Hobbies and Sports: The English Season:
The Guide to the Best Events of the English Season


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The Guide to the Best Events of the English Season 
by Eugen Beduhn

The Season, as the British social season is known, is luckily not the stiff social event it used to be. However, it is still formal enough to offer an entertainment value which is unrivaled in the world. And for those events where Her Majesty the Queen of England has an official role to play, there are dress and behaviour codes which make the event very special und utterly unforgettable. The Royal patronage also makes the Season an important role in the social calendar of many an aspiring royalist. Elegant-Lifestyle has tried and tested the best events for those who are intrigued by this quintessential British summer pastime. By the way there is also an excellent book on all events of the Season: Debrett's Guide to the Season by Celestria Noel.

The Chelsea Flower Show

This central London event usually lasts for a week in mid May. The Chelsea Flower Show is held on the premises of the Chelsea Royal Hospital and is hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).  With splendid show gardens sponsored by the likes of Cartier - fantastic illusions are created for just one week. This gardening show is definitely the leading show in the world and tickets are sold out quickly in advance.  The best bet is to become a member of the RHS in order to book tickets in advance.  Hats and ties are worn buy the smarter visitors.  Monday is reserved for the Royal Family and the Charity Gala preview in the evening; Tuesdays and Wednesdays are for RHS members only.
Tel.: +44-20-7630 5999
website: www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea

Glyndebourne Opera

The Glyndebourne Opera Festival in southern England has come a long way since its inception in 1934. Although the old barn was replaced by an elegant new opera hall in the early 1990s, the gardens still offer a unique experience: picnic in black tie. The quality of the opera singers which Glyndebourne attracts at traditional low fees is due to its unrivaled reputation.  The unique old country house setting and beautiful gardens does the rest.  Evening gown and black tie are de rigeur and if you are arriving from abroad and do not want to rent a car - there is a special train from London Victoria Station to Glyndebourne near Lewes in Sussex, which is packed with smart people and their picnic baskets.
Tel.: +44-1273-813 813
website: www.glyndebourne.com

Epsom Derby

The Epsom Derby, named after its originator Lord Derby, is the original Derby after which all other derby races in the world were modeled. It was first run in 1780 and is one of England's top horse races, attracting not only excellent horses but also beautifully turned out visitors. The Derby is run at Epsom, which is about 30 miles south of London and is normally held in early June. The best day to go is on Derby Day on Saturday when the Queen attends. Try to get tickets for the Queen's Stand, which is where the elegant crowd go. Here dress code is morning coat for gentlemen, preferably with top hat, and formal day dress with hat for ladies. As the Derby infrastructure normally collapses on Saturdays, make sure you are there early enough. Races usually start at 2pm. For the best approach to the Queen's Stand drive out West taking the A24.
Tel.: +44-1372-470047
website: www.epsomderby.co.uk

Louis Vuitton Classic

The Louis Vuitton Concours d'Elegance of vintage cars, which normally also takes place in early June, has firmly established itself as one of the newer events of the Season. It is held on the premises of the Hurlingham Club, which owns a beautiful white mansion set in a landscape garden in West London.  During the day a dedicated committee decides which of the venerable vintage cars gets an award for looking the part. The event is by invitation only and tickets for the day are available through Louis Vuitton in London - if you are on their client list. Our recommendation is to purchase something nice at their stylish Bond Street shop. Attending the black tie dinner is a more tricky affair - normally only for members of the Hurlingham Club or their guests.
Tel.: +44-20-7399 4050
website: www.vuitton.com

Royal Ascot

Top hats, the attendance of the Queen and the world's highest class racing mark Royal Ascot, which takes place in mid June every year from Tuesday to Friday. Thursday is Ladies' Day where females appear in their smartest outfits. Ladies wear huge hats for this top class event. Horse racing at Royal Ascot which also featured in the famous musical 'My Fair Lady' is a 'must' of the season. The first race at Ascot, close to Windsor Castle, was run in 1711 and the Royal Enclosure, where the Royal Family is to be found, was introduced by King George IV in 1820 - initially for his close friends. The most prestigious place to be is in the Royal Enclosure - if you can get in (and of course having a picnic in car park No. 1).  Vouchers for the Royal Enclosure are very sought after and very hard to get: try the Ascot Office at St. James' Palace or if you are a foreign national your embassy in London.
Tel: +44-1344-622 211
website: www.ascot.co.uk

