Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham Racecourse, one of the top three dates in the British racing calendar. The Cheltenham Gold Cup has been run since 1819.
Bare legs are an acceptable substitute for plus fours.
In straight-laced Victorian times, phallic maypoles and Lords of the May gave way to ribbons and demure May Queens. The Hastings Jack in the Green, revived in 1963, echoes the old ways.
Street party to celebrate the Royal Wedding, Hoxton, London.
British people have always celebrated momentous occasions, such as VE Day in 1945, outside. Over a million people attended bunting-strewn street parties for the Royal Wedding.
The Camden Crawl, London’s first music festival and one of the spiritual homes of Britpop.
The original hosts, the Dukes of Atholl, used to bring their private army, the Highlanders of Atholl, to dance the eightsome reel.
The dress code is strict: ladies wishing to dance reels must wear long gowns with clan tartan sashes; while men must wear kilts with sporrans. Wearing a tartan not your own is unacceptable.
In the days when grooms kidnapped their brides, the best man’s job was to ensure that the wedding party arrived at church safely and offer protection if the bride’s family tried to snatch her back. Today his duties are more pacific.
Traditionally, women may only remove their hats after the mother of the bride has removed hers.
Bridesmaids give moral support, from choosing the wedding dress to introducing guests at the reception.
Princes William and Harry are seen chatting at a polo match. The modern game of polo was formalised by British officers in Calcutta during the Raj and brought back to England in the late 19th century.
Harrow – Eton Varsity Polo Match.
Harrow – Eton Varsity Polo Match.
Cambridge May Week. A period of uproarious celebration, May Week is in fact held in June, after all the final year students have finished their exams.
Access to the Royal Enclosure is highly restricted: first-time applicants must be recommended by prior attendees. Stringent dress codes apply: women must wear hats with a base at least 10 cm in diameter; while men are restricted to morning dress with top hats.
Tatler magazine’s pyjama party, Claridges Hotel, London. The theme was chosen to encourage and enjoy ‘proper bedroom dressing’. There is no clear cut etiquette for lingerie, and interpretations vary wildly.
The Duke of Essex Polo, Gaynes Park, Epping. This is a recent but very popular addition to the social calendar. ‘Smart dress’ takes a variety of forms: the crucial accessory is a pair of outsized sunglasses.
Kate Moss is seen at Jake and Dinos Chapman exhibition opening, White Cube Gallery, London. Owned by Damien Hirst, White Cube is the yBA’s (young British Artist) spiritual home.
Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup Polo Final, Cowdray Park, West Sussex. Cowdray Park is considered to be the home of British polo.
The Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire. The festival was started by a group of friends from New College, Oxford in 2003.
The mud-wrestling ring has been a staple at The Secret Garden Party since the Great Flood of 2006.
Organisers select a different theme each year: in 2011, inspired by Paul Gaugin, they chose ‘Origins and Frontiers’. The festival aims to be ‘a celebration of absolute freedom’: the only rule is that spectators become participants.
There are no dress codes, although interested punters can have a paper costume made by Barbara Hulanicki or create jewellery with the founders of Erickson Beamon. The main requirement is to be interesting.
Cartier International Polo Cup Final, Guards Club, Windsor. Billed as the greatest spectator polo day in the world, it culminates with the Coronation Cup.
The largest polo club in Europe, the Guards Club has 160 playing and over 1,000 non-playing members. Very few people actually watch the polo.
Visitors attend at their own risk, as the club is unable to guarantee the behaviour of the animals.
Sporrans take the place of pockets in Highland dress: they may be turned to hang from the hip when the wearer is dancing, driving or performing other strenuous activities.
Glyndebourne Festival Opera, East Sussex. Since 1934, the Christies have been host- ing singers at their family home.
Guests, dressed strictly in black tie to show respect for the performers, picnic all over the grounds before the concerts begin.
Headscarves, trousers and sturdy boots are typical of land girl fashion. The Women’s Land Army replaced men in agriculture during the first and second world wars.
Throwing tomatoes is a time-honoured British response to unloved politicians and public figures. The catapult is a modern addition.
Boujis Fashion Week party at the Serpentine Gallery, London. younger attendees chose sushi over shots.
Evening dress is a minefield in most countries, nowhere more than in England. At some parties, wearing a dinner jacket rather than white tie could mean exclusion. At Petersham, guests were simply asked to ‘dress beautifully’.
Courtney Love is seen at Frieze Art Fair which has been staged annually in Regent’s Park since 2003. One of the world’s premier art events, it also offers a forum for competitive hosting.
Vale of the White Horse hunt, Wiltshire.