Camping in the queue at Wimbledon can be a lot more fun than it sounds and, if you do right, can get you Centre Court tickets to watch the best tennis players in the world.
Work out what you want to watch
The time you arrive in the queue will determine how good your tickets are for the following day’s play.
It is difficult to give accurate predictions for queue arrival timings because demand will vary greatly depending on the weather and the popularity of the players due to appear.
Wimbledon organisers say they hold around 500 Centre Court tickets for queuers each day up until the semi finals and finals, which are all pre-sold.
For No.1 Court and No.2 Court, 500 tickets each are available to queuers every day until the matches run out.
As a very rough benchmark, the latest queue arrival time for first Friday Centre Court tickets in 2012 was 6.45pm on Thursday. People who started queueing in the following hour were offered No.1 Court tickets.
Bear in mind this was for a mild-weathered Centre Court order of play which included Djokovic, Federer (who is very popular with tennis tourists from abroad) and home-grown Heather Watson.
If Andy Murray had been playing the cut-off point would have been much earlier; if Federer and Watson weren’t there it would have been later.
If you only want a ground pass - which gives you access to Henman Hill and all the outdoor courts - you can get away with arriving early on the morning of play.
How to queue
1. Turn up with a tent that is cheap and light
If you are coming by tube, use Southfields station and walk south down Wimbledon Park Road.
2. Enter the camping field
You’ll be directed to the end of the queue by the small army of Wimbledon helpers.
As you begin to set up your tent, you’ll be given a queueing card - the system prevents queuers holding places for friends arriving later.
3. Sit back and enjoy the atmosphere
People from all over the world (this usually includes plenty of Australian, Dutch, Spanish and Japanese fans) will be chatting to each other and some gathered around portable screens straining for reception for the evening’s matches.
You’re allowed off site briefly to pick up food and drink from local supermarkets, but queuers are all expected back in their tents by 10pm.
The park can house up to 2,000 campers and there are plenty of toilets, sinks, coffee stalls and burger vans.
4. Try to get some sleep
It can be cold overnight, so bring a warm sleeping bag and enough layers to be prepared for the varying temperatures of the British summer.
5. You’ll be woken by stewards at around 6am and asked to pack up your tents
Once everyone is ready, the queue compresses to person-width - rather than tent-width - apart. Overnight equipment can be stored in the on-site left luggage facility at a cost of £5.
6. From around 7.30am, staff will dispense wristbands for tickets starting at the front of the queue
You’ll be asked which court you prefer, but most fans will choose the best available ticket.
As you wait, newspaper vendors engage in an arms race of free gifts (bottled water, hessian bags, order of play leaflets) to tempt you to buy their rag.
7. The next two hours are spent waiting in your queueing position for the main gates to open at 9.30am
If you might tire of standing for that length of time, think about packing a foldable seat.
8. Once inside you can pay for your tickets at the turnstiles
You can choose where to sit from what is available. Think about whether you'll be looking into the sun and whether you want to sit on a baseline (for a TV-style view) or along a sideline.
9. There’s another hour or so of waiting behind a cordon
And then finally the public is let loose on the grounds. But the wait is worth it.
What to bring
Tickets sales are cash only. Centre Court tickets start at £45 each on the first Monday and are £101 on the second Thursday. No.1 Court tickets vary from £40 to £80, No.2 from £37 to £58.
See a full price list here.
Small two-man tents can be bought in supermarkets or camping shops from as little as £10.
- Wet weather gear
Lightweight plastic ponchos are on sale inside the grounds but will be much cheaper if you buy one beforehand and away from the Wimbledon area.
A change of clothes will be very welcome if you’ve been drenched in the queue.
Toilet blocks with sinks and mirrors are provided on site. Bring a toothbrush and a small wash kit.
- Food and drink
Pack food from home or pick it up from a nearby supermarket once your tent is up in order to save up for the strawberries and cream on sale within the grounds.
Ticket holders are allowed to take into the grounds one bottle of alcohol per person.
If you get a seat facing the sun, you could be squinting at the action for much of the day, especially as the sun lowers in the evening. If you're lucky with the weather you'll need a hat and suncream.
- Anti-allergy medication
There’s lots of grass at Wimbledon. If you suffer from hay fever, make sure you’re prepared.
More information on camping, queueing and ticket prices at Wimbledon can be found on the official website