Henley Regatta was first held in 1839 and has been held annually ever since, except during the two World Wars. Originally staged by the Mayor and people of Henley as a public attraction with a fair and other amusements, the emphasis rapidly changed so that competitive amateur rowing became its main purpose.

The 1839 Regatta took place on a single afternoon but proved so popular with oarsmen that the racing lasted for two days from 1840. In 1886 the Regatta was extended to three days and to four in 1906. Since 1928 its increased popularity meant entries exceeded the permitted numbers in several events, and so Qualifying Races are now held in the week before the Regatta to reduce the number of entries to the permitted maximum. In 1986 the Regatta was extended to five days, with an increase in the maximum entry for certain events.

The total cost of staging the five-day Regatta is now near £3 million a year. About 85% of this is derived from subscriptions paid by Members of the Stewards’ Enclosure and their purchases of additional badges and services for their guests.

Membership of the Stewards’ Enclosure is limited to approximately 6,500. There is a long waiting list (over 800) to join, from which preference is given to those who have competed at the Regatta.

The Regatta is one of the few major sporting occasions today which is run without any reliance upon commercial sponsorship or outside subsidy.

Henley Royal Regatta is undoubtedly the best-known regatta in the world and is both one of the highlights of the summer sporting calendar and the social season.

It attracts thousands of visitors over a 5-day period and spectators will be thrilled by over 200 races of an international standard, including Olympians and crews new to the event.

Aside from the rowing, visitors can take in the ambience enjoying the facilities within the enclosures.