Royal Ascot etiquette guide

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What is Royal Ascot?

Ascot is a world-famous racecourse, holding races all year round which are attended by around 600,000 people annually. However, in June when the Queen attends, it’s called Royal Ascot. Synonymous with style, the day is just as much about dressing up as it is about putting bets down for the horses and riders that compete for over £7.3m in prize money. Those that win make household names with the likes of Black Caviar, Frankel and Yeats all taking their place in Royal Ascot’s hall of fame.

If you’re going this year, here’s a guide to all things Ascot.

What to wear to Royal Ascot

As an occasion heralded as a major fashion event in its own right, the Royal Enclosure upholds a strict dress code. In 2017 it made headlines after welcoming the jumpsuit for the first time, whilst this year the Bardot neckline has been booted in favour of dresses with straps of no less than one-inch thickness.

There are different dress codes depending on the enclosure you have tickets for. Read more about what to wear at Ascot.

The Royal Enclosure Ladies Style Guide

  • Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code
  • Trouser suits are welcome. They should be of full-length to the ankle and of matching material and colour
  • Jumpsuits should be of full-length to the ankle, with regulations matching those of dresses
  • Hats should be worn however a headpiece which has a solid base of 4 inches or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat

The Royal Enclosure Gentlemen Style Guide

  • Black or grey morning dress
  • A waistcoat and tie (no cravats)
  • A black or grey top hat
  • Black shoes worn with socks

The history of Royal Ascot

If it’s your first time, it’s a good idea to go armed with some knowledge of the event:

  • Queen Anne established The Royal Ascot in 1711 to pursue her love of horse racing
  • The first race, “Her Majesty’s Plate”, was for a prize of a hundred guineas
  • Ascot racecourse closed for twenty months in 2004 for a £185m redevelopment
  • As the owner of the Ascot estate, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, reopened the racecourse on Tuesday 20 June 2006
  • With £7.3m in prize money, it is the most valuable horse race in Britain.

Royal Ascot food and drink

With plenty of restaurants, on-the-go outlets and afternoon tea venues to indulge in, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining at Royal Ascot.

If you would like to bring your own picnic inside, you can do so for the Windsor Enclosure and Health Enclosures only. You can even bring along your own bottle of bubbly so long as it arrives with your picnic and does not exceed one bottle of sparkling wine or champagne per person (no other alcoholic drinks are permitted). Many people choose to have a picnic in the carpark, that way you can bring along your finest picnic-ware without having to carry it far at all.

Year-Round Racegoers Consume:
306,000 hand-crafted afternoon tea cakes
210,000 bottles of mineral water
162,000 buttermilk scones
85,000 bottles of wine
81,000 finger sandwiches
76,000 bottles of Champagne
9,000 rumps of English lamb
8,500 punnets of mixed berries
5,800 kilos of salmon
4,500 kilos of beef sirloin
2,700 of Cornish clotted cream

ASCOT, ENGLAND – JUNE 22: A general view of the main gates on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 22, 2017 on Ascot, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Porsche)

Royal Ascot facts

  • Approximately 400 helicopters and 1,000 limos descend on Royal Ascot every year
  • In 2017 there were over 120,000 tweets mentioning Royal Ascot or using #RoyalAscot
  • 33 live music performances take place
  • 509 horses run across five days
  • There are three miles of bunting

When is Royal Ascot and how do you get there?

Royal Ascot 2018 runs from Tuesday 19th June – Saturday 23rd June with the gates opening at 10.30am and the first race starting at 2.30pm. If you don’t have a coveted Car Park One space (which are so precious, they are often passed down through the family) there are plenty of other options.

Located close to the M3, M4, M40 & M25 motorways it’s easy to get to by car, with parking available online or on the day.

The Ascot Express runs on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Royal Ascot from London Waterloo to Ascot, including a secured seat, race card and free drink all for £30. Otherwise, South West Trains also runs a frequent service to Ascot from Reading, Guildford and London Waterloo. The railway station is a seven-minute walk from the racecourse.

And of course, there’s always the option of a Private Jet Charter, which we would recommend since it is, simply, the quickest option.

Hotels near Royal Ascot

If you’re looking to make your Royal Ascot experience that extra bit special, these hotels are all close to the racecourse:

Coworth Park – 5-star luxury that was the hotel of choice for Prince Harry before his wedding
Highclere Hotel – a cheap and cheerful option
Royal Berkshire Hotel – charming 4-star hotel

For ticket information please visit ascot.com.

See you at the races.

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Topics: events