Its now just over a week since my son and I went to Ascot for the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Family Day. We had to leave Cumbria at 7 AM in order to get there but luckily had a smooth journey down until we got off the M4 at Windsor. Due to our long journey and short notice I hadn't had a chance to research parking options on site. So it was a bit of a shock to have hand over £12 in Car Park 1!
My little car seemed a bit inferior compared to most of the other vehicles in the car park but at least it had had a good valet the day before. There were plenty of well organised people having very superior looking picnics with even the odd gazebo. I was glad I'd found a summer dress that fitted though wish I could have dug out a hat.
On entry my son was offered a choice of coloured baseball hats and flags to support one of the teams. Without actually knowing which colour represented which team he managed to pick green for GB & Ireland:
His first activity was watching the horses in the paddock. He decided that this horse would be the perfect one for our one and only gamble:
We had missed watching the first race from the stands but could easily see how the teams were doing on the giant scoreboard alongside the track:
The tickets we were given gave us Premier Admission in the grandstand. For this admission you need to be formally dressed except for children. My son was very excited when we took up position on the lowest tier of the grandstand to see if our horse would win:
Unfortunately my £2 went down the drain as the horse wasn't even placed...
Our tickets also gave us access to the 4th floor of the grandstand. I have to admit my fear of heights did not like the nice, airy open interior! The external seating gave us a much more elevated view of the race course and of some of the fabulous head gear being displayed:
Inside the grandstand there was at least one child friendly area with a TV for CBBC or playing Xbox Kinnect! This section was an alcohol free zone too. However I dragged my son outside to try out the free activities on the lawn. These included a fun fair with rides appealing to all ages. We went on the tamer ones but my son loved the tea cup ride:
He didn't fancy the pony rides or skate boarding but other children were having great fun on these. I did finally persuade him to make his own team poster in the colouring zone:
During the last race we grabbed ourselves a picnic spot close to where the concert was going to take place. By the time Rick Astley came on stage the whole area was very full so I was glad we had established or little spot near a tree:
The concert took me back in time to my teens and 20s with groups such as Go West:
The crowd were all singing along and having a good boogie. Some of them had to kick off their shoes to do so:
At times (despite being given ear plugs by staff) my son found it all a bit loud even though we were no where near a speaker:
He did cheer up a bit when Atomic Kitten came on stage:
Before the last 2 bands came on it was obvious that he had had enough especially after someone danced on to his foot... So we beat a strategic retreat to the car and thereby missed the mad queues out of the car park.
We both enjoyed the experience having never been to a horse race before. It was also a bit of taste how the other half live with the posh frocks and expensive champagne. The free activities for children definitely made it a family friendly day out too. With tickets from £24 per adult and children free its a lot cheaper than most festivals and the band line up was really good. Just wish I'd been able to stay for Bjorn Again as I hadn't seen them for over 20 years! If I lived close I'd be tempted to go again.
My top tips are to take a plentiful picnic as its a long afternoon and the grounds have plenty of room for a picnic rug. There were food outlets serving a range of items but this could add up with a family.