It's the thundering of hooves against the infamous Flemington Racecourse; tension thick in the air as the most powerful thoroughbreds in the world sprint towards the finish and fists clench bubbly drinks as bets hang electric in the air. The first Tuesday of November is just around the corner, marking the 155th anniversary of the Melbourne Cup- one of the most prestigious handicap horse races in the world.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival is comprised of four race days: Victoria Derby, Melbourne Cup day, Crown Oaks day and Emirates Stakes day. It was first held in 1861, and since has gained worldwide recognition for its fashion, parties and of course, the races. From extravagant hats to designers and celebrities flaunting their tailored talents, to becoming part of an annual event draped in traditions and history: the racecourse draws a vibrant international crowd ready for a thrill, and if you enjoy the same, it promises all of the expected glitz and glory. Got your bags packed and top hat on? Here are a few of the most important tips to consider for a safe, affordable and unforgettable experience.
Myer Fashions on the Field
In 1962, as the number of race attendees dwindled, the Myer Fashions on the Field competition was launched to crown the best dressed male and female of the Melbourne Cup. It was a change meant to lure the ladies and improve attendee numbers, but ultimately, it became an integral part of the Melbourne Cup as a whole. Today, Myer Fashions on the Field is regarded as the largest outdoor fashion event in Australia, and each year celebrities, media and fashionistas trot to the track to see and be seen in their fanciest hats and attire. A high-end fashion show might scream "designer" and "expensive", but you'll find that's not all it's about, as creativity truly shines at the show, with dreamy secondhand finds and clever homemade get ups that add to the racecourse style culture. If you want to dress your best, remember to keep it conservative, with dresses and skirts to the knees (although mini dresses and shorts have been sported in the past and met with raised eyebrows). Gals, save on a fascinator by waiting last minute to purchase one, as store prices drop the final few days before festivities begin.
Transportation & Accommodation
It can be easy to put off booking a place to stay or coordinating transportation until an event is only a hop, skip and jump away. With the Melbourne Cup, this is a huge mistake to avoid. First off, it's a holiday in Australia (which means no work, with the exception of bars and restaurants), and it's a major event that brings in travelers from all over the world. For accommodation, it's recommended to book your hotel well in advance, as early as one year. For transportation, nix the headaches that come with driving there yourself. In fact, don't even think about it getting mixed up in the hectic-ness. Same goes for organizing a taxi- the traffic and meter prices aren't worth the hassle. A low cost, convenient option that doesn't require a designated driver? Take the tram. It runs multiple times daily to cater to the race crowd and it drops off/picks up attendees straight from Flemington Racecourse.
Carnival Events & Parties
With thoroughbred racing comes money and with money comes sweet anticipation. There is no other event like the Melbourne Cup Carnival anywhere in the world, with fancy breakfasts that begin with a glass of sparkling champagne, a fine assortment of the trendiest foods and beverages to choose from, and parties alighting all over the great city of Melbourne, as all eyes turn to the races. From car boot parties in the parking lots to lavish picnics and the exclusive Melbourne Cup Birdcage, where the celebrities and socialites play- The hunt for a party won't take long, as the celebratory atmosphere is overflowing with champagne bubbles and blissful vibes.
Keep abreast of Melbourne Cup events not only happening at Flemington, but all over the city. When drinking and eating at the races, it's fun to indulge in some of the tasty treats that will be provided, but if you're looking to save some cash, bring food for a picnic and splurge on a decadent snack instead. If you want to amp up your race day experience with some alcoholic beverages, save by enjoying some pre-race drinks at homebase before heading out (of course, responsibly and by not driving under the influence). Want to have your own party but can't get into the Birdcage? Flemington offers a number of elegant Marquees perfect to party with race day finesse.