Off to the races

Find out the right ticket for you and what's on offer at Newmarket's famous July Festival

With exhilarating racing, luxurious hospitality, live music, a cracking atmosphere and of course, plenty of fabulous outfits, Newmarket Racecourse’s July Festival returns with a bang this month. It runs across a three-day period from 12 to 14 July, and in that time, over 90,000 strawberries will be served and 8,500 bottles of champagne popped, which is why the event is one of the region’s social highlights of the summer. Fancy a flutter? Here’s your ultimate guide to the Moët & Chandon July Festival 2018.

What’s On 

12 July: Thursday is Ladies Day, when fashionistas from far and wide gather in a flurry of style and sparkling wine. For the most sartorially dedicated, there’s the chance to enter the Style Awards Best Dressed Lady competition. 

13 July: Time for Feel Good Friday! Grab your friends and get down to the Racecourse for a packed day of world class racing in the (hopefully!) sunshine. It’s the perfect way to start the weekend and celebrate Suffolk in the summer. 

14 July: Saturday is the finale of the racing action, with the Darley July Cup taking place. This Group 1 Race sees some of the top racehorses competing for the win and the winner is often acknowledged as the very best sprinter in Europe. It’s also Family Day and children under 18 are welcome in all enclosures. Gather your brood and let them loose with inflatables, face painting and craft activities, plus soak up live music throughout the course. 

Which Ticket? 

If you’ve not been to the races before, the first thing you need to figure out is which kind of ticket you need, as this will denote which enclosures and stands you have access to. 

In the Garden Enclosure, you can pack up a hamper with your favourite pork pies, dips and scones and soak up the atmosphere for a minimal cost. Picnics are allowed and you’re welcome to bring a bottle of bubbly in too (though bear in mind you’re limited to a bottle of wine or four cans per adult). 

The Grandstand and Paddock Enclosures, meanwhile, are the place to be for the social racegoer, with music and live entertainment throughout the day. 

For the best views of the July Course, the Premier Enclosure is your best option, and also gives you access to the other enclosures. You’ll be able to enjoy facilities including the elegant, light-filled Summer House restaurant too, which boasts a great menu and offers an ideal retreat from the hustle and bustle of a busy race day. 

Don’t stress though – if you change your mind about where you want to be on the day, drop into the information kiosk and you can upgrade your ticket. 

Race Day Style 

The fashion at the races is an event in itself, and lots of people like to go all out: expect to see plenty of dapper suits and bright cocktail dresses, not to mention dazzling headwear. Racegoers in the Premier Enclosure tend to go high-octane glam, whereas in the Grandstand, Paddock and Garden Enclosures, the dress code is a more relaxed, jeans and T-shirt affair. 

Food & Drink

Food and drink are central to a fun day, and the Adnams July Course offers an array of options; from grab-and-go to finer dining and picnics (allowed only in the Garden Enclosure). If you want to really indulge, there are many hospitality packages. The Trackside Pavilions are back for 2018, offering exceptional views of the course, a top atmosphere and amazing cuisine across the weekend. Or, for the ultimate luxury, check out the Moët & Chandon Dining Experience, which includes a fully-inclusive bar, three-course meal and sumptuous afternoon tea. 

Place Your Bets!

Don’t know your each way from your evens? You’ll enjoy your day more if you know a little bit about betting and horses. Pick up a racecard from the course (which are £3.50 or £3 in advance – to be collected on the day) and you’ll find all the runners plus features and tips. Most bookmakers only accept bets of £5 or more, though the Tote will take bets from £2 which you can pay by credit or debit card. There are cash machines at the course, but these often charge for withdrawals, so it’s wise to bring some cash along on the day. 

After the Races

The fun continues after the racing ends with a lively Après Racing after party. Starting as the races come to an end, it’s the perfect way to finish your Festival. Blue’s Simon Webbe will be taking to the decks on Ladies Day and Heart FM hosts on Friday as racegoers enjoy cocktails and dancing for two hours after the last race.

Transport & Where to Stay

A 19-minute train takes you from Cambridge to Newmarket Train Station, and there are complimentary shuttle buses running throughout the day between Newmarket Station, the town centre and the racecourse. These begin approximately two hours before the first race and pick up from Newmarket Train Station and outside Hughes Electrical Store on Newmarket High Street. 

If you want to make a night of it, check out Bedford Lodge, a gorgeous hotel and spa with a fantastic on-site restaurant. 

The Packhorse Inn in Moulton, located five miles from the Rowley Mile racetrack, is another good option, offering antique-furnished rooms with emperor-sized beds and a five-star dining experience – a glam take on country rustic. For the ultimate raceday experience, see if you can snaffle a bed at the Jockey Club Rooms. First and foremost a private members’ club and headquarters of the Jockey Club, the spiritual home of British horseracing, the 18th century building offers 18 individually decorated rooms, views across the walled garden, luxurious bathrooms and incredible food, all set in stunning grounds. 

Top Tips

Camera – you’ll want to capture the day but don’t forget to disable the flash, so you don’t upset the horses.

Binoculars – to see the action up close, we recommend bringing binoculars. You can hire them on site, or alternatively there are big screens. 

Bags larger than 40cmx35cmx19cm will not be allowed in to the venue but you can leave luggage free of charge at the Course Office.