Ascot Ladies Day

Ascot Racecourse

Ascot Racecourse (pinelife, Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

British racing has the Berkshire racecourse of Ascot to thank for the introduction of the Ladies Days phenomenon. It was back in 1823 when an unnamed poet described a Thursday meeting at the track as, “Ladies Day… when the women, like angels, look sweetly divine.”

Fast forward 200 years and Ascot continues to play host to one of the biggest and best Ladies Days that British racing has to offer. Still held on a Thursday afternoon, the event may have some stiff competition in terms of being the most popular Ladies Day, but it is hard to argue that this isn’t the classiest and most sophisticated event of its type in the land. Preceded by a Royal procession before racing, that theme of high society entertainment continues throughout the day, at what is one of the standout occasions on the racing social calendar.

Key Facts

  • When Is It? – Ascot Ladies Day takes place on a Thursday afternoon in mid-June each year, as part of the five-day Royal Ascot Festival.
  • Ticket Prices – Standard ticket prices range from £59 to £95, depending upon which of the track’s three enclosures you attend.
  • Where Is It? – Ascot Racecourse is in Ascot, Berkshire, around 30 miles to the west of London city centre.
  • Major Races – The standout feature on an exceptional card is the Gold Cup, which sees the best of the stamina-laden performers lock horns over two and a half miles.
  • Verdict – Bringing all of the fun, fashion, and socialising of your standard Ladies Day, with an injection of pomp, pageantry, and sophistication, this is the classiest Ladies Day on offer, bar none.

When Is It?

For many racing fans, the Royal Ascot Festival is comfortably the standout fixture of the entire flat racing season. Spread over five days in mid-June, the event runs from Tuesday through to Saturday, with Ladies Day taking place on the Thursday.

Those donning their finest outfits and heading to this beautiful Berkshire venue will be treated to a total of seven riveting racing events, with the first getting underway at 2:30 pm, and the last beginning at 6:10 pm. For those who want to settle in early, gates open at 10:30 am which gives plenty of time to grab an excellent vantage point ahead of the spectacular Royal Procession at 2:00 pm.

The racing action may conclude at around 6:15 pm, but the party atmosphere at the track continues until 8 pm, with highlights including the conclusion of the Style Awards, and singing around the bandstand with a live military band.

How Much Are Tickets?

Given the high-class visage of this meeting, racegoers may expect that tickets won’t come cheap. That would, however, be a slightly false perception. As the track’s biggest event of the year, tickets are admittedly more expensive than for a standard Ascot fixture but are broadly comparable to those at other high-profile Ladies’ Days in the UK. Those looking to join the June jamboree have the choice of three main enclosures:

Windsor Enclosure

From £59 – The most relaxed area of the track, there is no formal dress code in place in the Windsor Enclosure. Food and drink options are found throughout, but racegoers are also welcome to bring their own picnic to consume on the beautifully manicured lawns. A location close to the start of the home straight grants ticket holders the first look at the Royal procession and provides an excellent vantage point for the action on the track.

Village Enclosure

From £75 – This area located in the centre of the track features live music throughout the day, pop-up bars, and street food vendors, conjuring a real festival atmosphere. The dress code falls somewhere between the Windsor Enclosure and Queen Anne Enclosure, with racegoers advised to dress as they would for a formal occasion.

Queen Anne Enclosure

From £95 – The track’s premier enclosure is located right at the heart of the action, providing outstanding views of the racing, and the horses in the Parade Ring and Winners’ Enclosure. Walk-up restaurants, Street Food, Champagne Lounges, swanky bars, and more ensure that top-class refreshment is never far away. Whilst not quite as demanding as the invite-only Royal Enclosure, this area still requires racegoers to dress their very best, including a hat or fascinator for the ladies.


From £299+ – In addition to the standard ticketing options, a range of fine dining hospitality packages are also available in the track’s 13 restaurants and private box areas. See the Hospitality section of the track’s official website for full details.

Whichever enclosure you select, you are sure to experience a Ladies’ Day which really does stand out from the crowd, at what many people view as being the UK’s most beautiful racecourse. Note that the prices quoted above refer to a single adult. Those travelling in groups of 10 or more may wish to check the latest group deals on offer.

