If you are coming to the Cheltenham festival for the first time, you might find the following general information handy. It’s only a small collection of personal thoughts but I hope it helps you get the best from the ‘greatest show on turf’.
What to Wear to the Cheltenham Festival
The festival is more relaxed that Aintree’s Grand National meeting in the Majors view and is nothing like the dress standards of Ascot.
Essentially, to fit in with the smart set, some tweed is required. If you do not wear it normally though, I wouldn’t bother, you can look a prize idiot if it is not your usual attire.
Equally a really smart work suit will make you look fine, but is unnecessary. There will be plenty of people in jeans and shirt even in club so you really don’t need a suit. If you normally prefer a suit then of course plenty will join you, the Major only points out it is notnecessary.
The Majors advice is to wear your usual casual comfortable clothes. You will be on your feet for the whole day and it is worth being comfortable. As I point out, dress codes are fairly relaxed.
This applies to ladies too – not many dress in summer or really showy dresses. Comfortable and smart is the order of the day.
To and From the Course
The racecourse is a fair few miles from Cheltenham centre. There is plenty of parking on the fields around the course so driving is no problem.
Traffic is horrendous though, so either be early or be prepared to do a lot of queuing.
The traffic should also put you off getting a taxi to the course.
Buses are on constant stream during festival week and it’s normally about £4 return from the station. You sit in the same traffic but can often jump out and walk the last bit up the hill to the course.
Personally, if in town, I would walk. It is a pleasant stroll through Pittville, one of Cheltenham’s nicer suburbs. It will take you about 20 minutes from the centre of town or 40 from the train station. You will absorb the atmosphere, the chatter, the Irish accents, the touts, the heather sellers, the buskers and all walks of life.
Incidentally, arriving at the train station is a nice way of doing it. The pub over the road is normally sponsored by Betfair (freebies being handed out, usually scarves!) and it has a huge barbecue on the front.
Breakfast in Cheltenham
Some of the commentators who have kindly contributed their thoughts in the ‘It’s My Cheltenham’ section, will have mentioned favourite breakfast spots. Many pubs offer a Guinness and breakfast and take your pick, the Major has little view but if you want a recommendation, the breakfast in the House of Fraser is well positioned and good value.
The pubs in Cheltenham are a highlight of the festival experience and you are spoilt for choice. In general it is standing room only and most pubs are spilling out onto the pavement.
If you like your sport then I would recommend Tailors just off the pedestrianised High Street. Big screens, plenty of staff and packed.
For a wide range of boozers from your pubs pub to a classier drink, head up to Montpellier. The wine bar can be a bit pretentious but good fun, there is an O’Neills and a couple of old school pubs worth a visit to.
you cannot take drink onto the racecourse so I am afraid you will be stuck with the £4 per pint!