The sun was shining in our albeit brief experience of summer a fortnight ago and we had some family guests over from Australia who were keen to experience some English fun and days out, so when the lovely people at Royal Ascot got in touch with us, offering us the chance to come down and experience their family fun day, we leapt at the opportunity.
Royal Ascot is an impressive structure, the kids who had been talking and jumping excitedly from the car, drew silent on arrival when they saw the big buildings and huge union jacks. It wasn’t long before they were back to leaping with excitement though when they saw all the fun on offer.
To the right of course was the family fun area which was fantastic on such a beautiful day. Included in our entrance tickets was as many goes as we liked on (obviously whilst queueing with others which naturally slowed the kids down a tad!) a giant inflatable slide, teacup waltzer, fairground swings and coconut shy. There was also a soft play corner for the little tots and a huge picnic area in the theme of Teddy Bears Picnic, with toadstool tables, giant garden beanbags and benches galore.
Also to be enjoyed around the area was a big character teddy stopping for cuddles, appearances from The Gruffalo for story time and meet and greets and even the chance to meet a retired race horse. The whole day saw me snapping photos away like a paparazzi of the kids, with so much excitement on offer that sadly I ran out of battery just as the kids got their arms around the cuddly Gruffalo strolling around. If not enough we also spotted jugglers and a man creating the most gigantic bubbles, that truly entranced the kids.
Our absolute favourite part of the family enclosure though, was the pony rides. Eldest wasn’t too sure on a ride (after seeing a horse race, he feared they may go galloping!) but youngest was chomping at the bit! Joining the queue, she was giddy with excitement and squeals of “Horsey Pony!” A little nerves hit when she went to climb the saddle of the beautiful Samuel but after a stroke of the mane, she happily climbed aboard and loved every minute of her lap. The only tears came when she had to get off. To have the chance to let the kids experience a pony ride, all inclusive in our entrance ticket was unbelievable. We’d been wanting to get the kids on a horse for a while now but feared it may be a waste of money if they got spooked at the last minute (as eldest did!) so this was brilliant.
We had the chance to go in to the Premier area, which brings with it a dress code including jackets and ties for the men and no denim or trainers for all. Getting suited and booted for the day was great fun. These days our finery is left sat in the back of the wardrobe waiting for a wedding invitation or very occasionally a landmark birthday in the family. So we enjoyed a trip to the shop to pick out a dapper little outfit for Eldest and a dress to shin for Youngest. The beautiful Premier space also served as the perfect space for our Australian guests, who at a slightly older aged, enjoyed the chance to sit down and enjoy the races in comfort.
Food was another favourite of the day, as we treated ourselves to a humongous portion of fish and chips each. Although that said, a 21month old, some ketchup and my finest silk dress wasn’t the greatest combination I had planned out but it certainly was tasty, as was our ice cream at the end of the day in the Picnic space.
Eldest loved watching the mechanics of the race, the horses lining up, looking at the names of all the horses in the book and giggling at some that made him laugh. He enjoyed picking the name of the one he thought may win and watching the race play out. Then going down and seeing the winning horses after a few of the races was a real hit for him too!
Ultimately the best part of the whole day though, was those working at Royal Ascot. The staff from the minute we stepped through the gates, till the moment we left were incredible to us and the children. Everywhere we went staff would stop and ask Eldest and Youngest if they were having fun and engage them in conversation. They were endlessly helpful when it came to finding our way around the course, finding baby changing and bathrooms for a toddler in a last minute toilet dash and helping our older guests who needed a little aid in some of the accessibility. Security runs the entire venue making you feel comfortable and safe as a family when there is a large amount of alcohol around, but not one of the staff were intimidating and Eldest was quite enamoured with the bowler hats they all wore.
Ascot have more family fun planned through out the year, where children under 18 enter for free at all Ascot Racedays.:
- The Halloween Raceday and Firework Spectacular on Saturday 31 October
- Christmas Racing Weekend on Saturday 19th December
There will be fairground rides, a Halloween parade and various other children’s entertainment at the October meeting whilst in December there’s plenty of festive fun including the chance to meet Father Christmas, story telling with Mrs Christmas, funfair rides, reindeer and carol singing to round off the day. All alongside the racing.
More appropriate for older families is the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup and Concert on Saturday 8th August. Where racing is followed by a free evening concert featuring Lulu, Rick Astley, Razorlight, Blue and Hayseed Dixie.
We were invited to come down an enjoy some complimentary tickets with Royal Ascot in exchange for an honest review. We send out a big thank you to all the staff at Royal Ascot for a wonderful opportunity.