Explore: Windsor

Date Posted: 11/12/2013

Group Leisure explores the Berkshire town of Windsor, bursting with royal connections as well as being home to Ascot racecourse and Legoland Resort.

What’s new?

Red Bull Air Race World Championship takes place on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th August, and the fourth stop of the 2014 championship brings one of the most vibrant and exciting sports on the calendar to Ascot. Competitors race in high-performance airplanes between 15 and 25 meters above the ground and navigate a challenging obstacle course of Air Gate pylons at speeds of up to 370kph.

The Military Knights Tale is a special, personal insight into the ancient and noble institution of The Military Knights of Windsor, their colourful history and modern ceremonial role. Led by a serving Military Knight, the tour reveals the Knights’ illustrious history, how they are appointed, where they live in the Windsor Castle, and what duties they are required to perform. The tour includes a talk, a Knight’s escort to St George’s Chapel, refreshments, and time for groups to explore the castle at their leisure.

Best for groups

Ascot Racecourse offers Flat and Jumps racedays, often featuring food, wine and beer festivals; music concerts and behind the scenes tours. The groups team can arrange meal upgrades and party packages which offer a straightforward way to enjoy the full Ascot experience with viewing, betting and refreshments all included and planned in advance. Royal Ascot 2014 takes place from Tuesday 17th to Saturday 21st June.

Windsor provides free town centre maps – a tear off pad contains 50 maps of either Windsor and Eton or Maidenhead for your passengers.

A Travel Trade Guide is available as a downloadable PDF and provides specific group information including group rates, coach parking and other facilities at the Royal Borough visitor attractions. The Coach Park is located in Alma Road and signposted from all approach routes. There are 74 coach parking spaces available on a pay and display basis. Facilities for visiting groups at the coach park include toilets, restaurant and souvenir shops.

Essential sights

Windsor Castle: The world’s largest and oldest occupied castle dominates the town and is an official residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Established by William the Conqueror, and remodelled by successive kings and queens, the magnificent State Apartments feature famous works of art including a masterpiece in miniature – Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House.

The Savill Garden: You can explore 35 acres of one of England’s finest ornamental gardens and woodland, including National Collections, rare international species and some of the world’s most decorative plants. It forms part of The Royal Landscape, which also includes the Valley Gardens and Virginia Water. Ask about its Gardeners’ Lunch package for groups. It’s a special chance to ask about gardens in general and The Savill Garden in particular.

The Changing of the Guard: This takes place daily from April until the end of July and on alternate days for the rest of the year, (not on Sundays). Subject to weather conditions, a band usually accompanies the new Guards march up the High Street. For best views, be in position in the High Street at 10.45am or if inside the castle, outside the Guardroom in the Lower Ward at 11am.

Legoland Resort: The resort is popular with families and now also offers an on-site hotel. There are shows, rides and lots of fun all linked to those tiny little building blocks. Part of the Merlin group, group discounts are available.

Take a tour

Windsor Tourist Guides offer tailored tours to suit your itinerary and group interests. These professional Blue Badge tourist guides are passionate about their destination and are accredited Windsor Castle guides who can help you in exploring 1,000 years of Royal history.

The Royal Garden and River Boat Cruise is where The Savill Garden teams up with French Brothers river boat operators, to offer a value package including a visit to the Savill Garden and a return trip along the River Thames from historic Runnymede to Windsor. Group packages include garden entry, boat trip, lunch and a cream tea. The boat operator has some new products for next year including a lunch cruise, a rebrand of its afternoon tea cruise - there are even Bublé and Sinatra tribute nights, as well as evening dinner dance cruises to appeal to Strictly fans.

A coach panoramic tour of Windsor Great Park with an optional stop at Windsor Farm Shop or Savill Garden is good for groups who find walking difficult.

Where to stay

Macdonald Windsor Hotel is a contemporary town house behind a Georgian façade with 120 luxury bedrooms opposite Windsor’s famous Guildhall and just two minutes’ walk from Windsor Castle and Windsor Royal Shopping.

Mercure Castle Hotel is an historic Georgian landmark in the heart of Royal Windsor. There are 108 rooms and it’s also central with a location just a couple of minutes’ walk from the castle and the shops.

Sir Christopher Wren Hotel is an elegant Grade II listed town house with 96 bedrooms, Thames View restaurant and Wrens spa. It is located beside the river and within easy walking distance of Windsor Castle and Eton.

Pictured: All dressed up for Royal Ascot.

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