Okay, so you got lucky and scored tickets to Wimbledon in the public ballot draw. Or you've decided to brave the uncertain British weather to camp and queue for last minute tickets to the world famous Grand Slam tennis tournament.
Before you head out for your day at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, here's a list of things you don't want to forget to bring - and a few you want to remember to leave at home.
Do Bring Sun Cream
Yes, I know, it's hard to believe after years of watching a rained-out Wimbledon, but the sun does shine on London during the tennis fortnight. Only Center Court is roofed over and the roof is only closed when it rains. We like the Avon Skin So Soft range of sunblock/bug spray combinations. They come in all sorts of formulations - sprays, creams, lotions - and separate child and adult versions, up to SPF 30. And they smell lovely too. There may not be any mosquitoes at the tennis club but this feature could be handy when you're camping for last-minute tickets or enjoying a riverside pub later.
Do Bring a Sun Hat
Look for a sun hat that will stand up to a drizzle. But leave the big number with the floppy brim at home - large-brimmed hats are a Wimbledon Don't. A canvas bucket hat, an outback hat or a baseball cap would work well. And Panama hats have been seen in the stands - just make sure the straw will hold up if it rains. The Canadian made Tilley AIRFLO range may not be the height of fashion but they're crush proof for packing and repel rain and mildew. They're vented for coolness and as far as sun protection goes, they promise to block up to 98 percent of harmful UVA/UVB radiation and deliver an ultraviolet factor (UPF) of 50+ - the maximum rating available. Just the thing to protect you for all of summer's outdoor spectator events, especially a long day watching Wimbledon tennis on an open court.
Do Bring a Bottle of Water
If the weather is good enough for tennis it could be a hot and dry day. Drinks - including alcoholic bevvies - are sold at Wimbledon, but the last thing you want to do in the middle of a tense match is bounce out of your seat to stand in a queue for thirst quenchers. Tuck a few small bottles of water into your bag. And be sure they're plastic or metal flasks. Glass bottles are a no-no in the stands.
Do Bring a Folding Rain Poncho
A waterproof rain poncho will come in handy for sudden downpours - since only Center Court has a roof. I think a lightweight, foldable poncho, big enough to cover you and your stuff, is more useful and considerate to others than an umbrella in the crowded grounds and stands. Besides, if the weather clears, you can use it as a ground cloth while you stretch out to watch the big screen from the Picnic Terrace - one known as Henman Hill and these days more commonly called Murray Mound.
Do Bring Your Camera
Seeing a match at Wimbledon is once in a lifetime event for most people so you'll definitely want some pictures to show the folks back home that you were there. You are allowed to take pictures for your personal use. Cameras, movie cameras, and video recording are all permitted as long as they don't interfere with the competitors or anyone else and as long as your pictures/movies/video are for your private, non-commercial use. Go for something compact and quiet. The Nikon Coolpix S700 is a clever compact that packs 16 megapixels and a 4.5 -90mm Nikkor 20x optical zoom lens and motion detection technology into camera small enough to pop into a pocket. It's Wi-Fi enabled, so you can begin sending snaps to your friends from your smartphone right away and it's available for less than $200.
Do Bring Munchies
Food and drink are available from several different catering facilities. But it can be expensive.
You can bring your own small picnic or supply of snacks, as well as one bottle of wine per person or two cans of beer. But don't expect to consume alcoholic beverages, or anything more substantial than snack foods in the stands. For proper picnic meals, there's the picnic terrace, with lawn tables and chairs if you're lucky, room to spread a picnic on the grass if you're not.
Hadaki insulated, plastic-coated "lunch pods" are neat and discreet insulated totes that look like summer handbags and are just right for the job. You can find a pretty good selection of them on Amazon.com.
Do Bring Headphones
If you like to follow the action on more than one court, or follow another game or sport while you watch a match at Wimbledon, you may want to bring your radio along. That's fine but make sure to bring along some noise reducing headphones so you can listen without disturbing everyone else in the stands. And, while you're at it, do remember to turn off your mobile phone while in the stands. Comply NR10 headphones are a neat, pocket-sized set with good noise reduction and three different sized earplugs for a good, comfortable fit.
And Don't Bring...
- never wanting to be behind the time, Wimbledon has banned selfie sticks. Leave yours at home or you'll lose it.
- anything that might be taken for a weapon - big kitchen knives, large corkscrews, pepper spray.
- noisemakers, rattles, and klaxons
- signs bigger than 2' square
- alcoholic beverages into the stands
- active mobile phones into the stands
- "ambush advertising" merchandise. That's free hats, ponchos, sun creams, umbrellas and other goodies you may have been given while waiting in the Wimbledon queue. Take a close look and you'll notice that they are heavily branded for the purpose of getting free exposure on television inside the grounds. Normally branded foods and clothing that you've purchased for yourself are allowed. But if the items you're carrying have unusually large and blatant advertising they may be considered to be part of an ambush campaign. If so, they can be temporarily confiscated. If you refuse to give them up until you leave the club (when you can usually get those freebees back) you might be refused entry. So, from delightful free gift to serious bummer in about 30 seconds.