If you want to do something quintessentially British this week then it has to be Henley Royal Regatta. The best known rowing regatta in the world which was established in 1839. It spreads over 5 days, Wednesday – Sunday and is always over the first weekend in July. (As you weave along the busy pavements past the queues of traffic you will probably hear all the radios tuned in to the Wimbledon Commentary.)
Back to Henley; The rowers go head to head in knock out competitions that span a 1 mile course – starting at Temple Island upstream before heading towards Henley Bridge. Getting there from London is quite easy as there is a train station in Henley albeit a little walk to the river – https://www.thetrainline.com
It’s a wonderful British occasion with competitors from all over the world – schools to olympians, men and women, boys and girls – all competing in a variety of classes including: eights, cox less pairs, sculls, coxed pairs.
For the spectators there are endless spots you can view the event which spans right along the course. There are numerous enclosures along both banks of the Thames and of course there is plenty of action on the water with parties on boats big and small. The most famous enclosure is the Steward’s Enclosure on the Berkshire side. It comprises of two covered grandstands with restaurants and several bars. The entrance is open to the Stewards of the Regatta, members of the Steward’s Enclosure and their guests.
The enclosure has a strict enforcement of dress code where by the ladies are required to wear a dress or skirt that covers the knee and the men are required to wear a blazer or jacket and tie. Be warned they are very strict and if not adhered too they will refuse you entry no matter who you are. Mobile phones are prohibited so you will find it hard up loading all your photos to social media and checking in! As you head upstream towards Temple Island you will find other enclosures/VIP areas which are a bit more relaxed but are full of people having a good time normally with a glass of Pimms or Prosecco in their hand.
We’ve popped together some fun dress ideas, ranging from the longer-length look that will ensure that you don’t get refused entry into the Steward’ Enclosure, to the slightly more funky shorter style. From the cheap and cheerful, to the dress that could potentially break the bank:
I grew up just outside Henley so know the regatta well and spent my summers during University and the School holidays waitressing in the Stewards Enclose and pulling pints behind the bar at the Angel on the Bridge http://www.theangelhenley.com. I have been to the Stewards as a guest a few times now which has been great fun and even had the privilege of being a passenger on the umpires boat as well as meeting Sir Steve Regrave. This year I have discarded the dress below the knee and am making my way further upstream to the Mahiki tent. Here I will be sipping the Mahiki signature cocktail enjoying the ambiance and no doubt cheering on the boats as they go past. (http://mahiki.com/london/menu/cocktails/).
If you don’t feel like visiting any of these enclosures and fancy something a bit more traditional, come rain or shine it’s always terribly British to have a picnic! If you are thinking of eating al fresco you can either show off your culinary skills or you could cheat and try something like this:
If you’ve not been then I would highly recommend it as a fun day out. Even walking up and down the river and soaking up the atmosphere is great fun; take a picnic and wear shoes that you don’t mind walking miles in as the tow path goes on forever and can be very congested!
– by Pip Cox