The Best Of Melbourne: A Day At The Races

The festival does not simply focus on the horse racing, but revels in its history and rich sense of fashion.

Melbourne Cup horse race
Photo: Flickr/nikkichick88

The weeklong Melbourne Cup Carnival provides the perfect opportunity to dress up, grab some drinks, pack a picnic, and head down to Australia’s most famous racecourse with a group of friends or family. The carnival recently finished and lasted from Saturday the 31st of October to Saturday the 7th of November, with four days of premier horse racing and high-end fashion.

The main event happens the Tuesday, Emirates Melbourne Cup Day, which sits at the top of the Australian horse racing calendar and is one of the world’s premier horse racing events. The greatest thoroughbred horses from around the world come together at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse to compete for millions of dollars in prize money. The festival does not simply focus on the horse racing, but revels in its history and rich sense of fashion.

The first Melbourne Cup occurred in 1861, for the meager grand prize of 710 gold sovereigns and has continued and grown strongly through to the present day where the grand prize on Cup Day reaches over six million dollars. The Melbourne Cup was Australia’s first race run in Australia where prize money exceeded one million dollars for an individual champion. Today, Melbourne Cup Day is not the only day dishing out major prize money, with over a million dollars in prize money to be won on any of the other race days, making everyday of the festival just as thrilling. The infamous Flemington betting ring is a fantastic site as people rush in and out of the crowded area throwing down countless numbers of bets in hopes of making a return. Personally, I lost every dollar I put down, but that did not take away from my enjoyment of my day at the races.

2014 Melbourne Cup
Photo: Flickr/Chris Phutully

Perhaps the most imposing part of the festival is the fashion culture. Some of the Australia’s biggest celebrities step out to the races, sporting their most vibrant floral headpieces and sportiest suits. Each day has a dress code and flower of the day, with corsages available for purchase to match. Multiple fashion shows are on hand at the event, as well as international coverage of the various dresses and suits being worn. The festival revolves around Cup Day, therefore making it the premier day to stand out in the most flamboyant outfit possible. For women, appropriate headwear is easily rented in the city and for men, putting on a sport coat, collared shirt, and nice pants are the minimum required.

Despite a definite focus on high fashion and the glamour of spending a day at one of the world’s most renowned racetracks, the event is affordable and family friendly. Student and family discounts are offered and the final day of the festival, Emirates Stakes Day, is family day. Family day gives attendees the opportunity to sport more relaxed fashion as well as providing plenty of activities for children to enjoy, while still making available the betting ring, bars, and frozen cocktail booths for parents trying to relax.

Melbourne Cup
Photo: Will Grine

Taking place at the beginning of Australia’s summer, the Melbourne Cup Carnival gives the perfect opportunity for one to enjoy a day in the sun with friends, sip on a cool beverage, and look your most dapper. It is one of Australia’s most famous sporting events and is a world-renowned festival, making it a must do event if you happen to be in Melbourne while it is going down.

Evan Molineux

Evan's favorite country in the world is Canada. His travel style is to keep it real, relaxed, and experience something dangerous now and then. Ask him what he loves to do and he'll say "roll with nature's flow." You'll never find Evan without a disposable camera, lip balm, and yoga pants, they're must-haves no matter what he goes.

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