Henley Royal Regatta – A Stylish Summer Event

The Henley Royal Regatta
The Henley Royal Regatta is an exciting and stylish boat-racing event held annually in Henley-on-Thames. Attended by thousands of spectators every year, it attracts competitors from all over the world. This year it is being held from June 28th through July 2nd.

History of The Henley Royal Regatta

Established in 1839, the regatta became known as The Henley Royal Regatta in 1851 when Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert became its first Royal Patron. It quickly established itself as a major event in the iconic London ‘season’ and is even more popular today.

The Henley Royal Regatta

Phyllis Court Club during The Henley Royal Regatta


You can watch the Henley Royal Regatta at various points along the River Thames as well as from aboard boats that run up and down the river. There are also more exclusive venues like the Steward’s Enclosure and the Regattta Enclosure to watch the action from. Across the river there is a private member’s club called Phyllis Court from which there is an excellent view of the racing.

The Henley Royal Regatta - a stylish and exciting British summer event

Watching The Henley Royal Regatta at Phyllis Court with friends in 2015

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Some of the places from where you can watch the Henley Royal Regatta, such as the Stewards Enclosure and Phyllis Court, have very strict traditional dress codes. Ladies must wear dresses or skirts with a hem below the knee and hats are encouraged. Gentlemen must wear suits, or chinos or flannels with blazers. Many men also wear traditional Panama hats, giving the regatta a real vintage flavour.

The Henley Royal Regatta

Spectator Boats at The Henley Royal Regatta

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The Regatta Experience

My family and I attend the Henley Royal Regatta at Phyllis Court (where we are members) at least one day every year, often taking friends along as guests. The races start early so we normally arrive by 10.30am. There’s plenty to see and do and it’s lots of fun cheering on the various teams that are racing. I love watching the private boats and launches sail up and down the river, their passengers getting a great view of the action. From canoes to yachts, the boats range from the gorgeous to the quirky. People watching and fashion spotting is also a popular pastime!

The Henley Royal Regatta

High Tea at Phyllis Court during The Henley Royal Regatta

Food and Drink at the Henley Royal Regatta

Like so many of the events of the British summer season, food and drink play an important role in the celebrations at the regatta. Well dressed ladies and gentlemen share pitchers of Pimms, a gin based cocktail served with fruit and mint, one of the most popular tipples. There’s a break in the racing at both lunchtime and teatime. In the more formal venues, lunch is generally a three or four course affair and with high tea served only a few hours later, you definitely never feel hungry at the Henley Royal Regatta!

The Henley Royal Regatta

The Races

Whether you are a fan of boat racing or not, it’s hard not to be caught up in the atmosphere of this iconic event. Although the world is a very different place today than it was in 1839, for a few days each year The Henley Royal Regatta takes you back in time in style.

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Article by April Harris

April has written 1291 great articles for us.
April is a writer, recipe developer, frequent traveller and blogger sharing travel, food, and style. Based in the south of England, April is a British Canadian who is passionate about family, hearth and home, healthy living (with treats!) and the transformative power of travel.
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  1. It does look like a fabulous place for people watching, and thank you for sharing a photo of the tea. The dress code would be a problem for me, though: apart from a long denim skirt, which hardly seems appropriate, the only garment I can think of with a hem below the knee is my wedding dress!

  2. The high tea looks amazing, what a lovely day out and the chance to wear a beautiful dress!

  3. This looks like an amazing place; watching boat-racing sounds so fun! The high tea also looks super delicious. x

  4. I’ve always wanted to go to the Henley Regatta! Looks so fun & I love the ‘English-ness’ of it all. May have to go next year X

  5. Sarah Ella (Mumx3x) says:

    This looks awesome! What a beautiful place! We have a Regatta every summer on the river close by our house. It’s so much fun to watch! I love the history behind Henley Royal Regatta.

  6. April, I would love that! A lovely afternoon frock and, of course, a hat. I might embarrass you at teatime, though, with my discreet inquiries trying to find people interested in trading one of their sandwiches for one of my pastries (or my salmon sandwich)!

  7. Sounds like a wonderful place, April! You look beautiful with this hat!

  8. So interesting that Prince Albert loved boats…as I imagine Prince Phillip does. Truly I do love all the English traditions. I’d definitely delight in the good looking tea at the Phyllis Court. Dressing up in a proper hat and dress looks fun, too!

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