Royal Ascot Festival Guide

Highlight of the UK Flat Racing Season, Royal Ascot combines top-class horse-racing, with pageantry, fashion & style

Dating back to 1911 at the time of Queen Anne, Royal Ascot is a 5-day festival that sees the best horses from around the world competing at the highest level. Famous for its place in the Summer racing and social calendar, Royal Ascot attracts around 300,000 racegoers to Ascot Racecourse, for Royal Ascot week in June each year.

The Royal Enclosure attracts a “who’s who” list of celebrity guests and royalty, including HM Queen Elizabeth II, who’s attended every royal meeting during her reign, arriving by horse-drawn carriage in a royal procession at 2.00 pm each day.

Royal Ascot is the world's most prestigious flat race meeting

In addition to the 60,000 daily racegoers, this prestigious meeting also attracts millions of TV and online viewers globally, keen to see the world’s elite racehorses competing in 30 top-quality races. With a prize fund in excess of £8 million, and no race worth less than £90,000, Royal Ascot attracts not just the best horses, but also the best trainers, jockeys and owners.

Each day of the 5-Day Royal Ascot race meeting has at least one feature race, and no fewer than 17 Group Races, 3 of which kick-start the opening day. Highlights include the Queen Anne Stakes, Gold Cup, Golden Jubilee Stakes, and Diamond Jubilee Stakes, named after HM The Queen, who also owns the racecourse, and never misses a day of Royal Ascot Week.

In 2020 Royal Ascot was held behind closed doors due to Covid-19. This year, a reduced number of spectators will attend. However, due to capacity limitations, only the Royal Enclosure and Queen Anne Enclosure will be open. Royal Enclosure entry is by Invitation Only. Members can bring up to 2 guests each day except Tuesday. The Queen Anne Enclosure is open to the public.

Royal Ascot Week: 5-Days of World-Class Racing in June

Royal Ascot Day 1

Frankel wins Queen Anne Stakes Royal Ascot 2012 by 11 lengths

Opening day at Royal Ascot normally has 3 Group 1 feature races on the card. First; the Queen Anne Stakes, won by Frankel in 2012. Next; the 5-furlong King’s Stand Stakes. Last; the St James’s Palace Stakes for 3-year-olds, traditionally a target for 2,000 Guineas winners from Britain & Ireland.

Royal Ascot Day 2

Lord North Wins Prince of Wales Stakes 2020 at Royal Ascot

Day 2 of Royal Ascot Week, features the Prince of Wales Stakes, contested by 4-year-olds and older, over 1-mile 2-furlongs. Along with the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Day 5, the Prince of Wales Stakes is the most valuable race at Royal Ascot worth in excess of £500,000 in prize money.

Royal Ascot Day 3

Yeats wins the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot 4 times

The Gold Cup on Day 3 is the highlight of the meeting. Run over 2-miles 4-furlongs, it’s the longest Group 1 race in Britain. The race is contested by the best Flat stayers. Yeats won it 4 times in succession before being retired from a very successful racing career in 2009.

Royal Ascot Day 4

Alpine Star and Frankie Dettori win Coronation Stakes Royal Ascot 2020

On Day 4 the the Coronation Stakes takes centre stage, contested by the 3-year-old fillies. The Coronation Stakes sees 1,000 Guineas winners from Britain, Ireland and France competing to crown their previous success with a win at Ascot races round mile.

Royal Ascot Day 5

Black Caviar wins Diamond Jubilee STakes at Royal Ascot

The climax on Day 5 is the 5-furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes; that often attracts Day 1 King’s Stand Stakes runners. Australian horse Choisir won both races in 2003, and in 2013 unbeaten wonderhorse Black Caviar won again, by a nose for the Aussi raiders!

Frankel by Artist Ian Baker

Frankel cartoon by Ian Baker

Not strictly Royal Ascot, but included simply becase we like it. It’s a bit of fun AND Frankel did win the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012.

Ascot Racecourse Grandstand Enclosures

Ascot Racecourse underwent major redevelopment during 2004-2005, when Royal Ascot moved to York Racecourse. On completion in 2006, the Racecourse was reopened by HM The Queen, and Royal Ascot moved back again to it’s rightful home. Since its refurbishment, the new Grandstand has positioned Ascot as a world-class sporting, conference and entertainment venue + a leading international racecourse.

The new Grandstand has two superbly appointed wings, accommodating both a new Royal Enclosure, and the new Queen Anne Enclosure. Outside, new racegoer facilities include trackside lawns, landsaped gardens, two parade rings, champagne bars, restaurants, and more.

