Visiting England's Greatest Horse Racing Festivals

Horse Racing

When it comes to horse-racing extravaganzas, here in Britain we really know how to put on a show. Attracting the world’s best jockeys, horses, trainers and owners, the key meetings in the UK flat and jumps racing seasons never fail to entertain. 

These racing festivals also make for a delightful trip, whether you’re visiting from near or afar. If you’re getting ready to book your vacation for the next year, it’s worth keeping these three fabulous festivals in mind. 

Fancy a Flutter? 

At each of the racing festivals listed below, there are, of course, plenty of betting markets to get stuck into.



On-course betting is a staple of British racing, but it's also possible to place bets in advance both online and with traditional bookmakers. Most punters prefer the first option, however, since there are some tasty free horse racing bets promotions to take advantage of. 

The Best of the Best

Cheltenham Festival

Taking place at the ‘greatest racecourse in the world’, the Cheltenham Festival – aka The Festival™ is the pinnacle of the British jumps racing season. Running over a total of 4 days in early spring, the festival features globally renowned races such as the Stayers’ Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. 

There’s a lot more than just racing to enjoy at the meeting, however, as live music, fine dining and even luxury shopping are on offer every year. 

Where: Cheltenham Racecourse, Evesham Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 4SH

How to get there: Dedicated bus services for The Festival run between Cheltenham Spa Railway Station, Cheltenham Town Centre and the Racecourse for each day of the event.

Where to stay: There are plenty of accommodations near the Racecourse to suit all budgets. The Jockey Club recommends the 5 star Ellenborough Park hotel, the 4 star DoubleTree by Hilton Cheltenham and the 3 star Holiday Inn Express Cheltenham Town Centre. 

Royal Ascot

With its rich and long history, Royal Ascot is a summer event that is easily the jewel in the crown of the British horseracing calendar – pun intended. The meeting is even attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself. Featuring five days of racing and three different enclosures to watch the proceedings from, Royal Ascot takes place every year in June. 

Day one of the festival is typically the day for racing purists, while day three is a must for fashionistas. Feature races included the prestigious Gold Cup and the Platinum Jubilee Stakes. 

Where: Ascot Racecourse, High St, Ascot SL5 7JX

How to get there: Regular trains run to and from Ascot station from Guildford, London Waterloo and Reading, with average journey times ranging from 27 minutes (Reading) to 52 minutes (Waterloo). Ascot Racecourse is a seven-minute walk from the railway station. 

Where to stay: The Royal meeting works with no less than 31 accommodation partners, ranging from Ayoola Serviced Accommodation to Coworth Park Country House. More budget-friendly options can be found at the Highclere Hotel and the Travelodge Bracknell Central. 

Newmarket July Festival

As the home of British horse racing, several important meetings are held at Newmarket throughout the year. For holidaymakers, the most appealing is undoubtedly the Newmarket July Festival, sponsored by Moet and Chandon. 

The three-day meeting includes plenty of Group racing, such as the Group One Darley July Cup and the Group One Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes. 

Where: July Racecourse, Cambridge Road, Newmarket CB8 0XE

How to get there: Regular train services connect Newmarket railway station to Cambridge and Ipswich, with further connections available at Cambridge to the North and the Midlands. 

Where to stay: There are several hotels within easy reach of Newmarket racecourse. The prestigious Jockey Club Rooms are located on Newmarket High Street, while the more affordable Packhorse Inn and Premier Inn are a tad further afield. 


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