A day at the Henley Royal Regatta

The Henley Royal Regatta is one of my favourite events of the British Summer. No jokes here, please – there is something called Summer for a few days each year.

Taking place in the first week of July, this 5-day event brings many foreign visitors to town – and this year was no exception. I had my dear friend Lauren come all the way from the USA just to experience it – and the perfect way to start our little UK adventure.

Leah, myself and Lauren looking the part!

Leah, myself and Lauren looking the part!

Basically, it is all about the rowing – I actually find it quite an interesting spectator sport, and something that became part of my life for the past 8 years. I am no rower, but living in Henley, no one is immune to it.

The races take 5 days, from Wednesday to Sunday, and it is one of the key social events of the British summer calendar. I love attending it every year, as it is a great day out with friends and, of course, a fab excuse to wear a hat!

This year, we had 2 different HRR experiences – basically, you can get tickets (through members) for various enclosures or private members’ clubs.

The reason why we are all in Henley this time of the year

The reason why we are all in Henley this time of the year

We started our afternoon at Phyllis Court Club, a private members’ club located on Henley’s side of the reason. I love the mix of old and young and it is the perfect place for a civilised Afternoon Tea, which you can pre-book. The club has beautiful grounds and offers a very relaxed way of enjoying this quintessentially English event.

I love afternoon tea!

I love afternoon tea!

One thing that makes Henley Regatta unique are the strict dress codes for both men and women. Personally, I think it is a special event and they make total sense (no one is forced to attend!). Phyllis Court’s own dress code is very clear, and honestly quite “relaxed”, as you can see below:

Gentlemen are required to wear lounge suits, or jackets or blazers with flannels or chinos, and a tie or cravat. Jackets must be worn at all times unless at the express permission of the Club Chairman.

Ladies are required to wear dresses or skirts with a hemline on or below the knee and will NOT be admitted if wearing culottes, jeans, trousers or shorts of any kind. The wearing of hats during the day would be appreciated.” From Phyllis Court Club website.

The whole issue for ladies is about the hemlines and the showing of knees!

The ladies enjoying HRR... love the hats!

The ladies enjoying HRR… love the hats!

Part of the river is “open” to boat traffic, and it really adds to the atmosphere. A lot of people choose to enjoy the Regatta from the water, in the privacy of their own boats (obviously with Pimms and champagne!)

A view of the river Thames from Phyllis Court's side

A view of the river Thames from Phyllis Court’s side

After a couple of hours, and a couple of jugs of Pimms & Lemonade, the “official” drink of Henley Royal Regatta, it was time to head to Stewards Enclosure, which offers a different regatta experience. In order to head to Stewards, on the opposite side of the river (you can see it from the photos above), you need to cross the Henley bridge, which gets so busy, it is quite an experience in itself.

A great perspective from the Henley Bridge - Phyllis Court is on the left, and Stewards Enclosure on the right

A great perspective from the Henley Bridge – Phyllis Court is on the left, and Stewards Enclosure on the right, but further down the river

The atmosphere and regatta experience at the Stewards Enclosure is quite different from Phyllis Court. It is busier, the age group younger and really quite lively. The “rules” are also much stricter!

Ladies must wear dresses below the knee (and every year people try to break this rule, only to be turned away at the entrance doors). Mobile phones are not allowed either and the penalties are quite serious.

Love the chairs...

Love the chairs…

“Those seen using mobile phones will be reminded of this ban by Security Guards and Regatta Officials, asked to stop and a note taken of their Badge number.  This will allow identification of the responsible Member.

If the request to stop is ignored, or if the same person is caught a second time using their mobile phone, then the person will be escorted out of the Enclosure and their badge forfeited”. (from Stewards Enclosure website).

Mr O also gets to wear a hat during Henley Royal Regatta

Mr O also gets to wear a hat during Henley Royal Regatta. I think it really suits him!

One of my favourite things about Regatta? The boys’ school blazers! It brings a lot of colour to the event and certainly adds to its unique personality. And the ladies’ hats, and the below the knee dresses!

It is all over for the year, but boy what a day out! Good thing it is all happening again next summer!

Mr. and Mrs. O say hello!

Mr. and Mrs. O say hello!

Can’t wait!


Mrs. O

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View Comments (41)


  1. Gostephane

    August 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Can’t miss this for July 2014, I am coming! Get ready 😉

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      August 2, 2013 at 11:15 am

      I think you will like it very much!

  2. sheloveslondon

    July 30, 2013 at 9:49 am

    We went this year and spent the day in the Courtyard enclosure, with tents set up in a field out the back to continue the party afterwards. Great day, and amazing weather this year too. There was 2am cricket happening in the campsite when we got back to the tents – very British indeed.
    sheloveslondon recently posted..London Life Problems: Why We’re Always Running LateMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 30, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Cricket at 2am? wow!

