Summer Events Guide 2023: Brooklands to CarFest
Festivals to motor racing, concours events to autojumbles… whatever flies your kite, you'll be spoilt for choice this spring and summer as, once again, the motoring world dons sun cream, shorts and shades and throws a party.
For Formula One addicts, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July is the obvious destination but if you prefer to mix motors with music then book a return trip to the Northampton circuit the following month when the Silverstone Festival takes place.
Fans of classic cars are equally well served by events spanning April to September, kicking off with Donington Historic Festival and closing with that jewel in the crown, Goodwood Revival.
In between, those magnificent Bs of the enthusiast world – Brooklands, Beaulieu, Blenheim and Bicester – host their own unmissable events while at Laverstoke Park in Hampshire it's fun and games for all the family as Chris Evans' CarFest returns to thrill visitors and raise more money for Children in Need.
Appetite whetted, here's your rundown of the best motoring events this spring and summer…
It may be the month of showers but rather than the clouds, all eyes will be on the fine motorcars arrayed at Salon Privé (20-22 April, salonprivelondon.com) amid the historic surroundings of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, in London. Both modern and classic cars will be on show, while in the Concours d'Elégance every car you see is for sale. Best bring your credit card.
A day or so later it's Japfest (23 April, events.fastcar.co.uk). Held at Silverstone, it's Europe's premier Japanese car event; the place to go to see the wildest GTRs, baddest ZXs and craziest Supras. All of which you'll struggle to find at Donington Historic Festival (29-30 April, doningtonhistoric.com). At this celebration of 1950s and '60s racing, pre-'66 cars battle for race honours in multiple classes and for legendary trophies. Highlights include the Superformance Ferrari Club Classic Series, the famous HRDC Jack Sears Trophy for 1958-'66 touring cars and the RAC Woodcote Trophy for pre'-56 and pre-'61 sports cars.
Just one week after the Donington curtain-raiser, make tracks to Surrey and Brooklands Museum Best of British Day (7 May, brooklandsmuseum.com). Enjoy displays of classic British cars representing the country's once world-beating manufacturers and sprints up the museum's famous test hill. Paddington Bear is a special guest.
A few days later the New Forest and the ever-popular Beaulieu Spring Autojumble (13-14 May, beaulieu.co.uk) is your destination. Not just for those searching for that hard-to-find part, it's a great excuse simply to browse or, if you're lucky, buy a piece of precious automobilia for a snip.
If you can grab some time mid-week, visit London and the Concours on Saville Row (24-25 May, concoursonsavillerow.com) when, bizarrely but brilliantly, some of the world's finest motorcars and its best tailoring come together in spectacular fashion.
As month's end approaches, there's just time to squeeze in a trip to the MG Centenary at the British Motor Museum (27 May, britishmotormuseum.co.uk). It'll be worth it just to see the timeline of 100 MGs plus Old Number One, the museum's precious, first-ever MG. If Formula One is more your thing, don't forget to pack your earplugs as, in deepest Kent, the Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival (27-28 May, brandshatch.co.uk) celebrates motor racing of the 1960s, '70s and '80s when the circuit hosted British and European Grands Prix.
On spring bank holiday Monday it's the Yorkshire Classic and Performance Motor Show (29 May, ripleycastle.co.uk) when, as it says on the tin, classic and performance car enthusiasts gather to show off their motors in the beautiful setting of Yorkshire or, more accurately, historic Ripley Castle.
London is always a showcase of great cars but it will boast the very best when the aptly named London Concours (6-8 June, londonconcours.co.uk) opens its doors. Highlights will include 60 years of Lamborghini and a celebration of the Porsche 911 RS.
Later in the month, the weekend of 17-18 June could trigger a crisis of indecision. Do you head out to Hampshire and the Thruxton Historic (thruxtonracing.co.uk) for thrilling race action on the fastest circuit in Britain or to Surrey for the Brooklands Festival of Motorsport (brooklandsmuseum.com) when the venue celebrates the anniversary of the circuit's opening in 1907 and current and vintage cars are put through their paces on the demonstration track at Mercedes-Benz World next door?
Or how about making tracks to the Bicester Heritage 10th anniversary celebration (bicesterheritage.co.uk) when enthusiasts are expected to flock to this former RAF base in Oxfordshire, now centre of the UK's classic car industry, to celebrate its remarkable success amid displays of cars and aircraft?
At least the Yorkshire Motorsport Festival (23-25 June, ymsf.net) in Holmfirth has the last weekend of the month to itself. It's held on a huge farm and it's chief attraction is the so-called Wolfstone Hill Climb, a new, near-mile-long challenge.
With a name like Super Touring Power (1-2 July, brandshatch.co.uk) you can expect serious on-track thrills as touring cars of the 1990s relive their heyday in this all-new event at the famous Kent circuit.
Action will be headlined by the Classic Touring Car Racing Club with '90s Super Touring machinery accompanied by other tin tops from the '60s, '70s, '80s and 2000s.
