Henley Royal Regatta is one of my favourite events, as for me it really symbolizes the British Summer. Whether you’re a rowing fan or not, there’s something quite unique about it. The regatta was founded in 1839, before any rowing federations were established and therefore it has its own set of rules. So when an invitation arrived to attend this year’s festivities, I was fully on board for celebrating Henley Royal Regatta Chinawhite.
It’s the 4th year that Chinawhite has been at Henley and this time they’ve increased the size of their enclosure, due to high demand. Henley on Thames itself is a really pretty town and I’d been here not so long ago for an eventful champagne hot air balloon flight. Making my way there from the train station, I was pleased to see that the weather had played ball for once!
Once over the picturesque bridge, I met up with the lovely Maggie. We’d both dressed up for the occasion and fortunately brought a change of shoes…as the walk along the riverside turned out to be quite an epic one – I’m guessing around an hour. It’s not all that far but there were so many people going to and fro that it was quite hard to get past. We did see a bit of rowing as we walked along, although most of it had finished by the time we finally made it to the Chinawhite enclosure.
Having said that, many people come to Henley Royal Regatta Chinawhite just to party – I’ve certainly done my fair share of both in the past ;-). We also learnt that there’s an easier way to get here, by taking a cab to Gate A from where it’s a short walk, so next time that’s definitely what I’d do. Arriving at the Henley Royal Regatta Chinawhite enclosure, I was relieved to see that it was really spacious. The location right on the banks of the Thames is just opposite the start of the race at Temple Island. The music was discreet and relaxing, though of course it gets cranked up in the evening when the party truly gets started.
The original Chinawhite on Air Street in London is still going strong and recent clubbers include One Direction, Rihanna, Leonardo Di Caprio and Kendall Jenner. They’ve also hosted the enclosure at the Cartier International Polo for 11 years. Our tickets gave us access to the VIP Riverside Lounge and we headed straight inside to meet a few fellow party-goers. I was delighted to chat with Linda Bracey, the owner of God’s Own Junkyard, the whacky neon sign emporium in Walthamstow. There was a really good mix of people of all ages and backgrounds, and everyone was so friendly.
There was also a street food festival for the first time this year, and we tucked into some very tasty pulled pork burgers – a guilty pleasure! The luxury sunglass company, Taylor Morris was also hosting a pop-up boutique and I spotted Hugo Taylor, formerly of Made in Chelsea (another guilty pleasure) out and about. At one point it started raining and everyone took refuge in the tents, but the sun soon came out again. The party tent gets going in the evening when superstar DJs man the decks. In previous years, Pete Tong, Mark Ronson and Swedish House Mafia have all played. This year was the turn of world famous DJ, Roger Sanchez, a Grammy Award winner and the founder of Stealth Records.
Maggie and I had been invited for a mini hair and beauty makeover by The Pop Up Salon, and introduced ourselves to the charming Nick, who runs the salon, and his friend.
Nick’s colleagues were a lovely trio of ladies from Devon who worked wonders transforming our hair into suitably glamorous styles and giving us a pop of bright lipstick.
By now the sun was setting, the music had been turned up and we were party ready ;-). Maggie had an evening flight to catch so we didn’t stay for the DJ set, but next year there’s no stopping us!
Have you been to Henley Royal Regatta Chinawhite?