  3. Natasha

    July 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    The afternoon tea looks amazing, I miss living in the UK for its traditions. Especially miss drinking Pimms!
    Natasha recently posted..Wanderlusting: Portofino, ItalyMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 30, 2013 at 8:09 am

      Thank you! Love Pimms too!

  4. Katie

    July 18, 2013 at 3:30 am

    I love you and Mr. O!! Such an adorable pic!!!!
    Katie recently posted..Where to Eat in St. Barth: My Favorite Food ExperiencesMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Thank you!

  5. Mums do travel

    July 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    It looks like you had such fun! I’d love to go to the HRH one day.
    Mums do travel recently posted..Instagram on the Costa BravaMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      It was a fab day! Hope you make it one day!

  6. Mary Anne

    July 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    What a great day out! Ladies, you look lovely!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      oh! thank you!

  7. lola

    July 13, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    i think it’s NO SECRET that this was a top 10 day for me. unfortunately for you, you will have me visiting every HRR from here on out 😉 THANK YOU so much for inviting me to a very special day full of great tradition and beautiful rowing. what an amazing sport!!
    lola recently posted..One Day Stay: New York, New YorkMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      My absolute pleasure!

  8. Kirsten

    July 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Well you sold me!! Now the HRR is on my “Bucket List.”
    Kirsten recently posted..La Vita è Bella a BolognaMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 14, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      You would love it 🙂

  9. the lazy travelers

    July 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    disappointed we couldn’t make it to the regatta, but so glad you were able to show the hubs & me some of henley! you ladies looked gorge. xo! the romantic
    the lazy travelers recently posted..spaceship views: touring new zealand’s south islandMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 13, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Next year?

  10. Kieu ~ GQ trippin

    July 12, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Aww that first picture says it all – you girls look fab! And.. I love me some boys school blazers. Looks like a fun day you all had.
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Arequipa, Peru at a glanceMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 13, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      It was a fab day!

  11. Triptease

    July 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Mr. and Mrs. O looking marvellous. Where did you get your hat, Simon?

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      I must ask Mr O!

  12. Traveling Ted (@travelingted)

    July 11, 2013 at 4:53 am

    That must have been torture for Leah and Lola to not be able to use their cell phones. I hope you had plenty of drinks for them to combat instagram withdrawal.
    Traveling Ted (@travelingted) recently posted..Ohio waterfalls in Hocking Hills and CuyahogaMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      We were allowed technology but not calls, which was OK!

  13. Erin at The World Wanderer

    July 11, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Oh, one year I would really love to experience this!
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Cycling Santiago with La Bicicleta Verde.My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Hope you can! It’s a fab day out!

  14. Phyllis Court Club

    July 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful blog and really pleased you had an enjoyable afternoon tea!
    Don’t forget you can also view our Member’s website for more details.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

      My pleasure!

  15. Anita Mac

    July 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    How fantastic…I love that they have a dress code. Love getting dressed up. Years ago I went to the Melbourne Cup in Australia – one of the big pre-trip planning events for me was finding my hat! Some traditions must continue – so much fun!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Monday Morning Series: The Beauty of Plitvice Lakes National ParkMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      Hear hear!

  16. Anita

    July 8, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Sounds like a fabulous event and as I mentioned earlier the #threeplayuk girls look great! 😉
    Anita recently posted..Typisch, Untypisch – 6 Sehenswürdigkeiten in BostonMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 8, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      You are a darling! Thank you!

  17. Simon O'Reilly

    July 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Excellent read! And the rowing itself is also worth watching as there are some close races and the crowd are very knowledgeable and appreciative of the performances given. Crews come from all around the world to participate in one the the true English traditions. And it is such fun sharing the day with friends and a small glaas of pimms of some bubbles!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Indeed, Mr. O! Thank you for making HRR part of my life!

  18. Sue Sharpe

    July 8, 2013 at 11:11 am

    How wonderful that some traditions hold fast in these modern times. Well done, Henley! Thank you for sharing such lovely photos of what was surely a fantastic day out.
    Sue Sharpe recently posted..Let It RollMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      I really like this day out and hope it never changes!

  19. Trudi (aka BFF)

    July 8, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Great snapshot post Mrs O! … Can’t wait to do it all again – as the English say…. it was “such fun” darling. X

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Such fun indeed!!

  20. Tiana Kai

    July 8, 2013 at 9:41 am

    How much fun!! I love spectator sports (that involve Pimms & Champagne). You look great.
    Tiana Kai recently posted..You might be an expat in Italy if…My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 8, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Thank you so much!

    • Triptease

      July 11, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      With you on the Pimm’s and champagne, Tiana…

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