Couples who enjoy the pleasures of classic motoring and gourmet dining can mix both pursuits at various multi-faceted events in the UK over the next few months.
The road trip begins in Hampshire, with Beaulieu due to fully reopen its indoor spaces from Monday 17 May, once again welcoming visitors to the National Motor Museum, Palace House, World of Top Gear and Beaulieu Abbey exhibition following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
The action then moves to London Concours and the Honourable Artillery Company Gardens from 8 to 10 June, before heading to the Auto Royale Concours at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire from 16 to 18 July.
Concluding the calendar, and organised by the same team as Concours London (Thorough Events), the Concours of Elegance is scheduled for Hampton Court Palace from 3 to 5 September.
Meanwhile, for enthusiasts able (and willing) to travel overseas this year, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is programmed for 15 August.
Although essentially automotive-based, the events also offer a mix of garden parties, culinary experiences, luxury goods presentations and a diverse array of other activities – ideal for those looking for something a little different (and safely outdoors) to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Even if one of the partners would rather prop up the Veuve Clicquot bar than poke their head under the bonnet of an Aston Martin ONE-77…
These events are family-friendly if you would like to bring along the children or grandchildren for a fun-filled celebratory outing.
Beaulieu – Reopening 17 May
On show at the National Motor Museum is the “Motoring in Miniature – the Toys of Your Childhood” exhibition, featuring more than 800 toy cars and pedal cars ranging from the 1920s to the 1990s – and parked just metres away from full-size motoring counterparts.
Little Beaulieu is a new play area modelled on Lord Montagu’s ancestral home and designed to pay homage to Beaulieu’s heritage and ancient buildings; while the Monorail “skytrain” offers visitors a bird’s eye view of Beaulieu’s grounds and gardens.
Green space attractions include a wisteria tunnel in the Victorian Flower Garden, cultivated fruit and vegetables growing in the Victorian Kitchen Garden and the Mill Pond Walk. For a relaxing break and refreshments, the Brabazon restaurant serves a range of hot and cold food and drinks at socially-distanced picnic tables dotted around the attraction.
Careful preparation has been underway to keep both visitors and staff safe with a series of COVID-secure measures at the Hampshire attraction. Visitors are also requested to pre-book their date and arrival time, “to help us to manage capacity and maintain a safe environment for everyone”.
London Concours – 8-10 June
This year the London Concours automotive garden party has been extended to three days, with the inclusion of a “Supercar Day” in association with the Drivers Union. This exclusive supercar owners club will be bringing 60 of its members’ cars to the lawns of the Honourable Artillery Club, alongside 100 of the world’s rarest and most collectible cars.
They include a limited edition Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Spitfire, created as a tribute to the Supermarine Spitfire and celebrating its 80th anniversary. The car shares attributes with the plane, including a large capacity V12 engine mounted in a lightweight aluminium frame.
Another masterpiece making an appearance will be the Ferrari 575, launched in 2002 and designed by styling house Pininfarina. For something a little more quirkier, the line-up also includes a BMW Z8 that “starred” in the James Bond film “The World Is Not Enough” and was piloted by actor Pierce Brosnan; “the ultimate 1980s pin-up”, the Porsche 911 930 Turbo; and “the definitive hellraiser from Blackpool, the outrageous TVR Sagaris”.
Away from the motoring gems, the event will showcase more luxury brands and artisan goods at retail chalets this year, including fine horology from London Concours’s presenting partner, Montres Breguet, Champagne from Veuve Clicquot and a gin bar set up by Jim & Tonic. (Photo above: Tom Shaxson)
Auto Royale – 16-18 July
Described by the organisers as “a modern re-imagining of what the traditional Concours d’Elegance can be”, Auto Royale is being held at the Waddesdon Manor – former home of both the Rothschild family and the Louis Vuitton Classic.
Visitors are promised “a new event concept where modern British culture meets world-class automotive machinery in a luxurious yet accessible setting with a feast of fine food, exciting entertainment and engaging retailing”.
One of the culinary highlights will be a special menu prepared for VIP guests by Jean Christophe Novelli, popularly known as “the nation’s favourite French chef”.
Recalling his first job in France (aged 19) when he became private head chef to Elie de Rothschild and his son Nathaniel, Novelli said, “ It is a great privilege to be asked to provide a menu at such a prestigious event being staged at Waddesdon, a former Rothschild home and one that was modelled on the style of the French Renaissance Châteaux of the Loire valley… Auto Royale is a very special event that is attracting interest from the UK and around the world. It is important that those attending get the right experience, not just from seeing the amazing cars that will be on show, but participating and enjoying the dining that will be on offer over the three-day event.”
Concours of Elegance – 3-5 September
Sixty of the world’s rarest cars will be on show in the gardens of Hampton Court Palace, many of which have never been seen before in the UK. They will be complemented by hundreds of other exceptional automobiles, ranging from 1896 pioneers and one-off coachbuilt European innovators to present-day bespoke hypercars.
Away from the motoring action, the exclusive Concours of Elegance hospitality enclosure on the East front lawn of the palace comprises a marquee and garden incorporating a private lounge area where guests can enjoy the best view of the cars.
The fully-inclusive ticket includes morning tea, coffee and pastries, the Charles Heidsieck Champagne Reception, a three-course lunch with fine wines, coffee and petits four, afternoon cream tea, reserved VIP parking and a souvenir catalogue.
Another wonderfully indulgent gastronomic treat, especially for couples celebrating their wedding anniversary, is the Fortnum & Mason picnic, a choice of four options savoured on the palace’s meticulously manicured lawns and ideal for two people.
The Fortnum’s Picnic includes delicacies such as smoked salmon with rye bread, coronation chicken with baby gem lettuce or quinoa, red pepper and lentil roulade for main, and a Madagascan vanilla panna cotta for dessert, followed by a well-stocked cheese board; and the Fortnum’s Feast, rare roast British sirloin and Valrhona chocolate cheesecake.
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – 15 August
The flagship of Pebble Beach Automotive Week, the Concours gathers exceptional collector cars on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links competing for the title of “Best of Show”, with experts critiquing their elegance, technical merit and history. In conjunction with the competition, the event also hosts new car debuts and presentations of latest motoring concepts.
One other highlight of the event, since 2016, is a partnership with The Outlierman, a company producing bespoke ties to celebrate the theme of each occasion. Collectors presenting their vehicles at Concours d’Elegance – as well as the judges – receive one of the tailored ties handcrafted by elite artisans from Como (Italy).