Today is the first day of *Henley Royal Regatta*, a must in the summer social calendar.
One of the first places my now-husband and I went to together when we were first dating was the *Henley Royal Regatta* and it has been a tradition for all these years ever since. You might have seen it mentioned in *The Sparkle Pearls and Lace Guide to The Season*
This five day event, first held in 1839, is the pinnacle of the rowing calendar and it is so prestigious in the racing world that teams come from all over the world, including former olympic champions just to partake at Henley!
Henley is a pretty little town on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, most notably known for hosting the Regatta and the Henley Festival – a black tie, posh alternative to the festival. Please see an earlier post *A Glitz and Glam Fest* for more information. It’s charming riverside, beautiful houses and historic buildings make it a lovely place for a wander.
During the weeks of the Regatta and the Festival, Henley is bustling with life and ambiance.
You certainly know when it is Regatta week, as the assortment of vibrant striped blazers and colourful chinos on show make it feel like you are in a children’s sweetie shop! Boating hats and deck shoes are also rather prominent!
Although there is no formal dress code for the Regatta itself, certain areas can only be accessed with certain style dress. There’s a real mixture of outfits from a quintessentially British look: blazers, bowler hats, chinos and loafers to something more boho chic: maxi dresses, flower garlands and kimonos.
When we first went, we had Stewards’ enclosure tickets – a private enclosed area near the finish line. There is a strict dress code, in accordance with long-established tradition, which when non-adhered to results in no entry. Blazers/jackets with a tie for gentlemen, whilst ladies are only permitted to wear dresses or skirts below the knee and hats are customary but optional.
Since then, we have opted for the more informal approach of taking a picnic and sitting along the river bank in the sunshine to enjoy the races with some yummy treats. We drive to Henley early in the morning and we park in one of the temporary car parks – by a local church. The parking is rather pricey but it gets you nice and close to riverbank to find a great spot and to carry all of your goodies.
The water is filled with truly stunning boats and taking a boat ride during the festival is a wonderful but pricey highlight.
Some lucky lovelies get to ride with the umpire – although this is highly sought after and often for Press and VIP’s.
Liquid certainly flows in abundance at Henley – whether it be Champagne, Pimms or Gin and Tonics. You can bring your own drinks if you sit along the river but these are not allowed into any of the enclosed areas.
There are lots of pop-up bars and restaurants along the riverbank that are great for bumping into people and a spot of socialising! In the evening, once the races have finished, Henley turns into a sort of pop-up mini festival. The music is pumping, the lights are shining and the drinks are still flowing. It is a vibrant atmosphere and a lot less informal than the ambiance in the day.
Henley is a fantastic summery day out and a staple in the British social calendar!
Even if the ‘society’ aspect doesn’t catch your fancy – it can be as informal as you want it to be: take a picnic, sit by the river, relax, listen to music, have a drink in a bar, you can even camp in one of the many regatta campsites. This would be a great and fun location for a hen party and a very reasonably priced option too!
*Henley-on-Thames – www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com/oxfordshire/towns/henley-on-thames.aspx
*Henley Festival – www.henley-festival.co.uk
*Henley Regatta – www.hrr.co.uk/welcome