There are plenty of fantastic sporting events that take place in the UK, but there’s arguably none as special as the Cheltenham Festival.
This event dates back to 1860 and always promises a fantastic atmosphere and plenty of memorable moments. There’s a reason, after all, that many people make a point of going year after year — it has a social highlight of the year that they look forward to again and again.
But of course, while there’s much to admire about the people who turn up every March, each year there are also people who are visiting for the first time.
It could be that they’ve only recently found their love of horse racing, or it might be just the first opportunity they’ve had.
In this blog, we’re going to focus on the first-timers. We’ll run through some essential tips that’ll ensure you have a fantastic time.
So fantastic, in fact, that we’re sure it won’t be your last trip to this iconic festival.
Cheltenham Festival is world-famous, and, as such, the best tickets and hotels and so forth can sell out pretty quickly. It’s best to begin planning your trip as soon as you know that you want to go.
This will ensure that you can get the tickets you want (there are multiple options) and that you don’t pay too much for your hotel room. You’ll also pay less for your car rental, if you need one.
By planning early, you’ll also be able to decide which day(s) you want to attend. It could be that you want to go on Ladies Day, St Patrick’s Thursday, or Gold Cup Day — or all three!
While there are cost savings and logistical advantages to be had, the other advantage of just booking early is that you get to look forward to attending the festival, secure in the knowledge that the essentials have been taken care of.
Where To Stay
It’s really important that you book your hotel early. Given how many people attend the festival, there really aren’t as many hotels in the area as you might think.
As with all places everywhere, the range of quality can vary. It’s worth remembering, however, that you’re unlikely to spend too much of your time in your hotel, so the emphasis should be on location, cost, and cleanliness.
Unless you’re a high roller, you won’t need the best hotel room in the area. You won’t be there!
The Main Action
There’s plenty to enjoy at the Cheltenham Races, but it’s the horse racing that steals the show. Put simply, these are the most prestigious and exciting races you’ll find anywhere on earth, and that makes for a fantastic atmosphere.
While you can enjoy the races even as a total newcomer to the sport, you’ll find that it’s more enjoyable when you have a deeper understanding of what’s going on, so be sure to read up on some expert horse racing tips before you go.
Starting the Day Right
Cheltenham days can be extremely fun, but they’re also extremely long. As such, you’ll need to have plenty of energy on your side if you’re going to go the distance!
There are many restaurants there, but you should visit them for pleasure, not because you’re getting close to starvation.
Our advice is to ensure that you have a big breakfast. It’ll be delicious and give you energy — and also, it’s a perfect opportunity to have a mimosa with your travelling companions.
Make the Most of All That’s On Offer
We mentioned earlier how horse racing is the star of the show — especially on Gold Cup Day — but that it isn’t the entire show.
One of the many reasons why Cheltenham Festival remains so popular is that it offers visitors so much. You can eat, you can shop, you can dance.
On the grounds, you’ll find a selection of world-class restaurants that can really take your trip to the next level, while there are also some seventy stores too.
And these aren’t just any stores — they’re high-end, bespoke stores. Definitely worth poking your head in!
And finally, there’s the music. There are several stages scattered throughout the grounds. When you want a quick break from the racing, simply head on over to one of the stages and have a little dance.
If the sun is shining, there really isn’t anything better.
Embrace the Crowds
You can’t have everything your own way all the time. If you’re going to attend the Cheltenham Festival, then you’ll have to accept that you’re not going to be the only one there.
The crowds can be extensive, and private space can be at a premium! Unless you’re paying extra to be in a VIP area, you’ll have people around you all day.
You can resist it and cause yourself misery, or you can accept that this is part of the Cheltenham Festival experience and embrace it.
Around the Festival
You may come for the Cheltenham Festival, but that doesn’t mean that you have to only come for the horse racing. There are plenty of other attractions in the Cheltenham area!
So if you’re making the trip to this corner of the UK, why not look at taking some time to see the sights after the races are over?
There’s much to love about exploring all the quaint villages of the Cotswolds, for example, or paying a trip to the nearly thousand-year-old Sudeley Castle.
Book the Following Days Off Work
Finally, our last word of advice is to take some time off work after the festival. Cheltenham provides a great time, but you’ll be tired afterwards.
Thankfully, the last day is on a Friday, but if you’ve taken our advice above and you’re sticking around to see what else is in the area, then you might not be getting back home until Sunday.
So why not indulge and book Monday off work too? It’ll give you a chance to decompress from the event rather than diving right back into the humdrum of everyday life.