As a family we try and set aside certain times during the week to spend together. That freelance life, motherhood and the daily jungle of school-runs, P.E kits and feeding times can often mean we get to the weekend in the blink of an eye. And it also means that family time is precious to us, and we try to make sure we make memories with the boys – the sort they’ll remember as they grow up. It’s because of this that we like to dedicate certain days to take the boys on special trips and dedicated family days, and this weekend we went on one of the best we’ve been to, at the Newmarket Racecourses Discovery Day.
Part of their ‘Summer Saturdays’ all through the summer, Newmarket Racecourses are hosting a range of family fun days with different themes. Previously, a day at the races had always been something we’d done as a couple or with friends (basically with the adults), but the Summer Saturday events are designed to make that original day at the races, suitable for the whole family. It’s because the Summer Saturdays are designed for the family, that it makes the whole day as relaxed and casual as you want – no fancy hats required…unless you want to!
So, a Summer Saturday takes place in the dedicated Garden Enclosure. This is a separate area dedicated to host families during the events, there’s space for picnics, chairs and anything else you’d want to bring to get comfy. What we loved about the Garden Enclosure was how much there was for Josh to do. There’s a whole Play Area with a huge slide and the kids just descend – we couldn’t get Josh away from it! The folks at Newmarket Racecourses told me it was revamped last year and you can tell, it’s great for children of all ages and they also have a kids clubhouse called the Rowley’s Kids Club. In here the children could draw, and engage in craft exercises. I loved this option because as Josh is autistic, sometimes he needs craft exercises to ‘dial down’ for a little while, and it did the trick perfectly. He was in his element going from the Play Area to the clubhouse and everywhere in between! (Should also mention that there’s even more to do – like face painting, pony rides and ice creams -it’s literally a child’s dream day!)
The Travelling Natural History Museum
Not just the new Play Area, Clubhouse and ice cream station etc. The theme of this Summer Saturday was Discovery. As part of this, the Travelling Natural History Museum was in town and they had some really cool activities arranged. Josh spent ages digging for fossils in the digging area, and there was a host of dinosaurs waiting to catch him! There was also a really cool animantronic Blue Raptor that came up close and personal with all the children, and Josh was squealing with delight when it came right in front of him! Josh is at that age where he loves dinosaurs, but now he’s old enough he loves them even more because he’s learned about them in school, so he was reeling off all these facts about fossils and things, which we’d never known! So we were getting the education from him!
Ready, Steady, Race!
Obviously all the fun and activities are the extras to the main event – the races! If you’ve never been to the horse races before then trust me when I say that the excitement is second-to-none! The crowd atmosphere is contagious especially when the races begin, it’s a thrill and so much fun to cheer on your chosen horse. All of the different enclosures are built around the areas of the track that give great views. So even in the Garden Enclosure with the kids, you get an excellent view of the track – which Josh loved each time they ran by. The kids very quickly pick up on the thrill and join in the cheering and it’s just so nice to be able to experience the day with them.
Premier Enclosure Time
The tickets for the Summer Saturday events are £12 for the adults and under 18’s go free. However you can upgrade to a Premier ticket at £24.50 per adult, and the under 18’s are still free. The Premier tickets allow access into the Premier Enclosure which is where you can find a whole load of amazing and yummy food and drinks vendors and bars and restaurants. I wanted one of everything, the choice was amazing! We settled on loaded nachos from the nacho vendor and fish and chips, but I wish I could eat there everyday because there was so much to pick from. (And Josh was desperate for everything too!)
As well as this, and having access to a bigger space to view the races, you can also access the Parade Ring prior to the races. This means you can get up close with the horses before they run, which for the kids really helps to give them a personal feel. Josh felt like he found his favourites for the race by going to the Parade Ring and it’s not an everyday experience even for a regular horse race attendee. So we’d absolutely recommend that you pay a visit here on your visit. Oh and there’s also a racecourse simulator to try as well!
Total Treat Time on The Champions Lawn!
Seeing as we were making a day of it, a visit to The Champions Lawn was something we couldn’t miss. You’ll need to pre-book, but this area is the elite viewing section at Newmarket and we ended up making it our base for the whole day. The Champions Lawn has a gorgeous seating area with the best views of the race track. You can watch the races with the added bonus of a private bar. If you’re attending The Champions Lawn then you will need to dress accordingly, we went dressed smartly – I was in a dress and the boys were in short shirts and smart trousers.
Our experience in here was what made the whole day extra fabulous. You can purchase a ready-made picnic to eat here, which we did. And let me say this – it’s by far the best picnic I’ve ever had! You can absolutely say we were well fed by the time we went home – between the picnic and the food vendors!
The table service within the enclose was great too and everyone makes sure you have everything you need. Myself and my partner said how much of a lovely experience it was there and we’d take our parents back for special days out. If you’re celebrating an event or day out with friends during the Summer Saturday festivities then I highly recommend you upgrade and book into the Champions Lawn, it will give you the top class experience that’s associated with a day at the races.
When is the next Summer Saturday?
Summer Saturday evens are scheduled all through the summer – perfect for those summer holiday weekends. And we are already planning our next visit! Tickets cost £12 for the adults and the under 18’s go free. Here’s a run down of the themes for each of the upcoming dates, to help you pick which you’d like to attend:
Saturday 30th June – Heroes Day sponsored by Betway
This one is perfect for the little superhero lovers because there’s going to be lots of superhero fun. Including Paw Patrol characters Chase and Marshall (are you even a mum of small children’s if you don’t feel like you know them intimately already?!) as well as 6 Regiment Army Air Corps with their Lynx Helicopter (in aid of Armed Forces Day.)
Saturday 21st July – Great British Summer Day
The classic celebration of everything British! Strawberries and cream, Punch & Judy, donkey rides – the full British works!
Saturday 28th July – Countryside Day
Dedicated to everything to do with the Great British countryside. Lively farm animals paying a visit and rural themed fun and games.
Saturday 4th August – Sports Day
Everything sport, and that’s as well as the horse racing! Fun sports activities for the kids to join in as well as the Horseplay Roadshow which encourages learning through it’s interactive games selection.
Saturday 11th August – Royal British Legion Day
Paying respects and supporting the Royal British Legion, there’s a moving Standard Bearers Parade as well as all the normal activities and fun. A great one for the Grandparents too!
Saturday 18th August – Horseplay
Teach the kids all about the amazing sport of horse racing with the dedicated Horseplay Roadshow which sets out to tell the younger folk all about what makes horse racing so great. Lots of role play and games to teach them in a fun way.
We couldn’t have had a better day at Newmarket Racecourses. We made sure that our baby was having fun with the Grandparents at home and made it a special day with Josh – just the three of us. Josh is seven, nearly eight and we really felt like it ticked every box for him. There were play times, crafts, engaging activities, lots of yummy food and a fun environment for him to enjoy his first horse racing experience. He had such an amazing day that he was already asleep within minutes of being in the car on the way home – which any parent will know, is the sign of a day well spent!
For us, the Summer Saturday event gave us the opportunity to enjoy an ‘adult’ day at the races in a way that was family friendly. So we felt we had the best of both worlds. We had a little flurry on the races, with a small win, but for us it was about being out as a family, giving Josh a new experience and making sure he had lots of fun. A day at the races for us, was the perfect family Saturday. Book and get more details on the Newmarket Racecourse website.
Josh’s Summer Saturday Scrapbook!
**This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Newmarket Racecourse but as ever all opinions are entirely my own. Please refer to my Disclaimer page for more details.