First held in 1839, the Regatta proved to be so successful that it expanded from one day to two the following year. As the Regatta’s popularity has grown,
it has continued to expand and since 1986 the event runs over five days.
The regatta has been known as Henley Royal Regatta since 1851 when Prince Albert became its first royal patron and since his death every reigning monarch has followed suit.
Henley Regatta is not only famous for the world class rowing that culminates in a thrilling finals day on Regatta Sunday. It is one of the few events during which the gentlemen’s attire is as much the subject of conversation as that of the ladies. Brightly striped blazers, that denote the rowing heritage of the wearer, and panama hats are proudly worn in the heat of the summer sun.
If you are fortunate enough to be invited, the traditional dress code of the Stewards Enclosure is strictly enforced by the numerous Stewards, both standing by the entrance and wandering throughout the enclosure:
“Gentlemen are required to wear lounge suits, or jackets or blazers with flannels, and a tie or cravat. Ladies are required to wear dresses or skirts with a hemline below the knee and will not be admitted wearing divided skirts, culottes or trousers of any kind. Similarly, no-one will be admitted to the Stewards Enclosure wearing shorts or jeans. Whilst not a requirement, it is customary for ladies to wear hats.”
The most appropriate and comfortable attire for ladies is akin to that worn at a summer garden party, as opposed to a formal race meeting; a summer dress accompanied by a simple straw hat is just perfect.
One of the delights of spending the day in the Stewards Enclosure, is the ability to leisurely amble from your grandstand seat to one of the numerous champagne tents and then to the deck chairs, perfectly positioned on the river bank with the best views of the racing.
Your choice of shoes can certainly hinder or help your enjoyment of the day. Years of experience leads us to recommend wedge heels as the perfect solution to style and comfort, walking on grass in stiletto heels can become rather challenging.
The one element that we can’t control is the weather. Last year there was barely a pashmina in sight as the temperatures soared, but we recommend allowing for the vagaries of the English weather and coming equipped with a wrap or jacket. It is certainly a few degrees cooler when you’re on the river, so you may be grateful for that extra layer.
Please remember that the Stewards make no exceptions for any lady showing their knees, so please play it safe with the length of your hems.
The Regatta Enclosure has a more relaxed dress code, similar to the enclosures along the length of the regatta reach. Wherever you choose to spend your day, Henley Regatta is a quintessentially English summer event and if you arrive in a lovely summer dress or a or blazer and chinos you will feel quite at home.