’t a lot of things a good chuckle and pretend lion-washing ceremony can’t fix!