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 1-14 July 2019, 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 usually starts in Wimbledon Park, eventually winding its way through the park and golf course towards the Gate 3 turnstiles, where the tickets are sold. Here's a handy Wimbledon area map. Transactions can be made by credit or debit card, one ticket per person, non-transferable 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. They'll only be given to bonafide humans, so don't rely on getting a friend to collect one for you. 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). These are known as Show Court tickets. In addition, thousands of Grounds Passes are also available daily, which gives you access to the unreserved seating and standing room areas on Courts No. 3-18.
So, what kind of queuer are you?
Overnight Wimbledon Queuer
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, smoking, loud music and generally being a drunken knobhead are not permitted, nor is any noise at all after 10pm. You are, however, permitted to order yourself a takeaway to Wimbledon Park Road gate. One person must remain with the tent at all times.
Expect to be woken by a steward around 6am to dismantle your camping gear, drop it off at the left luggage facility (there's a charge of £5 for overnight equipment) 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.
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Morning Wimbledon Queuer
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. The turnstiles tend to open at 9.30am and the full grounds open around 10.30am. 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.
Afternoon Wimbledon Queuer
The main fixtures of the day will have passed (matches typically start on the outer courts around 11.30am and Centre Court/Number 1 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 an English player is slogging it out in a five-setter, you can always pick a spot on Murray Mound/Henman Hill, and cheer on from there. The turnstiles close at 8pm.
Online Wimbledon Queuer
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.
Those with accessibility requirements should call the Ticket Office ahead of time, as there are certain queue/car parking facilities available for mobility-impaired visitors. Stewards on the day will also be able to help. Check out Wimbledon's accessibility page for more details.
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.
Hang on a second, where even is the bloody queue?
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Do bring: sunscreen, umbrella, water, food for a picnic, books or activities to keep you occupied while you wait, credit/debit card for your ticket purchase and cash for Pimm's or strawberries and cream. 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 750ml 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 are a number left luggage facilities just outside of the grounds for anything larger, which cost £1 per item or £5 for overnight equipment. See all prohibited items here.
For any other queue-related questions, this 30-page (!) Wimbledon Queue Guide (PDF, obvs) should provide you with the answer. If it doesn’t, what on earth are you asking??