Discover some of the UK’s best loved summer social activities

ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: Racegoers at the Windsor Greys Afternoon Tea on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 22, 2017 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Ascot Racehorse)

We Brits do a spectacular job of putting the ‘Great’ into Great British summer time – and summer 2019 is set to be no exception. From music festivals to regattas, socialites mobilise en masse to bask in the sunshine – however fleeting – sipping Pimm’s and channelling good vibes as they do.

To help inspire your own movements over the coming months, we’ve assembled a list of standout days that should be immediately marked on the calendar.

Royal Ascot

Not just a day, an entire week of horse racing – with a Royal seal of approval. Catch a glimpse of The Queen as she makes her entrance to this summer staple; which comes complete with the finest racehorses and quintessential British pageantry. The annual meet is known the world over, and is underpinned by a rich and deep-rooted heritage that helps charge an electric present day atmosphere. A choice of four separate enclosures – the Royal, Queen Anne, Village, and Windsor – ensure there is something for all price ranges, meaning guests can choose to go full top hat and tails or arrive a few notches down from fully formal.

Fine dining is a very special part of the Royal meeting and, with many restaurants already sold out, those who wish to dine in style this year should book soon to avoid disappointment. Ticket-inclusive fine dining packages in the Queen Anne Enclosure start from £269+VAT per person. But wherever in the arena you end up, Royal Ascot’s magnetic exuberance ensures a wonderful fusion of style, excitement, and racing that lives long in the memory.
18-22 June, tickets from £37 per person 

news london
Witness some thunderous horse racing this summer. Photo by Photo by Alan Crowhurst

Henley Royal Regatta

Continue the Royal theme on the waters of the Thames. Founded way back in 1839, the Henley Royal Regatta also boasts worldwide fame, and is steeped in history. Originally a sporting occasion, the event exploded in popularity with rowers and landlubbers alike, and now welcomes spectators from around the globe
on annual basis. Though not as strict as its Royal Ascot counterpart, the dress code at Henley still makes for a grand day out, just remember to take it easy on the G&Ts if walking along the bank of the Thames before and after the event.
3-7 July

British Summer Time at Hyde Park

How could we not include an entire festival of events being held under a banner of British Summer Time in our Summer Social list? This 10-day event draws on the talents of musical giants such as Robbie Williams, Florence + The Machine, and Celine Dion to ramp up your summer partying. Billed as “six days of world class ticketed music events and four days of free midweek community-focussed activities”, BST attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
5-14 July 

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Start your engines, because things are going to hit top gear in July. This Festival of Speed is suitably named, and is a lively homage to all things that make us go fast – and the people behind the wheel. Held in the beautiful parkland surrounding Goodwood House, organisers dub the festival as “motorsport’s ultimate summer garden party”. “Nowhere else will you get so close to the cars and bikes as they blast up the Hillclimb track; nowhere else will you enjoy such unrestricted access to the machines and the drivers who made them famous.” We call shotgun.
4-7 July 

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Theatre, stand-up, magic, poetry, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret and everything between are rolled into one at one of Britain’s most acclaimed live performance festivals. The numbers surrounding the Edinburgh Fringe are mindboggling; with an eyewatering 50,000 performances of more than 3,000 shows taking place in 300 venues across the Scottish capital. The only thing separating City locals from an unrivalled platform for creative arts is about 400 miles of scenery and a handful of motorway service stations. Road trip, anyone?
2-26 August 

Notting Hill Carnival

A party like no other, Notting Hill Carnival lays on an annual feast of culture – driven along by a stunning parade, live music and plenty of dance. The one-of-a-kind festival provides an innovative platform for the embracing of cultural diversity, and is held on the August Bank Holiday weekend each and every year. Organisers report that in excess of one million people drop in to the homage to Caribbean heritage, celebrations which include dancing to traditional reggae, meringue, calypso, rumba, and zouk music, and street vendors selling foods such as seasoned jerk chicken, callaloo, and traditional goat stew. Arrive hungry and ready to bust a move.
24-26 August 

Summer Exhibition 2019

On the back of a record breaking 250th instalment last time out, the Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Exhibition is roaring back for 2019. Dating back to 1769 – and boasting an uninterrupted streak since then – the exhibition is the largest of its kind in the world, providing a platform for artists across a plethora of mediums, featuring prints and paintings, film, photography, sculpture, architectural works and more.

“Around 1,200 works will be on display, most of them for the first time,” said a spokesperson. “Highlights will include an animal-themed ‘menagerie’ in the Central Hall, with works by artists including Polly Morgan, Charles Avery and Mat Collishaw. “Artist sisters Jane and Louise Wilson RA will curate two galleries, one of which will showcase work exploring light and time. “Further artists exhibiting include Jeremy Deller, Marcus Harvey and Tracey Emin RA, and Honorary Academicians Anselm Kiefer, James Turrell and Wim Wenders.”
10 June until 12 August 

Film4 Summer Screen

A pioneer of outdoor cinema when it first launched, Film4 Summer Screen will mark its 200th screening in August. Edmond J Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House will once again be madeover for a night – well, 14 to be precise – at the cinema, with the very best in sound technology in place to make sure every frame is a magical one. New this year, guests can now select from a range of seating options in the courtyard, including beanbags and director’s chairs. All the comfort of home in a spectacular setting, what more could you want? Now, who’s got the popcorn?
8-21 August

BBC Proms

There is no more iconic season of orchestral classical music on these shores than the BBC Proms. This eight-week season returns in mid-July, with daily concerts on the bill for first timers and classical aficionados alike. Each season consists of concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, chamber music concerts at Cadogan Hall, additional Proms in the Park events across the UK on the Last Night of the Proms, and associated educational and children’s events. Check out the BBC’s Proms webpage for ticket information and details of where to catch some of the finest musicians at work.
19 July until 14 September

Chestertons Polo in the Park

“The finest summer social on the calendar,” according to Chestertons’ chiefs – certainly in the polo world, anyway. Admission gets you access to not one, not two, but three matches of polo per day, as well as all the other ingredients needed to make the perfect summer party – and not one just for adults, either. Organisers say: “Enjoy access to the Grandstand to watch the world’s best polo, the Grazing Paddock for restaurants and street food, Champagne Lanson Garden, iconic Mahiki and Polo Bars, Slingsby Cocktail Bar, Pimm’s Bus, Fever-Tree Bar and Garden, Luxury Shopping Village, Little Hooves Kids Club, and Pitch Invasion (Sunday only).” Saddle up? Don’t mind if we do.
7-9 June