The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival – possibly the funnest event Melbourne has to offer IF you know how to prepare for it.
Every year, Melburnians manage to put on their fanciest hats and make the trek to Flemington to drink champagne in the sun, complain about how much their feet hurt and possibly catch a glimpse of the horses.
Whether you’re a seasoned racing aficionado or total newbie, we have a couple of tips to make sure this year’s carnival is your best yet.
TAKE IT EASY THE NIGHT BEFORE
The Spring Carnival is a marathon, not a sprint but sometimes you can’t help but get sucked into having one drink after work, then two, and three and well you know the rest…
The worst culprit is the Friday before Stakes Day and the Monday before Cup. Melbourne is pumping and everyone is rearing to go, but take it easy, pick your battles and just head home. Trust us.
But, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t get hangovers (we hate you) or just generally tends to ignore sound advice, we recommend you head to the Cup Day Eve party at the Temperance Hotel.
WHAT TO WEAR
Dressing for the Spring Carnival can seem like an impossible (and expensive) task but there is hope.
Three important things to remember.
Pay tribute to the tradition of the day you are attending, but don’t feel pressure to stick to the rules. Fashion in Melbourne is all about having a twist.
There is technically no dress code for general admission ticket-holders but that said, avoid anything that rides up or needs constant adjusting. Really anything that might make you an infamous star of the 6pm news. Lads, if you can’t move your arms in your suit jacket – please go a size up. Nothing worse than restrictive blazers that won’t allow you to dance along to YMCA.
Last but not least, wear shoes you know will go the distance. There is literally nothing tackier than whipping your shoes off and going barefoot for the afternoon.
*Hot tip! Take your hot new Insta photo at pres and switch into something comfier for the actual event. No one will ever know.
Trains, trams, buses. Public transport is your best bet to get to and from Flemington. You can drive in and park for $20 but who wants to deal with that.
The best way to avoid the crowds too, is to arrive early and leave before the last race. This also gives the best opportunity to scout drinks, toilets and ATMs before the throng of people set in.
EAT. OMG PLEASE EAT!
We get it, the drinks are flowing and in all the excitement of getting ready you simply forget to eat.
Yes we sound like your mum but we all know better than to drink on an empty stomach.
1. Have a big breakfast before you head out
2. Take food whenever it’s offered. Whether that’s finger-food in the marquee or food given to you from that group of friends who actually remembered to bring a picnic. Or, have some sneaky hot chips – we won’t judge and it’s worth the $11.
Same goes with water, no one likes the party-pooper who has to spend the afternoon dehydrated in the medical tent.
BETTING? WHO CARES?
Not a racing enthusiast? Don’t worry you really don’t have to place a bet but if you’re keen to try and win some cash, buy a race book and take a guess. Heads up, that’s all gambling really is.
WANT TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING? PLAN AHEAD.
As they say, after the show, there’s the after party but pick where you want to kick on to book ahead. Easy.
Lots of bars offer direct buses from the races to the party as well.
Our top picks?
LAST TIP. SEE A HORSE
You would be surprised how easy it is to go the whole carnival without seeing a horse. We get it, you’re having so much fun drinking, getting the perfect Insta shot and stopping for a chat with every Tom, Dick and Harry that you forget why the races are even happening.
The classic, “oh we had a great day but we didn’t see a single horse” isn’t very original. Or funny. See a darn horse!
By Mel Campbell