Ascot Destination Guide

Synonymous with luxury, tradition and heritage, Ascot is situated among some of England’s most beautiful landscapes. Stately homes, seasonal festivals, white-knuckle equestrian events and family-friendly cultural activities await in and around Berkshire, with Coworth Park ideally situated to access the region’s top attractions. Here’s our pick of the best upcoming events.

UNTIL March 24, 2019

Friends and Family Portraits

While English painter Stanley Spencer may have arisen to fame on the back of his local landscapes infused with biblical references, his portfolio of portraiture is astonishingly broad and skilled. The Friends and Family exhibition at Stanley Spencer Gallery is an intimate snapshot of the artist’s private life, with beautifully wrought pieces demonstrating his immense talent at capturing the mood and character of those closest to him.

Stanley Spencer Gallery, High Street, Cookham, SL6 9SJ
www.stanleyspencer.org.uk
+44 01628 531 092
Image © Stanley Spencer Estate Bridgeman Images, London

Until March 31, 2019

Highclere Castle Guided Tours

Imagining Downton Abbey-era polite society is easy when visiting the grand estate in which the popular series was filmed. The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon invite visitors to explore Highclere Castle on select dates between January and March. Take in the castle’s beautiful frost-touched gardens, marvel at the Egyptian Exhibition and explore the castle’s sumptuous chambers.

Highclere Castle, Highclere Park, Newbury RG20 9RN
www.highclerecastle.co.uk
+44 01635 253 210
Image © Highclere Castle

MARCH 26 - 30, 2019

The Trials of Oscar Wilde

The pinnacle of Oscar Wilde’s career was the opening night of The Importance of Being Earnest, which was met with resounding applause on February 14, 1865. Less than 100 days later, he found himself a prisoner. Written by his grandson Merlin Holland using the actual words that were spoken in court, witness a thought-provoking re-enactment of The Trials of Oscar Wilde and discover what lead to his two-year sentencing.

Theatre Royal Windsor, 32 Thames St, Windsor, SL4 1PS
www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk
+44 01753 853 888
Image © Theatre Royal Windsor IMG_6395

MARCH 26 - 31, 2019

Florimania: Embroidered Treasures of Hampton Court Palace

Partnering with the Royal School of Needlework over the Mothering Sunday weekend, the ornate Tudor interiors of the King’s Apartments at Hampton Court Palace come alive with finely stitched blooms for Florimania. Expect a fragrant assortment of roses and lilies, alongside beautifully embroidered treasures.

Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, East Molesey, KT8 9AU
www.hrp.org.uk
Image © iStock_Vladislav Zolotov

MARCH 31, 2019

Ascot Spring Family Race Day

Ascot’s first family race day of 2019 teams white-knuckle races with country life-themed entertainment. The final fixture of the 2018-19 Jumps season takes centre stage, chased by full-throttle hurdles and races. Elsewhere, all ages can enjoy flower arranging and birds of prey displays, while ferret racing, pony rides and honey-bee workshops cater to younger tastes.

Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7JX
www.ascot.co.uk
+44 0344 346 3000
Image © Ascot Racecourse_1

APRIL - OCTOBER 2019

Royal Tennis

Wimbledon heats up in a few months, and tennis enthusiasts can prepare for the big event by watching a friendly match at Hampton Court Palace. The first court was levelled in the grounds in the early 16th century, and King Henry VIII was known to enjoy the occasional volley here. Nowadays, it’s host to members of the Hampton Court Palace tennis club—keen players can apply to join.

Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU
www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace
+44 (0)20 3166 6000
Image © Historic Royal Palaces

APRIL 10 - OCTOBER 31, 2019

Military History Walks

Windsor has its roots in the 11th century, when William the Conqueror constructed what is now the oldest castle in the world. Journey through the town’s charming Tudor streets alongside an ex-Royal Guard, whose anecdotes about notorious Royals—including Bad King John, whose rule was clouded with doomed miscalculations—breathe life into historic Windsor.

Royal Windsor Tours, High Street, Windsor, SL4 1PQ
royalwindsortours.com
+44 07517 440 445
Image © iStock_Lisay

APRIL 15, 2019

Easter Eggstravaganza Raceday

All ages are invited to seek out hidden treasures and exciting prizes at the activity-packed Easter Eggstravaganza Raceday, the first of its kind at Royal Windsor. Aside from bunny face-painting, balloons and cheery spring-themed fanfare, there’s a white-knuckle gallop around the track. Toast the champion with a flute of Champagne from The Deck, metres from the finish post.