Getting There

  • Racecourse Address – Ascot Racecourse, High Street, Ascot, SL5 7JX
  • By Road – The track lies on the A332 which can be reached via Junctions 6 and 10 of the M4. Once on the A332, racegoers will find the track very well signposted. Car parking is available at the course but must be booked and paid for in advance via the track’s official website.
  • By Rail – The track is also conveniently reached by rail, with Ascot Station lying only a seven-minute stroll from the racecourse. The station is served by South Western Railway which runs services from Reading, Guildford, and London Waterloo, which enjoys strong links with all areas of the country.
  • Taxi – Public transport links are thin on the ground in the vicinity of the track. As such many racegoers opt to arrive by taxi. If taking a cab to the track, you should instruct your driver to navigate to the designated drop-off point in Car Park 3.
  • Helicopter – If ever there was a meeting to arrive by helicopter, it is surely Royal Ascot The track boasts its own helipad for private aircraft and chartered flights from London and the south of England.

The Racing

There is so much going on at this meeting that it could be quite easy to forget about the actual racing. However, anyone that does so will be seriously missing out. As a whole, Royal Ascot attracts not only the finest runners from Britain and Ireland but also from much further afield, creating a truly international celebration of the sport.

Of the seven contests on offer on Ladies’ Day, four are rated as Group class events – attracting the crème de la crème of the racing world. Expect a real buzz ahead of the Hampton Court Stakes, the Norfolk Stakes and the Ribblesdale Stakes which, in keeping with the theme of the day, is restricted to female horses. It is however the Gold Cup which serves as the headline act. First run back in 1807, this event has been attracting a top-class field for over 200 years and is the biggest race of the year for flat racing’s staying stars.

The King George V Stakes, the Buckingham Palace Stakes, and the Britannia Stakes make up the rest of the card, with the last two, in particular, attracting huge interest in what is always a vibrant betting ring.

Ascot Racecourse

Ascot track

RW Jemmett,

The 179-acre site of Ascot Racecourse sits just on the outskirts of the town of the same name. Despite its suburban setting, the course enjoys wonderful views over the extensive woodland area to the west of the track. Opened by Queen Anne in 1711, and only six miles from Windsor Castle, the course has been closely associated with royalty throughout its lifetime.

Royal Ascot Festival

Home to both flat and jumps racing action, it is the flat racing for which the track is most well-known, largely courtesy of the exceptional Royal Ascot Festival of which Ladies Day is a part. As befitting, a venue so closely linked with the monarchy, the facilities on offer at the course are of the very highest standard.

Track Upgrades

Benefitting from a £220 million redevelopment in 2004 – the biggest investment in the history of British racing – Ascot is now undoubtedly the gold standard of racing on these shores, and a track which has few equals around the world. The star attraction is the truly spectacular grandstand, complete with a crown-like roof.

The impressive appearance of the course is more than backed up by the quality of the race day experience. No matter which of the enclosures you attend you can expect to be greeted by a racecourse kept in pristine condition, with additional entertainment, food and drink within easy reach. All of the areas of the course feature a diverse array of refreshment options, with the following being just a selection of the highlights found in each of the three main enclosures.

Windsor Enclosure

  • Prosecco Bar – Serving up that bubbly Ladies Day classic, this may well be the only bar you need.
  • Artisan Deli – Tasty baked treats, deli sandwiches and speciality coffee.
  • The Joint – Pulled pork sandwiches, chicken wings, mac n’ cheese and chips.
  • Windsor Grill – Traditional grill serving burgers, sausages and steak.
  • Famously British Fish and Chips – Serving up all the Fish and Chip Shop classics.
  • Zambo Bar – Umbrella Bar specialising in gin cocktails.
  • Craft and Charcuterie – As the name suggests, this pop-up bar serves a range of delicious meat platters and refreshing craft ale to wash it all down with.
  • The Cocktail Car – Repurposed campervan with professional mixologists on hand to see to all of your cocktail needs.

Village Enclosure

A street food extravaganza with a wide array of mobile outlets offering artisanal ice creams, swish Moët and Chandon champagne, boutique-style restaurants, cocktail bars, pizza outlets and much, much more besides.

Queen Anne Enclosure

  • Moët and Chandon Champagne Bar – Settle in and treat yourself to the finest fizz in a modern sophisticated setting.
  • Equiano Champagne and Seafood Terrace – More bubbles, this time combined with scrumptious seafood platters.
  • Baos at the Bandstand – Bringing a taste of the Orient to Royal Ascot with a delicious selection of filled bao buns.
  • 1768 Grill and Tea Rooms – Specialising in lobster, steak lunches, and afternoon teas.
  • Wood Fired Pizza Company – All of the pizza classics, freshly prepared in rustic wood-fired ovens.