Throughout October and November, the Spring Racing Carnival takes over the city and beyond. The carnival includes the biggest and most prestigious races in the country, with some of the world’s best thoroughbreds competing for some of racing’s most coveted trophies. Needless to say, to focus only on the track is to miss many of the things that make the carnival such an essential part of the city’s calendar.

This year, a partnership between the Spring Racing Carnival and the Melbourne Racing Club will bring the city’s best food, fashion and entertainment to Caulfield Racecourse. A brand new general-admission area and dining options from some of Melbourne’s best-loved chefs will excite those seeking an alternative and relaxed race-day experience.

With the carnival just days away, we’re focusing on three race days that offer a unique, relaxed experience for everyone, from racing enthusiasts and progressive fashion fiends to first-time race-goers and those looking for something different.

BECK Caulfield Guineas Day
Launching the entire Spring Racing Carnival on October 10, BECK Caulfield Guineas is one of the country’s most prestigious race days. This year, it also serves to celebrate the opening of the racecourse’s new general-admission area, which incorporates the new Spring Village and The Paddock, with new entertainment areas and quality street food such as George Calombaris’ Gazi, and Hoy Pinoy.

“This day tends to be loaded with atmosphere because everyone is super-excited to be at the races, given it’s the start of spring and the end of a long, cold winter,” says Melbourne Racing Club general manager of marketing and membership, Jason Shugg. “All the beauty and majesty of our local and international thoroughbred stars are on show, and the festivities always kick on well into the night,” he smiles.

The day hosts the Chadstone Fashion Stakes, with more than $100,000 in prizes on offer across categories including professional milliners and “classic kids”. “This year we expect to see the ’70s trend, which we are predicting will be huge for spring, filtering in,” Shugg says.

BMW Caulfield Cup Day
As one of the flagship events of the Spring Racing Carnival, BMW Caulfield Cup Day draws crowds in the thousands to the lush lawns of the racecourse. On October 17, this $3 million race celebrates the third and final event of the Caulfield Cup Carnival, and is one of the most anticipated of the season.

Music is a big part of the day, with Havana Brown and The Faders appearing in 2014. This year, legendary Melbourne DJ Grant Smillie returns from his new home in Los Angeles to play the Spring Village Entertainment Stage.

The Queen of the Turf will also be crowned in the Chadstone Fashion Stakes final. “This is the day when the very best fashion is seen – everything from the most edgy, experimental bespoke pieces, to full international designer ensembles,” Shugg says.

As the “grand final” of the Caulfield Racing Carnival, the Cup draws a huge crowd, and makes for a great day of people watching.

William Hill Peninsula Cup Day
If the idea of Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival crowds doesn’t excite you, then perhaps a road trip to William Hill Peninsula Cup Day will. Located a little over an hour away on the Mornington-Tyabb Road, this race offers a laid-back coastal alternative to its city counterparts. It’s an event at which you can enjoy the landscape, live music and local produce as much as the action on the track. With the recent multi-million-dollar renovation to the main grandstand being unveiled on William Hill Peninsula Cup Day, the experience will be better than ever.

“It’s worth the short drive to experience the great holiday feeling of this event,” says Shugg. “You can let your hair down and relax, enjoying time out only a short drive from home.”

With several different dining options, including grandstand restaurants with sweeping views, a day at Mornington is a great option for a refined racing experience.

The Spring Racing Carnival is celebrated across the breadth of Victoria, so visit springracingcarnival.com.au for details of all the race days. The official Spring Racing Carnival hub site is also full of millinery tips, fashion inspiration, pre- and post-race entertainment ideas and much more.

This article is presented by Spring Racing Carnival.