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A Reveller’s Guide To Glastonbury

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Glastonbury Festival takes place in June and is held in Pilton, Somerset within walking distance of the iconic Glastonbury Tor. While Glastonbury is known throughout the world for its music, the festival also plays host to comedy, theatre, cabaret, circus, dance events and many more things that are best left to be discovered upon arrival.

The Early Days

Around 175,000 people now attend the festival annually which makes it the largest greenfield event in the world. This differs greatly from its beginnings in the early 1970s when around 12,000 people headed to a completely unknown commodity. The festival was an intermittent event until 1981 and then after that watershed year, it has only gained in popularity. Now it is held every year, except for a break every fifth year, so that the attendees, the organisers and even the land, can recover.

The Infrastructure

Glastonbury is a major undertaking in terms of infrastructure, with transport, water and electricity having to be put in place every year. With so many people on site, security is also a major concern. Many of the staff work on a voluntary basis which has meant that over the years the festival has raised millions of pounds for good causes. Most people camp at the site, in anything from a tiny tent they brought along with them through to luxury (glamping) yurts. A big part of the fun for many, however, is roughing it up for the best part of a week with their friends.

Headliners

Glastonbury headliners are always leading rock and pop bands but there are thousands of other artists who appear during the 5 days of the festival. The site itself is vast, covering over 1,100 acres, so while the Pyramid Stage is where all the main events take place, there are hundreds of different areas and arenas featuring all types of entertainment as well as bars, food courts and markets.

Headliners in 2016 on the Pyramid Stage were Adele, Muse and Coldplay, with special guest appearances from Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and Michael Eavis himself during Coldplay’s Sunday headline slot. Expect the unexpected is the unofficial motto at Glastonbury, and rightly so.

The Weather

Glastonbury is almost as famous for the weather as it is for music. With the notoriously changeable British Summer sometimes bringing sunshine and heatstroke to the attendees; but more often than not, bringing downpours which can turn the site into a mud bath. Whatever else you plan to take to Glastonbury, welly boots and a waterproof jacket are the first two items on your shopping list.

Getting There

By train, the closest station is Castle Cary. If bus is your preferred choice then you need to get to either Bristol or Bath and then you can take a local bus route from there. There is parking at the festival too, however this cannot be booked in advance and needs to be paid for in cash at the gate. Where possible they recommend car sharing to save on petrol and space. If you want to travel in style to the festival, why not charter a helicopter and travel stress-free. You can arrive cool, calm and unruffled, ready to enjoy the show.

Glastonbury is the type of event fans either go to year after year, never missing any of the big name acts, or it’s something that people have on their bucket list as a once in a lifetime experience. If it’s the latter for you, make sure you don’t miss out on such an amazing event. With this year’s event just over, you better start planning for 2017 in the coming months. Tickets generally go on sale around October time, with headline acts already confirmed as well, according to Mr Eavis (AC/DC and Daft Punk are the two rumoured names being mentioned most).Tickets cost around the £230 mark, but you get 5 days of camping for that, plus the thousands of artists and acts you get to see, as well as the memories that last a lifetime.

Royal Ascot: A Punter’s Guide

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Royal Ascot takes place over 5 days in mid-June every year and is a highlight of the racing calendar. While it is a social event, it is also the most valuable race meeting in Britain and many of the world’s finest racehorses, owners and jockeys gather to compete for more than £6.5 million in prize money. Horses which are now household names, such as Black Caviar, Yeats and Frankel, have been winners at past Royal Ascot meetings.

The most famous patron of Royal Ascot is Her Majesty The Queen and as a racehorse owner herself, this is an event she patently enjoys. The Queen always attends Royal Ascot and hasn’t missed a single Royal Procession during her reign. The Queen has also triumphed at the event when in 2013 her horse, Estimate, won the Gold Cup.

Fashion      

The fashion at Royal Ascot always makes a statement and you regularly see it featured in the media, particularly on Ladies Day. During 2016 Vogue ran a live timeline featuring the dress of the Royal party and race-goers.

Hats and fascinators are a big part of the event for ladies and often themed outfits make an appearance. Notable ones this year centred on the Referendum debate.

There is a strict dress-code depending on which enclosure you want to attend, however. The Royal Enclosure calls for formal daywear for ladies and either black or grey morning dress for gentlemen. Unfortunately, if you aren’t suitably attired, you won’t gain access. It is less strict in the Windsor Enclosure where, while no dress code is prescribed, attendees are still encouraged to wear smart clothes.

