Glyndebourne is an opera house in the middle of the Sussex Downs and has been the venue for the annual Glyndebourne Festival since 1934. Each year, guests get to don their black tie and picnic in the grounds of the East Sussex estate, before taking in an opera performed in two parts. Before and between the show, guests can dine in one of three restaurants (or order a River Cottage hamper, new this year), explore the 12-acres of gardens and pay a visit or two to the well-stocked bar. Highlights of the 2018 season include Madame Butterfly and Der Rosenkavalier.
Glyndebourne, Lewes, BN8 5UU; 19th May-26th August
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Spring is officially here, and it feels like the whole of London has joined together to add to the blooms that will take over Royal Hospital Chelsea for its annual flower festival. Comprised of ten show gardens and 16 smaller gardens, the show (also known as the Great Spring Show) is the jewel in the Royal Horticultural Society’s events calendar. New for 2018 is the late-night viewing on the Friday night, when the gardens will be open until 10pm. Away from the flowers, Raymond Blanc will be delivering a world-class menu in his pop-up Jardin Blanc restaurant.
Royal Hospital Chelsea, Chelsea, SW3 4SR; 22nd-26th May
This Welsh literary festival is one of our favourites. In the foothills of the Brecon Beacons, guests can peruse pop-up bookstores, watch acts such as Jake Bugg and Russell Kane, attend wine tastings and practice yoga (perhaps not together). There are also opportunities to attend creative writing workshops and listen to talks by the likes of Robert Webb, Helen Pankhurst, David Walliams and Margaret Attwood – what a line-up. Children and teens are very much encouraged to attend – the Beacons Project is a writing workshop residency for 16-18-year-olds.
Hay-on-Wye, Wales, HR3 5AD; 24th May-3rd June
Chestertons Polo in the Park
Chestertons Polo in the Park is one of the finest summer social events in the calendar. Not only can you watch three matches of the world’s best polo a day, but tickets also include all the perks that make a perfect party. Enjoy access to The Grazing Paddock for restaurants and street food; iconic Mahiki and Polo Bars for classic cocktails; the Champagne Lanson Garden; PIMM's Bus and Garden; Fever-Tree Bar and Garden; and the Luxury Shopping Village.
The Queen’s favourite event, Royal Ascot is also the highlight of the racing calendar. But it’s not all about the horses. While it’s a great excuse for everyone to dress up in their finery, the five-day event’s food and drink packages offer guests the chance to dine at some of the UK’s best establishments in pop-up form. This year, Michelin-starred chefs Adam Handling of The Frog, Phil Howard of Elystan Street, Simon Rogan of L’Enclume and Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons will be rattling the pans. Returning for a second year is the more informal Village Enclosure – hats for ladies are still a must, but instead of formal fine-dining, expect champagne, lobster rolls and live music until 9pm.
Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7JX; 19th-23rd June
Andy Murray is currently rumoured to be out of action due to an injury, but that hasn’t dampened our appetite for the biggest event in tennis. While it can be fun to queue on the day and watch all the action from Henman Hill/Murray Mound, one way to guarantee a prime spot on Centre Court is to book a table at one of the club’s fine-dining options – we like the look of The Gatsby Club, where Albert Roux will be serving a classic French menu. Strawberries and cream at the ready…
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon, SW19 5AE; 2nd-15th July
Henley Royal Regatta
The picturesque Oxfordshire town of Henley is the backdrop for this historic rowing festival. The beauty of the regatta is that you can watch as much or as little of the actual rowing as you like – an arrange of enclosures, restaurants, bars, live music and shops all line the Thames and are often as entertaining as what’s happening on the water. River cruises, along with a drink or two, provide one of the best ways to view the races, while afternoon tea and champagne on the lawns is a must.
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 2LY; 4th-8th July
A vintage fan’s dream, Goodwood Revival celebrates the era of 1948-1966, also known as the Golden Era of Motoring. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the event encourages guests to embrace the era: picture retro fashion, tightly-curled locks and tweed aplenty. Visitors can watch an array of classic cars and motorcycles race around the historic circuit, but fret not – it’s not all about engines. The High Street Revival is a celebration of heritage clothing, there’s a funfair, and a cinema will be screening the likes of Grease and The Italian Job. The Over The Road area will provide everything food, drink and entertainment-related – right down to a roller disco.
Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0PX; 7th-9th September
This year marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts and its Summer Exhibition. To celebrate, they’ve enlisted Grayson Perry to handpick each of the 1,200 pieces of artwork that will make up this year’s festival of art. Displayed across each of the galleries and its courtyard, the exhibition celebrates internationally renowned artists, up-and-coming talent and first-time exhibitors (most of the artwork will be up for sale post-show). Throughout the show’s duration, the gallery will be open late on Friday nights for drinks in the courtyard.
Royal Academy of Arts; Piccadilly, W1J 0BD; 12th June-19th August
Yes, this is more a music festival than a food festival (one look at the line-up confirms this – hello Nile Rogers & Chic, Bastille, Groove Armada and Jon Hopkins) but we can't get over the culinary offerings, which have always been outstanding at Wilderness. This year street-food vendors will include Bao, Smokestak, Som Saa and Ottolenghi, while the weekend’s feasting table hosts will be Café Murano, Berber & Q and Petersham Nurseries. Book ‘em now – they always sell out (as do the wood-fired hot-tub sessions. Don’t forget your bathing suit). Who needs Glasto, anyway?
Cornbury, Oxfordshire OX7 3DG; 2nd-5th August
Come the end of July, the masses descend on Cornwall for Port Eliot festival. This year is no different – Saturday is already close to selling out. Set within the grounds of the vast Port Eliot estate, the grand 18th-century house is the backdrop for a host of cool and up-and-coming musical acts, plus comedy, literature and outdoor pursuits such as axe throwing, astronomy and wild swimming. New for 2018 is The Lawn restaurant, which will feature long-table suppers and breakfasts cooked by Freddie Bird of Lido Bristol.
St Germans, Cornwall PL12 5ND; 26th-29th July
Festival No. 6
One for the true musos, this year’s Festival No. 6 musical line-up includes the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Horrors, The Charlatans and Jessie Ware. Elsewhere, the Portmeirion Hotel plays host to Clough’s restaurant, which offers views across the river. When the weather’s good, this picture-perfect Welsh village really comes into its own – it honestly feels as though you’re in the Med. Come rain or shine, make sure you take a dip in the swimming pool in the Estuary Gardens. Paddle-boarding, woodland runs, yoga and massages are all on offer.
Portmeirion, Wales LL48 6ER; 6th-9th September
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