For about two hundred years, the movements of the English Royal family defined that country's social season. They were in London from April through July and from October through Christmas and during those months well-bred young women were launched into society with a formal introduction to the monarch and six months of parties, balls and other events. Over time, some of those events ranging from concerts to horse races bacame milestones on the British social calendar.
The kiss of death for the formal social season occurred in 1957 when Queen Elizabeth ended the practice of debutante presentations at court, but many of the events, such as Royal Ascot and Wimbledon, live on. And in 2009 Debrett's, the publisher of Peerage & Baronetage, the genealogical guide to the British aristocracy, attempted to define a modern social season with the publication of On Tour: Debrett's New Season from Glyndebourne to Glastonbury. Instead of social occasions built around debutantes, Debrett's redefined season is comprised of dozens of European events that are worth attending because they are interesting of their own accord.
On Tour was sponsored by Mercedez Benz so it is perhaps no coincidence that each of the events is within driving distance of London, and the descriptions of many of them include driving directions with points of interest along the way. But, rather than a distraction, this adds to the book in my opinion. Where there are no directions, there are recommendations for complementary activities, so that, for example, the pages on The Grand National horse race include recommendations for a hotel, restaurant and a complementary weekend activity or two in Liverpool. Who would have known?
There is something for everyone in On Tour, ranging from auto races to food festivals to the Vienna State Opera Ball and the book will be useful to remind the reader of opportunities for variety on trips that might otherwise be spent only in hotels in various capital cities. For that it is highly recommended.
192 pages and about £25.00 in the UK or $30 on Amazon in the United States.