EVEN IF YOU’RE not normally the type to have a flutter on the gee-gees, there’s one particular outing you shouldn’t overlook this June. Royal Ascot is one of the most stylish, sophisticated and sociable horse-racing events of the year, lavishly accompanied by live entertainment, Michelin-calibre cuisine, and delicious champagne.

Between the 18 and 22 June, flocks of finely dressed racegoers descend on the idyllic setting of Ascot Racecourse, situated in beautiful wooded countryside adjoining Windsor Great Park. Get set for a week of prime sport, decadent celebration, and fabulous festivities, all under the warm embrace of the British summer sun.

Ascot Racecourse is rich in history and heritage; it was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne who discovered the ideal piece of land for her horses to gallop at full stretch while on one of her rides out from Windsor Castle. Thus, Ascot Racecourse was born – and in more than 300 years since, it’s seen champions crowned and legends made. Today it holds one of the world’s most prestigious race meetings – Royal Ascot – as well as 21 race days and numerous non-racing events each year, all welcoming thousands of excited spectators, there to soak up the rarefied atmosphere.

This is the crown jewel of the British racing season, and even if you’re not a betting person, this is the perfect place to join in the excitement and perhaps discover a new favourite pastime. Seven flat races – a race over level ground – take place every day, where some of the best jockeys in the world (sadly not including the legendary Frankie Dettori, who retired from racing in the UK after one last victorious Royal Ascot in 2023) compete for glory, a trophy, and a share of the multi-million-pound prize money. It can be nail-biting stuff, necessitating regular top-ups of Moët & Chandon while you – hopefully – watch your chosen horse romp home.

High society

One of the overwhelming reasons to come to Royal Ascot – apart from the racing, of course – is the social scene. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to entertainment, from enjoying live performances around the bandstand in the Queen Anne enclosure, to dancing the night away to an ABBA tribute act headlining the stage in the Village enclosure, or grooving to top DJs Toby Anstis and Dermot O’Leary at the after-party in the Windsor Enclosure.

Each enclosure really does have its own different atmosphere, and between them they offer a range of delicious dining experiences, from a la carte menus by Michelin-starred chefs to more informal options. So, which to choose?

The Queen Anne enclosure is the only one which grants you access to the coveted parade ring, bandstand and grandstand, providing an unparalleled view of the world-class racing on offer – enhance your experience further by reserving a trackside table or Queen Anne Bench to be really up close and personal with the action. Then take your pick from one of the many champagne bars, and dine on anything from delectable steak at the 1768 Grill by Gaucho to pizza or bao buns at one of the artisan food stalls.

Opt for the vibrant Village enclosure if you want to take advantage of the beauty of Ascot’s unique location; it takes its place centre stage, looking towards the grandstand for a thrilling view of the action on the home straight. Anticipate
a blend of music, outdoor pop-ups, diverse street food vendors, and cocktail bars. As the sun starts to set, the Main Stage lights up and live music plays out to carry on the excitement into the evening.

Finally, the Windsor enclosure is all about the picnics, the panorama, and the party; buzzy bars, food stalls and a relaxed dress code add to the experience of being the first to catch sight of the Royal Procession as it proceeds along the Straight Mile, as well as seeing horses racing for victory as they thunder down the track.

With all that’s on offer, it’s high time you make a date for one of the most exciting and elegant social events of the year; you won’t regret it – and you might even come out quids in… 

Tickets from £49; Fine Dining hospitality packages from £359; for more information and enquiries, ascot.com