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What can we say? We wear morning suits and big hats to horse races and mob river banks for boat races without motors. Sometimes we drink champagne. It’s how the game is played here. This primer can help you join the summer season party of your choice.


The Boat Race | Putney to Mortlake
April 2, 2017

Britain’s most famous rowing competition needs no name. Hundreds of thousands line the banks of the Thames to cheer rugged crews from Oxford and Cambridge. School pride spurs them on, or perhaps it’s the free admission. In any case, the Boat Race marks the start of the summer sporting season.

Royal Ascot | Berkshire, southeast England
June 20–24, 2017

Horse racing is called the sport of kings for a reason. The Queen attends Royal Ascot, arriving in a horse–drawn procession from nearby Windsor Castle. The event is known for stylish sartorial displays, particularly on Ladies Day, when big hats block out the sun. If you plan to go, be sure to book tickets early- and have a fancy hat (or tie). 


The Championships | Wimbledon
July 3–16, 2017

The Championships, Wimbledon, attracts top players and A–list celebrities. Tradition is big here – the tournament was created back in 1877, and it’s the only tennis major still played on grass. You can book tickets – or you can book the Wimbledon VIP Experience, which includes prime seats, luxury accommodations, and afternoon tea with strawberries and cream.

Henley Royal Regatta | Oxfordshire
June 28–July 2, 2017

Watching rowers race down the River Thames while sipping Pimm’s and munching sandwiches is no day at the beach. Henley Royal Regatta, started in 1839, hosts over 200 races, and thousands of spectators line the banks to people–watch, picnic and watch competitors, ranging from rookies to Olympians.


Cartier Queen’s Cup Polo | Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, southeast England
May 23–June 18, 2017
A firm fixture in the social firmament, the Cartier Queen’s Cup is played at the Guards Polo Club. Heads up – the menu favors champagne and caviar over hot dogs, and the crowd features princes and other assorted royals, including the Queen herself on finals day!

Want to do more than watch? Cirencester Polo Academy in Gloucestershire in southwest England offers lessons and the chance to play mini tournaments.

Dress for access

Many summer season events still come with a dress code, either explicit or implied. Here are a few tips to help you get in the spirit, and in the gate:

  • At Royal Ascot, hats must be worn, and gentlemen are expected to wear black or grey morning suits, including a waistcoat and top hat.
  • Henley Royal Regatta encourages the wearing of hats for ladies, while boaters – a formal summer straw hat – are a classic accompaniment to gentlemen’s jackets and ties.
  • Dressing for polo has almost as many rules as the game; gentlemen tend to opt for white trousers and blazers, while ladies choose dresses, with flat shoes if they want to take part in the tradition of treading in the divots kicked up by the horses. 

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