Royal Windsor Racecourse, Maidenhead Road, Windsor, SL4 5JJ
www.windsor-racecourse.co.uk
+44 01753 498 400
Image © iStock_urbancow

APRIL 30 - MAY 4, 2019

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

If Tchaikovsky’s dazzling score fails to impress, the striking contemporary aesthetics of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake certainly will. An exquisite choreography that draws on a German myth about a princess who’s cursed to live as a swan by a jealous sorcerer, it’s widely lauded as the most beautiful ballet on the stage. Expect stunning costumes, spectacular jetés and ingenious set designs.

New Victoria Theatre, 1-9 Commercial Way, Woking, GU21 6GQ
+44 0844 871 7645
Image © iStock_tunart

MAY, 2019

Bluebells in Bloom

May is famously bluebell season in England, when the country’s forest floors are carpeted with pretty violet flowers. Head to the woodlands in Englefield Gardens to witness a dazzling example. Elsewhere in the immaculately tended grounds, azaleas bloom in a riot of pinks to mark a vivid start to the summer.

Englefield Estate, Englefield Road, Theale, Berkshire, RG7 5DU
englefieldestate.co.uk
+44 (0)1189 302 504
Image © iStock FreezingRain

MAY 8 - 12, 2019

Royal Windsor Horse Show

Equestrians and enthusiasts alike converge on the exclusive grounds of Windsor Castle to attend the celebrated Royal Windsor Horse Show. The five-day event features smartly executed show jumping and immaculate dressage alongside one of the UK’s most important driving events, the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix.

Windsor Castle, Windsor, SL4 1NJ
rwhs.co.uk
+44 (0)1753 847 900
Image © marlenka

MAY 12 - 18, 2019

Art and Architecture Week

Walk in the footsteps of the Crawley sisters on this guided tour of Highclere Castle, famous for its starring role as Downton Abbey in the popular television series. Marvel at the opulence of its State Rooms and Galleried Bedrooms before taking a tranquil stroll through the grounds, blooming with azaleas, cherry blossom and tulips.

Highclere Castle, Highclere Park, Newbury RG20 9RN
highclerecastle.co.uk
+44 (0)1635 253 210
Image © Highclere Castle

MAY 18 - June 2, 2019

Chilterns Walking Festival

Within an hour of Ascot are the beautiful landscapes of the Chilterns. These are the green rolling hills, peppered with pretty villages, that typify the English countryside. The Chilterns Walking Festival is an opportunity to explore the area on foot, with expert guides pointing out the most scenic routes and the best views.

Various locations around the Chilterns
visitchilterns.co.uk
+44 (0)1844 355 508
Image © iStock Mypurgatoryyears

MAY 21 - June 16, 2019

Cartier Queen's Cup

A prestigious event that attracts the best polo players in the world, the Cartier Queen’s Cup combines the white-knuckle thrills of a 22-goal polo tournament with all the glitter and revelry of a glamorous social event. The Queen awards the silver cup at the final, a tradition she’s continued since 1960.

Guards Polo Club, Smith’s Lawn, Windsor Great Park, Surrey, TW20 0HP
guardspoloclub.com
+44 (0)1784 434 212
Image © iStock FreezingRain

MAY 18 - August 25, 2019

Glyndebourne Festival

One of the world’s most esteemed opera houses, Glyndebourne is also the prettiest. Nestled in Surrey’s South Downs, its immaculately tended gardens spill out around it, making it an ideal venue for a summer opera festival. This year’s instalment includes spectacular performances of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Mozart’s The Magic Flute among other much-loved favourites.

Glyndebourne, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 5UU
glyndebourne.com
+44(0)1273 815000
Image © iStock FreezingRain

JUNE 1 - 30, 2019

Mid Summer Special Guided Tours

Just as its surrounding meadows burst into bloom, Highclere Castle throws open its doors to visitors for its Mid Summer Special Guided Tours. The setting for Downton Abbey among numerous other on-screen appearances, the tours invite guests behind the scenes to explore the grand manor’s extravagant interiors, sumptuous chambers and immaculately tended gardens.

