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With the 2021 Melbourne Cup right around the corner and Melbourne simultaneously emerging from its most recent long lockdown, racing enthusiasts are naturally feeling a little hesitant about getting too excited about the event.
Even so, there's no shortage of ways to experience Melbourne Cup Day this year, regardless of whether or not you'll be attending the races in person.
Here are just a few ways you can fill up your Melbourne Cup Day long weekend, and ensure that the exciting atmosphere of the Spring Racing Carnival can be found in your own sunny, springtime experience wherever you may find yourself this Tuesday November 2.
Have a little flutter with friends and co-workers
It wouldn't be Cup Day without placing a few friendly bets between friends, family, and co-workers in your own makeshift Cup Day sweepstakes.
Putting together your own sweeps can be as easy as downloading templates online and organising a friendly prize pool amongst your friends and loved ones.
When it comes to betting big on Cup Day this year, the options are virtually endless, and there will undoubtedly be plenty of community-run sweeps and pools you'll be able to participate in as well. Be sure to do your own independent research, pull your tips from a variety of well-informed sources, and explore your local community to find Cup Day events that may be of interest to you.
Support your local pubs, eateries, makers, and mongers
As a public holiday, Cup Day has always been a vibrant fixture of Melbourne's annual calendar, providing many small business owners with an opportunity to connect with other members of their local communities.
It's common for small businesses to run special deals over the course of the Cup Day long weekend for families who stay put in Melbourne to watch the races and seek to experience the shared anticipation of the race that stops a nation.
As Melbourne comes crawling out of another lengthy lockdown, now is quite honestly the perfect time to be a patron of the small businesses that bring life and vivacity to your local neighbourhood.
You can celebrate Cup Day with your wider community by taking your family and friends out for a coffee, or by heading to your local pub to have a bevy as you watch the races or listen to the Cup Day commentary on the radio.
Similarly, if any local Aussie artisans in your area have opened their doors for the Cup Day weekend to reconnect with their patrons after weeks of lockdown, it's well worth paying their stores and workshops.
By doing so, you won't just be supporting your local makers and mongers, but you'll also be enriching your own weekend too.
Organising a picnic in the park
Finally, lockdown restrictions lifting across Melbourne have inspired many Melbourne residents to flock to their local parklands with picnic blankets and lunches neatly packed in wicker baskets.
The city's pleasant, springtime weather has proven itself to be a fantastic backdrop for outdoor gatherings post-lockdown, and Melbourne's park spaces have been naturally coming to life both with the emergence of fluffy ducklings and cygnets, budding roses, and the cheeriness of families enjoying the bright outdoors.
There's no better way to spend the Cup Day weekend this year than to prepare your own little picnic lunch, take a digital radio, and soak in all the sounds and scents of the Spring Racing Carnival in your own parklands, or potentially even in your own backyard.
Prepare a Cup Day luncheon
If you're not a fan of picnicking, you'll be happy to hear that you'll also be able to organise indoor gatherings for up to 20 fully vaccinated people under Victoria's new lockdown restrictions.
Set up a table in your backyard to have a classy springtime luncheon or high tea with your friends and loved ones. You can even encourage your guests to bring Cup Day-themed treats to ensure your festivities stay in theme.
It may even be worthwhile organising some little activities for the day if younger children may be attending your event.
Little Cup Day-themed arts and crafts like trophy-making or cutting out ribbons can be a fantastic way to ensure your whole family gets involved.
Younger guests can even help out in the kitchen, preparing platters of carrot sticks and apple slices: finger food for horses!
With or without bearing witness to the rose-lined walkways of Flemington, Australians across the country will still find ways to experience all the excitement of race number 7.
No doubt that come 3pm on Tuesday November 2, our eyes, ears, and hearts will be responding to the opening of the gates, the deafening gallops, and the final jubilation that sounds the coming and going of the race that stops a nation.
Gamble responsibly. Contact the Gambling Helpline for free and confidential support, information and counselling on 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelponline.org.au.