Last week London reached 27 degrees. The warm weather swept away winter’s gloominess. Cherry blossoms filled the streets. The air smelled like spring.
The warm weather indicates that the Season is coming! Traditionally, this period of time has been known as “The English Season” and generally lasts from mid-May to the start of Autumn.
Those of you who have seen Downton Abbey will remember that each year there is the Season, for which all the Grantham ladies go “fully armed”. Indeed, historically, unmarried, aristocratic, ladies would usually go to London for a period of time in Spring to participate in a host of social activities. The famous British female writer, Jane Austen, once referred to this social season as a “marriage market.” Aristocratic parents would bring young daughters to banquets and dances and the King or Queen would introduce them to suitable young men from the same background.
With the development of modern-day society, the birth of a person no longer determines his / her social status. As a result, the “debutante ball” was seen as rather archaic and outdated and was finally stopped by the Queen in 1958. The English season however has not. It has gradually evolved into a large-scale cultural and recreational season for everyone to participate in. Nowadays, there are world-class events that attract visitors from all over the world and promote British culture.
Chelsea Flower Show
Known as “The World’s Greatest Flower Show” – Chelsea Flower Show – kicks off the Season and is one of its most iconic events. This year’s show will be held from 22nd – 26th May.
Each year, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth visits west London to participate in the show. Her presence and patronage all add to the sense of occasion. In addition to Royal family members and celebrities, the show is also a pilgrimage site for flower and plant lovers around the world, inspiring millions and leading the way in gardening design.
Glyndebourne Opera Festival
The Glyndebourne Opera Festival from May to August is a must for all opera lovers. The estate where the operas are staged belongs to an English aristocratic family. It is a magnificent building located near Lewes in East Sussex and has over 700 years of history. Glyndebourne’s other feature is that it is a black–tie event, so people who want to attend the festival should dress appropriately for it.
The Goodwood Series—Goodwood Festival of Speed
The world’s greatest car event featuring classic cars, Formula One drivers, driving experiences and more. Usually held during late June and / or early July.
Glorious flat horse racing spread over five days every August – along with exclusive entertainment and culinary delights.
Cartier International Polo
The Cartier International Polo Day takes place in Windsor Great Park in late July, in the grounds of Windsor Castle, one of the Queen’s many homes. The event is much more than just polo – it’s a huge social occasion where guests enjoy gourmet food, drink Pimm’s and even dance!
For over 250 years, Royal Ascot has been a showcase for the best racehorses in the world. It takes place in the third week of June every year. There are strict dress rules for those attending the event, which differ dependent on which section of the racecourse you are in. Famous for Ladies Day and the creative headwear worn by racegoers, Royal Ascot is an opportunity to enjoy a day at the races and dress up!
Wimbledon Tennis Championships
Strawberries and cream, Centre Court and the best tennis players in the world. Starts late June every year. ‘Wimbledon’ is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely regarded as the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, south-west London since 1877 and is played on outdoor grass courts.
There are many more events that make up the Season from rowing and sailing races to art exhibitions. If you want a taste of quintessential English culture then Summer is one of the best times you can visit the UK and experience the Season!