Top Tips For First-Time Royal Ascot Racegoers
Royal Ascot is one of the most prestigious horse racing meetings globally, attracting some of the “big names of society” to Ascot Racecourse for five days of unparalleled racing.
It also sits proudly as the jewel in the crown of the British sporting and social season, making it one of the most sought after events in the summer calendar. In 2023, it returns in full grandeur to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen II’s Platinum Jubilee.
So if you’re attending for the first time this year – you’re in for a fabulous time.
However, we know that attending the seasonal event of the year for the first time can be a little daunting, especially when you’ll be brushing with celebrities and Royals. Or perhaps, you’re more worried about where to place a bet?
Either way, we’ve got you covered in this ultimate guide for Royal Ascot first-timers. From where to stay to what to wear, we’ll run through everything you need to know about Royal Ascot.
What to Wear at Royal Ascot
Although Royal Ascot is primarily about racing, it’s also one of the biggest social events of the year, meaning you’ll see racegoers decked in their best attire.
Royal Ascot also has one of the strictest dress codes of any race meeting. Failure to dress appropriately could see you denied entry to the racecourse. But make no mistake, a day at the races presents the perfect excuse to dress up to the nines and make a fashion statement!
Here’s a general idea of what to wear to Royal Ascot:
Formal daywear is encouraged, which includes:
- Dresses and skirts of knee-length or longer
- Matching trouser suits and jumpsuits are welcomed as long as they comply with the rules
- Hat, headpiece or fascinator
Strapless and sheer dresses are not permitted in the Royal Enclosure and Queen Anne Enclosure. Midriffs must also be covered at all times.
Gentlemen must wear a formal suit with a collared shirt and tie. Royal Ascot also asks guests to take note of the following:
- Jackets and trousers match in colour and pattern
- Socks must be worn at all times and cover the ankle
- Jeans, chinos, trainers, bow ties and cravats are not permitted in the Royal Enclosure and Queen Anne Enclosure
Think wedding attire. If you’re still in doubt, read our Dress Code guide for more in-depth information on what to wear to Royal Ascot.
The Best Day to Attend Royal Ascot
Each day of Royal Ascot has something different to offer, so choosing which day to attend may seem daunting. While Tuesday is often considered the best day of flat racing, there’s also Ladies’ Day on Thursday; Wednesday for the big bets and the closing days for an electric atmosphere off-track.
Find all the information on each day below to help you tailor your Ascot experience to your preferences.
The opening day of Royal Ascot is one of the most popular days for racegoers and sets the stage for five extraordinary days of racing.
Tuesday is spearheaded by the Grade 1 Queen Anne Stakes, which has delivered some iconic winners, including Palace Pier, Frankel and Flambeau.
It also provides a wonderful day for socialising, with the Royal Procession getting underway at 2pm and singing around the bandstand commencing from 6.15pm.
If the hustle and bustle isn’t your cup of tea, then Wednesday could be the perfect day for you.
It’s probably the most relaxed day of the meeting, but there is no compromise on high-quality racing and enjoyment off-track. Wednesday features four graded races this year, including the feature Prince of Wales’s Stakes which boasts an impressive role of honour.
High-quality racing meets millinery fashion on Royal Ascot Thursday.
Thursday – colloquially referred to as Ladies’ Day – is a day to see and be seen as racegoers up the style stakes and flaunt their best attire. Royal Ascot Thursday also hosts the most prestigious race of the festival, the Gold Cup.
The Gold Cup has produced some of the most historic moments in Ascot history, including Yeats’ remarkable fourth victory in 2009 and three-time winner Stradivarius (2018, 2019, 2020).
Friday has a personality all of its own and is arguably one of the most social days of the meeting, with plenty of racing drama making for the perfect start to a fun weekend.
The penultimate day of Royal Ascot features four graded races and a pair of fiercely competitive handicaps.
We’ve reached the climax of Royal Ascot, and the final day is unmissable.
Though there is a slightly more relaxed atmosphere, Saturday features an exceptional card, including the newly named Platinum Jubilee Stakes – one of the world’s greatest international sprints.
Saturday also hosts the longest race of the British flat racing season, The Queen Alexandra Stakes, which is open to horses over three years old.
Best Hotels to Book When Visiting Royal Ascot
If you don’t live in Windsor or the surrounding area, you might be considering staying in local accommodation.
It will also make the day more enjoyable as you won’t need to worry about traffic or the rush to get the train home. Several hotels, B&Bs, and apartments near Ascot Racecourse offer quality accommodation.
Ascot Racecourse has also partnered with 31 accommodation providers, offering racegoers discounts or something extra when you stay with them. Some of the closest options are:
- Highclere Hotel (1 mile from Ascot Racecourse)
- Coworth Park (3 miles from Ascot Racecourse)
- Ayoola Serviced Accommodation (4 miles from Ascot Racecourse)
- Coppid Beech Hotel (5 miles from Ascot Racecourse)
- Fairmont Windsor Park (7 miles from Ascot Racecourse)
If you find that all the nearest accommodations are booked, or you’re looking for options a little further afield, Reading and Slough are the next closest towns.
Betting at Royal Ascot
For many people – veterans and rookies, having a flutter at the races is part of the theatrics and excitement of the day.
But if you’re new to racing, how do you know what horse to back? That is the million-dollar question, and it all comes down to luck. However, you can do a few things to increase your chances of winning.
- Study the horse racing form and racecard to learn as much as you can about the runners
- Visit the Parade Ring to get up close and personal with the horses
If it’s your first time betting, placing an each-way bet is a safe option as it essentially comprises two wagers – one to win and one to place. Most casual punters place each-way bets as it reduces their chances of losing.
However, you could win big if you bet to win or place multiple wagers. Please read our Royal Ascot Betting Guide for further information on placing bets at Ascot.
Royal Ascot Raceday Information
The Royal Procession gets underway at 2pm, with the first racing commencing at approximately 2.30pm. However, Ascot Racecourse opens its gates at 10.30am, and it’s best to get there well in advance of the first race to ensure you don’t miss out on the action.
To ensure you’re ready for a whole day of racing and entertainment, ensure you get a good night’s sleep and your fill of energy by eating a big breakfast.
Alternatively, you could upgrade your experience by booking a Royal Ascot hospitality package. Enjoy a fine dining experience, including a drinks reception and unlimited bar, among other VIP luxuries.
As Official Hospitality Suppliers (OHS) directly appointed by Ascot Racecourse, our luxury hospitality packages provide guests with access to some of the most sought-after areas of Ascot, unrivalled views of the on-track action and the chance to rub shoulders with some of the riders.
There’s no better way to enjoy the social event of the year than with an official Royal Ascot hospitality package!
After the Races
If you thought the fun stopped after the racing – it’s quite the opposite!
After racing, there’s plenty to do, from garden parties to themed events at pubs and bars. However, we strongly recommend making a reservation as early as possible as local establishments get packed pretty quickly.
If you have access to the Village Enclosure at Royal Ascot, extend your fun at the racecourse by enjoying an eclectic mix of music at an after-party until 9pm.
Even if you choose to go straight home or to accommodation after racing, we hope you have a fun day at Britain’s most prestigious horse racing meeting. Throw yourself in all that it offers, and you’ll find that you make long-standing memories with friends, family or clients.