Back in the days when the British Elite were creatures of leisure, there was a list of Summer events that one simply had to be seen at, darling!
Many of these events still flourish today, and thankfully they are accessible for a lot more of us. As national events, many are in London and the South East. Today we look at national events and also at what you can do more locally here in the Midlands.
Royal Ascot is one of the classic social occasions, a chance to watch racing, sure, but above all a chance to dress up and drink champagne.
Where? Ascot, Berkshire
When? 18 – 22 June
Why not try the High Tea and Fizz day at Stratford upon Avon Racecourse? You could finish the day off with a trip to the RSC to see Ian McKellen perform his one-man show – but only if there are returns, it’s currently sold out.
Where? Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire
When? 21 July 2019
Wimbledon, the British Grand Slam, famous for royalty attending, eating strawberries and Henman Hill where the British gather to watch their countrymen lose (usually).
Where? Wimbledon, London
When? 1st – 14th July
Much more accessible is the LTA Nature Valley Women’s tennis competition in Birmingham. Defending champion Petra Kvitova, world no. 1 Naomi Osaka and our own Johanna Konta will be competing.
Where? Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham
When? 15 – 23 June
Cricket is a widely misunderstood sport. Whilst it is true that teams can play for 5 days and end with a draw, it can be exciting too. The Ashes is a long-standing competition between England and Australia and you can attend the final days of the competition at London’s classic cricket ground, The Oval. Take a picnic, and lots of cash for drinks.
Where? Vauxhall, London
When? 12 – 16 September
India are the current reigning champions and they will be playing England in the ICC Cricket World Cup in Birmingham. With a large local South Asian population, expect a well attended and enthusiastic support for both sides. You may be treated to the tradition of fancy dress as many people dress up – but good news, it’s not compulsory.
Where? Edgbaston, Birmingham
When? 30 June
Henley Royal Regatta: “It’s part English eccentricity, part top class sport, a little bit festival”, says Sir Matthew Pinsent, winner of 4 consecutive Olympic gold medals. It’s the ultimate place to drink Pimm’s in a maxi dress.
Where? Henley on Thames, Berkshire
When? 3 – 7 July
Up to 40 daily races are staged each day at Cowes Week for around 800 boats, making it the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world. More than 5,000 competitors take part, with Olympic and world-class yachtsmen competing alongside weekend sailors in a diverse and exciting spectacle of sail.
Where? Cowes, Isle of Wight
When? 10 – 17 August
Pop and Rock
Glastonbury is the classic British festival. Growing from small counter-cultural beginnings, it’s now firmly on the to-do list of the beautiful people. A full musical line-up includes Stormzy, The Killers, The Cure among literally dozens of others. But there is lots more on offer. You can also visit the fairground, wander in the woods or watch classic films outdoors.
Where? Glastonbury, Somerset
When? 26 – 30 June
Alex James, formerly of Britpop favourites Blur, retired to the country to make cheese. The Big Festival in the Cotswolds marries music, family and food in the ultimate festival for all the family. Music acts include Elbow, Jess Glynne and the Fun Loving Criminals.
Where? Kingham, Oxfordshire
When? 23 – 25 August
Glyndebourne is really posh, but also top class. This year you can choose from The Damnation of Faust, The Barber of Seville and others. Black tie is not compulsory, this video says, but many enjoy the dressing up part of it.
Where? Glyndebourne, East Sussex
When? 18 May – 25 August
The Nevill Holt Opera is set in a 13th century stately home offering an intimate musical experience. This year, you can see Cosi Fan Tutte, enjoy the gardens and have dinner or a picnic.
Where? Market Harborough, Leicestershire
When? 26 June – 2 July
The BBC Proms is a season of classical and world music, held in the Royal Albert Hall in London. This is an iconic circular performance space named for Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, played so fetchingly by Tom Hughes in the recent ITV series. There are dozens of events, but the most famous is the Last Night of the Proms, a relaxed and even raucous event, where you can express (or fake) your love of this country, singing along to Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory and bopping up and down to The Hornpipe, as shown in this video.
Where? Royal Albert Hall, London
When? 19 July – 14 September
Or you could try an outdoor event at Ragley Castle. The Battle Proms features a Napoleonic cavalry display, the 1812 Overture, commemoration of the First World War with cannon fire, and a spitfire flypast, as well as spirited renditions of Land of Hope and Glory!
Where? Ragley Hall, Warwickshire
When? 10 August
Did you enjoy Fleabag recently on the BBC? Phoebe Waller-Bridge first performed her monologue, on which the show was based, at Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is world-famous for comedy, theatre, dance and arts. Not to be missed.
Where? Edinburgh, Scotland
When? 2 – 26 August
STOP PRESS! Just announced, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be hosting some of the Edinburgh Fringe comedy acts in a short season. Tickets go on sale 10 am Monday 10 June. Get ’em while you can!
Where? Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire
When? 12 – 21 September
The Chelsea Flower show is the most famous, but that has already taken place this year. The Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival is a good alternative. This famous stately home, commandeered by Henry VIII from his Archbishop, is a classy venue.
Where, Hampton Court Palace, London
When? 2 – 7 July
As well as Sir Ian McKellan (“You shall not pass!”) as seen in this Youtube video, our very own Tina Smith can vouch for the fun to be had at the Blenheim Flower Show. Why not include a tour of the historic house and the famous Butterfly House?
Where? Woodstock, Oxfordshire
When? 21 – 23 June
The Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of diversity in England. Parades, music and street food thrill the senses.
Where? Notting Hill, London
When? 25 – 27 August
Birmingham’s Hippodrome Southside Festival celebrates all things about space for children. There are pop-up performances, street food and auditorium visits.
Where? Birmingham, West Midlands
When? 13 – 14 July
OK, finally this is one of the classic Summer Social Season events that does take place in the Midlands. This could be the very last time this course hosts the Formula 1 British Grand Prix. Evening entertainment includes concerts by Razorlight, Craig David and Soul II Soul.
Where? Silverstone, Northamptonshire
When? 12 – 14 July
From the ridiculous to the sublime, what about the Himley Classic car show? Set in 180 acres of Himley Hall, an 18th Century stately home, classic British and international cars will be on display.
Where? Himley, West Midlands
When? 1 September