Cheltenham Festival rules on handbags, children and the use of cash


After spending hundreds of dollars on tickets, outfits and accommodation, the last thing you want when you arrive at the gates of Prestbury Racecourse is to be turned away for not following the rules. These instructions are reviewed each year by the racecourse, in order to ensure the safety of festival-goers.

So you may not be aware of the Cheltenham Festival bag size rules which could see you refused entry. Or, you could bring a child with you expecting them to be automatically admitted.

You are allowed one bag with you and some children will have free entry, but there are limits which have been set by the Jockey Club which you will need to adhere to at Cheltenham Festival.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the Cheltenham Festival

What are the rules regarding bags, umbrellas and luggage?



“Of course, our staff will be sensitive to the size of the bags and will assess each case”

As per racetrack security policy, any bag you bring to the festival will be searched upon entry. The organizers ask you not to bring an overly bulky handbag or backpack to the event because if you do, it may be stored or you may be refused entry entirely.

Only purses and backpacks of an appropriate size for a day are allowed, so you will want to leave as many as possible at home and only bring the essentials. If you have larger bags or suitcases, the stewards will endeavor to store them in the luggage lockers.

Also, stewards are very likely to search larger bags. Therefore, if you want quick entry, you’ll want to keep the items you bring with you to a minimum. If you have a medically necessary bag to bring with you, contact the racetrack as soon as possible with a medical letter to let them know you will be bringing it.

The Jockey Club says: “An exception will be made for medically necessary items after inspection by security staff and contacting us before race day at Cheltenham.Reception@thejockeyclub.co.uk.”

Can children attend the Cheltenham Festival for free?



Children arriving at New Year's meet at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Children arriving at New Year’s meet at Cheltenham Racecourse.

If you’re planning on taking your kids on their first outing on race day, you’ll probably need a ticket.

Official Jockey Club rules state that all children over the age of five will need a ticket for each day of the festival, while those five and under can go for free.

If you’re heading to the races with babies or toddlers, there are changing rooms and baby feeding rooms at various locations around the racetrack, as well as accessible entrances for stroller and wheelchair users.

The Jockey Club says: “We don’t offer a kids’ club on family days as we believe a family day at the races is best spent together. Did you know that on average UK families only spend three hours a week together?

“We’re all busy with school, work and other commitments, but a family trip to the races is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time outdoors with loved ones.

“Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times, with a maximum of two children per adult. If you wish to bring more than two children per adult, please contact us in advance at our email address cheltenham.reception @thejockeyclub.co.uk.”

Can you use cash at the racetrack, or is it contactless?



Crowds at the Cheltenham Festival
Crowds at the Cheltenham Festival

Due to government legislation, you must use a mix of contactless payment and cash if drinking and betting at the festival.

As part of the safe betting rules, if you wish to gamble at a betting booth you will need to use cash as they are not permitted to accept forms of debit or credit cards. Instead, there are ATMs on site, but since they charge, you’ll want to bring all the cash you plan to spend with you.

However, in the bars of the festival, this money is useless. Due to health restrictions and in the interest of speed of service, these bars are now all completely cashless.

The Jockey Club states: “Our racecourses continue to operate on a ‘cashless’ basis, including concessions. However, cash can be used to place bets with any bookmakers at the course.”

You can find more of our Cheltenham Festival coverage here.

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