Wimbledon Tennis Championship

With strawberries and cream, sunny weather and outdoor lawn tennis, Wimbledon in late June/ early July is one of the pillars of the summer Season. Tennis fans come from all over the world to watch the two week competition between the great champions. The first official tennis tournament was played in 1877 at the famous 'All England Tennis and Croquet Club', which still organizes the event. Wimbledon enjoys royal patronage and it is the Duke of Kent, who is the president of the club. The Duchess of Kent generally presents the prizes to the winners of the Ladies' and Gentlemen's Singles and Doubles. The Centre Court is where the most important matches are played and the place to be - if you can get tickets. However, it is also fun to go to one of the smaller lawn tennis courts and soak up the atmosphere from very close.
Tel: +44-20-8946 2244
website: www.wimbledon.org

Henley Royal Regatta

Henley Rowing Regatta, an international event and first held in 1839, usually takes place in early July. In 1851, H.R.H. Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, became the Regatta's first Royal Patron. Ever since then the reigning Monarch has always consented to become Patron of the boat race in Henley-on-Thames which is an hour from London. There are hundreds of teams from all over the world competing in sets of two for a whole week. The place to be is in the various enclosures, where socializing seems just as important as watching the boats. The enclosures' dress code is often strict: dress for the ladies and suit and tie for gentlemen, some even wear the famous boater hat. If you want to be more relaxed you can also sit and have a picnic on the left bank of the river Thames.
Tel: +44-1491-572 153
website: www.hrr.co.uk

Cartier International Polo

The Cartier International Polo Day takes place each year at the end of July on Smith's Lawn within the Great Park at Windsor. It is hosted by the Guards Polo Club, which was founded in 1955 and
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been its President ever since. Cartier has been sponsoring this most prestigious event for years. The great marquee is the place to see celebrities. Otherwise it is also fun to watch the chukkas from the grandstand and to have a picnic on the lawn in the car park before. The Queen is usually present and awards the prices and on occasion also the Prince of Wales can be seen playing polo. However, the Argentinean teams generally play the best.
Tel: +44-1784-434 212
website: www.guardspoloclub.com

Cowes Week

Cowes Week is held for a week at the beginning of August. The regatta takes place at Cowes on the Isle of Wight off England's south coast. Cowes Combined Clubs run the regatta, which is an association of the famous Royal Yacht Squadron, Britain's premier sailing club, the Royal London Yacht Club, the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and other clubs based in Cowes. Cowes Week originated in the early 1800ís under King George IV (1820-1830) and with its many traditions has been part of the British summer social Season for many years. Every level of sailor can be found amongst the competitors. Cowes Week is not just for racing - there is a comprehensive social scene from parties and balls at the yacht clubs to private functions, with fireworks on the Friday evening to provide a wonderful finale to the week ending on Saturday. 
Tel: +44-1983-295 744
website: www.cowesweek.co.uk

Last Night of the Proms

Attended by music enthusiasts from all over the world, the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concert season runs from the middle of July to the second week in September, when the famous last night takes place. The Royal Albert Hall in Kensington in central London is the venue. Traditionally, the Last Night of the Proms was the night when the establishment returning from their estates in the country celebrated their reunion in London after the summer break. Try to get seats or a box, as those are the areas where you can dress up. The Proms itself was founded by Sir Henry Wood in 1895, originally for those people who had to stay in London during the summer and to promote new music and young musicians. The proms have been broadcast by the BBC since 1927 and the BBC also publishes a comprehensive guide in early May. 
Tel: +44-20-7289 8212
website: www.bbc.co.uk/proms/

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