Horse racing happens every day of the week in the UK and is always a great day out or to watch at home, but the very best of the action is reserved for the many festivals that UK racetracks play host to throughout the National Hunt and Flat racing calendars.
These festivals are usually between two and four days long and promise to pack numerous Graded or Group races into their duration, thereby being the only places to watch the sports top rated horses perform at the top level, and shout your pick home.
|Competition Name||Location||Start Date||End Date|
|Betfair Chase||Haydock||19th November||19th November|
|Fighting Fifth Hurdle||Newcastle||26th November||26th November|
|The Tingle Creek Christmas Festival||Sandown||2nd December||3rd December|
|The Christmas Festival||Kempton||26th December||27th December|
|Welsh Grand National||Chepstow||27-Dec||27th December|
|Cheltenham Festival||Cheltenham||14th March||17th March|
|Scottish Grand National||Ayr||21st April||22nd April|
|Grand National Festival||Aintree||13th April||15th April|
|Jump Season Finale||Sandown||29th April||29th April|
|May Festival||Chester||10th May||12th May|
|The Guineas Festival||Newmarket||6th May||7th May|
|Dante Festival||York||17th May||19th May|
|Derby Festival||Epsom Downs||2nd June||3rd June|
|Royal Ascot||Ascot||20th June||24th June|
|Northumberland Plate Festival||Newcastle||29th June||1st July|
|The Summer Festival||Sandown||7th July||8th July|
|The July Festival||Newmarket||13th July||15th July|
|King George Weekend||Ascot||29th July||29th July|
|Goodwood Festival||Goodwood||1st August||5th August|
|Ebor Festival||York||23rd August||26th August|
|Sprint Cup Festival||Haydock||9th September||9th September|
|St Leger Festival||Doncaster||14th September||17th September|
|Ayr Gold Cup Meeting||Ayr||21st September||23rd September|
|British Champions Day||Ascot||21st October||21st October|
The Christmas Festival
This two-day festival of National Hunt racing at Kempton Park Racecourse is always popular due to the star horses, jockeys and trainers it attracts year on year and its addition of a little festive spirit. The feature races of this Festival include the Grade 1 King George VI Chase, the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle and the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase.
When is The Christmas Festival?
Boxing Day is the first day of the Christmas Festival each year, and the 27th December is its concluding day. In 2022, these are a Monday and a Tuesday.
|King George VI Chase (Grade 1)||Boxing Day||Jumps: Steeplechase|
|Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1)||Boxing Day||Jumps: Hurdles|
|Desert Orchid Chase (Grade 2)||Tues 27th Dec||Jumps: Steeplechase|
|Wayward Lad Novicesâ Chase (Grade 2)||Tues 27th Dec||Jumps: Steeplechase|
The Cheltenham Festival
This four-day festival is one of, if not the most, exciting fixtures of the National Hunt season. Held towards the end of the season, this race meeting is where all of the biggest players from the previous months come together to determine which horses are truly the best of the best. With Grade 1 races on every day of the fixture, it’s an unmissable opportunity to see the best horses on what is often their final run of the season before going on their summer holiday.
When is The Cheltenham Festival?
Every year the Cheltenham Festival takes place in mid-March. In 2023, it is scheduled to span Tuesday 14th March to Friday 17th March.
|The Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)||Tues 14th March||Jumps: Hurdles|
|Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)||Weds 15th March||Jumps: Steeplechase|
|The Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)||Thurs 16th March||Jumps: Steeplechase|
|Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1)||Thurs 16th March||Jumps: Hurdles|
The Grand National Festival
The ever-popular Grand National Festival is held at Aintree Racecourse and really marks the end of the Jumps season, being the penultimate big meeting of the spring. It’s a three-day fixture which builds up towards the Grand National itself on Saturday, the final day. The Grand National is a particularly special race because, despite being as prestigious and popular as some Grade 1s from earlier in the season, it’s a Grade 3 which can entered by amateur trainers and riders. There is no better test of endurance than this course of more than four miles over the famous Aintree spruce. 11 Grade 1 races take place over the rest of the festival, though none generate as much national interest as the lesser-graded Grand National.
