MELBOURNE’S Spring Racing Carnival isn’t just about the horses. With 92 events, there’s something for aspiring fashionistas, cocktail snobs, gourmet lovers and party animals! Hui Jun Ng has your ultimate cheat sheet.
The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is an annual horse racing series. Every year, the event attracts thousands of Australians, who line up to watch jockeys and horses win more than $50 million in prizes.
The carnival is one of Melbourne’s oldest institutions and something no student should miss while they’re here. After all, it’s the only time of the year when you can wear your finest outfit and sip champagne on a beautifully manicured lawn without looking crazy!
Tickets for all events can be bought online. The most popular sell out quickly, so it’s a good idea to buy early.
There are four carnivals held during Spring Racing season, which runs from 31 August -24 November. They are the BMW Caulfield Cup, the Sportingbet Cox Plate, the Melbourne Cup and the Spring Country.
Spring Racing events are held at the most picturesque racetracks all across Victoria. But for a true high-class and traditional taste of the carnival, stick to Flemington. It’s the closest race course to the city and the most beautiful.
How to prepare:
#OOTD: Headwear is key to Spring Racing. Trends come and go, but this year, the ladies will be channeling The Great Gatsby with timeless, monochrome pieces.
If you have a lot of cash to splash or just want to dream, check out the city’s top milliners like Brett Morley, Louise MacDonald Milliner, Serena Lindeman and Leighanne Michelle. Their designer hats go for thousands, so for a much more affordable piece, check out Myer, David Jones, or your favourite clothing store. Everyone from Portmans to Forever New releases a collection of hats just for the Spring Racing season.
Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t make your own. With some fabric and beads from Spotlight, you can make a hat or fascinator or simply jazz up something you bought from the shops. Check out blogs like Fizzle Out for ideas and DIY guides.
As for the guys, a classic fedora hat and bow/tie never go astray during Spring Racing, especially once you hear that some restaurants on the racetracks have a no-denim policy. This year, slim fit and well-tailored suits are right on trend. Don’t be afraid to experiment with bright colours or styles.
And while it sounds frivolous, taking a little extra care with what you wear to the races can pay off – sometimes more than the winning horse. Most Spring Carnival events have a best dressed competition with incredible prizes. At last year’s Derby Day, the Field Men’s race wear category prize included the use of a brand new Lexus RX 350 Prestige model for 12 months!
It’s a good idea to check out the Spring Racing Carnival website before you start planning your outfit. Every event has its own dress code and fashion trends.
What to bring on the day:
Sunscreen and umbrellas are strongly recommended. In case of an emergency, Band-Aids, bobby bins, eye drops, SPF lip balms and an extra pair of ballet flats are lifesavers. Make sure your shoes are comfortable as you’ll be on your feet for a long time. If you insist on wearing heels, opt for wedges so you don’t sink into the lawn. Otherwise, buy those little plastic caps to put on your heels. You can get them from Big W, Target or any other chain store.
It’s a good idea to pack your own food and beverages to avoid the long queues at overpriced food bars, but bear in mind you can’t bring alcohol.
Which Spring Races to look out for:
BMW Caulfield Cup Day
Saturday, 19 October
General admission from $35
On the track, horses race to win $2.65 million; while on the lawn, punters battle it out at the Chadstone Fashion Stakes Finals. Live entertainment by Melbourne’s most prominent DJs will be spinning at The Young Member’s Marquee and The Boulevard. Gourmet dishes will be available at Bernborough Restaurant and Black Caviar Restaurant Silver. Be warned that toilet queues at this large-scale event are going to be long. Tickets are available online.
AAMI Derby Day
Saturday, 2 November
General Admission from $75
The most prestigious day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the AAMI Victoria Derby Day embodies a world of glamour and sophistication. The true fashionistas attend Derby Day, so expect to see plenty of outrageous outfits in black and white – the traditional colour scheme of the race day. Tickets are available online.
Emirates Melbourne Cup
Tuesday, 5 November
General Admission from $75
The ‘Race that Stops the Nation’ is the jewel of the Spring Racing Carnival. It is the year’s most exclusive and glamorous sporting event with $6.2 million for the winning horse. Off the track, the luxurious marquees will be packed with local and international celebrities. While on the lawn, the fashion is a rainbow of brightly coloured hues. Hats are essential and a yellow rose is the flower of the day. Tickets can be purchased online.
Crown Oaks Day
Thursday, 7 November
General admission from $48
This one is for the ladies and is known as ‘the ultimate style day’. Adhering to its feminine theme, the official flower is unsurprisingly the pink rose. Australia’s largest outdoor fashion event, Myer Fashions on the Field Women’s Race Wear Competition, will be held and ladies clad in gorgeous race wear will compete for more than $400,000 worth of prizes. Tickets can be purchased online.