The Ultimate Guide To Melbourne During The Melbourne Cup Carnival

And we’re racing! Best bets for the Melbourne Cup Carnival

While the undisputed heroes of the Melbourne Cup Carnival (3-10 November) are the horses and the Melbourne Cup, “the race that stops the nation™”, If you're travelling from South Australia to Melbourne for the big event, you'll also be keen to explore Melbourne’s atmosphere off the track. The city comes alive with an exhilarating culmination of fashion, racing, culinary experiences and people, reinforcing Melbourne’s unsurpassed reputation as a world-class events city. Below are top tips and experiences racegoers can bet on during their stay:

Get this season’s look

The fashion stakes will be higher than ever this year with the 50th anniversary of Fashions on the Field. Shoppers can choose from Melbourne’s well-heeled shopping precincts in South Yarra or Collins Street, or riffle through the city’s seductive network of atmospheric laneways where a vibrant community of “made in Melbourne” designers and craftspeople sell their bespoke creations. Visitors can explore boutique stores such as Alice Euphemia, Lenko, Leonard St, Green with Envy, Obus, Lord Coconut and Alpha 60 or find them on the Hidden Secrets’ Lanes & Arcades Tour (AUD$115pp).

Headwear is a necessity and Melbourne has become something of an expert in this field. Internationally-renowned milliners such as Louise Macdonald are favoured by Fashions on the Field contestants. Other top milliners include Richard Nylon, Serena Lindeman, Kim Fletcher, Paris Kyne, and Julie Fleming Melbourne. For the gentlemen, Fitzroy hatter Smart Alec offers an assortment of styles from old-world classics to progressive punk.

Vintage vultures can uncover timeless threads at Circa Vintage Clothing, Harry Wragg, RetroStar Vintage Clothing, Bam Bam Vintage, Velour Vintage or sign up for a nostalgic Vintage Outing (AUD$195pp) for a personalised shopping experience. 

Shoppers seeking inspiration can also book time with one of the personal stylists at the refurbished Myer Melbourne or, for a striking one-off piece, serious fashionistas can book an appointment with Melbourne couturiers Yeojin Bae, J’Aton and Gwendolynne.


Pre- race preening and pampering

Glamming it up before the races is a delight at MISS FOX Day Spa, a hidden gem in the city laneways boasting a decadent champagne and martini bar. Visitors can also try the award-winning Chuan Spa in the five-star Langham Hotel, offering luxury spa treatments using the principles of Feng Shui and traditional Chinese medicine. Alternatively, boutique Lyall Hotel and Spalocated in the fashionable suburb of South Yarra, close to Chapel Street – offers the perfect Sex in the City style mini-break. The gentlemen can also get their share of pampering at Man, What a Fuss.

Racegoers wanting to extend their stay to indulge in a further pampering can travel 90 minutes from Melbourne to the premium spa village of Daylesford. Famous for its relaxing waters, visitors can rejuvenate with a mineral spa and massage, a decadent meal of local produce and private getaway accommodation. Visitors have the choice of a number of private hideaways such as Hepburn Bathhouse, Salus, Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat, The Lake House, Wombat Hill House, Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm, Peonies and Picnics and boutique accommodation properties Mount Olive and Villa Parma, managed through Dayget Retreats.


Celebrate a winning day

After the official festivities, racegoers can continue the trackside buzz at one of Melbourne’s many rooftop and alfresco bars in the city, including The Aylesbury, Madame Brussels and Siglo or along the river at Pony Fish Island, Boatbuilders Yard, The Common Man and Melbourne Public.

The more curious visitors are, the more they will find. New laneway bars such as Bar Americano, Eau de Vie Melbourne, Bar Ampère, Ferdydurke and Go Go Bar offer racegoers ample rewards for the effort of seeking them out.

Early-to-mid century America has provided inspiration for a number of elegant, new cocktail bars oozing old world charm including The Attic on Brunswick Street, prohibition style drinking den The Everleigh on Gertrude Street – recently ranked among the top 50 bars on Earth by The Sunday Times, UK – and the Waiting Room at Crown Towers for 1950s Manhattan opulence, as well as the city’s aforementioned Eau de Vie.

Racegoers can end the day on a culinary high with a huge choice of cuisines and styles from fine dining glamorous riverside restaurants to chic laneway cafés and eateries. Southbank’s new brasserie and cocktail bar, Trocadero at Hamer Hall, is set to be one of Melbourne’s most sought after dining destinations this racing season. In addition, visitors can also choose from the increasingly modish Central and South American inspired restaurants Mamasita, Senoritas, Touché Hombre and San Telmo, and elegant Japanese at Kumo Izakaya, Saké Restaurant & Bar, Akachochin and Hihou. 


Take time out for tea

In keeping with racing glamour, visitors can take some time out to enjoy a decadent high tea sitting. Formerly the domain of the top hotels and select tea rooms, there are now more than 35 high teas and themed teas as well as a growing number of tea rooms across Victoria. For the classics, try the opulent Hotel Windsor serving tea since 1883 or Hopetoun Tea Rooms for old world charm in the iconic Block Arcade. For tea with a twist, the ladies can combine craft, astrology or card reading at with Cristina Re’s Where a Girl Goes High Tea Rooms or relax in a vintage inspired rooftop garden setting at Madame Brussels.


Horsing around

In addition to the racedays, horse fans can saddle up and take up the reins themselves. Blazing Saddles and Bimbi Park Trail Rides offer rides through some of the Great Ocean Road region’s spectacular coastal and rainforest scenery, around 3 hours from Melbourne. Or for a novel way of visiting the Mornington Peninsula’s celebrated cellar doors, visitors can saddle up with Horseback Winery Tours. Visitors can also explore the magnificent bushland of Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges just 90 minutes from Melbourne with Hepburn Lagoon Rides.

Other equine related experiences include Living Legends at Woodlands Historic Park, home to some of Australia’s finest retired racehorses. Visitors can meet former stars of the track such as Fields of Omagh, Might and Power and Rogan Josh. Alternatively, among Melbourne’s streets, visitors can live the fairytale with an old-world horse and carriage ride run by A Classic Carriages Co.

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