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Royal Ascot


This is it, the big-hat act, with the extra frisson of daily royal attendance. Queen Anne founded Ascot in 1711, but Edward VII helped turn it into a hot ticket. Ladies' Day – or "Gold Cup Day" – is Thursday June 17. Bookies take bets on the Queen's hat colour; try William Hill on www.queens-hat.com

What's all the fuss about?
Excellent racing – the best is on Tuesday – allied with eccentric hats, famously posh car-park picnics (Car Park 1 is the address to aim for) and a chance of spotting a member of the Royal family.

Do I have to dress up?
Royal Enclosure? Morning dress, please ("no cravats", pleads the website, "they're for weddings") and you'll struggle to find a lady without a hat in the Grandstand. But anything goes in the Silver Ring, outside the enclosures.

Anything I shouldn't miss?
The Royal Procession of four open carriages that takes about nine minutes to trundle along the course to the Royal Enclosure at 2pm every day.

Royal Ascot

Earlier Event: 1 June
The Derby - Ladies Day
Later Event: 3 July
Henley