From Grand National Ladies’ Day to Ladies’ Day Ascot and all those in between, almost every major race event throughout the UK today has its own Ladies’ Day. This is a day where the ladies don their best dresses, hats, high heels and hairstyles in a bid to be crowned the best dressed as well as take in the racing.

For the uninitiated, Ladies’ Day can seem intimidating, with flocks of beautifully-dressed women taking over the viewing stands accompanied by men in tails, tweeds or three-piece suits. So, to remove the mystery we take a look at just what is Ladies’ Day, how it evolved and what extra events some of the different racecourses bring to the festivities on this special day.

The origins of Ladies’ Day Ascot

Horse racing events have taken place at Ascot for more than 300 years, with Royal Ascot as the crowning jewel in the racing calendar. Ascot is also thought to be where the concept of Ladies’ Day naturally evolved.

Ladies’ Day is traditionally the busiest day of Royal Ascot, especially since the introduction of the Gold Cup race in 1807. The actual term “Ladies’ Day” was first recorded in print by an unknown poet in 1823. The event is typically held on the Thursday of Royal Ascot: historically the dominant day of the meeting, attracting larger crowds.

What is Ladies’ Day?

The term “ladies’ day” is defined as a day where women are either offered free entry or an attractive discount or are allowed into an event that is usually men only. While some of this is now outdated, Ladies’ Day at the races is still a big event and almost every UK racecourse will market a Ladies’ Day at its major annual festival or event.

The day typically combines some of the most exciting races on the calendar with the chance to get dressed up to the nines and compete to win ‘best dressed lady’. Many racecourses offer prize packages for the winner and runner(s) up. There is often a strict dress code for all enclosures (except the family enclosure) on Ladies’ Day which includes rules for the men. Typically, no trainers, jeans, shorts or collarless shirts will be allowed. Be sure to check the Royal Ascot style guide for specifications regarding dress code.

Ladies’ Day prize packages

Ladies’ Day is a chance for women (and men) to peacock about the enclosures, bring out their most fashionable outfits and see and be seen on one of the most glamourous days in the racing calendar.

What makes it even more worth taking the time to look fabulous? The prize packages, of course. These vary from course to course but usually plenty of local and national businesses will get involved and offer rewards to complement those offered by the racecourse and create a prize package truly worth the effort.

The winner of the Style Award at Ladies’ Day Aintree last year, for example, took home a new Mini Roadster gifted from the racecourse, as well as a prize package from Liverpool One valued at £6,000.

For that winning combination of excitement and glamour, check out the next Ladies’ Day at your local racecourse and experience a day to remember.