The 2018 guide to attending Wimbledon ('The Championships')

The 2018 guide to attending Wimbledon ('The Championships')

by Kristin May 30, 2018

Want to have an amazing day at Wimbledon? This guide tells you what to bring, where to eat, what to wear, how to get there and everything else you need to know to make the most out of your trip.

When visiting Wimbledon, there are a lot of rules, etiquette and logistics to get your head around but we’ve made it simple thanks to local insights from living in London and from being a regular spectator at the event.

If you don’t have tickets, check out our comprehensive guide to getting Wimbledon tickets.

Let’s start with the basics...

Wimbledon basics

Event dates:

Qualifying: June 25 to 28th, 2018

Main Draw: July 2 to 15th, 2018

Session timings: Centre Court & No. 1 Court start play at 1pm for the majority of the event but shift to 2pm for the Finals’ Weekend.  Play on all other courts starts at 11:30am for the first eight days and then moves to 11am on the middle saturday for the remainder of the event. The grounds open at 10:30am.  

Bag restrictions: If you need to bring a bag, select one that measures no more than 16” x 12” x 12” (40cm x 30cm x 30cm) and has as few compartments as possible which will expedite the security screening process. Fans are allowed maximum one bag per person.

Food & drink: You can bring in snacks and drinks (including alcohol) but bottles of spirits are prohibited. Hard-sided items such as picnic hampers/cool boxes (coolers) and picnic chairs are barred from the Grounds. The quantity of alcohol is limited to the equivalent of one bottle of wine or Champagne (750ml) or two cans of beer (500ml) or two cans of premixed aperitifs per person. Full guidance can be found here.

What to wear: Dressing for comfort and variable weather is the best strategy. There isn’t a requirement to dress smartly for the general public but a fair portion of the crowd will turn up in dresses and collared shirts. Which ever approach you take, make sure you bring (or buy) a hat and umbrella and an additional layer (ie light scarf or cardigan) if the forecast looks suspect. If you’re wearing a dress and want added height wedges instead of stiletto heels are the way forward as you’re likely to be walking on grass, climbing stairs and standing for extended periods of time. Flip flops are allowed but frowned upon as they’re seen as too casual for the elegant nature of the event.

Where to stay if you’re in London for Wimbledon

The easiest option is to stay in South West London in close proximity to the District Line, which encompasses areas like Chelsea, Fulham, Putney, Southfields and Wimbledon. Staying more central (ie: Mayfair, Marylebone, Covent Garden, Soho, Notting Hill) is suitable too but always allow time for switching tube lines. Venturing further east than Soho could become a bit of a headache, especially if you happen to travel during popular times for commuting (roughly 7:30 - 9:30am and 5 - 7:30pm).

Wimbledon offers an official accommodation guide with some deals on local accommodation. If you’re partial to boutique hotels, Tablet Hotels and Mr. & Mrs. Smith are solid sources. If you want to see a wider variety of options, consider Booking.com, Expedia and Last Minute. If your trip includes a larger group, Airbnb is always worth checking out as July is one of busiest and most expensive times to visit London.

How do you get to the grounds?

The Championships are held at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which is located at: The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Church Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5AE.

There are many travel options available, and public transport is your safest bet due to traffic and a scarcity of close parking spots.

Here is a map published by the tournament with helpful signage.

Tube
One of the most efficient ways to access the Wimbledon grounds is via the legendary London Underground. Take the Wimbledon branch of the District Line (this is a crucial detail as there are several District Line branches) to either the Southfields or Wimbledon stops. When you get off you can either walk for about 25 minutes to the grounds or hop on a free bus provided by the AELTC. The event staff do a comprehensive job of signage and providing directions in stations and tube cars themselves. 

Overground Train
Traveling via an Overground train is another option. In this case get off at Wimbledon stop and you will either have a 45 minute trek to the grounds or a 10 minute free bus journey furnished by the event.

