Lawn tennis. Strawberries and cream. Sun hats. Pimm's. Add a well-organised queue to the mix and you’ve reached peak Brit.
The Wimbledon Championships, taking place this year from 27 June-10 July, is one of the few major UK sporting events where the public can get their hands on premium tickets on the day of play itself. And yes, we have a good-old fashioned queue to thank for that.
The queue for on-the-day tickets is located at the Gate 3 turnstiles. Transactions are strictly cash only, one ticket per person, and on a first-come-first-served basis.
Thinking about sneaking to the front? SHAME ON YOU. And joke’s on you too, because such unbecoming behaviour is thwarted by the Queue Cards which are divvied out daily to each arrival to represent your exact placement in the queue. Queue Cards are dated, numbered and will be checked on entry to the Grounds. So straight to the back, please.
Each day there are around 500 tickets each for No. 1 Court, No. 2 Court and the much-coveted Centre Court (except for the last four days on Centre Court, where tickets are only sold in advance). In addition, thousands of Grounds Passes are available daily, which gives you access to the unreserved seating and standing room areas on Courts No. 3-19.
So, what kind of queuer are you?
Kudos, our friend. You are the unwashed, slightly smelly king of the queuers. Turn up the night before with your sleeping bag and tent (maximum size permitted is a two-person tent) and pitch up just metres from the front of the queue. Note that barbecues, gazebos, loud music and generally being a drunken knobhead are not permitted, nor is any noise after 10pm. You are, however, permitted to order yourself a takeaway to Wimbledon Park Road gate.
Expect to be woken by a steward around 6am to dismantle your camping gear and (this is possibly our favourite bit) “close up into a tighter formation” to allow for those mere early-morning queuers to join the queue behind you. Sissies.
If camping isn’t your bag, then joining the queue by 5am-6am should still put you in good stead for some top-notch tickets. If you arrive at 6am there will be roughly an hour and a half of hanging around with the recently-roused campers before the stewards come along at 7.30am to issue wristbands to those who are queuing for those premium Show Court tickets.
Turn up late morning and you’ll join the back of, probably, a sizeable queue. It’s unlikely there’ll be many, if any, Show Court tickets left, but there should still be some Grounds Passes remaining. It all depends on the day (earlier in the tournament tends to be slightly quieter).
You’ll receive your Queue Card to dictate exactly when you arrived and then it’s time for some serious hanging around. Once the court is full with ticket holders, on-the-day queuers are subject to a one-in-one-out policy, meaning spectators are only admitted as others leave.
The main fixtures of the day will have passed (matches start on the outer courts around 11am and Centre Court around 1pm) and there is little to no chance of a Show Court ticket, but if you just want to experience the buzz of Wimbledon, catch some of the later games and cram some strawberries down your gullet, it’s possible to join the queue after 5pm for late entry. Grounds Passes are slightly cheaper after 5pm and by this time the majority of morning visitors will either have left or be leaving so the queue should move swiftly.
And if Murray's slogging it out in a five-setter with one of his adversaries, you can always pick a spot on
Henman Hill Murray Mound, and cheer on from there. The turnstiles usually close at 8pm.
Think doing things in person is so 1999? At 9am each day, several hundred Centre Court tickets go on sale via Ticketmaster at official Wimbledon prices for the next day’s games. It’s more of a gamble, you miss out on the great queuing experience and you’ll need hot fingers but oh, just imagine the smugness. Sign up here for more details.
Other useful info
Here’s a complete list of ticket prices. If you’re queuing remember that all purchases at the gate are cash only.
If you’re considering bringing a giant-sized, hard-edged bag emblazoned with political slogans and filled with knives, you might want to read Wimbledon’s Conditions of Entry.
If you’re not up for picnicking, here’s a list of places to eat and drink around the grounds. You can even pre-order an afternoon tea picnic for two (£39.50) that comes in a neat little Wimbledon cool bag.
Do bring: sunscreen, umbrella, water, food for a picnic, books or activities to keep you occupied while you wait, cash for your ticket purchase (on-the-day transactions cannot be made with debit or credit card) and for Pimm's (£20 per jug) or strawberries and cream (£2.50). Not all retailers take cards and there’s usually a(nother) long queue for the cash points tucked underneath Centre Court.
Do not bring: selfie-sticks (they’re counted as a prohibited item), barbecues, gazebos, large quantities of alcohol (Wimbledon allows you to bring in one bottle of wine, or two 500ml cans of beer per person), or a bag larger than 40cm x 30cm x 30cm as this is the maximum size permitted in the grounds (there is a left luggage facility but this also has a maximum size allowance of 60cm x 45cm x 25cm). See Conditions of Entry above for all prohibited items.
For any other queue-related questions, this 25-page (!) Wimbledon Queue Guide (PDF, obvs) should provide you with the answer. If it doesn’t, what on earth are you asking??