Extend Your Weekend at Royal Ascot

Nick Nomi

Senior Contributor

A centrepiece of the British high society calendar for over 300 years, Royal Ascot is one of England’s most recognisable events. But today, Ascot offers a mish-mash of past and present, at once exceptionally traditional but strikingly modern. Along with the Queen Anne Enclosure, the Royal Enclosure retains the same sense of regality that has charmed the world for over a century, while the Village Enclosure has introduced live music, street food and a less formal, slightly obstreperous atmosphere — but all are well-placed to see the five days of flat racing on offer. Wherever one chooses to enjoy Ascot, there’s a wealth of beautiful sights across the county to enhance one's visit. From walks in Berkshire’s stunning countryside to the charming twin river towns of Windsor and Eton, these are our tips to help you make the most out of a visit to Ascot.

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Ladies Day at Royal Ascot

Begin the festivities on the most stylish day of Ascot: Ladies Day, where unique millinery creations take all (well, most) of the attention away from the races. The ASMALLWORLD private enclosure provides a delightful garden within the heart of the action (the Queen Anne Enclosure), with views of the Royal Procession and the final straight from the genial Silks Lawn.

Royal Ascot’s legendarily inflexible dress code means that chic, but formal fashions are de rigueur for all five days of Ascot. But on the third day, colloquially known as Ladies Day, things are taken up a notch or two, particularly in the hat department — so choose wisely. And while micros, bold colours, and a creative disregard of the rules are SS/22s take away trends, remember Royal Ascot’s dress code means a lady’s skirt must fall below the knee, straps are regulated and shorts are not permitted. And Gentlemen: one’s jacket and trousers must always match.

Wind Down with A Royal Walk: Windsor Park and Castle

After a day spent quaffing Champagne under the sun in whichever fabulous millinery masterpiece one chose for Ladies Day, a laidback wind down in the enchanting English countryside is in order. Travel north to Windsor and stroll one of the UK’s most majestic walks: the Long Walk towards Windsor Castle. This stunning tree-lined avenue has become an icon even amongst British Royal palaces, with delightfully fresh air and an occasional peek at one of the park’s red deer. The most enjoyable route is to begin at the end of the walk by the copper horse statue and amble the three-mile-long walk to George IV Gateway at the castle to see the change of the guard ritual. Continue on to the pretty Savill Garden and the idyllic Virginia Water if time permits. 

Eton and the College Museums

Follow the Eton Walkway from Windsor and, once over the River Thames, one finds themselves in Eton, an elegant little town stuffed full with antique shops, gift shops and art galleries with traditional shopfronts, punctuated by the occasional student dressed in tailcoats. Eton’s streets are pristine and everything feels traditional and practised, which lends the tiny town a preparatory school atmosphere.

Head towards the college on a Sunday (opening times are strict) to visit the three museums (Museum of Eton Life, Museum of Antiquities and its Natural History Museum), which house thousands of intriguing objects (rare books, manuscripts, art and ancient skeletons) collected over the college’s 600-year history. 

A Michelin date at Coworth Park

The 246 acres of grassy hills, hiking trails and ancient woodland of Coworth Park are a wondrous place to spend a day or more, but hidden amongst the stunning greenery is the eponymous Michellin-starred restaurant headed by chef Adam Smith. Here, a creative menu winds through colourful culinary lanes where the scents and flavours of classic British ingredients take centre stage, conjuring the bucolic charms of the English countryside through a flavoursome seduction of the senses. Expect dishes such as local cod served with seasonal wild garlic, and hen of the woods with English ham and fragrant mint, alongside an impressive international wine list, all served in an elegant dining room accentuated by copper stylings and bright windows offering views of the Berkshire countryside.

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