It promises to be an exciting prelude to the month's main event at Silverstone, the Formula One British Grand Prix (7-9 July, silverstone.co.uk). Will Lewis Hamilton take the win in front of his home crowd? You'll have to be there to cheer him on.
Away from all the F1 action, the same weekend sees the Heveningham Concours (8-9 July, heveninghamconcours.com). Held in rural Suffolk it promises to be a haven of peace, tranquility and and fine motorcars. Did we say peace? The drag race on Horsepower Hill promises to be anything but.
Still, at least it'll give your ears a workout in preparation for the next big event on July's calendar: the Goodwood Festival of Speed (13-16 July, goodwood.com). Billed as the summer's greatest garden party, highlights include a motorshow, a rally stage and the famous hill climb where some of the world's best drivers demonstrate their skills.
Meanwhile, on the same weekend but at the other end of the country and north of the border it's the Scottish Festival of Motoring (16 July, festivalofmotoring.co.uk). Now in its third year, this family event promises lots of displays and even supercar passenger experiences.
As month's end approaches book your place at the HSCC Oulton Park Gold Cup (28-30 July, oultonpark.msv.com) – three days of nostalgic motorsport action and a chance to celebrate the 60th anniversary of great British racing driver Jim Clark winning the Gold Cup. You'll need to come back down to earth after that and we've the perfect event: the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional (29 July, hagerty.co.uk). This antidote to traditional concours events will see the country's most ordinary cars from the 1960s-'90s assemble at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire for the chance to win top honours. There's still time to buy and bring your own!
The pre-2000s theme continues with the Retro Rides Gathering (13 August, retroridesgathering.com) at Mallory Park circuit in Leicestershire. Tuned and tweaked retros are the order of the day so don't expect concours standard motors. However, do expect the extraordinary and the plain 'out-there'.
The same weekend sees Festival Italia (13 August, brandshatch.co.uk) at Brands Hatch. Given its prominence in this guide, you should be familiar with the venue now but true to form it adopts a whole new character when the Italians, in the form not only of Ferraris and Lamborghinis but also pretty much every Italian marque you can think of, converge on the Kent countryside.
A few days later it's the turn of the British Motor Show (17-20 August, thebritishmotorshow.live) to entice you from your garden chair. Held in Farnborough it promises to be a day out for the whole family. Still in Hampshire, the following weekend motoring enthusiasts of all ages will be making a beeline for Carfest (25-27 August, carfest.org). Held at Laverstoke Farm, home of 1979 F1 World Champion Jody Sheckter, this motoring extravaganza for the whole family is the brainchild of radio personality Chris Evans and each year raises thousands of pounds for Children in Need.
The same weekend, Silverstone circuit hosts the Silverstone Festival (25-27 August, silverstone.co.uk). Previously known as the Silverstone Classic, the change of name reflects the range of activities taking place during the Bank Holiday weekend with the emphasis squarely on fun and entertainment. That said, there will be the same historic racing dominated, this year, by celebrations around Silverstone's 75th anniversary.
If that's not all, the same weekend there is – deep breath – the Gravity Show (26-27 August, gravityshow.co.uk) at Birmingham's NEC. Not for the fainthearted, it's billed as the UK's largest modified and supercar show. Expect lots of wild action.
Frankly, after all that, Salon Privé Concours d'Elégance, Blenheim Palace (30 August-2 September, salonpriveconcours.com) can't come soon enough. With a glass of something special in your hand, relax and wander among the gorgeous motorcars destined to be displayed at this five-star event.
Still feeling on cloud nine after Blenheim? Then spoil yourself rotten by starting the new month with a visit to Concours of Elegance, Hampton Court (1-3 September, concoursofelegance.co.uk). If you have to ask the price of a car, you can't afford it.
Not so the goodies presented for inspection and purchase at the Beaulieu International Autojumble (2-3 September, beaulieu.co.uk). This sister event to the Spring Autojumble in May is the place to go for that much-needed historic part. As they say, 'If you can’t find it at Beaulieu, it doesn’t exist!'.
If more recent 1980s and '90s 1car culture is more your thing, then RADwood UK (2 September, hagerty.co.uk) at Bicester Heritage in Oxfordshire is the place to be. Forget the Festival of the Unexceptional – this all about flash and excess, graphics and accessories. Make sure to dress up.
Talking of which, dressing up is pretty much a requirement of attendance at the Goodwood Revival (8-10 September, goodwood.com), only not in 1980s or '90s garb but in the styles of the 1940s, '50s or '60s. Actually, not everyone does don their period finest but it helps to get into the mood if you do. Thus attired, enjoy the dancing, the live music and the village dedicated to pre-loved and handmade possessions or head to the grandstands to watch the period racing.
Which brings us to the summer event to end all summer events: NSRA Hot Rod Drags (15-17 September, santapod.co.uk). Held at the famous Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire, it's a celebration of all things hot rod. Expect drag races galore and away from the famous quarter-mile strip enjoy displays, live music, a fun fair and, ending summer with a bang, fireworks.