Thinking of visiting the British Gran Prix at Silverstone? Her are twelve things you need to know before you go that will make your visit a fantastic experience.
British Grand Prix, Silverstone | A how to guide
Why the British Grand Prix?
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is one of the classic circuits on the F1 calendar and, in my opinion, is one of the best race weekends to attend. It has everything; a fantastic weekend of racing and entertainment for all the family. Surrounded by good campsites it is also one of the easiest to attend. It’s built on a disused airfield with plenty of open spaces around the track. On top of the race program there is a full program of entertainment including live acts, stunt shows, fair ground rides and driver interviews. A great place to spend time with family or friends and can be cheaper than you would think for such a huge event.
How to get there?
The Silverstone Race Circuit is in Northamptonshire, in the heart of England. It is best reached by car using the motorway network. If you’re camping then all the campsites are within walking distance of the track. We have always camped at Woodlands Campsite. For access to any of the campsites just follow the directions on the road.
British Grand Prix & us
This year 2021 will be our eighth British Grand Prix visit. It has turned into our annual family weekend. There will be eight of us this year, as since the last one, we have added two grandchildren to our little family. We have always camped at Woodlands campsite. The first few years in tents and more recently in our camper vans. We do the full weekend, so arrive on Wednesday until Monday morning. Every year we always say this year will be the last one but every year we turn up again as it’s a fantastic place to relax and chill out with the family. This year will be our first year with an electric pitch and will also be our first year in the family area as we usually camp in the lively field.
Race weekend Tickets
The best way to buy tickets for the British Grand Prix race weekend is to buy them directly from Silverstone itself using their online ticketing service here and book early if you can. The early bird prices are considerably discounted compared to the prices nearer the event date and the ticket price goes up as they sell in a similar way to flight tickets. You can actually book next year while you are there at the main ticket office, although in the past it hasn’t been any cheaper than the early bird price.
Stand tickets tend to sell out quite quickly too so if you want to sit then book early. General admission tickets tend to sell less quickly. Both types of ticket have there advantages and disadvantages. The main one being price as general admission is a lot cheaper but you have to find a good spot and get there very early on race day.
The track opens at six in the morning and you need to be there with your chairs and hampers in the queue if you want to guarantee a good view of the track. You will need to get a place with a view of the track and the big screen and don’t forget your brolly if it rains, which it does quite often, or you will get wet. We tend to load up the early risers with all the gear for the group then leave the rest of the crew to have a lie in.
Stand tickets are more expensive and the more you pay the better the stand. Some are open to the elements and some have a roof. The main advantage of a stand ticket for me is your seat is reserved on race day and you don’t have to rush about early in the morning. We have done both stand and no stand. Our chosen way to go now is to buy a cheap stand ticket usually at farm curve its not much more than General admission and you get the best of both worlds although you will still get wet if it rains as the cheaper stands are not covered.
Extras and upgrades
Silverstone offer various extras and upgrades in addition to your race tickets. You can choose to buy tickets that include extra facilities such as Club Silverstone, The T1 enclosure and the Village Enclosure Click Here for details. We have not used these facilities so cannot comment as to value for money.
What we did do one year was to buy centre inner track tickets. These tickets allow you to watch on your chosen day from areas on the inside of the track and visit exhibitions and displays that cannot be accessed without centre track tickets. We found the inside track access interesting but I don’t think we would do it again.
They also offer fast track tickets which allow access to the track thirty minutes before the official opening times again we have never seen the value in buying these ourselves but they maybe useful to some.
Some years Silverstone offer entertainment packages at an extra charge famous bands have appeared on the Thursday. We have bought these and enjoyed the bands we saw. I think this year 2021 they are offering after parties for adults only with famous DJ’s
Silverstone Interactive Museum is now open which looks very exiting you would need to book tickets for this seperately to coincide with race weekend.
British Grand Prix Track Map
(Click image for a larger version. Links to the official website opens in a new window.)
Camping tickets can also be bought online and there are lots of choices for different campsites. We have always camped at Woodlands. Click here to visit there website as with the track the camping prices start low and get higher as the event draws closer so book early to get the best price. If you want a live in vehicle pitch with electric you need to book as soon as the tickets go on sale as these sell out very quickly indeed. Alternatively, if you’re taking a tent, you can leave it slightly longer as they don’t sell out as fast. As far as I know all the campsites operate in a similar manner.
