Best foot forward for the Chester Races

a guide to etiquette and dress code

There are fewer than 30 days left until the official opening of the racing season at Chester Racecourse on Wednesday 9 May 2018.

Locally known as the ‘Roodee’, the racecourse is the oldest still in use in England according to official records. The historic venue lies on the banks of the River Dee whilst the east side of the course backs directly on to the city’s ancient Roman walls, a delightful setting for a day out.

A day at the races can seem daunting initially with rules, dress codes and conditions applicable across the varying stands and enclosures. Here, the elegant Crabwall Manor Hotel & Spa can help put your mind at ease with some simple tips to help you prepare for a perfect experience.


1. Firstly, where are you viewing the races:

Hospitality, Country & Winning Post Enclosure

This is the most formal area within the racecourse and so demands the highest level of dress code with strict rules of attire. Gents must wear a suit jacket, collar and tie, whilst ladies are to wear smart clothing. Denim or sportswear is of course, not permitted. For those looking to dress up and have a glam day out, this is the enclosure for you! Hats, fascinators, and gorgeous dresses are the ticket and can be as much part of the experience as the races themselves.


A middle ground approach to dress codes is seen in this stand. Slightly more relaxed and smart casual is appropriate here with smarter jeans and buttoned shirts the intent for gents. Ladies can be more creative with their dress options, perhaps considering elegant jump suits or a ‘jeans and a nice top’ approach. Shorts, sportswear and trainers are still exempt here but there is more flexibility generally than in the Hospitality, Country & Winning Post enclosure.

Dee and Open Course

The most relaxed area has no official dress code! Here guests are simply required to dress for the elements, though Chester Racecourse do still encourage attendees to dress up to enjoy the occasion if they wish. Novelty and fancy dress is also welcomed in this enclosure but must not be offensive or inappropriate in nature.
As a general rule, avoid shorts, sportswear, trainers and branded/promotional clothing, this way you can access any of the areas should you wish to upgrade on the day!

2. Fascinator or hat?

A consistent dilemma for ladies attending the races, should I wear a fascinator or a hat? Simply, there is no right answer! Both are very much welcomed at the races and could be a good investment for future events and weddings to come. Usually, hats are seen as more statement pieces, being larger and aiming to make the wearer stand out. Fascinators on the other hand are slightly more accessible as a first timer and can range from a dainty little decoration, to a wild and flowing adornment, the choice is yours. With either option, a head piece can add to the sense of occasion, whilst instantly elevating your look into something quite special. Watch out for the “paps”!

3. The well-heeled don’t wear heels

Shoes can be a tricky matter when attending a day at the races as it is tempting to be inspired by the elegance of the occasion and opt for glamourous high heels, but a day on your feet can be tiring, and sometimes even painful. Whilst fashion is of course a strong consideration when you’ve found the perfect outfit, studied the dress code and finally found matching accessories, consider your comfort as well. Perhaps a lower heel, dainty pumps, or wedges could be a good compromise to keep you in high spirits for longer. Remember, much of the walking around on the day can be across grass, potentially with a chance of mud on a wet weather day, and areas can be some distance from car parks and transport, so choose your shoes wisely.

4. Cash is king

Whilst most vendors, betting options and refreshments will accept cards, it is advised to have cash on hand as an alternative. ATMs are available but do incur a charge and have a minimum withdrawal so make a budget beforehand and bring the money you will need with you in a safely concealed manner.

5. Your carriage awaits

Once the excitement is over and the time is near for heading home, make sure you have your taxi pre-booked and ready for your departure to avoid any long queues at the taxi ranks nearby. Close to the racecourse there is a taxi pick up point available for patrons who book their return journey in advance, a great option for those looking for an easy trip in and out of the races.

6. Stay in style

Top your day out at the races off with a comfortable style in historic 18th century manor house, Crabwall Manor Hotel & Spa. A mere 10 minutes’ drive from the racecourse, this delightful hotel boasts a beautiful selection of elegant rooms, as well as a spa and indoor swimming pool to relax and refresh in. After a busy day, enjoy a sumptuous meal in the onsite Earl of Chester Restaurant, serving both traditional English and world food, with wonderful views over the patio and grounds beyond. Indulgence in the Race Day Ready package with a one-night stay, full use of the leisure facilities including a 25-minute treatment of your choice, breakfast each morning, and a three-course dinner with a bottle of prosecco in the room. Hat hire, and beauty services are also available on request to have you primped and prepped for a fabulous weekend away.

Contact Crabwall Hotel & Spa for further details on 01244 851666 or