Racecourses Focus On Family Fun


If I hark back to my childhood days I can honestly say that in no uncertain circumstances would my parents have considered a trip to the local racecourse as a reasonable way to spend the day together as a family. When my father wasn’t working two jobs and my beleaguered mother wasn’t worn out from endlessly parenting four, sometimes unruly, children, our days out tended to be to the beach, to the grandparents or, as the case was more often, helping them do the weekly grocery shop. 

But times have changed and as the economy boomed so too did the coffers for everyday parents who now found themselves with a little more cash to splash on the kids and not many places to spend it. Enter the numerous play barns, kiddie play centres and family centric facilities that promised endless ways for the kids to have fun while you sit back and enjoy a much needed coffee.

But there are only so many of these centres that you go to before you nearly lose your mind listening to the hysterics of so many children echo off the walls of what is essentially a converted warehouse with a few slides and ball pits. So a whole new market opened up for businesses willing to make changes to their establishments to capitilise on this new found audience.

The racing industry has fast upped it’s game and now the length and breadth of the UK is filled with racecourses that have created ‘Family Days‘ where the kids can go on the merry-go-round and the temporary bouncy castles, while Dad sticks a few quid on the next race. Throw in a couple of fizzy drinks and a hotdog and hey presto you have a day out that everybody actually enjoys.

Broadening the scope of the traditional racecourse was never going to be easy. Shaking off the stigmatism of traditional racing and turning it into what is perceived as great way to have some fun with the kids was always going to be a tough ask given their reputation over the last 30 years, but change they have and now there is a thriving industry all aimed at the family market.

Take Chester Racecourse in Cheshire as an example. With such a limited time frame for the flat racing season, they have opted to use their facilities in many different ways throughout the whole calendar year.

Every May sees the Roman Day take places which aims to not just entertain but to educate children on the Roman history of the area. Chester Rocks is the new annual music festival which has started to attract so big names artists and runs in June over two days. August kicks off with the ‘Family Fun Day’ and by the time September rolls around there is the International Polo Festival to help you unwind while you sip Pimms.

Of course, it’s not just Chester Racecourse that has opted for this approach. A quick look at the Cheltenham Racecourse website and one can see the packed out schedule of events that are held there including concerts, comedy nights, boxing matches as well as a host of charity events.

At Aintree Racecourse, home of the Grand National steeplechase, one of the most famous and demanding races in the world, they’re advertising Concerts, Family Days and you can even hold your wedding there if it takes your fancy.

Essentially the way we spend our time and more importantly how we spend our money has become a constant focus for companies who are more than willing to take it off our hands. With a very clever all-inclusive approach racecourses in the UK have not only managed to find the solution to changing their old reputations but one that increases their revenue while reaching out to families that quite frequently have a fantastic time sitting in the sunshine having a picnic watching the sport of kings.


Paul Warrander is a leading contributor on some of the interest’s best horse racing websites. Connect with him on Google Plus.