- This year, the event starts on 29th June 2016 - finals take place on 3rd July
- Picnics and Pimms are the order of the day
- Spectators enjoy 250 boat races over the 5 day event
Henley Royal Regatta is one of the oldest and most loved traditions in the British sporting and social calendar. The five day rowing race extravaganza is an annual event on the river Thames, situated in the town of Henley, Oxfordshire. The event has a rich heritage and used to be reserved exclusively for the upper classes of society. Although still a staple in the socialite calendar to this day, the event is now much more inclusive to everyone wanting to spectate and enjoy the occasion.
Founded in 1839, originally this was a men's only event. Women's racing was gradually introduced from the 1980's. It features knockout races, two boats at a time, competing for a place in the next round, culminating in the finals day races.
However, it's not all about the boat races. During the event you will find numerous enclosures and hospitality tents that line the banks of the Thames, not to mention the abundance of dazzling blazers, outrageous socks and traditional straw boater hats. Have a look at our dress code guide for some more inspiration on what to wear.
When is Henley Regatta?
The 2016 regatta starts on 29th June, and finishes with the finals on the 3rd July.
What is the best day to visit?
Saturday (semi-finals day) always has a great atmosphere. The day is rounded off with fireworks at 10.30pm which are always a highlight of the event.
How much are tickets?
Tickets for the Regatta Enclosure start at £20, with under 14's going free with a paying adult. Alternatively, find a spot beside the long and very narrow river bank and have a front row seat for free!
Can I take a food and drink to the Regatta or is it available there?
Food and drink is not permitted in any of the enclosures or facilities. However, if you're lucky enough to have a ticket to one of these tents, there's an array of mouth-watering food and beverages for you to purchase once inside.
If you're visiting the event for free, you are permitted to take whatever you want! Pimms and a picnic are definitely the order of the day.
Is there a dress code? What do I wear?
There are different dress codes for the different enclosures within the regatta. If you are fortunate enough to have a ticket for the Steward's Enclosure then be sure to conform to their strict dress code: a tie or cravat with a blazer for men, and 'below the knee' for women. Women are not allowed to wear trousers and mobile phones are banned. Formal hats for both men and women are encouraged.
While there is no formal dress code for all the other areas at Henley Regatta, it's customary to enter into the spirit of the event. You'll see a fabulous display of brightly coloured blazers and matching socks, beautiful hats and billowy chiffon summer frocks.
Travelling by train to the regatta is an event in itself, awash with straw hats and colours. Probably best to pre book your tickets, as it gets very busy. If you choose to take your car, you can pre-book your regatta parking.
Fun facts and figures about Henley Regatta
- The Steward's Enclosure waiting list is 10 years long and is reserved for the rowing elite.
- The course is exactly 1 mile and 550 yard long and takes approximately 7 minutes to row.
- Gentlemen take the dress code so seriously that it is not uncommon for them to spend £200 on a single gold button for their blazer, and £100 on a pair of socks!
- You may hear this saying bounded around at Henley, but all is not as it appears. To 'catch a crab' means to put one's oar in the water at the wrong time which results in the oar flipping parallel to the boat.