Planning Stag & Hen Dos at the Races

Party on Calendar with Green Pin

Should you find yourself in charge of planning a stag or hen do, there are plenty of options to consider. Some go down the activity route, some opt to go abroad, while some may plan some sort of city-based pub crawl in the UK. Another quite popular option, which we will focus on here, is a trip to the races.

Most stag or hen dos at racecourses prove to be a success but there are certain things to look out for when drawing up your plans. As well as focussing on these key factors, we will highlight the very best courses across the United Kingdom when it comes to booking a stag/hen do.

Key Things To Consider

To begin, here are the key aspects you should consider before booking any racecourse tickets. It is important to do this because not all racecourses are particularly suitable for a stag/hen do. Typically, it is something the vast majority of racecourses facilitate but this does not mean they all provide an equally fun and logistically simply experience.


3D Red Location Marker on MapFor the purposes of a stag or hen do, having a course located within close distance of a bustling city centre with lots of pubs/clubs is always ideal.

This simply makes it easier to continue the party and also ensures there is plenty of accommodation within reach to choose from.

Should you opt for a rural racecourse that is surrounded by small villages, you will likely find post-racing entertainment more difficult to source.

Public Transport

Train IconIf you are looking at a racecourse that is not close to a thriving town/city, does it at least have good public transport links? As it is likely that all, or at least most of your guests will want a few drinks at the racecourse, asking them to drive there is not a viable option. As such, if you are picking a more remotely located venue it should come with convenient public transport links. By this we either mean links that will get you into town or links that will quickly get you to a bigger town/city. If taking a train, drinks are permitted so the fun can continue to flow while you get yourself from A to B. Obviously, we advocate responsible consumption… even on stag and hen dos!

The alternative would be to arrange several taxis or even a mini bus to collect you from the racecourse. This may work out cheaper, per person, for shorter journeys although it will take more effort to organise and mean you are on a stricter schedule.

Group Discounts

3D Red Percentage Discount CouponsSome racecourses offer discounts when booking a certain number of tickets at once, often 10 or more.

The discounts typically aren’t huge mind you, usually around 10% off the standard ticket price. This is unlikely to be a deal-breaker but it could help fund an extra bet or two so it is worth taking advantage of.

Typically, group discounts are only available for admission tickets rather than hospitality options. Note that for some courses you may need to phone up the box office to acquire a discount as group discounts are not offered online.

Private Boxes

Formal Table SettingIf you want to have an area just for your group to mingle and watch the racing, many racecourses offer private hospitality areas or boxes. These often require 10+ guests so are not something you could ordinarily access. Often including plenty of food and drink, they can provide both an indulgent and stylish experience. If you have an especially large group (15+), you are likely better off finding a racecourse that charges a fixed price per box. For smaller groups, paying a price per head will likely work out cheaper.

In any case though, box experiences typically do not come cheap, even when avoiding feature meetings. You should expect to pay at least triple figures per person (£100 to £150 being a standard lower range) although this will include your admission and food, and usually at least some drinks, so it is not as expensive as it initially seems.

Enclosure Type

Decreasing Coin StacksIf you are looking to keep costs low, you will want to avoid any hospitality or private boxes and simply opt for one of the standard tickets. Many racecourses offer two or three main ticket types, especially for larger meetings. Some summer courses will offer a cheap ‘open course/picnic enclosure’ ticket which involves you staying in the middle of the course. This is much better for families though and is not well suited to stag and hen parties.

The more standard option will often be called the grandstand and paddock enclosure, with tickets typically costing between £15 and £25 per person. This will give you access to most areas of the course, including food and drink outlets and at least one stand. This is a perfectly decent option although for stags and hen dos, if the budget allows, upgrading to the next best area of the course (often called a premium enclosure, or similar) can be worth the extra few quid per person. It is not usually an area that permits fancy dress but if you are looking to enjoy the racing in style, this is the place to be, with tickets usually around £20 to £35.

Type of Raceday

Zoom Effect crowd at Outdoor EventIf you are wanting to mingle more with the rest of the crowd, rather than stay in a private suite, you will want a racecourse with a decent atmosphere. This does not necessarily mean heading to a major racecourse because smaller venues can still pack a punch. The meeting itself can make more of a difference than the venue as most will have days where the atmosphere is a little flat and the place is half empty. That said, this is more likely to be the case for a midweek meeting.

For those more unfamiliar with racing, it can be difficult to spot which are ‘lesser’ race days and which are more popular. One often reliable sign that a race day is a ‘bigger’ meeting is an increased ticket price. Additionally, any meeting that is part of a festival or is named after a specific race will likely draw in a relatively big crowd. It is also worth mentioning that for a hen do crowd, any ‘ladies day’ meetings are often popular targets because of their sociable or even party atmosphere.

As for stag dos, some courses will run a gentleman’s day and these can be great picks for the occasion. Other courses have also branched out into combining racing with some sort of drink festival too, where a range of varied beverages will be on offer.

Time of Day

5 O'clock Red ClockMost race meetings begin in the early afternoon, with most visitors arriving around lunchtime. If people from your group are travelling from all across the country to attend, it may be that this is too early for them, forcing them to travel up the night before. To avoid this extra cost for them, you can opt for an evening meeting, which make up over 25% of all fixtures (when including floodlit meetings).

