When to Go
High summer is lovely, but droves of visitors have the same effect on some travelers as bad weather. Consider visiting in late spring or early fall, when the weather isn’t too bad and the crowds have headed home. Book tickets and accommodations well in advance for Henley's Royal Regatta at the cusp of June and July and Ascot's Royal Meeting in mid-June. Visiting Eton and the Oxford colleges is much more restricted during term time (generally September to late March and late April to mid-July). Most stately homes are open March through September or October only—call in advance. Avoid any driving in the London area during morning and afternoon rush hours.
Henley Festival. A floating stage and spectacular musical events from classical to folk draw a well-heeled crowd who like to dress to impress. The Henley Festival takes place during the week after the regatta in July. Henley, West Sussex. 01491/843404; www.henley-festival.co.uk.
Oxford Literary Festival. The festival takes place during the last week of March at Christ Church College, the Sheldonian, and other university venues. Leading authors come to give lectures and interviews, and there's plenty to entertain children. Christ Church College, St. Aldate's, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 1DP. 07444/318986; www.oxfordliteraryfestival.org.
Windsor Festival. Concerts, poetry readings, and children's events highlight the two-week Windsor Festival, held over the last two weeks in September, with events occasionally taking place in the castle. The festival also runs a smaller program in March, with a focus on classical music events. 01753/743585; www.windsorfestival.com.