It’s all about who you are and what you’re wearing at Royal Ascot – Europe’s most prestigious annual thoroughbred-horse-racing meeting and the social highlight of Ascot Racecourse’s year. Founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, Royal Ascot attracts 300,000 people each year, and the world’s finest racehorses.

The British Royal Family are long-time patrons of the event and attend on each of the meeting’s five days. Every race day kicks off in style as the royals arrive in their horse-drawn carriage to lead the Royal Procession.

With a prize fund of over £5.5 million, the six races each day have distinct characteristics and can be watched from one of three enclosures.

The Royal Enclosure is the most exclusive and is strictly by invitation only. The Queen Anne Enclosure (formerly known as the Grandstand) is the hub of activity, and its lawns and terraces offer top views of the Pre-Parade and Royal Procession. The Windsor Enclosure (formerly known as the Silver Ring) is a popular spot for picnics, and buzzes with excitement as the horses thunder past on the final straight.

When and where is the Royal Ascot?

The Royal Ascot takes place each year in June over five days (Tuesday–Saturday). All its races are run on the Ascot Racecourse in Ascot, Berkshire, England, just six miles from Windsor Castle.

The Royal Ascot races

With thirty races in all (six on each of the five days), there’s non-stop action at the Royal Ascot. The races fall into different groups, Group 1 races having the highest status.

Among the most prominent races of the week are the Queen Anne Stakes (Tuesday), the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Wednesday), the Gold Cup (Thursday – Ladies’ Day), the Commonwealth Cup (Friday), and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Saturday).

Where to eat and drink at the Royal Ascot

Wining and dining is a big part of the experience, so arrive early to enjoy lunch and a Pimm’s whilst schmoozing among the glitterati.

For Royal Enclosure guests there’s a range of pre-bookable fine-dining or casual restaurants, as well as a Champagne bar, a cocktail bar, and other more laid-back options or afternoon tea.

You can also arrange a tailor-made package in the Royal Enclosure, choosing from Michelin-starred or à-la-carte menus. Younger Royal Enclosure spectators can live it up on the Saturday in the Birdcage, a stylish and lively member’s club in the Royal Enclosure Gardens.

If you’re in the Queen Anne Enclosure there are loads of casual-dining places, including restaurants and many on-the-go options such as hotdogs and “burgers of distinction”. There are also several bars and a coffee shop, as well as the option to pre-book afternoon tea (champagne available) on the Queen Anne Lawns.

Picnic hampers can be ordered in advance too. Queen Anne Enclosure guests can also upgrade to book a fine-dining experience including drinks reception, lunch and afternoon tea, or to attend the Furlong Club, an elegant but informal private decked terrace overlooking the finishing straight.

For Windsor Enclosure attendees there’s a food court (burgers, fish and chips, hog roast, street food, etc.), a deli, a range of bars, pre-bookable picnics, or you’re welcome to bring your own food – but check out the picnic policy! Garden furniture (tables, chairs, umbrellas) is also available to pre-order.

Royal Ascot is one of the classiest and most renowned events in the European horse racing calendar, with seeing and being seen just as important as the races themselves. With the champagne flowing and the crème de la crème in attendance, this is an experience like no other.