Our recent visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018 kindly hosted by the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
What exactly is the Goodwood Festival of Speed?
Well, in short it’s an annual event for motoring enthusiasts which is most famous for the circuit race called the ”hill climb” featuring historic motor racing vehicles and is held in the grounds of Goodwood House, West Sussex, England. Classified as a hill climb with a 4.9% gradient, the track is separated from spectators by a just few straw bales, and it’s this openness that makes Goodwood so popular amongst visitors, with spectators right on top of the action and literally wandering the driver paddocks, smelling the gasoline and feeling the torque. Goodwood, though, is more than just the Festival of Speed, it draws guests to exclusive, often private or corporate, events all year round. The 17th-century country house and private residence of the Duke of Richmond has house tours and exhibitions open to the public during the summer, when the Regency Ballroom also opens up for afternoon tea. The event takes place in late June or early July; specifically scheduled to avoid clashing with the Formula One season (Silverstone), enabling fans to see F1 machines as well as cars and motorbikes from motor racing history climb the hill.
In the early years of the Festival, tens of thousands attended over the weekend; it currently attracts crowds of around 100,000 on each of the three days it is now held. A record crowd of 158,000 attended in 2003, before an advance-ticket-only admission policy came into force; attendance is now capped at 150,000
Why this years event was so special…. The Silver Jubilee
The 2018 Festival of Speed, presented by Mastercard, theme celebrated the event’s 25th anniversary: “Festival of Speed – The Silver Jubilee”. The first Festival, in June 1993, redefined what a car event could be, and, in the years since, it has firmly established itself as the world’s greatest celebration of motorsport and car culture.
To mark the Silver Jubilee, the Duke of Richmond selected his 25 favourite moments from the first 25 events – personal highlights which, in very different ways, have been landmarks in the Festival’s history. These moments, and the cars and drivers which created them, were cornerstones of this year’s event, alongside the usual gathering of extraordinary vehicles from the dawn of motoring to the present day and beyond.
And what a treat is was…
When we received the very kind invitation from the Waldorf Astoria we knew we where in for a fantastic day with fabulous hosts so clearing the diary was only the thing to do. I think after the past 20 years within the event industry I may be a little guilty of becoming slightly fussy, perhaps you could go as far as to say “pedantic”, when it comes to event execution and service delivery. Whichever you would call it I was certainly not disappointed, in fact, all expectations where well exceeded and I had such an excellent experience this blog piece is an absolute pleasure to write!
A very special thank you to our exceptional hosts from Waldorf Astoria (& Hilton Worldwide) who, as always, go over and beyond to ensure their guests are well catered for in every respect. This kind of service delivery resonates with our business approach when working with our clients and it’s a real pleasure to have such synergy between our brands.
After an early morning train journey from Clapham Junction to Chichester Station we where met by our hosts and jumped in a taxi to the Goodwood Estate. There are regular shuttle busses to and from the station making access for the 150,000 attendees nice and easy.
With our access and VIP Hospitality passes in hand, entry into the grounds was seamless. We where accompanied to the historic Goodwood House (which was built 1600 and was acquired by Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond in 1697) to check in and get our bearings. The festival site is vast, with so much going on throughout each day it’s a genuine play ground for all ages, even if you’re not a full blown petrol head. I could have easily spent two full days exploring all the stalls, pop ups, experiential brand activations not to mention the paddock where all the cars taking part in the races can be seen up close and personal. You can hear the roar of race cars tearing up the asphalt all around the site which makes for an electrifying atmosphere.
After we all checked in and with a quick orienteering exercise we made out way over to the hospitality & catering area which was a fantastic temporary structure with outside space and allocated tables (all covered with umbrellas of course, it was a sweltering hot day). The location was superb for viewing the races with literally a row of hay bails separating us from the track. F&B offering and service again was spot on. The buffet was rather impressive offering something for everyone and with unlimited food and beverage between 11am & 3pm there was no chance of going hungry or thirsty. The local beer was particularly easy drinking, an ice cold Goodwood Lager… perfect.
After having a few welcome drinks and a meal fit for king, while watching some of the amazing cars fly past at break neck speed, we made our way over to the Waldorf Astoria viewing platform. Located in a prime location across from the main paddock area, the views of the race circuit and big screens was an ideal place to really get into what Goodwood is all about – SPEED! The Waldorf Astoria has partnered with Goodwood for the second year running and I’d agree that “the pursuit of the unforgettable is a story both the Waldorf Astoria and Goodwood share together.”
Champagne was the order of the day as well as the delicious signature “Red Velvet” cupcakes.
According to the New York Times, a Waldorf Astoria archivist says the scarlet snack, then likely brightened by beet juice, debuted on the hotel’s menu in the 1930s. The brand’s mythology explains that the chef kept the recipe a secret until a guest wrote asking for it. Allegedly, he gave her the details and an invoice for $350, which made her mad enough to share the how-to details with her who’s-who-in-Manhattan-filled address book. The luxury lodgings are also widely credited with being the birthplace of eggs benedict and the…….Waldorf salad. Its popularity spread like wildfire after government regulations on food dyes were established in 1938. So there you go…..
Having spent a good amount of time on the Waldorf Astoria viewing platform, fully enjoying their impeccable hospitality and the races of course, I took a rather long stole around the Festival site wondering through all the stalls discovering all things motoring related. Some real hidden gems, motorsports sought after memorabilia, new concept launches, vintage and collectable cars and all sorts of merchandise… I can only imagine this being heaven for any car or motor racing enthusiast. Hours flew by and before I knew it sadly time to leave.
Heading back to the station with our hosts and fellow industry peers I had a slight pang of disappointment because the day had come to an end and it would be a full year before I would be able to return. Being hosted by the Waldorf Astoria was particularly special and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share this experience with them an with you all.
Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts is a collection of 26 landmark destinations in the world’s most sought after locations, each united in delivering the inspirational ambience and unforgettable moments that only True Waldorf Service can deliver.
Please feel free to get in touch to further discuss your event or venue requirements and our team of venue finding specialists look forward to being of service ! Warmest regards from all the Inspirational Venues & Events Team! Posted July 2018