Wimbledon: Queuing by Night
Joining ‘The Queue’ is one of the best ways to get tickets to The Wimbledon Championships – here’s a guide
If like me you didn’t get tickets to the Wimbledon Championships in the ballot this year, then joining the Queue at Wimbledon is one of the best ways to get tickets to watch top class tennis at one of the best Grand Slam tournaments in the world.
It’s one of the very few major UK sporting events where you can still buy premium tickets on the day of play. I’ve queued three times before (2011-2013), and camped overnight at Wimbledon Park – to get tickets to the tournament. Here’s my rough guide to The Queue:
Arrive early if you want to get show court tickets. You will most certainly need to camp overnight for these. Around 500 tickets are allocated for Centre Court, Court 1 and Court 2 each day (except the last four days of the tournament for Centre Court) so if you want Centre Court tickets you need to be in the first 500 people in the queue, Court No 1 the next 500, and so on. Everyone will be handed a dated and numbered queue card upon joining the queue to prevent queue jumping and tents will be set up in rows – you’ll be shown where to set up by a steward. Those in the front will be handed wristbands on the morning of play for the show courts.
To give you a rough idea, last year I arrived at the Queue at 2pm on Saturday for the second Monday and was 337th in line, camping for two nights and got Centre Court tickets. In 2011 I joined the Queue on Sunday at around 2pm, was 1450 in line, camped for one night and got Court 2 seats.
Once all show court tickets have been allocated you will only be able to get Ground Passes, although you can watch matches on Courts 4-19 where seats are unreserved, and sit on Henman Hill/Murray Mound of course, though you may struggle to find a free patch. If you want to get Ground Passes then joining the queue on the day is fine – still get there early though, you can queue from around 7am when campers dismantle their tents.
Be prepared if you’re planning to camp overnight. Take a tent (maximum two person tent is the guideline), a sleeping bag and I highly suggest an airbed if staying for more than one night. I remember seeing people camp with just a sleeping bag, and they looked very cold and uncomfortable! The one thing I wish I had was a camping chair – sitting on the ground all day is not very comfortable! Stewards will wake everyone up at around 6am on the morning of play to dismantle tents and form a standing queue. I strongly suggest setting an alarm and getting up and packed before the rest of the campers to avoid long queues at the left luggage facilities (which open at 5.30am and close one hour after play ends). Try to get as much sleep as possible – I used to wonder why so many spectators fall asleep while watching matches, and now realise that many are tired campers!
Large items can be deposited at the left luggage facilities for £5 an item (£4 will be donated to improving facilities of Wimbledon Park), with other items costing £1. The guideline on bag size is ‘cabin’ sized to ensure that the left luggage facilities can cater for as many people in the queue as possible. After this, there’ll be a few more hours of queuing (during which wristbands will be handed out) before reaching at the turnstiles to pay for tickets and entering the grounds.
Cash is all they accept at the turnstiles when you buy your ticket so make sure you have enough. For 2017 ticket prices check out the website here. It will also be handy to have cash for buying food and drink both inside and outside of the grounds. With the unpredictable British weather you should also consider taking a waterproof jacket and umbrella – or, if we get tropical temperatures like when I went last year, make sure you have sun screen, plenty of water and a hat to keep cool. A picnic blanket will come in handy too with all the waiting around.
“There’s always a great atmosphere in the Queue because of the very friendly and helpful stewards and excitement of fellow campers.”
Food and drink. You could take your own food and drink into the camping grounds and inside (limit on alcohol is a bottle of wine or two 500ml cans of beer per person into the Grounds), although there are plenty of food stalls and restaurant if you want to buy food and drink inside. It’s a good idea if you’re planning to stay around the camping area to get food, snacks and refreshments – take a cooler bag. Or you could order a take away and get it delivered to the Wimbledon Park Road gate. Alternatively, venture around the area or grab something from the food vendors on site. Note that barbecues are not permitted in the Queue.
There’s always a great atmosphere in the Queue because of the very friendly and helpful stewards and excitement of fellow campers. Don’t forget to soak in the Wimbledon atmosphere, get a Pimm’s and lemonade, strawberries and cream and enjoy world class tennis on your doorstep!
The 2017 Wimbledon Championships take place from Monday 3 July to Sunday 16 July. www.wimbledon.com