Melbourne Cup Day

Last Updated 3 Aug 2021 | Commercial content | 18+

Commercial content | T&C apply | Please play responsibly | 18+

Melbourne Cup Day is one of the key sporting and social events on the calendar. This year’s race is on Tuesday, November 2, and we have everything you need to know about the big day. It is the major day on the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Melbourne Cup Day History

An early member of the Victorian Turf Club, Frederick Standish, is credited with formulating the idea. He wanted to hold such a race and name it the Melbourne Cup.

With the idea coming to fruition, the first Melbourne Cup was hosted on Thursday, November 7, 1861. Back then, the race was a ‘winner takes all’ affair with the victors receiving 710 gold sovereigns and a gold watch!

The race’s popularity began to spiral from 1881. Then, Racing Club secretary Robert Bagot looked to take advantage of spring being seen as “mating season”, reasoning that where ladies went, men would follow. He, therefore, issued two ladies tickets to each member.

The plot worked, and the race gained in popularity very quickly indeed. Since then, there have been 160 versions of the race that stops a nation (more information about the Melbourne Cup race). Crowds have grown to 90,000 at the track, with millions more watching on TV worldwide. Prize money as of 2020 had grown to some $8 million

Is Melbourne Cup Day a Public Holiday?

Melbourne Cup Day, the first Tuesday of every November is indeed a public holiday in the state of Victoria.

In the past, some regional councils hadn’t selected this as an actual public holiday, though the Victorian Parliament in 2008 passed legislation to declare the day as a public holiday for all.

How to Watch the Melbourne Cup?

In 2021, as usual, Melbourne Cup Day in Australia will be broadcast by Channel 10 and Channel 78. Channel 10 carries official coverage of the Melbourne Cup Carnival on behalf of the Victoria Racing Club.

News of the final Melbourne Cup field, the barrier draw and previews will be shown as well as the race itself and its undercard. You can also stream the race live via cell phones and tablets.

Channel 10’s coverage is available on their 10 Play app, while many bookmakers will live stream the race. New Zealand viewers can see the race on Sky Sport.

Melbourne Cup Day Observances

Only the first Tuesday of November is a public holiday in Victoria, because of the Melbourne Cup and its significant local importance. Naturally, that date can be anything from the 1st to the 7th of the month and changes every year.

Until 2007 Melbourne Cup Day was only a local holiday, but since has been declared a state holiday.

Melbourne Cup Day


The most important questions answered about the big day.

What is the Dress Code for Melbourne Cup Day?

Ladies should dress in a suitable, in-keeping way for the Members Enclosure. No jumpsuits, playsuits or shorts are allowed. Gentlemen are required to wear a suit including tailored slacks, a tie and dress shoes (click here to read more information about what to wear for the Melbourne Cup). A dress code and regulations are in force at Flemington on the day.

Why Do We Celebrate This Day?

Melbourne Cup Day is something Australia has observed since the race was first held in 1861. The race comes with huge tradition, massive prize money, observances on the day, and is so popular it is known as “the race that stops a nation.”

What Time is the Melbourne Cup 2021?

The Lexus Melbourne Cup is due off at 3 pm on Tuesday, November 2 at Flemington Racecourse.

For more information about the days in the Melbourne Cup Carnival you can also look at these pages:

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