If you choose Woodlands make sure you buy your tickets for the correct area. Lively camping is what it says, lively, meaning the people around you could be partying most of the night. It is noisy till well after the entertainment ends. Generally it starts to quieten around two in the morning but don’t hold your breath as it can go on all night with shouts of Allen looping round the campsite from tent to tent. If you want it a little quieter choose family camping it’s a lot less noisy and a little more sedate.
When you arrive
Getting into the campsite
When you get there in your car be prepared to queue. It’s a great atmosphere so its not usually a problem. To get the best pitch you need to get there early. We tend to be there in the queue for when the campsite opens at 10am on the Wednesday. This means getting up quite early but its well worth it as the later you leave it the further away from the facilities you will be. The campsite is split into different areas for tents and live in vehicles so make sure you follow the signs to the correct entrance for your booking.
You cannot choose where you pitch everyone just pitches up in the order you arrive so if you want to be with the rest of your group if you are arriving separately you will need to meet up outside the track and join the queue together. What you can do, if camping, is manage to leave space for another tent if you talk to the attendants. If you are not arriving together it is better to take all the tents with the first person to get there and leave space for the cars arriving later. For the live in vehicle pitches you will need to be together in the queue to get pitches together. For the Glamping or the pre-erected tent sections of the campsite follow the instruction on the booking.
What to expect at the British Grand Prix
It can be a bit daunting if you are visiting for the first time. After you have pitched up and settled in take a stroll and have a look round your chosen campsite and find out the best way to get to the track from where you are. The British Grand Prix is a very well organised event so there are plenty of entrance gates so the queue to get into the track usually keeps moving quite quickly. Have your tickets ready for inspection and your bags open. Take as little with you as possible as you will be there all day and into the night if you stop for the entertainment. You don’t want to be carrying loads of gear around. Get a map off one of the helpers around the track.
If you are general admission for the weekend check our where you want to watch the race from on the Sunday and pick your spot. This is best done on the Friday between the action. It’s about a five mile walk around the full circuit perimeter if you want to check out every possible spot to watch from. Friday’s are usually quiet and it gets busier as the weekend goes on.
If you are buying merchandise from your favourite driver or team this is best done on Friday too as you will have more time to browse the stalls which are all round the track. Drinks and food are quite expensive so if you are on a budget take your own into the track. I have heard reports of people being stopped with drinks at the entrance gates but this has never happened to us. Don’t take glass bottles they will not let you in with them.
If you are camping at woodlands you are, at most, a fifteen minute walk from an entrance gate. They do have a little tractor pulled train to take you. The kids will love it but I find it quicker to walk down. Woodlands campsite itself has its own entertainment, bars and food outlets. It has a mini market which sells all the stuff you may have forgotten. There is a pub with a big screen which shows films and other sporting events if they are on while you’re there. The site also has fair ground rides and other such entertainment all at and extra charge.
Toilets & Showers
Going to the toilet at the track has to be a well organised event you need to work out how long the queue is likely to be compared to how desperate you are to go. Don’t leave it until the last minute on race day as the queue get very long especially for the female toilets and take your own paper. You shouldn’t have a problem but you can’t be too careful. At all other times the toilet queues are not as bad, it’s just on race day that the queues are very long.
Visiting the toilet or taking a shower at Woodlands also depends on the day. As the campsite gets busier the queues get longer. At the busiest times the showers work on a token which gives you five minutes to get your shower. It doesn’t seem like long but its quite relaxed really. The shower blocks at woodlands are permanent not portaloos and are kept quite clean as they are rotated and closed for cleaning at certain times of day.
There’s more on than just the Formula One. Silverstone has a full race program that covers the whole weekend from Friday, cumulating with the main F1 race on Sunday. There is also live music and driver interviews on the main stage throughout the weekend. It has a wonderful festival like atmosphere that you don’t get at other race events. Check out the Silverstone website to find out whats on.
If you’re staying at Woodlands the campsite has its own entertainment. Two big tops with their own individual entertainment and it can be tough to decide which to attend. There is also roaming entertainment and other stages throughout the campsite. We like to stay at the track for any evening entertainment and chill out on the grass watching the crowds enjoying the live acts. Its a great place to people watch.
Leaving the circuit
If you are camping then you are lucky you can pick your time to leave. Leaving straight after the race on the Sunday means you will queue for quite a long time. I have heard reports of it taking six hours to get clear of the area. If you can, I advise, you don’t leave until the Monday. That way you can attend the entertainment after the race. Have a relaxed evening at the campsite and then take your time breaking camp in the morning. You will still have congestion but perhaps thirty minutes at the most.
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