On Bank Holiday Monday my husband and I decided to take the kids to Ripon Races Family Day. We went to the Alice in Wonderland themed race day last year and enjoyed it so much we were excited to return for the last family day of the season at Ripon.
Over the summer holidays there are more than 200 race fixtures up and down the country, including 50 special family days.
Family Days differ to the usual race days as there is additional entertainment for children such as face painters, ballon modelling, cup and saucer ride, barrel train ride, Kiddie Cub Kart, bouncy castles and fun slides.
We had tickets for the Club Stand which is the most formal of the stands but as the dress code is more relaxed on family day we didn’t have to worry about getting too dressed up. Tickets to the Club Stand were £23 per adult and as part of Great British Racing’s ‘Under 18s Race Free’ initiative (when accompanied by a paying adult) it doesn’t cost anything for the children to go. This makes it great value for our family of 5. As it was one of the hottest days of the summer we were really grateful to be able to relax in the shade of the stand out of the blazing sun. On rainy days this would work equally well for avoiding getting wet!
The majority of the children’s entertainment takes place in the Course Enclosure which is in the centre of the race course. Visitors to the Course Enclosure can opt to purchase a Car on Course ticket for £20 which allows up to 4 adults entry and parking in the centre of the racecourse. The beauty of this is that you can load up your car with camping chairs, picnic, sun shades, etc, too.
We didn’t take a picnic with us and that didn’t matter as there are a number of food outlets and restaurants to choose from. We tucked into some delicious pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs and chips. There are also ice cream outlets and a sweet shop which our kids were delighted to visit!
Club Enclosure tickets give you access to all the enclosures so we were able to make full use of the children’s entertainment if we wanted to. I say that because actually our children were not too worried about going on the rides and bouncy castles as they were far too interested in watching the racing! They had a great time picking out their favourite horse names and jockey colours from the line up in the program and then cheering on their choice with gusto. There is around 35-45 minutes between each race so there was ample time for us to nip out of the stand to watch the winners presentations or buy drinks and ice creams and not miss any of the action.
Being able to see the horses come in off the course and being cooled off was really exciting for the children. Seeing them close up gave us a real appreciation just how athletic and powerful they are.
It’s rare we find a day out that we each get something out of and this was one of them. We’ll definitely be looking out for Family Days next season so if you’re interested we might see you there!
This Friday, 30th August, Thirsk Racecourse is having ‘Pirates Family Day’.
Pirates Family Day sees the return of the brilliant Captain Jack Sparrow look-a-like with his swashbuckling shenanigans. Follow his antics as he tries to recruit more seafaring crew and tries his hand on the coconut shy. There will be a treasure hunt in the family enclosure, which if successful a chest full of treasure can be found. There will be face painting and a huge inflatable Pirate Ship Assault Course for those more adventurous among you. To find out more about ‘Under 18s Race Free’ and find a family race day near you, go to www.under18sracefree.com