When winter finally gives way to spring and at least a hope of some good weather is not systematically smashed by another doom-and-gloom gray-sky day, it means that Britain is ready for another “Summer Social Season”.
That’s the more or less official name for that period of the year during which the elite of British society get together to hold parties, dances, and charity events and are generally required to attend the prestigious events every self-respecting member of the good circles needs to be attending.
The majority of these social occasions involve some sort of sporting event, some of them professional tournaments followed around the world like the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the beginning of July, some of them more linked to traditional British institutions like the Boat Race between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge at the end of March.
For those who are impatient to dress up and socialize, or simply want to take part in some race betting, the official start of the Social Season is the Cheltenham Festival, a four-day event featuring 28 different races as well as other style competitions taking place at the Cheltenham Racecourse between Birmingham and the sea town of Bristol.
As we mentioned, betting is a big part of the experience as well. You don’t need to spend nights studying the participants of all the races or consult with a horse-racing expert to place a bet: the 2023 Cheltenham festival tips page contains all you need to know to enjoy the day out at the Racecourse or to take part to the action in front of the TV.
As the official website of the competition puts it, “planning for the outfit at Cheltenham is all part of the experience”. Since it comes so early in the season, rain is always a distinct possibility and the weather can be damp and chilly, so warm clothes and good boots are a must-have for anyone looking to take part in the action.
The feature races at this event, all of which are broadcast live on network television in Great Britain, include the Ryanair Steeple Chase, The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase.
All the sports featured in the high-profile events included in the Summer Social Season’s calendar are disciplines typically invented in England or deeply entrenched in British traditions, such as horseback riding (be it horse racing, dressage, or polo), tennis, or rowing. And just like any other sporting event in England, betting on results is part of the tradition just as much as the competition itself.
For example, The Grand National at Aintree, a horse race taking place in mid-April at the Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, is one of the leading betting events of the year, with a live audience of over 150,000 people at the venue watching the race and an estimated TV audience of 600 million people around the world. The first Grand National race dates back to 1839 and in 2023 the 175th edition of the event will take place on Apr. 15.
While events revolving around horses surely dominate the Social Season calendar, there are also other sporting events for fans of different sports. Rowing enthusiasts will probably prefer the above-mentioned Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge or the famous Royal Henley Regatta taking place in the village of Henley-on-Thames, southwest of London, at the end of June.
Tennis aficionados may prefer the Tennis Championships at the Queen’s Club in London in mid-June or the world-famous Championships at Wimbledon, both conveniently taking place in posh neighborhoods of West London.
And for those more attracted by the glitz and glamour of the international racing scene, the Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, between London and Birmingham, on the second weekend in July will offer the perfect opportunity to spot the A-listers attracted to Britain by the top car racing event in the country that conveniently takes place during the tennis tournament at Wimbledon.