WIMBLEDON – I’m not so sure if a Wimbledon experience would be complete without queuing up for tickets. But camping overnight for a fifth row Centre Court seat was totally worth it. And would I ever do it again? In a heartbeat, yes.
Maybe we got lucky with the weather (it only drizzled for a bit on our second day of camping, with a little rain late at night), but for the most part, camping for Wimbledon tickets was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. This coming from someone who has never camped in her life, with friends who have never camped in their lives. Yet, the consensus was the same: 100% fun.
Even though I got lucky and won Centre Court tickets for the second Monday of the Championships (here’s a tip: your chances of getting tickets through the ballot are better if you register to become a member of British Tennis for a minimal 1 year fee) I knew I would still queue for the other days. I wasn’t going to travel to London all the way from the Philippines just to see one day of tennis.
Here’s what we did on our two days of camping experience:
1.) We booked our hotel in Wimbledon. Marple Cottage is a quaint yet inexpensive B&B, that’s only a 10 minute bus ride to Wimbledon Park. It’s run by a lovely couple and serves a delicious breakfast.
2.) We ordered all our camping needs (our tent and sleeping bags) online at Argos’ Wimbledon branch 24 hours before we arrived in London which we then picked up right after checking in at our hotel.
3.) We figured around 11am was the best time to start queuing up for next day since we wanted Centre Court tickets. For the two days we did, we were number 140 on Monday for Tuesday’s play, and 90 on the queue card on Wed.
4.) After setting up our tent and base camp, it’s time to wait for the queue cards which they give out around 3pm-5pm. Everyone must be there to receive their queue cards so no one could leave. But once we got them, we could leave our tent behind and have a late lunch either at Wimbledon Village, or even closer, in Southfields.
5.) The reason why it’s best to book your hotel in Wimbledon is so you can go back to your hotel to shower. Around 7:30pm, we’d head back to our hotel, take a shower, order take out somewhere and head back to our tent for dinner. Then it’s time to sleep.
6.) The stewards line everybody up by 7am. So before that time, everything must be packed up, with bags and camping equipment checked in at the left luggage facility. Then, it’s a long wait and walk till you get your choice of ticket for the day. The ticket turnstiles indicate which section of the court they sell tickets to, so line up in the one where you want to be seated.
Overall, the entire experience was so much easier than I imagined it would be. By our second day of camping, we were experts at putting up our tent. The restrooms at the park were always clean, well-maintained and well-stocked.
It’s a fun, festive atmosphere all-around with chances to meet and befriend fellow tennis fans.
One tip: make sure you go with fun, tennis-obsessed companions. You’ll be stuck with them the whole time, and it’s truly them that can make or break your trip. Â And mine was nothing but wonderful experience I’d be willing to do all over again.
By Abigail Hinto visiting Wimbledon for the first time from the Philippines. All photos by Abigail Hinto.