One of the world’s most prestigious annual horse racing events – the Royal Ascot – is upon us, but there’s far more to the event than just the horses. It’s also about having a great time with friends and family, and drinking and eating to your heart’s content.

You’re probably going to need to soak up those flutes after flutes of Bollinger champagne, and this year there’s plenty of fine food on offer. Michelin-starred chefs Phil Howard and Raymond Blanc will be overlooking the cuisine at the Panoramic and On 5 restaurants, whilst the newly launched Village Enclosure will be offering all types of street food for a more festival feel. Confirmed partners include Mai Taiko – Japanese grub served from a Silver airstream – and the Great British Sausage Company.

Perhaps the best way to make sure you end the week in high spirits is by making some money on the races. If you want to pay for your drinks and still have cash left over, then make sure you read up on the advice at matchedbets.com before the start of the week.

If you fancy saving the pennies, why not set up a picnic? Head over to the Windsor and Heath enclosures, but remember, alcohol is strictly limited to one bottle of champers or wine per person. Of course, hampers can also be bought on site if you haven’t come prepared. Once you’ve finished your lunch and drinks, head over to the Village Enclosure and dance the day away. There’ll be live bands playing jazz, funk and soul, before live DJ’s take over to get you ready for your night out afterwards.

As always, there’s also something for the art-lovers out there. You’ll come across various sculptures around the grounds, with Ascot showcasing some of the work from Nic Fiddian Green, Mark Coreth and Hamish Mackie. See if you can spot the two pieces from award-winning Scottish sculptor Philip Jackson – that’s the Bathing Belle and Venetian Belle. You’re also unlikely to miss the striking seven-foot-tall wooden horse, Sweet September, by Heather Jansch, or Charles Elliott’s full size Racehorse Sculpture, made from 8mm steel.

Tickets can still be bought, starting at £37, although some enclosures have already sold out for particular days. Whilst the Gold Cup race on Thursday is the highlight of the five-day competition, there’s so much more to Ascots than just the horses, so be sure to take advantage of it all.

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