To see which courses run an evening meeting, check the full list of fixtures and simply filter by time. Note that the vast majority of evening meetings in the winter months (floodlit) are will be quite low-key affairs and not optimal for a stag/hen do.

Time of Year

Cut Grass with FrostWhen organising a hen or stag do, you want to leave very little room for anything to go wrong. Horse racing is a fairly safe bet with this, as there is so little risk of someone getting injured and crowd trouble is extremely rare. There is a threat you do need to be mindful of though and that is a cancelled meeting. The most common reason for an abandoned meeting is flooding, following a spell of heavy rain, or frozen/frosty ground. In both cases, these are much more likely to happen during a winter meeting, meaning such plans are at a greater risk of a last-minute cancellation.

Data indicates that January and February are the highest risk months, by a considerable margin. Some courses are far more prone to cancellations than others though so this is also something worth taking into account.

Fancy Dress

Man in Suit Wearing Horse Head MaskFancy dress is a key part of many pre-wedding parties, typically with the soon-to-be bride or groom forced to wear some silly or unflattering costume. Generally speaking, racecourses are quite accommodating of fancy dress, but many restrict it to certain areas of the course. Often this means being unable to go into any premium/upgraded ticket and being restricted to stay in the ‘basic’ areas of the course. The type of meeting can make a difference too as feature race days may impose a smarter dress code than normal.

Should the racecourse permit fancy dress though (if you are remotely unsure, do check beforehand) you must always ensure any outfits are not offensive in nature. If it is pushing the bounds of decency then whoever is wearing the outfit may be refused entry and the last thing you want is a member of the group being turned away.

Best Courses For A Stag Or Hen Do

Group of Well Dressed Male Friends

With a stag/hen do, it may be that you have only a few dates, or perhaps just the one, that works for the group. You will still, almost certainly, have a choice of race meetings though as there are an average of over four a day across Great Britain. These are not completely evenly spaced out but Fridays and Saturdays consistently see at least three meetings each and regularly have considerable more in the warmer months.


For such parties, York Racecourse is a real fan favourite. The course itself has embraced the demand and fully encourages larger groups to attend any of their meetings, which run between May and October. One of the big pulls it has is that York itself is a fantastic location to spend the rest of the day. What’s more is that the city centre is not too far from the racecourse itself, a mere mile and a half to be precise. You could walk this but if people are a little too worse for wear then, there is a shuttle bus service that will cover the distance for you.

An extra benefit of York is that it is so easy to get to in the first place. Very well connected by rail, it is an easy place to get to from all over the country and somewhere you can easily spend an entire weekend rather than just a day.


Voted Large Racecourse of the year in 2015, 2018 and 2019, Chester is a much-loved place to watch horse racing. Whether you are a racing fanatic or a casual spectator, there is something quite magical about this challenging and historic course. For those wanting to combine a visit with a stag/hen do, the racecourse location also gives the idea some additional appeal. Rather uniquely, Chester Racecourse is located right in the city centre, within easy walking distance of many hotels, pubs and clubs. So, when planning a stag or hen do in Chester, you do not have to worry in the slightest about transportation on the day.


The only drawback with Chester, is that the city may feel a be a touch too small for some groups. If you are keen on somewhere with a wider selection of places to visit after the racing, Aintree will be a better alternative. Located just a few miles from the heart of Liverpool (and connected by both bus and train) you can enjoy both a quality racecourse and quality nightlife. The racecourse itself, in addition to hosting some of the leading jumps races, is very welcoming of stag/hen groups and supports a wide range of budgets.


When it comes to stag dos and hen parties, Newcastle is one city that consistently features high up on people’s lists. It is a trek for people living down south but the journey may take less time than you think due to its excellent rail connections. Additionally, most would argue it is well worth the journey as there are loads of fun group activities to try out. As for the racing though, Newcastle has the benefit of being a very busy course, hosting over 60 meetings per year and one that has enjoyed much investment in recent years.


If you are after something of a more upmarket party venue, Musselburgh Racecourse is a place oozing with class. They boast some wonderful dining and hospitality options although there are more budget-friendly group packages available. Racing takes place here all year round, so including the winter, but it is a robust course that does not face too many cancellations. One of the main reasons for highlighting it though is its proximity to Edinburgh. Located just six miles away and with convenient transport links to the city centre, there is much else to enjoy nearby.


So far, all our focus has been up north but the south is not without some great stag/hen-do-friendly racecourses. Newmarket is our pick of the bunch from them, not only thanks to its large capacity course but because of its high-quality racing too. As one of the best courses in the country, the “home of horse racing” can provide a truly thrilling experience. Newmarket itself is small, with a population of less than 20,000 but it features many pubs and places to stay. Alternatively, you have the charming and cosmopolitan city of Cambridge just over 10 miles away.

Is A Racecourse Hen/Stag Do Right For You?

Group of Friends at Hen Party

This is not a question we can answer for you but it is worth remembering that racecourses are places that like to maintain some degree of sophistication. You certainly will not get in trouble for enjoying yourself but particularly rowdy and/or aggressive behaviour is not welcome. If your group wants something where they can really let off some steam and be as unruly as possible, some sort of activity-based event (paintballing perhaps?) will be a more appropriate option.