It goes without saying that the Cheltenham Festival is one of the highlights of the horseracing calendar, attracting a quarter of a million people every year. But how do you make the very best of your festival experience with so many people around, and how can you beat the crowds to the best parking, the best view, the best restaurants and the biggest post-race party?
A successful day for the Cheltenham Festival visitor takes almost as much planning as it does for the Cheltenham trainers. But with so much of your day pre-bookable online at the Cheltenham Festival website, with a little forethought you can lead the field from the starting gate to the finish line and beyond.
Pre-booking parking not only saves you time and hassle on the day, it also guarantees you a space for around half the price. Book online for just £8 per day, or you will pay £15 on the gate and risk being turned away when the car parks are full.
The next most important thing is to book your stand to guarantee your spot for the big races. The best value is the Best Mate stand, which is just £40 a day for the first three days and £55 on Gold Cup day. This is opposite the main stand and gives you a great view, although you won’t have the same access to additional areas as other ticket holders do. At £55 / £70, Tattseralls offers grandstand views, as well as access to pre- and post-race areas such as the parade ring and unsaddling area. You’ll also get access to the Hall of Fame and the Shopping Village, making it well worth the extra few pounds.
Top of the line is The Club, the most exclusive enclosure at the Festival, costing £85 (or £110 on Gold Cup Day). This badge includes all areas access, including the very best views, the finest restaurants and much more. The Club badge also allows you access to the famous Final Flight Bar, where you’ll find live music and a great party atmosphere from the moment the final horse crosses the line until late into the night. The Final Flight Bar is a major attraction at The Festival, and if you don’t book in advance, you may not get in at all. Tickets for the bar start at £30, in addition to your Club badge or Annual Membership.
With several restaurants overlooking the course, you can dine in style at Cheltenham without missing a moment of the action. For the best pre-race views, check out Champions Walk (which overlooks the horsewalk) and the Paddock View Restaurant (which overlooks the parade ring). For views of the course itself, try Chez Roux at Cheltenham or the Panoramic Restaurant, both of which have breathtaking views across the course. You can book ticket and restaurant packages in advance to guarantee your table and claim the best possible view.
Of course, you don’t have to pay fancy restaurant prices to satisfy your hunger at Cheltenham, with a huge range of food outlets catering to every budget. That said, if you pick the right horse from the Cheltenham Festival odds, you might just be able to upgrade that beer and a burger to fine wine and a filet steak!
At the end of the day, Cheltenham should be a great day out, with as little stress and hassle as possible, so plan ahead and make sure you make the most of the fantastic Festival experience.