Highclere Castle, Highclere, Newbury RG20 9RN
highclerecastle.co.uk
+44 (0)1635 253 210
Image © Highclere Castle

JUNE 4 - 23, 2019

Royal Windsor Cup

The premier medium-goal tournament in the English polo calendar returns once more for three weeks of adrenalin-pumping equine action. Attracting the sport’s leading players, more than 25 teams compete for the coveted trophy. Of course, it’s not all about matches and mallet-swinging. Premium hospitality and a well-attended guestlist, which traditionally includes HM The Queen, guarantees a memorable season.

Guards Polo Club, Smith’s Lawn, Windsor Great Park, Surrey, TW20 0HP
guardspoloclub.com
+44 (0)1784 437 797
Image © iStock wilpunt

JUNE 18 - 22, 2019

Royal Ascot

An annual highlight of the international racing calendar and the British social scene, Royal Ascot attracts the world’s finest racehorses to compete for a staggering multi-million pound prize. Join glamorous spectators to sip Champagne from deluxe enclosures and cheer the 18 hotly-contested Group races as they gallop across the event’s five days.

Ascot Racecourse, High St, Ascot, SL5 7JX
ascot.co.uk
+44 (0)3443 463 000
Image © Ascot Racecourse

JUNE 27 - 30, 2019

Windsor Championship Dog Show

Those who know a Pomeranian from a Leonberger should head to Windsor Championship Dog Show to admire this year’s ‘best in breed’s. Join dogs, owners and enthusiasts on the sprawling greens flanking Windsor Castle for the freshest instalment of what’s known as the Ascot of Dog Shows, where canines compete for prestigious prizes over the four days.

Home Park, Windsor, SL4 6HX
windsordogshow.org.uk
Image © iStock richardlpaul

JULY 2 - 9, 2019

Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival

Second only to Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual event at Hampton Court Palace is a must for all gardeners. Expect show gardens, workshops, specialist nurseries, talks, events, and great food and drinks, with Hampton Court Palace and the shimmering Long Water lake providing an idyllic backdrop.

Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, KT8 9AU
rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-hampton-court-palace-garden-festival
+44 020 8233 5400
Image © Hampton Court Palace Festival

JULY 3 - 7, 2019

Henley Royal Regatta

Founded in 1839, the Henley Royal Regatta is the highlight of Britain’s rowing calendar. Every year, the banks of the Thames are packed with thousands of well-heeled spectators who gather to watch the best-of-the-best compete in almost 200 races. Part of The Season, Henley is as much about the Pimm’s and picnics as it is about the rowing.

Henley Royal Regatta, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 2LY
hrr.co.uk
+44 01491 572 153
Image © Henley Royal Regatta

JULY 19 - 21, 2019

Thames Traditional Boat Festival

Championing British craftmanship and boat building, the Thames Traditional Boat Festival showcases boats that range from gloriously-gilded Royal barges to the ‘Little Ships’ that took part in the Dunkirk evacuation, as well as a range of military and amphibious vehicles, all framed by the verdant backdrop of the pretty market town of Henley.

Fawley Meadows, Henley On Thames, RG9 2HY
tradboatfestival.com
Image © Amersham Photographic Society

JULY 20 - 28, 2019

West Green House Opera's Summer Festival

A wonderful country house opera series set in the gardens of West Green House, 2019 sees productions by Strauss and Rossini, as well as the musical theatre of Guys and Dolls. Like Glyndebourne, guests are encouraged to picnic in the grounds on the warm summer evenings, surrounded by the spectacular illuminations after dark.

West Green House Gardens, Thackham’s Lane, Hartley Wintney,  RG27 8JB
westgreenhouseopera.co.uk

+44 01252 848 676
Image © West Green House Opera

Summer, 2019

Windsor Great Park's Savill Garden in bloom

Spanning 4,800 acres of land, Windsor Great Park is one of the largest parks in the West of England. At the centre of it are the beautiful Savill Gardens, which are particularly beautiful during the summer months. The Rose Garden erupts with fragrant blossoms, while the Summer Garden is a riot of colour.

The Savill Garden, Wick Lane, Englefield Green, TW20 0UU
windsorgreatpark.co.uk
+44 01753 860 222
Image © iStock erperistrom