In 1803, the Third Duke of Richmond organized a horse-racing event as entertainment for his military officers. Little did he know, it would grow to become one of the highlights of the British social season.
The Qatar Goodwood Festival is held in late July at the Goodwood Racecourse, set on the 12,000-acre Goodwood Estate near Chichester, West Sussex.
Somewhere in its 200-year history, the “garden party with racing tacked on,” as King Edward VII described it, became known as “Glorious Goodwood.”
The weather was certainly glorious for this year’s five-day event, which took place from July 31 to Aug. 4.
“It’s the best weather we’ve had in our lifetimes,” said racegoer Douglas Howard.
The sunshine combined with the picturesque surroundings of the rolling South Downs made the event all the more special for many racegoers.
“When the sun is shining on Goodwood, it’s very romantic,” racegoer Mark Daly said.
The meet has become known for its smart yet more relaxed dress code, called “The Goodwood Look.” Quintessentially British in style, it matches the “informal elegance” vibe of the event.
It was King Edward VII who, shockingly at the time, wore a linen suit and Panama hat to Goodwood in 1906, setting the trend for a gentleman’s attire ever since.
Women also embrace the more relaxed style, wearing pretty summer dresses and comfortable shoes. The third day of the festival is Ladies’ Day, which is an opportunity for ladies to show off their elegance and style—and flamboyant headwear.
“[Ladies’ Day] is a good chance for all the ladies to show how lovely they can look, wear a beautiful hat, wear a beautiful dress, and just give that extra little bit of glam,” racegoer Kitty Houghton said.
The world-class horse racing takes place alongside the socialising—and strawberries and cream—with one of the highlights being the £1 million Qatar Sussex Stakes.
With the excitement of the races combined with the glamour, good food, and beautiful surroundings, it’s no surprise some people come back year after year.
“It’s like a tradition for my family,” said racegoer Emma O’brien, whose family have been attending Glorious Goodwood for about 30 years.