Royal Enclosure & Queen Anne Enclosure

ROYAL ENCLOSURE: The Royal Enclosure offers exclusive Grandstand 4th floor access to the restaurants, bars, seated gantry and race viewing balconies for over 1800 guests. Royal Enclosure Gardens and trackside lawns provide a place to relax, with a choice of Champagne bars and fine-dining restaurants.

Royal Enclosure guests enjoy a unique vantage point over the Pre-Parade and Parade Rings where they can watch the Royal Procession, and see the horses before each race. There’s also a spacious viewing lawn by the winning post to watch the final moments of each race. Five exclusive fine-dining restaurants, with Michelin-starred chefs, hospitality packages, impeccable service and unsurpassed racing views, add to the enjoyment of the occasion.

QUEEN ANNE ENCLOSURE: While it does not have the exclusivity of the Royal Enclosure, the Queen Anne Enclosure still puts racegoers at the heart of the racing action with Parade Ring viewing, Home Straight viewing, and access to the ground floor of the Grandstand with 4 fine-dining restaurants.

PRIVATE BOXES, GAZEBOS & LODGES: Private boxes in the Grandstand can accommodate 10 guests or more with uninterrupted views, fine-dining menus and superb service. Private gazebos by the winning post and trackside lodges with parking berths close to the parade ring provide an exclusive entertianment space for up to 16 guests.

ARRIVE IN STYLE: Guests can arrive direct from London Waterloo or by air via private helicopter service. Car Parks 1,2, and 7 are for the sole use of Royal Enclosure members and guests, and are convenient for picnicking before the Royal Procession – a long-standing tradition of ‘berth holders’.

Royal Ascot Royal Enclosure Dress Code

Royal Ascot Dress Code varies by enclosure, with the Royal Enclosure being the most strict. Formal atire with hats for ladies, and morning suits with top hats for men are mandatory in the Royal Enclosure. Click the image to view Royal Ascot’s Style Guide, or read our summary of ‘What to Wear’ at the Royal Meeting below.

LADIES’ formal daywear is a requirement in the Royal Enclosure, defined as:

  • Dresses and skirts should be of modest length, defined as falling just above the knee or longer.
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater. Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted. Dresses with sheer straps and sleeves are also not permitted.
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn. Tops & dresses underneath should still comply with the above.
  • Trouser suits are welcome. They should be full-length to the ankle and of matching colour and material.
  • Jumpsuits should fall below the knee, with regulations matching that for dresses and tops.
  • Hats should be worn; however, a headpiece which has a solid base of 4 inches (120 cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat. Fascinators are not permitted.

GIRLS aged 10-17 should dress in accordance with the Ladies’ Dress Code. However they may wear a headpiece or fascinator as an alternative to a hat, without any size restriction.

GENTLEMEN must wear black, grey or navy morning dress which must include a waistcoat and tie (no cravats or bow ties), a black or grey top hat, black shoes worn with socks. Novelty waistcoats and ties are not permitted. Discreet or patriotic patterns, such as a national flag, are acceptable.

A gentleman may remove his top hat in a restaurant, Private Box, private club or a facility’s terrace, balcony or garden. Hats may also be removed in any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Gardens. Customisation of top hats with coloured ribbons or bands is not permitted.

BOYS aged 10-17 should either dress in accordance with the Gentlemen’s Dress Code; or alternatively may wear a dark-coloured lounge suit with a shirt and tie.

Royal Ascot Style Guide 2021

Royal Ascot Dress Code Sitewide

Overseas  visitors and serving military personnel may wear the formal National Dress of their country, Service Dress, or equivalent in both the Royal and Queen Anne Enclosure. Fancy dress, novelty, branded or promotional clothing is not permitted anywhere on site. Also, tasteful face masks must be worn as per Covid-19 protocols.

Royal Ascot racegoers dressed to impress

Queen Anne Enclosure Dress Code

The Queen Anne Enclosure Dress Code is less strict, but there are still rules.

LADIES within the Queen Anne Enclosure must dress in a formal manner, and:

  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator must be worn at all times.
  • Strapless dresses or tops are not permitted, as per the definition for the Royal Enclosure above.
  • Trouser suits must be full-length and jumpsuits must fall below the knee. Both must adhere to the neckline regulations above.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Shorts are not permitted.

GIRLS aged 17 and under should be dressed for a formal occasion. Smart summer dresses are suggested. Hats, headpieces and fascinators may be worn, but are not compulsory.

GENTLEMEN are required to wear full-length suit with collared shirt and tie, and:

  • Jackets and trousers should be of matching colour and pattern.
  • A tie should be worn at all times. Bowties and cravats are not permitted.
  • Socks must be worn and should cover the ankle.
  • Chinos and trainers are not permitted.

BOYS aged 10-17 should wear a jacket or suit with a shirt and tie. Boys nine and under should be dressed smartly but re not required to wear a jacket or tie.

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