Food and Drink

Royal Ascot is at heart a social event and therefore food and drink play a big part in everyone’s enjoyment. When you think that more than 300,000 people attend the event over the five days it is perhaps unsurprising than 51,000 bottles of champagne and 160,000 glasses of Pimms are drunk.

Fine dining and private hospitality boxes are available at the event and the racecourse prides itself on the quality of the food and service on offer. You can choose from a wide range of Michelin-Starred and à la carte menus, the latter designed by an in-house award-winning team. With 5,000 kilos of salmon, 2,400 kilos of beef sirloin and 2,900 lobsters being consumed every year, you get an inkling of the scale involved.

The Racing

Racing is held every day during the 5 days of the event and there is a different highlight daily. Tuesday is opening day and the Queen Anne Stakes is run, named after Ascot racecourse’s founder who established the course in 1711. Thursday is Gold Cup Day and the finale on the Saturday is the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The most successful jockey to date in this race is Lester Piggott and Vincent O’Brien is its most successful trainer. It offers a prize of £600,000 for the winning owner.

Getting to Royal Ascot

Ascot is based in the heart of the Berkshire countryside and is accessible by road on the M3, M4, M40, and M25 depending on which direction you are coming from and there is extensive parking available at the event. If you think you will be enjoying a glass or two of Pimms the safer option is to book a limo or to travel by train direct to Ascot station, which is about 50 minutes from central London. If you want to arrive in style, then why not charter a helicopter. You won’t be alone as around 400 helicopters arrive at the event every year.

Royal Ascot is definitely worth booking into your diary as it is a highlight of the social calendar. Whether you want to attend for the racing or just to have a great day out, you won’t be disappointed.

Two World-Class Swimming Events Come to London

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After the success of the Olympics in London in 2012 there has been a renewed interest in sport and fortunately, we now have facilities available which can host world-class events more than ever.

The London Aquatic Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was central to many dramatic sporting moments played out during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The centre was designed by architect Zaha Hadid and its stunning wave design provided the backdrop to many world records during 2012, including the dramatic swim of British Paralympian Ellie Simmonds into the history books, when she won two golds and set a World Record in the 400m freestyle.

Now anyone can enjoy swimming at the London Aquatic Centre, but with a seating capacity of 2,500, during May 2016 it’s been home to two world-class events, the LEN European Aquatics Championships and the European Masters Championships.

What Are the LEN Aquatics Championships?

These championships are run by LEN, the governing body for aquatics in Europe. Held in the spring every alternate year, they include four water based disciplines: swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and open water swimming, although the open water events are not held In Olympic years. The Masters championship is held for all entrants who are 25 years or older.

At the Press Conference at the start of the event, President Barelli of LEN highlighted that Europe is the strongest continent in aquatics and that the athletes have achieved great results in recent years, outnumbering all other continents in terms of titles and the number of overall medals earned. It, therefore, bodes well that the championships will be exciting events in all the disciplines.

In fact, Great Britain has already done well as one highlight was Tom Daley winning 3 medals, among them gold on the final day of diving. Daley who is still only 21 was ecstatic to win his third European 10m Platform title and the 1,700-strong crowd cheered him on to victory. His score of 570.40 was enough to claim gold, and he said it was the perfect boost ahead of the Rio Olympics later this year.

Ross Murdoch, amongst a whole host of other British medal winners, also did well as he claimed gold in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke. It remains to be seen what the final medal tally will be for the British team.

Getting London Swimming                                                  

As the championships are being held in the heart of London it was fitting that prior to the event the LEN European Aquatics Championships launched a project to get the capital swimming: Swim London 2016 – London Learns to Swim.

Surprisingly more than 21 percent of adults in England have never learned to swim, and this venture gave those in the communities closest to the London Aquatic Centre, in Hackney, Newham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, the chance to take swimming lessons. Its aim was to invite at least 225 non-swimmers to get involved, with a 12-week group swimming course where all the participants were encouraged to support each other.   A special highlight was that all those involved would then train for a special team relay which is being held at the Championships.

How Do I Find Out More About The LEN Aquatics Championships?

The event has a live tracker and is also being live streamed so you can catch up on all the events over on www.euroaquatics2016.london/. There are also still tickets available for some of the events, perfect if you want to experience the atmosphere live. The nearest underground station is Stratford with St. Pancras and King’s Cross the closest available mainline rail stations. You can also cycle, drive or if you want to arrive in style you could always travel by one of our bespoke charters.

The greater the level of support events such as these receive, in terms of visitor numbers, and with the superb facilities based at the Olympic Park, it is hoped that the UK will host more world-class events in the years to come. If that is also reflected in more people getting out and enjoying sport then it can only be a win-win situation.

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