There are some events in the British summer sports calendar that couldn’t get more stereotypically English if they tried. If you’re planning to be in the UK this summer, here’s a quick guide to three fabulous events you should try and take part in while you’re there.
There are grand slam tennis events all around the world, and the big four are the Australian Open, the French Open (Roland Garros), Wimbledon, and the US Open. What makes Wimbledon stand out is its age – it’s been running since 1877 – and the fact that it’s the only one of the big four to be played on grass. But more than anything else, it’s the traditions that go along with the two weeks of Wimbledon in late June and early July that make it so quintessentially English. We’re talking strawberries and cream, Pimm’s and Lemonade, boaters to keep the sun off and the fact that at least one day of Wimbledon is always rained off by the unpredictable British weather!
Seats go for thousands for the big matches on Centre Court or Court Number One, but it’s perfectly feasible to queue up for tickets on the day and get in. You can move from match to match on the outer courts or sit up on Murray Mound – a big grassy section so named after the 2013 Men’s Champion Andy Murray – and watch the big court action on the big screens.
Horse racing is another great British tradition, and the week of Royal Ascot that runs this year from 17th to 21st June is one of the biggest occasions in the horse racing calendar. The Queen always makes an appearance as do many other members of the Royal Family. The biggest race is the Ascot Gold Cup and you can check the odds for this year’s event already if you want to secure ante-post prices.
If you’re more into fashion than horse racing, Ascot Ladies’ Day is the day to go to the course. You’ll see more designer outfits and hats than you’d ever wish to see outside of any fashion show. Some of the hats on display are incredible, and would certainly block others’ view of the racing action.
Down on the Henley River crowds will gather for the 175th anniversary of the Henley Royal Regatta. This five day event starts on 1st July and features more than 200 rowing races on a beautiful stretch of the River Thames.
The traditional format is to turn up with a picnic hamper and rug, and spend the day eating, drinking and people-watching in between the races. It’s best to book enclosure tickets ahead online to be guaranteed entry to this always-popular event.
Maybe to do all three of these in one trip might be a bit much, but it’s certainly worth adding one of these quintessentially British events to your itinerary.