With a day of horse racing, fancy hats and hanging with the Royals, what’s not to love about Royal Ascot. Its history dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne and has been a major event on British social calendars ever since.
This epic event is held in Ascot, Berkshire with this year’s festivities running from June 14 to June 18 offering the best in thoroughbreds, trainers and jockeys the world has to offer. We had the opportunity to experience this gala event for ourselves and the day proved to be every bit as memorable as we imagined it would be. Here’s a look inside what this grand affair has to offer.
It’s All about the Hat
We planned on attending the race with a large group of friends so a few of the girls and I decided to get the full experience and “hire” a hat from a well-known millinery shop in Slough. Margaret, the shop owner has been in the hat business for some 30 years and has the largest selection of hats in the UK. She has provided many of the hats worn to Royal weddings and other high profile events. Appointments need to be booked in advance and we were told to bring our dress with us. Her shop offers a breathtaking display of the most beautiful hats in every color and style imaginable. Margaret has a very strict set of rules in her shop that she demands be closely followed. We were told not to touch the hats, not to walk around and to just stand by the door until it was our turn. When they were ready for us, Margaret slowly made her way over. One-by-one she examined our dresses, then left to fetch “The” hat. She solely made the decision on the hat with no input from us, told us how it was to be worn, took full payment and told us when to collect the hat and when it was due back. It was far from a “warm and fuzzy” experience but we were happy to listen to her expertise and it certainly made for an interesting afternoon.
The Hierarchy of Seating
There are several levels of seating at Royal Ascot:
Royal Enclosure: Invitation Only
Grandstand: Step below Royal Enclosure but still elite seating
Silver Ring: The most casual but still requiring smart dress
Since we weren’t dining within the venue and somehow never received an invite the Queen, we joined the many other attendees and arrived early with picnic lunches to enjoy on the grounds. Other options would have been to purchase picnic hampers from the venue itself or arrange to have a picnic fully catered.
Seeing Her Royal Highness
If you’re looking for an opportunity to see the Queen in person, then Royal Ascot is your best bet. The Queen arrives each day of the race in a horse-drawn carriage. We had to battle the crowds a bit but we were lucky enough to get about 15 feet from the Queen. It’s always an amazing experience seeing any of the Royals up close. Even though no one in our group hit it big on the horses that day it still proved to be an unforgettable day.
Add the Royal Ascot to your Bucket List and book your nextwith . to choose your favorite IVHE English property, then grab your favorite fascinator and hope for better luck on the horses than we had that day.
Thanks to travel writer Lisa Medeiros. Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_
Note - dates vary each year, typically Royal Ascot is during the middle of June.