Ah, the Royal Ascot! The name itself evokes images of hundreds of years of tradition. Think thoroughbred horses, elegant fashion, and the British elite turning out in their finest fashions. Held annually in Berkshire, England, this highly prestigious social and sporting event is more than just a horse race. Instead, it celebrates the traditions and culture of the UK – the very essence of British high society.
History of Royal Ascot
The origins of the Royal Ascot trace back to Queen Anne, who first envisioned the potential of a racecourse at Ascot. While out riding around her property one merry afternoon, she stumbled upon a lovely open heath near Windsor Castle. She apparently thought it an “ideal place for horses to gallop at full stretch”, and so she acted upon this vision (being the Queen and all). Fast forward – the first race meeting at Ascot occurred on August 11, 1711.
Over the years, the event evolved and grew in its cultural significance. The introduction of The Gold Cup in 1807 marked a pivotal moment, setting the stage for the Royal Ascot’s prominence in the horse racing world. By 1813, the event’s importance was solidified with the Act of Enclosure passed by Parliament. This Parliamentary action meant that Ascot Heath, a crown property, would forever remain a public racecourse.
Today, the racing facility is no longer managed by the Royal Family but instead by the Ascot Authority. Still, Royal Ascot speaks to the enduring allure of horse racing, combined with the pomp and pageantry of British royalty and elite society.
How to Celebrate Royal Ascot
No one needs to be part of high society to celebrate the Royal Ascot traditions. Anyone can visit in person or celebrate British culture from the comfort of their own home.
Attend the Festivities in Person
Experience the magic firsthand by booking tickets to the Royal Ascot. Choose from various enclosures, each offering a unique vantage point and vibe. Remember, each enclosure has a different dress code, with formal wear being a staple throughout all venues.
Embrace the Fashion
The Royal Ascot is as much about fashion as horse racing. Men who attend the festivities show off their best top hats and tailored suits. On the other hand, women dazzle in elegant dresses complemented by exquisitely fashioned headpieces. This event is a fashionista’s dream come true!
Host a Viewing Party
Can’t make it to Berkshire in person? No worries! Text friends, dress up in finery, and host a Royal Ascot-themed viewing party. Stream the horse races live, place friendly wagers, and enjoy traditional British treats.
Here are three classic British treats to enjoy:
- Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam: Serve up this classic British treat during afternoon tea. They are lightly sweetened biscuits, split open and spread with rich clotted cream and strawberry or raspberry jam.
- Victoria Sponge Cake: Named after Queen Victoria, this simple sponge cake is replete with jam and whipped cream. It’s traditionally a two-layer cake with a delightful jam filling in the middle. Don’t forget to dust a sprinkle of powdered sugar across the top!
- Eccles Cakes: These are small, round pastries. They’re filled with currants, candied peel, and spices. The flaky pastry exterior is often sprinkled with sugar for a light, sweet crunch.
Each of these treats is delightful in its own right and would be a perfect addition to any Royal Ascot celebration.
Learn More About Horse Racing
Use the Royal Ascot as an opportunity to learn more about horse racing. Understand the intricacies of the sport and the strategies that jockeys use to win.
Feeling super adventurous? Head out to a nearby stable and try riding horseback.
Celebrate British Culture
The Royal Ascot is a cultural icon. Become immersed in British traditions. Fix up an afternoon tea and read up on the history of the British monarchy; meet some fascinating characters.
Wear a Classic Ascot Tie
Embrace the historical elegance of the Royal Ascot by wearing an Ascot tie – which British friends might call a cravat. This broad, patterned scarf wraps around the neck and then pins into place. It was a male fashion staple in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The tie takes its iconic name from an association with the Royal Ascot race meeting. While attending the races, especially in the Royal Enclosure, men would often sport this neckwear. Its goal was to symbolize the epitome of sartorial elegance. Even if it’s not possible to attend the racecourse, wearing an Ascot tie for a Royal Ascot-themed event or party can add a touch of vintage charm and authenticity to the celebrations.