Royal Ascot is the epitome of posh British celebrations, drawing many of the world’s best racehorses to compete for over £5 million in prize money. Founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and hosted by countless monarchs since, this is a can’t miss event for the who’s who of British high society. Don’t let the fancy clothes and expensive horses scare you off! This event can be enjoyed by all, just grab your ascot, put on your finest clothes and get your bets ready!
Over 300,000 people visit Berkshire to participate in Royal Ascot week every year, including Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family who arrive in horse drawn carriages. If you’re hoping to party alongside the Queen, think again. To obtain entry to the The Royal Enclosure as a first-time applicant, you must be sponsored by an existing member who has attended the event at least four years. If you manage to gain entrance, keep in mind that the dress code is strictly enforced in this area, even more so than in the other two enclosures. Day dresses for the ladies and morning dress with top hats for the guys.
Royal Ascot week begins on Tuesday with several races happening, the first starting at 2:30 pm and the last one at 5:35 pm. On Wednesday one of the Royal Ascot’s most watched races, The Prince of Wales’s Stakes, commences at 4:20 pm. This popular race includes horses that are ages four and older with a cash prize of £750,000. Races will continue, running through the end of the day on Saturday June 18th.
If you want to check out the Royal Ascot but aren’t interested in committing yourself (or your wallet) to the entire weeklong affair, then Thursday June 16th, otherwise known as Ladies’ Day, is your best choice! This is the world’s most glamorous race day and is pretty much the biggest day on the British social calendar. The event features lots of cheering with champagne and gigantic hats of every shape and colour. The Gold Cup is the race to watch on this day!
The are three enclosures to watch the races from that you can buy tickets. However, unless you are a close personal friend of British royalty, you won’t be able to purchase entrance to The Royal Enclosure. Your other two options for a seat include the Windsor Enclosure or the Queen Anne Enclosure.
Windsor Enclosure allows for close-up views of the Royal Procession (the arrival of the Royal Family) and is the first place the horses pass once racing begins. This particular enclosure offers a completely unforgettable experience as this is the location where the excitement and cheering first erupts at the beginning of a race. Picnics will break out on the lawn and beginning Thursday, live music plays into the evening. There is no formal dress code for this enclosure, but as always you are encouraged to dress smart!
Your other option for race watching is from the Queen Anne Enclosure. This is considered a premium public enclosure with a different standard of facilities that also provides access to the Pre-Parade Ring, Winners’ Enclosure and Parade Ring. You will get a great view of the Royal Procession from this spot as well. When the last race finishes be prepared to join in as the whole crowd breaks out into song on the Bandstand lawn. The dress code in the Queen Anne Enclosure is a little more formal than the Windsor Enclosure and the following needs to be observed in order to gain entrance:
- A fascinator (a fancy kind of hat) should be worn at all times
- No shorts
- No midriffs
- No strapless or sheer dresses or tops
- Suit and tie to be worn at all times
How to Get There
Ascot Racecourse is located in the UK’s countryside, about a 50 minute drive or train ride from London. It may be of interest to note that if you are driving yourself to the racecourse, parking starts at £30.
If you’re driving from London and the North you can take M4 Junction 6 onto the A332 Windsor bypass and follow the signage to Ascot.
Driving from the West? You can take the M4 Junction 10 to the A329 (M) signed to Bracknell and follow the signage.
Driving from the South and East? Take M3 Junction 3 onto the A332 signed to Bracknell and follow the signage.
Driving from the Midlands? Take M40 southbound, Junction 4. Take the A404 towards the M4 (Junction 8/9). On the M4 head towards Heathrow/London. Leave M4 at Junction 6 and follow the A332 Windsor bypass to Ascot.
Traveling by train? South West Trains run frequently to Ascot from both Reading and London Waterloo. The travel time is typically 27 minutes from Reading and 52 minutes from Waterloo. Conveniently, the railway station is a less than ten minute walk from the racecourse!
All information provided by Ascot.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of options ranging from high-end hotels to small bed and breakfasts throughout Ascot that are conveniently located near the racecourse. You can also check out accommodations in the town of Sunninghill or Bracknell that are only a short drive away from the Royal Ascot.