Taking the kids to the Races might not be the first idea that pops into your mind when finding things to keep them entertained in the school holidays, but when we visited Ripon Races for one of their family fun days we really did have a brilliant day out! It was a new experience for us all which the children loved trying out.
NB: Emma and her family were invited to Ripon Races to experience the family day but all views are their own.
The theme for the day was Alice in Wonderland so we cobbled together a costume for each of them to get the kids into the spirit of it all and packed up a picnic and some camping chairs and headed off.
Parking at the races is well sign posted and free. The gates opened 2 hours before the first race. We pulled up with about an hour and a half to spare so taking the cue from others around us, we lifted up the tailgate, unloaded the picnic and tucked in.
Suitably refuelled, we decided to find out where to go. There were plenty of marshals around who cheerfully pointed us in right direction and complimented the children on their costumes.
We started off in the Club Enclosure where you’ll find their is a dress code of essentially no trainers or ripped/frayed jeans. There were plenty of children around and people dressed in everything from smart suits or pretty summer dresses and hats to what I was wearing which was cropped trousers, thin knit jumper and flats. The atmosphere was very relaxed and there was plenty of seating with a great view of the finish line. We watched a couple of races there. My children cheered on the horses and marvelled at how they zoomed past us in a split second!
After that we headed to the area in the middle of the track which is called the Course Enclosure. This is where the children’s entertainment is located. The kids rushed straight for the bouncy castles which were next to a little park with swings, climbing frame and slide. We also checked out the ballon artist and face painter, pretended we were racing our own wooden horse and pulled funny faces behind the wooden cut outs of Alice in Wonderland characters. There was lots of space for the children to run around and let off steam. The children also delighted in seeing their favourite characters, the Queen of Hearts, Alice and the Mad Hatter, walking around the enclosure.
When I asked the children what their favourite part of the day was they all agreed it was watching the horses. The children’s entertainment meant they didn’t get bored in between races and also meant we were able to relax about them doing what kids do: running about, laughing, climbing, chattering, etc, without worrying it would upset other spectators.
With prices starting from £6 per adult in the Course Enclosure, or £20 per car for ‘Car on Course’ parking (with up to 4 adults included) and all under 18’s free (with a fee paying adult) we felt it was fantastic value for money. We will definitely be going back again soon! In fact the next family fun day at Ripon is Monday 28th August (Bank Holiday).
The are 60 race courses across the UK so go to under18sracefree.com to watch the Horsing Around videos and find your local family raceday.
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