If you’re looking to visit a racecourse with prestige, class and history, then Epsom is the perfect place. This grade one racecourse first opened its doors all the way back in May 1648, and over time it’s quickly gained a reputation as one of the best in the UK.
Nowadays, Epsom Racecourse makes for an exciting day out or weekend activity in summer, whether that’s with friends, family or your partner. The races here are often frequented by celebrities and Royals, particularly during the more prestigious races like The Derby Festival. In fact, the Queen herself has been attending Epsom for nearly 70 years, so you never quite know who you’re going to bump into during your day at the races.
Read on to find out more about Epsom Downs, including how to get there and the races and events that take place throughout the year.
Where is Epsom Downs Racecourse?
Located in Epsom, within the beautiful Surrey countryside and just a stone’s throw from the Surrey Hills Area of Natural Beauty, Epsom Downs Racecourse is one of the most picturesque racing locations in the world — yet being just 20 miles south of London, it benefits from great public transport links. Opening times at Epsom Downs Racecourse vary, so be sure to check online before you travel.
How do I get to Epsom Downs Racecourse?
Travelling by train
The nearest station to Epsom Downs Racecourse is Epsom, which is just a 10-minute bus or taxi journey from the racecourse. During The Derby Festival, a shuttle bus service runs direct from Epsom station to the racecourse.
From the thrilling races to family fun days, there’s so much to see and do at Epsom Downs, both within and beyond the racecourse.
Races at Epsom Downs Racecourse
The races at Epsom Downs are naturally the main talking point, and with a venue capacity of 11,000, you can expect an electric atmosphere during your day at the races. Whether you’re a couple, a family or a group of friends, there’s a race day for you, from evening races to family-friendly bank holiday activities.
One of the most exciting Epsom races that takes place each year is The Epsom Derby, which is the most highly regarded of the five flat season classics and with a prize pot of £1,125 million, is Britain's richest and most prestigious race. Expect two fun-packed days consisting of delicious food, drink, entertainment and style, not to mention quality racing.
For a more lowkey racing experience, visit the Afternoon Flat Racing, which takes place throughout the summer. Other notable races include the Spring Meeting, which kicks off the year’s racing season, and the not-to-be-missed Season Finale, which marks the end of the season.
Events and Exhibitions
The events and exhibitions at Epsom Downs are perfect for entertaining the whole group. The Summer Nights Rewind is bound to be a hit with visitors of all ages and features a blissful combination of live music and racing. Expect a mix of 70s Disco, 80s Throwback and 90s R&B that will have you partying until the sun goes down.
For a fun bank holiday activity, book your tickets for the racecourse’s annual Bank Holiday Family Fun Day. Not only will there be an afternoon of racing for the adults, but the kids will be spoilt for choice with a range of activities, from face painting and pony rides to fun sports activities and even a carousel.
For music nights, the dress code is the same as a normal race day, however fancy dress is permitted — in fact, it’s encouraged, so long as the outfit isn’t offensive. So why not have some fun with your group’s outfits?
What to wear at Epsom Downs Racecourse
Part of the fun of racecourses is deciding what to wear, so get ready to don your best attire! If you’re going to be watching the races from the stands, are in a private box or are dining at one of the restaurants, the dress code is smart casual—so men should opt for smart jeans (with no rips) and a button-down shirt, while women can choose between a summer dress or jeans and a nice top.
Activities at Epsom Downs
The racecourse grounds stretch right across Epsom Downs and Walton on the Hill, making them worth a visit even on non-race days. If the weather is clear, you will have the perfect view of London’s spectacular skyline, so don’t forget your camera! Stroll through the picturesque grounds, or admire the scenery from your bike. Find out more about travelling with a bike on one of our routes.
If you’re in the mood for more beautiful scenery, then head to Horton Country Park, a local Nature Reserve just a 15-minute taxi journey from the racecourse. Once a month you can also find an antiques fair at the racecourse, which is the perfect spot for finding one-of-a-kind pieces for your home.
Chessington World of Adventures is just a 17-minute taxi journey away. As a theme park, zoo and aquarium all rolled into one, it makes for the perfect family day out and it’s the perfect excuse to make a weekend out of your trip. While you’re out and about, take a trip to Hobbledown Farm Park, where you’ll find an immersive play area and plenty of farm animals to keep the kids entertained.
Food and drink
There are plenty of food and drink options at Epsom to suit even the pickiest of eaters, from sit-down meals to snacks on the go. At Duchess's Stand, if you want to grab a quick bite to eat then head over to The Roasting Shed, which serves a selection of homemade sandwiches and cakes as well as tea and coffee. For alcohol and refreshments, take your pick from Bridget’s Bar, which offers a large variety of champagnes, wines, beers, soft drinks and spirits, or Cask London, a local and traditional real ale bar.
At The Queen’s Stand, those looking for casual, sit-down dining should head to Blue Riband Bar & Grill, or check out Mezzanine Bar if you’re in search of refreshments. For quick and delicious food on the go, you can find a wide variety of food outlets around the perimeter of the Duchess’s Stand, which serve an impressive selection of street food and burgers, and sweet snacks like ice cream.
Places to stay around Epsom Downs Racecourse
No matter your budget or group size, there are plenty of places to stay near Epsom Downs — especially if you’re on a budget. Purse-friendly options include Holiday Inn Express at Epsom, Premier Inn Epsom Central, Travelodge Epsom Central and Travelodge Leatherhead, while if you’re after a particularly cosy retreat, check out The White Horse near Dorking station.
Epsom Downs Racecourse accessibility
Epsom Downs Racecourse aims to provide an accessible environment for people of all abilities, no matter their needs. Racegoers with disabilities can make the most of a range of facilities such as allocated parking, wheelchair access points, complimentary tickets for carers, toilet facilities and more.