If you want to experience Britain at its best then summer is the time to visit. The city gardens are blooming, people enjoy the evenings with friends picnicking in the park or enjoying a meal outdoors, and there are events to suit everyone’s taste across the city.
From the Chelsea Flower Show for the green thumbs to a weekend long party at LoveBox festival. There’s local festivals like The Notting Hill Carnival and don’t forget to come to the Udderbelly for a laugh. Of course, there’s also the much-hyped sporting events like Wimbledon or the Royal Ascot.
But there is one sporting event that not as many people know about, despite being one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the world. I’m talking about the Henley Royal Regatta.
Undoubtedly the best known rowing regatta in the world, the Henley Royal Regatta takes place at Henley-on-Thames late each June.
I grew up just minutes from the rowing sheds and lake in Adelaide, later becoming a rower for my High School and training with my state teams; so when an invitation to attend the Henley Royal Regatta turned up in my inbox, I couldn’t say no!
It was the Las Vegas Convention & Visitor Authority that invited me to attend. Wait a minute. Las Vegas? How can Las Vegas and a quintessentially British event manage to get paired together? With a dash of flamboyance, of course!
Blue skies, a garden party-themed tend, and sequin-clad Vegas showgirls greeted us at the gate. For an event that is usually quite traditional, it was nice to shake things up with a little razzle-dazzle.
The Courtyard Enclosure was decorated like an English garden party. Flower (umbrellas) hung among fairy lights, tables were named after Las Vegas casinos, and we were served a delectable English menu by Jamie Oliver’s catering company. Yum! But the real treat was to come between courses.
I hadn’t heard of Le Rêve – The Dream until that day when the performers took to the stage to perform a series of short teasers from the show, currently on at the Wynn Las Vegas.
Voted Best Production Show in Las Vegas five years running, and nearly fully booked each night, the show is a feast for the senses… and the performance on the small stage at the Henley Royal Regatta only made me want to see the show more.
Combining a mixture of contemporary dance, ballroom dancing and acrobatics, the performers were inspiring. The showcase was so good that a few months later I bought tickets to see the Le Rêve – The Dream in Las Vegas!
Read more about Must see Las Vegas Shows!
In between watching the performances, eating far too much food, spending time with good friends – like Sarah and Terry from LiveShareTravel – in the English sunshine, and poor attempts at playing croquet by me (can I blame my Australian-ness for that one?), I did manage to watch the rowing.
Sitting down outside the enclosure I cheered the Australian woman’s Eight team and China’s men’s Four as they powered their way down the lengthy course, while people watching at the men wearing their Crew jackets and Panama hats strolled by.
The Henley Royal Regatta is a great British event and a must visit at least once, even if you’ve never rowed Crew before. Come for a day out in the sunshine, for afternoon tea, and the experience. Maybe you’ll spot another Las Vegas showgirl this year!
What to wear
It does depend where you are seated. If you are part of the general public, casual clothing is fine.
If you’re seated in one of the enclosures, cocktail or formal wear is a must and women must wear skirts or dresses. Men must wear suit and tie.
It’s not uncommon for men to wear their club blazers and a Panama hat.
Enclosures at Henley
There are a number of enclosures or courtyards for private guests, the most famous being the Stewards’ Enclosure. These areas require formal dress (that means a skirt or dress for women) and the codes are strictly enforced.
The Regatta Enclosure is open to the general public, and there is no dress code.
Best place to watch the rowing
The regatta is held on a course that is just longer than two kilometres, so there are plenty of great spots to watch the race.
If you don’t want to sit along the banks, consider enjoying your day at Mossiman’s restaurant. A ticket offers live entertainment, unlimited drinks, three-course lunch and afternoon tea.
The Stewards Enclosure offers a choice of options. From a sit-down lunch to champagne afternoon tea. There’s even a seafood restaurant! Find out more on the Henley Royal Regatta website.
Otherwise, bring a picnic! Choose a great spot along the Thames-waterfront and enjoy your meal (and maybe some bubbly!) Cheers!
How to get to Royal Henley Regatta
From Central London, take the train from Paddington Station. The Henley station is a short walk away. Be sure to book your tickets in advance or come early because lines will likely be long!
Planning your own trip to Las Vegas?
I was a guest of Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority to the Royal Henley Regatta.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.