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Horse Racing Festivals To Put The Calendar For May And June

Matt Crisp April 15, 2024

It seems that we have only just waved off winter, but it will soon be the height of the horse racing season in the UK. Whether you are an experienced racegoer or just curious about trying this unique and exciting day out, May and June offer some highlights of the UK horse racing festival calendar. 

If you want to split the transport costs and avoid any hassles about parking, why not consider hiring a coach to sort out your travel to one of these favourite events. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. 

The QIPCO Guineas Festival, 3-5 May 2024, Newmarket

The Newmarket Racecourses need no introduction as the home of flat racing, where the events attract competitors and spectators from all over the world. The QIPCO 2000 and 1000 Guineas are historic races that can trace their roots on the Rowley Mile back to the 19th century. 

Mark the first Bank Holiday weekend of the season with style as you watch some of the best young horses and jockeys in the world line up. The event is designed to test the paces of the current crop of three-year-old colts and fillies. For those who like a flutter, there is ample opportunity to back an up and coming star of the future.

Newmarket isn’t all about the racing of course. It’s an all-round day out with entertainment and first-class hospitality to enjoy. The surrounding area also has much to offer, with many local stud yards offering tours and peaceful countryside walks to explore. The historic city of Cambridge is just 14 miles away if you want to make a longer visit.

Ascot Racing Weekend, May 10-11 2024

The Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% Racing Weekend offers world class racing and a brilliant festive atmosphere, culminating in the seven-furlong-handicap Victoria Cup Raceday on Saturday 11 May. 

It’s a prestigious occasion, with the choice of elevated viewing of the track and parade ring from the King Edward VII Enclosure, or trackside viewing from the Queen Anne enclosure.  

There’s also post-racing entertainment, with Europe’s number one Mumford and Sons tribute band, Chasing Mumford, taking the headline slot. They will be supported by other musical favourites including Pixie Lott, The Hoosiers, Razorlight, Toploader, Texas, Scouting for Girls, B*Witched, and many more. 

Dante Festival, York, 15-17 May

The historic city of York is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year, and if you are a racing fan then your season may well start here. The Dante Festival at the Knavesmire Race Ground is a prestigious event on the racing calendar, as well as a social occasion that can be enjoyed by all the family.

It’s great value for money, with children under the age of 18 admitted for free if they are accompanied by an adult. There are baby changing facilities in each enclosure and a parent and toddler room located in the Marble entrance with child supplies and entertainment. 

There are several food and drink options for families and children, plus big screens and a variety of musical entertainment.  

The Betfred Derby Festival, Epsom Downs Racecourse, 31 May -1 June 2024

Epsom is another place that is intertwined with the proud history of British horseracing. The Derby festival is for three-year old horses only, so there’s no better time to see future champions of the turf in action.

The Classic race is run over a mile and a half, with a long uphill section that requires a special mixture of speed, stamina and balance. The first running of the Derby stakes was recorded on 4 May 1780, and the winner was Diomed, owned by Sir Charles Bunbury. 

Epsom Racecourse is also famed for its connection to the women’s Suffrage movement, when Emily Wilding Davison disrupted the Derby by stepping in the path of the King’s horse. There is still some debate as to whether Davison was attempting to stop the horse as a political protest, or if it was a deliberate attempt at self-harm.

In any case, she was trampled as the horse and jockey came down on top of her, and later died of her injuries. The jockey was also seriously injured, although he and the horse apparently made a good recovery. 

Epsom Derby promises a great day out with a range of ticket options and stands to choose from. There’s also world-class hospitality with fine dining experiences and picnic and hamper packages on offer.