The Royal Windsor Horse Show: A marquee event with large scale catering


Event Type: Outdoor/ Marquee event

No. of Guests: Thousands

Venue: The Castle Arena, Windsor

Catering Styles: From exclusive sit-down dining to mass public catering


The Royal Windsor Horse Show has been going since 1943 and has a great history in the British equestrian and events calendars. This large outdoor event is set over 5 days and hosts thousands of guests at every level – from exclusive enclosures to mass catering for public attendees.

Payne & Gunter is proud to have managed and catered the event for the last 10 years. As large event caterers this type of occasion is our forte, where we deliver high-end hospitality and various types of public catering options. This prestigious equestrian event is quintessentially British, and with Royal attendees (as the name would allude to), draws crowds from across the globe.

The Site Setting

The setting may begin as a greenfield site, The Castle Arena in Windsor, but we know how to construct a village – marquee event catering at its finest.

Whilst a stunning location, it is not without its challenges: a large-scale operation spread across the grounds of Windsor Castle can be logistically complex. Creating both private hospitality and public catering solutions requires a depth and breadth of expertise in catering for large events at significant scale. This is where Payne & Gunter’s highly qualified team come in, making sure kitchens are constructed from scratch, and diverse dining experiences ‘pop-up’ across the site.

A beauty of a Pageant

The Pageant at Royal Windsor Horse Show 2019 was an equestrian and musical feast of entertainment that celebrated the 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria.

The show brought together memorable events and aspects of Victoria’s era, including music from Elgar, the music hall, and Gilbert & Sullivan, to author Charles Dickens, rail travel and the Industrial Revolution. A cast of artists, dancers, and performers, together with 500 participants, more than 400 horses and 30 carriages featured in the pageant.

The Windsor Enclosure, which hosted the pageant, offered seating for guests along with an outdoor bar and bistro area offering meals, light bites, and evening drinks.

Royal Windsor Horse Show Pageant

A Champagne Reception

Laurent Perrier, the event sponsor, ensured there were plenty of toasts during the event – with over 750 bottles of champagne to keep the guests feeling bubbly.

High spirits were upheld with thousands of bottles of wine, and plenty of ale and beer consumed by the guests. 

In the box thinking

Dishes fit for a King, or indeed the Queen, were served up in the hospitality boxes, offering a taste of British summertime with dishes like Dorset Crab and Pimm’s trifle.

In fact, 888 guests were served in the Royal Box over the duration of the show, meaning 2,664 dishes were prepared and enjoyed by the discerning guests. This scale and quality of catering requires careful planning including menu creation, serving logistics, and consistent quality.

It’s all in the details, which could be seen with the bespoke uniforms that were made and worn by Payne & Gunter staff to create an elegant and polished finish.

Royal Windsor Horse Show menu

Cooking for the crowd

Variety is the spice of life, and catering to different tastes and preferences was made possible with 34 concession units for public catering.

These ranged from street food, fish and chips, posh sausage rolls, artisan pizza, crepes, burgers, and Yorkshire pudding wraps.

Refreshments were available from coffee carts and craft beer, prosecco, and cocktail vans – so attendees were spoilt for choice.

Putting us through our paces

We need to be all over the place (in a good way) when catering large-scale events, and our lead Operational Manager clocked up nearly 200,000 steps over the 5 day event - smashing their daily steps target whilst ensuring the event went on without a hitch.

Royal Windsor Horse Show parade

And the proof of the pudding is… well, in the organiser’s opinion:


“Bethan and Lucy have a quiet, reassuring professionalism about them, which comes with real experience, ensuring whatever the challenges and circumstances, Payne & Gunter will never fail to compromise on quality and service.

But just as important, this is always delivered with smiles, kindness and the human touch.”

Sarah Rutherford Jones, Sponsorship and Corporate Hospitality, HPower