Have you been thinking about going to Ascot this year? Last year, a few colleagues and I went for Ladies Day. With races kicking off (Cheltenham this past week), it made me a bit nostalgic.
I’m not attending this year as we’ve decided to be more strategic with our holiday time, but thought a post about my time last year, and a review of the brand new enclosure (2017) may help some others in their planning to attend the event.
We purchased our tickets early, so were able to take advantage of some early bird booking discounts, which I would always recommend (it’s always good to have some extra cash for champers). The tickets arrived by post in advance of the actual day, and were very formal and pretty. I’m a sucker for great stationary, apparently.
What I wore
In an effort to wear my wedding shoes again, I wore my glittery rose gold heels by Steve Madden, coupled with a rose gold New Look handbag, and a white, oversized hat from M&S to compliment my rose covered fit & flare dress purchased at House of Fraser.
My wedding shoes were SO painful. I don’t know why I thought I could wear them again for a full day on my feet.
We met at Clapham Junction to get the train to Ascot. On route, we split a bottle of Prosecco in a very crowded train. There are many journey options from London to Ascot, with lots of companies offering coach & train packages (with entrance to the event + a pre-picnic). We opted to book on our own and travel by train as we didn’t want to be stuck waiting on pre-arranged transport that was departing at certain times. Travelling on our own gave us the flexibility to come and go whenever. The journey itself was relatively quick, but standing up in a crowded train, hearing corks pop, with a non-stop flow of drink does tend to make train journeys a bit smoother.
At the Event
Once we arrived, you were herded through the station, and up some pavement (about a 5 minute walk from train station to the entrance of the grounds). Somehow, we managed to enter an area we weren’t supposed to be in (we had tickets for a separate enclosure), but we got to enjoy drinks & photos before we placed some initial bets.
After a few jugs of Pimms, we worked our way to the area where the Queen does her entrance / Royal procession. We watched the horses enter, along with Royalty and dignitaries, before we made our way through to yet another area we did not have a ticket for.
Now, about our confusion about where we were supposed to be. We bought tickets for the brand new enclosure that was sold as this fab, upscale festival type enclosure with its own restaurants and bars and an amazing view of the races. What we actually got was a few port-a-loos in a field we decent views of the races (so long as you were standing in front of a telly or managed to push your way up to the fence line).
It lacked connection with the rest of the event. We felt like we were separated from the rest of the crowd. We actually couldn’t find where we were meant to be because there was no signage at the event in the main areas and not a single member of staff was able to point us in the right direction. We spent the first little while there wandering around trying to find where we were supposed to go, before giving up and just drinking more Pimms.
Eventually, once we did get into the enclosure (The Village), we had a quick walk around before placing some bets. As mentioned, the enclosure itself seemed a bit removed from the actual event. There were limited picnic tables (the only seating option), and the food options were rather limited. Instead of having proper toilets, you had a tent with some port-a-loos.
I would not recommend The Village enclosure. I think, spend the extra few quid, and have a proper experience. Perhaps this year, they will take the feedback given from last year and spruce it up a bit, but I don’t know how you could make it better. Their marketing of it was fab though. We were absolutely convinced it was going to be this really cool, festival type feel with a special / classy touch since it was Ascot. It was none of this.
We all decided that we wouldn’t go back to The Village enclosure, should we participate in Ascot again.
On the journey home, I was knackered. We spent the entire day standing and walking around on grass. I ended up coming home about £40 richer than I was in the morning, so that was a solid victory.
Like I said, I would not recommend the Village Enclosure. I would absolutely recommend attending the event once in your life though. It’s a fun day and an excuse to get dressed up and wear an obnoxiously big hat.
Take a pair of flat shoes to wear on the way home (or during the event when your feet inevitably start to ache).
Pack 2 bottles of Prosecco for the train journey & have a bite to eat on the train. I found the food options terribly limited in our enclosure and was starving by the end of the day.
Have fun! Everything about it was great – the lead up looking for dresses & hats and actually attending the event. It’s a great day out.