Great summer events in Henley
PUBLISHED: 00:16 21 January 2012 | UPDATED: 19:18 20 February 2013
The riverside town of Henley is gearing up for a great season with fabulous events bound to delight both residents and visitors
So whats it to be? Take your pick of seeing world famous performers on stage, sports stars on the Thames, or some of the best the local arts scene has to offer. And thats on top of the opportunity to enjoy fine dining, historic walks, spectacular shopping and beautiful scenery just minutes away. Or perhaps youre more inclined to be just messing about on the river.
Whatever your choice, theres no doubt that Henley is ready to welcome you for what may be a day out to remember or extended stay in the town. Even now, as you cross the bridge over the Thames from Berkshire into South Oxfordshire, or nip over the border from the Bucks side, you pick up on the exciting bustle which will grow and grow over the next few months. Lets take a look at some of the highlights.
Henley Royal Regatta
The best known regatta in the world runs from Wednesday, June 29 to Sunday, July 3. Just a mere 172 years old now, the regatta is of course a first class sporting event but, as we all know, its also one of the glamorous social events of the season. The excitement for the rowers starts at 3pm in Saturday, June 25, when the draw is made for all events in Henley Town Hall. Theres racing for crews of varying standards, plus the glittering Grand Challenge Cup for eights.
For us watchers the most prestigious place to be is The Stewards Enclosure on the Berkshire bank near the finish, but you will need a very special invitation for this spot as its a private enclosure for members and their guests. If you are lucky enough to be here, lady guests will no doubt have followed the strictly enforced long-established tradition of dresses finishing below the knee, with hats strongly recommended. And make sure youve turned the mobile off its simply not permitted to disturb the ambience! This is something of a child-free zone as neither babes in arms or children under 10 are admitted.
Most of the stewards are well known rowers and scullers and theres a membership waiting list running to more than a 1,000, so if your name isnt already down for this years regatta, it might be a long wait!
Not to worry, theres always The Regatta Enclosure where you can soak up the traditions and atmosphere. Although no dress code applies, most people enter into the spirit by parading their finery. Its open to non-members and is a very popular spot with the rowers as well. Badges for the enclosure cost 15 to 20, depending on the day, with children under 14 accompanied by an adult admitted free.
Badges can be ordered on 01491 571 900, via www.hrr.co.uk/badgeshop or in person at The Badge Office, Henley Royal Regatta, Regatta Headquarters, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 2, open weekdays, excluding public holidays, 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm.
The star-studded line-up for this years Festival on the banks of the Thames is a magic mix from beginning to end of a spectacular five days from July 6 to 10. Legendary Welsh singer Sir Tom Jones opens the 2011 event, with ticket prices ranging from 35 to 110. Other headline acts include Jools Holland, Alexandra Burke, Rumer, Blake, and ABBA Symphonic, plus on the Saturday there is a world premiere performance of Sarabande by Jon Lord of Deep Purple. All perform from a floating stage on the river.
Each evening, over 20 acts from the world of jazz, opera, classical and theatre perform live music and comedy, with The Roving Company of Eccentrica entertaining those wandering through art galleries and sculpture lawns.
Later on, watch a dazzling firework display, then follow revellers to Chinawhite Club, new for 2011, and party on into the night. As Stewart Collins, artistic director, says: This is a festival both for the connoisseur and the party goer. International performers combine with a jewel box of spectacular acts throughout the five days in a magical location on the banks of the Thames.
Its also a chance to rub shoulders with legendary chefs Albert and Michel Roux Jr. The father and son team will be offering classically French cuisine (think snails and steak tartare) in a quintessentially English lawn tent which houses their elegant Riverside Restaurant, from 110 per head for three courses.
The Rouxs will be weaving their Gallic magic around the tables, chatting to guests and showing prize winners around the festival.
Culture seekers who prefer informal dining can opt for the Terrace Restaurant and Caf du Soir, or Heston Blumenthals Hinds Head at Henley, serving venison burgers and chips made famous at his historical 15th century Hinds Head pub in Bray, which has attracted international accolades.
The Henley Festival is owned by its parent charity the Henley Festival Trust, an independent charity which funds a year round music therapy service for the brain injury charity Headway, and runs one of the countrys most respected education projects in schools in and around Henley.
Visit: www.henley-festival.co.uk or call the box office hotline.
Tel: 01491 843404.
Henley Arts Trail
Before both the Regatta and the Festival we build up with the popular Henley Arts Trail over the last Bank holiday weekend in May. More than 150 professional and up and coming artists will display their artworks at 23 venues in Henley and the surrounding villages.
Visitors are invited to follow the map of the Henley Arts Trail, which is designed to be easily manageable over the course of the weekend. The Trail runs from Bix to Henley town centre, Shiplake, Wargrave, Twyford and Holyport. For more information please visit www.henleyartstrail.com.
Like the Festival, the hugely popular Henley Arts Trail is now established as a significant event in the Henley calendar. The trail had over 7,000 visitors last year. Now in its 6th year, the 2011 event will be the biggest Trail so far in terms of number of artists taking part, with free entry to all events.
Dick Budden, designer and maker of The Henley Festivals Silver Shoe says: Henley Art Trail is more than a selling opportunity for me. By opening my studio and garden to the public
I have met a wonderful mix of people. I enjoy my conversations with visitors and find their comments always positive. HAT also gives me a reason to have a serious tidy up!
A wonderful variety of art will be on display, including paintings and drawings, jewellery, wood, textiles, ceramics, glass, sculpture. A mixture of venues includes artists home studios, high street shops, village halls, restaurants, The Henley Rugby Club and The River and Rowing Museum. The artists will be there to welcome guests and talk about their work. Some venues will have demonstrations or workshops for members of the public who want to have a go themselves.
It couldnt be easier to follow the trail, simply visit www.henleyartstrail.com to download a map of the route, or call 0118 934 1683. Look out for the arts trail signs, and coloured bunting at each venue.