Many of the most famous race meetings in the world are held in England – and many of these are the most glamorous race meetings in the world as well. Some of the great classics have their own particular style and hats or fascinators are a must for any well-dressed lady.
In March, the season kicks off with the Cheltenham Festival, held near the town in Gloucestershire and ever popular with visitors from Ireland as well as all over the UK. It can be cold, frosty, wet and blowy, even though by March signs of spring are emerging. More sombre colours suit this time of year – blue or green or brown. Even so the sun can shine well and the weather can be warm – so a fascinator is not hopeless.
Soon after Cheltenham is the Grand National. Held near Liverpool in the North of England, this is certainly another race meeting where the cold needs to be kept at bay. But this is probably the most famous race meeting in the world and there is no excuse not to be glamorous.
As spring gets under way, the English flat racing calendar starts in earnest. This racing is fast, furious and addictive to watch. With the warmer weather, our clothing can change a bit more. Lighter weights, lighter colours, less focus on keeping dry. Hats and feathery fascinators can be worn at all five of the classics, starting off with the 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas. These are at Newmarket in the east of England.
Following the Newmarket classics come The Oaks and The Derby at Epsom racecourse. The Derby has been run since 1661 and is run over one mile and four furlongs. It is always held on the first Friday and Saturday in June, so it is far more likely the sun can shine. Everyone can enjoy the weather and the racing and so can dress up a little more like peacocks too.
Ladies Day is the day for 3 year old fillies to be run. This will also see the most unbelievable turnout of hats and fascinators. Dress up and be seen is the motto of many.
In mid June, at the peak of the season, and with some of the best competitors, comes Royal Ascot. Attended by the Queen and Her family, this is an event that seems to excite hat-makers and the press as much as anyone else. Hats are essential, but making it a rule to have them doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Show off and have fun.