Britain’s Summer Social Season Is Back, With Gusto

·5 min read

After so many COVID-19-related cancellations, the British summer season has got its rhythm back with a host of events running from May through the end of July in London, and in the southeast of England. With the Platinum Jubilee celebrations taking place from June 2 to 5, Brits are in a particularly celebratory mood, and it even looks like the weather might cooperate — although it’s still too early to tell. Here, a few of the highlights.

Glyndebourne Festival, May 21-Aug. 28

The annual opera festival in the Sussex countryside sees guests dressing in black tie for picnics on the acres of manicured green fields during the long interval between performances. Operas on the docket this season include, “The Wreckers,” by Ethel Smyth, a psychological drama set in Cornwall; Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro,” and Puccini’s La Bohème. For those who can’t make the live performances, the festival offers a streaming service to subscribers called Glyndebourne Encore.

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Opening night at Glyndebourne. - Credit: Courtesy Image/James Bellorini
Opening night at Glyndebourne. - Credit: Courtesy Image/James Bellorini

Courtesy Image/James Bellorini

Chelsea Flower Show, May 24-28

The event, which takes place on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, draws professional and amateur planters, designers and all-round vegetation lovers. Among this year’s highlights will be The Meta Garden, inspired by the complex mycelium networks that connect and support woodland life, and The Mind Garden, which aims to bring people closer to nature and to each other, with water pools, carved oak benches and wild greenery from woodlands and meadows.

Royal Ascot, June 14-18

The annual Flat racing meeting is a summer season highlight, with 18 races taking place over five days, and Queen Elizabeth and members of her family in attendance. The event’s famous dress code was set out by the dandy of dandies Beau Brummell in the 19th century when he suggested that elegant men wear “waisted black coats and white cravats with pantaloons.” Today, guests in the Royal Enclosure are still formally dressed — minus the pantaloons — wearing black, gray or navy morning coats with a waistcoat and tie, and a black or gray top hat. Women’s dresses and skirts must be of “modest length,” and they must wear hats.

James Doyle riding Pinatubo win The Chesham Stakes on day five of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 22, 2019. - Credit: Courtesy image.
James Doyle riding Pinatubo win The Chesham Stakes on day five of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 22, 2019. - Credit: Courtesy image.

Courtesy image.

 

Cartier Queen’s Cup Final, June 12

This is the Guards Polo Club’s premier event and takes place on Smith’s Lawn in Windsor Great Park. The Queen presents the trophy to the winner, and Cartier hosts cocktails, lunch and tea for its guests on the grounds. Prince Charles has won the trophy in the past and Princes William and Harry were once regulars on the pitch along with polo pro and former Ralph Lauren model Nacho Figueras.

A view of the Cartier Polo event at Windsor Great Park. - Credit: Courtesy image
A view of the Cartier Polo event at Windsor Great Park. - Credit: Courtesy image

Courtesy image

 

Wimbledon, June 27-July 10

The All England Lawn Tennis Club, which hosts the Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon, has a busy season ahead: This summer, it will be marking the 100th anniversary of Centre Court, where the high-profile matches and the men’s and women’s finals play out. The club is also marking the Platinum Jubilee with two bespoke platinum coins to be used for the Finals Weekend coin tosses. (The winner decides whether to serve or receive first.)

Lucy Campbell and Son Heung Min feature in the 2021 Ralph Lauren Wimbledon campaign. - Credit: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren
Lucy Campbell and Son Heung Min feature in the 2021 Ralph Lauren Wimbledon campaign. - Credit: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

 

Henley Royal Regatta, June 28-July 3

Some 300 races take place during this colorful five-day event in Oxfordshire. Each event sees two crews race side by side on the Thames on a straight course that’s a little over a mile long. The dress code is less formal than Royal Ascot, but it’s still smart: suits and ties for men, while women wear hats, and dresses that need to fall below the knee. Rowers, retired rowers and amateur ones wear bright, striped, preppy blazers (usually the ones they wore when they were much younger) with the colors of their team or college, and the rule is that they can never be cleaned. The crowd wears its coffee (and beer stains) proudly.

Serpentine Summer Party, June 30

For years, this starry party belonged to fashion, with past hosts including Tommy Hilfiger, Christopher Kane, L’Wren Scott, Brioni and Chanel. This year, the Serpentine is doing things differently: in lieu of the Summer Party and in light of the global context, it will be hosting a private Summer Evening on June 30.

It will be a by-invitation-only gathering to thank the gallery’s artists and closest supporters, and will take place around the immersive Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster “Alienarium 5” exhibition, and the pavilion designed by Chicago-based artist (and favorite of Miuccia Prada) Theaster Gates.

Called “Black Chapel,” the structure is being built with support from Adjaye Associates and will open to the public on June 10. The structure is inspired by the great kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, and wants to pay homage to British craft and manufacturing traditions.

A rendering of Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel, which will open at the Serpentine Gallery this summer. - Credit: Courtesy Photo
A rendering of Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel, which will open at the Serpentine Gallery this summer. - Credit: Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

Masterpiece, June 30-July 6

This fair is a visual feast, showcasing high-end art, antiques and jewelry and drawing top collectors from across the world. Like the Chelsea Flower Show, it takes place on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Exhibitors this year include jewelers Cindy Chao, Grima and Chatila and galleries including Lyndsey Ingram, Marlborough and Rose Uniacke, who specializes in decorative arts, furniture and textiles from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

The Peony Brooch by Cindy Chao - Credit: Courtesy
The Peony Brooch by Cindy Chao - Credit: Courtesy

Courtesy

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