Off to the Races: Ascot And Windsor

This summer has been an eventful one so far and I've been very lucky and excited to have attended Royal Ascot in the Royal Enclosure as well as a great nights racing at the Royal Windsor Racecourse. Both great events celebrated with my lovely family and both very different but equally entertaining in their style.

Spending a day or evening at the races is indeed a fantastic event to enjoy with friends and family but also a really fun thing to do corporately with your team at work or with clients. It's great fun, a bit different and a nice way to get to know each other outside of the four walls of the office.

So based on my recent experiences of these two Berkshire based courses I thought I'd take today to explore, compare and contrast the two of them, see what they have to offer in a little more detail plus share some pictures from the two occasions.

First up Ascot. Now I went along to Royal Ascot which takes place every year in June for five days. Royal Ascot is a huge affair with high fashion, fine dining and of course exhilarating racing throughout the day.

It has a very specific dress code and is famous for the wonderful array of beautiful dresses and elaborate hats that you can see cascading by you each and every day. Men must be smart and in the Royal Enclosure are required to wear either black or grey morning dress including a waistcoat and tie, with a top hat and black shoes. The Grandstand is slightly more relaxed although during Royal Ascot most people tend to dress very smart as well, the Silver Ring is again slightly more casual. 

Although this might all seem a little formal it's very much part of the fun of the occasion, getting dressed up, choosing a hat and getting into the spirit of things.

The enclosures and ticket prices vary from the Silver Ring to the wonderfully magnificent Grandstand plus the Royal Enclosure to which you can be invited by a current Royal Enclosure member.

Enjoying a last glass of bubbly as the sun goes down over Ascot!

Enjoying a last glass of bubbly as the sun goes down over Ascot!

Royal Ascot is but one week of each year and it is worth knowing that this course also offer up a number of other exciting events in their calendar throughout the season, and not just horse racing. For example the end of July sees the King George Weekend and August will see the famous Red Bull Air Race take to the skies over the racecourse. This is but a few of the many exciting things on offer.

The Ascot website is a great source of information for all that is going on, where to park, where to eat and what to wear as well as the being best place to buy your tickets or enquire about group packages. If a day at this racecourse sparks your interest then take a look and see what takes your fancy:

The best piece of advice I can offer when attending Ascot - especially Royal Ascot - is plan your day well in advance especially your transport. The roads and traffic nearby and around the town and the racecourse can be something of a nightmare on race days and you need to leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. 

Also ensure that you check and adhere to the dress code. It varies for each occasion and, as I mentioned, differs depending on where you are going to be based on the site. Always check the website for the latest advice on what you should wear to make sure you don't have any problems getting through the gates!

Next up a Monday evening spent at the Royal Windsor Racecourse in of course Windsor, Berkshire. Windsor races is an altogether more relaxed affair but still a great event all the same.

Most of their race nights take place on a Monday evening from around 6pm during the season but they do also have some full racing weekends and other occasions as well.

Many people book the river package which enables them to take the boat from just opposite Browns Restaurant by the river in Windsor Town Centre. This short boat ride on the Thames drops you off at the racecourse docking point and is a nice way to get to the location - with just enough time to squeeze in a quick beverage on board before arrival - but only just!

If you choose to drive to the course then there is parking available on site as well. On racedays you can purchase members car park tickets for £8 to allow you to park closer to the various enclosures.

The nights are usually themed in some way which often means that various entertainment and different types of food and drink will be on offer in the enclosures depending on the evening that you choose. On the night that we went to recently Ronnie Scotts Jazz Band were playing and there were a number of food tents and local beers and drinks on offer alongside the usual restaurants and bars.

The dress code is very different and much more relaxed although if you want to make the effort you still can and people do. Some of the enclosures do still have a dress code so it's best to check this out before you go. It's not usually ever a top hat and tails situation though.

Again like Ascot you can buy tickets for different areas on the course. There's the Silver Ring which is very relaxed with picnic tables, suitable for children and a great place to bring a picnic (but not your own alcohol, this must be purchased on site) and have a very easy going evening. It's approximately 150 yards from the winning post but still with good views of the track providing you get there early.

The Club Enclosure has prime position next to the winning post with a dedicated big screen for all of the racing action. The Grandstand Enclosure has a great view of the track located within 75 yards of the winning post. Both have a selection of bars and the Club Enclosure has a number of great restaurants. 

I've been to both the Silver Ring and the Club Enclosure over the years and enjoyed both evenings for different reasons. It's really up to you and what you're looking for. The Club Enclosure is really the best for watching all of the action with access to the Parade Ring and Winners Enclosure so is a bit more of an involved affair with more to do. If you're just looking for an easy going evening with a picnic and to relax with friends then the Silver Ring is just as entertaining.

In all a really great place to enjoy some great racing action, different to Ascot but great fun. If you do go I would suggest booking the river package as it really is a nice way to take in a bit more of the Windsor atmosphere and if the weathers good a lovely sunny way to arrive at the site!

Watching the sun go down over the Thames as we return from the Windsor Racecourse by boat.

Watching the sun go down over the Thames as we return from the Windsor Racecourse by boat.

Whichever location and event you choose I hope you have a fantastic time and if you get the chance make sure you check out the beautiful town of Windsor and all that it has to offer. 

Happy Racing!