Henley Royal Regatta

Messing about on the river is a peculiarly British summer pastime, and Henley Royal Regatta is the place to go to see it at its best. A staple attraction in the traditional social season since 1839, the rowing event is still a riverside riot, and these days attendees can (and do) expect exquisite catering and fine wines, morning champagne and poached lobster for lunch.

The Mayor and the people of Henley-on-Thames held the first Henley Regatta over the course of just one afternoon, bolstering the rowing with a fair and other amusements on dry land. It proved so popular it became an annual event getting bigger and brighter ever since. Today, the Regatta lasts for five days, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world to watch over 200 races of an international standard. Aside from the rowing, visitors can take in the ambience and enjoy the facilities within the enclosures or along the towpath.

The amateur rowing competitions typically see school rivals and universities, particularly Oxford and Cambridge, in a not-so-fierce battle for supremacy. Some of the top rowers in the world also take part, blending Olympians alongside amateurs. Races take approximately seven minutes to complete, with only two boats racing in each heat. The number of courses is reduced on each successive day, leaving only the finals to be rowed on the last day.

Anyone can buy a ticket to the Regatta Enclosure situates on the Berkshire bank. The Stewards’ Enclosure opposite the finish line however is restricted to members and their guests. Membership of the Stewards’ Enclosure is limited, and there is a long waiting list with preference given to those who have competed at the Regatta.

What to wear

The dress code in the Stewards’ Enclosure, by a long-established tradition, requires gentlemen to wear lounge suits, jackets or blazers, with a tie or a cravat, and trousers. Ladies must wear dresses or skirts with a hemline below the knee. And hats, while not obligatory, are certainly encouraged.

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4-8 July 2018