A year ago, we posted a preview of the Cheltenham Festival with a particular focus on the primary racing that takes place on each of the event's four days. Indeed, these races mark the defining moments of the festival, and to be sure most spectators still attend to take in the races.
Even with the races taking centre stage, the Cheltenham Festival has become known largely for the entertaining atmosphere it cultivates along with the specific themes and flavours, so to speak, of the different days. So with the 2015 Cheltenham Festival just around the corner, here's a fresh preview of what makes the event so special beyond the race tracks.
Naturally, the opening day at Cheltenham is thrilling simply because it's opening day. For many racing fans, this festival is anticipated eagerly for months, so it makes perfect sense that the kick-off day brings palpable excitement. It's worth mentioning that the Champion Hurdle, on Opening Day, is arguably the most significant race of the entire festival, if not the biggest hurdle event on the National Hunt calendar.
For those who are familiar with horse racing events, it will come as no surprise that the second day, known as "Ladies Day," is one for the fashion lovers. Horse racing is tied to high-end (and sometimes-goofy) fashion, and at Cheltenham, it's the second day that brings out the boldest looks and transforms the grounds into something of a haphazard fashion show. Last year, Royalista posted some nice photos of Ladies Day with a focus on royals even getting into the spirit of the day!
St. Patrick's Thursday
St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival. With a crowd that's often comprised largely of Irish racegoers, it's a celebration to remember. The Cheltenham website describes this third day of the festival as including "plenty of Irish-style entertainment," which translates to general festivity and, yes, plenty of beverages throughout the grounds. In collaboration with the St. Patrick's Day celebration, Guinness is one of the key sponsors for this day (and entire festival).
Gold Cup Day
The Gold Cup is the culmination of the Cheltenham Festival and carries a certain feeling of increased anticipation. Betbright's event preview for the 2014 Festival calls the Gold Cup "possibly now the second most revered event in UK racing" (behind the Grand National). It goes on to explain that despite the prestige of the opening day's Champion Hurdle on the National Hunt circuit, everything at the Festival is ultimately building toward the climax of day four. That alone makes this the most electric day of the occasion, and one at which crowd excitement defines the atmosphere.