When is The Grand National Festival?
The Grand National takes place in mid-April each year. In 2023 it begins on Thursday 13th April and finishes on Saturday 15th April.
|The Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)||Thurs 13th April||Jumps: Hurdles|
|Top Novicesâ Hurdle (Grade 1)||Fri 14th April||Jumps: Hurdles|
|Mildmay Novicesâ Steeple Chase (Grade 1)||Friday 14th April||Jumps: Steeplechase|
|The Melling Chase (Grade 1)||Friday 14th April||Jumps: Steeplechase|
|The Sefton Hurdle (grade 1)||Friday 14th April||Jumps: Hurdles|
|The Maghull Novicesâ Steeplechase (Grade 1)||Saturday 15th April||Jumps: Steeplechase|
|The Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1)||Saturday 15th April||Jumps: Hurdles|
|The Grand National Steeplechase (Grade 3)||Saturday 15th April||Jumps: Steeplechase|
The Guineas Festival
This two-day race meeting at Newmarket (Rowley Mile course) surrounds the feature races, the 2000 Guineas Stakes and 1000 Gunieas, which are the first of the three famed ‘Triple Crown’ races (followed by the Derby and the St Leger), for colts and fillies respectively. The 2000 Guineas is one of the five ‘Classics’ races, which are Group 1s for the very best three year olds.
When is the Guineas Festival?
in 2023, the race meeting will take place on Saturday 6th May and Sunday 7th May.
|Palace House Stakes (Group 3)||Sat 6th May||Flat|
|2000 Guineas (Group 1)||Sat 6th May||Flat|
|1000 Guineas (Group 1)||Sun 7th May||Flat|
The Derby Festival
Held at the famously beautiful Epsom Downs Racecourse, this is a two-day festival of quality Flat racing. It’s feature race is the Group 1 Derby Stakes, one of the five Classic races and the middle leg of the Triple Crown.
When is the Derby Festival?
In 2023 the Derby Festival will be held on the 2nd and 3rd of June.
|Coronation Cup (Group 1)||Fri 2nd June||Flat|
|Epsom Oaks (Group 1)||Fri 2nd June||Flat|
|Epsom Derby (Group 1)||Sat 3rd June||Flat|
Royal Ascot is revered across the world as the peak of the Flat racing season. It’s a five-day festival known for its top-class racing, style and millinery. Royal Ascot winning horses are highly desirable to owners, trainers and jockeys alike.
When is Royal Ascot?
The first day of the festival is Tuesday 20th June 2023, and the last day is Saturday 24th June.
|The Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1)||Tues 20th June||Flat|
|King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1)||Tues 20th June||Flat|
|St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1)||Tues 20th June||Flat|
|Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1)||Weds 21st June||Flat|
|The Gold Cup (Group 1)||Thurs 22nd June||Flat|
|The Commonwealth Cup (Group 1)||Fri 23rd June||Flat|
|The Coronation Stakes (Group 1)||Fri 23rd June||Flat|
|The Platinum Jubilee Stakes (Group 1)||Sat 24th June||Flat|
The St Leger Festival
Held at Doncaster Racecourse, this is a four-day late summer festival of Flat racing which culminates in the St Leger Stakes; the final leg of the Triple Crown and the oldest one of the five Classics. It’s a thrilling opportunity to see horses who have made names for themselves over the summer in addition to old favourites as they battle their way to the finish line.
When is the St Leger Festival?
In 2023 the St Leger Festival will commence on Thursday 14th September and conclude on Sunday 17th September.
|Sceptre Fillies’ Stakes (Group 3)||Thurs 14th Sept||Flat|
|May Hill Stakes (Group 2)||Fri 15th Sept||Flat|
|Park Hill Stakes (Group 2)||Fri 15th Sept||Flat|
|Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2)||Sat 16th Sept||Flat|
|Doncaster Cup (Group 2)||Sat 16th Sept||Flat|
|Champagne Stakes (Group 2)||Sun 16th Sept||Flat|
|Park Stakes (Group 2)||Sun 16th Sept||Flat|
|St Leger Stakes (Group 1)||Sun 16th Sept||Flat|