Bus
London General operates a bus service direct from some of the main stations dispersed around London including St. Pancras, Euston, Baker Street, Marble Arch and Victoria. The buses depart every 30 minutes but could take the better part of an hour in traffic.

Tram
Trams run every 5 minutes from East Croydon station to Wimbledon station during the day on Monday to Saturday, and once every 7-8 minutes on Sundays and early mornings-evenings. This service takes around 25 minutes. 

Black Cab
If you opt to take a cab, be aware that you might still have a ~10-minute walk at the end of the journey because the roads directly in front of the club are often closed during the tournament. A black cab from central London to Wimbledon is likely to cost in the range of £50 GBP depending on traffic. If you don’t want to hail a cab you can order one in advance via Taxi App or Gett apps. There is a cab queue at the facilities for those wishing to take one after the event but keep in mind that dozens of other fans might have the same plan at the exact same time…

Uber
Uber fares in London are typically cheaper than Black Cabs by a material sum but it’s important to consider the dearth of cars and local traffic during big events as well as the prospect of surge charges. Catching an Uber ride to the grounds won’t be an issue but securing one at the end of the day is far from guaranteed.

Cycle
A lot of Londoners head to South West London for long cycle rides on the weekend because there is far less congestion many more parks available. You don’t have to be London resident to use the Santander bike scheme and if you’re staying in Wimbledon Village but slightly out of walking distance this option is definitely worth considering. 

Driving your own car
If you opt to drive your own car, there is event parking available but expect some congestion entering and leaving the groups.

Finally, some quick tips for visiting London that will make your trip smooth and enjoyable... 

  1. Don’t worry about carrying cash. The local economy rarely requires cash as expenditures like transportation and eating at restaurants can all be done via card.

  2. Bring water on the tube. Some tube lines have air conditioned cars (i.e. parts of the District Line) and some definitely are not (i.e. the notoriously hot Central Line). If it’s warm and packed on the tube any delays will make in your journey will make you pleased you remembered a source of hydration.

  3. Bring a brolly and a scarf or light cardigan for unpredictable weather. July is an incredible time to visit London and the weather is often in the mid-high 20s. However, 2018 has had some unpredictable weather patterns thus far, so it would be prudent to bring a layer or two and rain gear just to be on the safe side.

  4. Pack with versatility in mind. Airlines everywhere have become increasingly (and exceedingly!) stingy with baggage allotments for economy tickets. In order to be on the safe side and avoid paying an unanticipated surcharge, travel with bags that work in a variety of circumstances. The Epirus collection was designed for active living, including travel. Plus, if you’re planning on playing tennis yourself during Wimbledon, the Epirus bags are a great option to fly with as they fit the guidelines issued by all major airlines.

  5. Download the Citymapper app for navigating London.  It’s a Godsend. Even us Londoners refer to the app to check routes for disruptions and sanity check the quickest way to get from A to B. It’s more user friendly than Google Maps if you’re walking or using public transport. A slick bonus feature? If you start a route and hop on a mode of public transport, the app will alert you when you need to disembark.

  6. Book sought-after restaurants in advance (via Opentable). London is a culinary mecca. Anyone who tells you otherwise clearly hasn’t visited for 15 years! Whether you plan to eat out in world class restaurants or neighbourhood gastropubs, July is a very busy time of year so it’s best to book your table in advance.

  7. Explore on foot and use Uber in a pinch. Exploring London on foot is the best way to see the wide diversity of neighborhoods and attractions. Its a good idea to pack walking shoes as you're likely to hit well over 10K steps a day. However, if you’re in a rush (or tired out) getting from point A to B in very* central London via Uber is a pretty cost effective option.  

  8. Hit some balls yourself during your time in London. Tennis is a high profile, much-loved sport in the UK, so there are many neighbourhood clubs and facilities with courts. Here is a list of courts in the Wimbledon village area to check out. The popularity of the sport also means that the courts will typically be busy in July, so best to book in advance if possible.

 




Kristin Price
Kristin Price

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