Things to do on Melbourne Cup Day

Whether you’re watching the race or avoiding it completely, here are the best things to do this Cup Day
Hop Fest
Photograph: Supplied
By Rebecca Russo |

It’s time to saddle up: Melbourne’s bars and restaurants are getting ready to deliver an impressive party offering this Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, November 6. While Melbourne’s racecourses see the majority of the glitz and glamour, venues are making most of the Tuesday public holiday, with mini parties popping up across town.

Rather get out of town completely? Here are our favourite Victorian road trips, weekend escapes and day hikes to try.

Things to do on Melbourne Cup Day

Dinner by Heston6.jpg

Dinner by Heston

icon-location-pin Southbank

Looking to go all out? Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is hosting a luxe Champagne lunch on Melbourne Cup Day for $350 per person. The menu includes Heston’s signature chicken cooked with lettuces served with a glass of Pommery Grand Cru, and strawberry crust, which is a toasted vanilla cake, compressed strawberries, native basil, pepperberry ice cream and strawberry juice, served with the NV Pommery Royal Blue Sky. Wowee! It all kicks off at noon on race day.

Inside at Dr Morse Bar and Eatery

Dr Morse Bar and Eatery

icon-location-pin Abbotsford

Abbotsford bar Dr Morse will be throwing its annual ‘anti-cup’ day with $14 Bloody Marys and $10 spritzes all day. For every spritz that’s purchased on the day (and on Caulfield Cup Day, Cox Plate and Oakes Day) the bar will be donating $1 to RSPCA.

Lido on the Roof
Photograph: Eugene Hyland
Film, Outdoor cinema

Lido on the Roof

icon-location-pin Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn

Lido Cinema’s rooftop cinema is back! Lido on the Roof will be screening Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody on Cup Day. No need to BYO snacks: Lido's food and drink counter serves up great movie treats, from choctops and vegan-friendly popcorn to edamame and craft beers. 

Steak at Neptune
Restaurants, Mediterranean


icon-location-pin Windsor

Heading to the racecourse? Neptune will be putting on a Cup Day Champagne breakfast with fresh fruit plates, granola, pastries and cooked morning staples and even a ‘recovery’ kit to help you throughout the day (and the following morning). They will also have return transfers to and from Flemington Racecourse for those headed to the track. The three-course brekkie will set you back $95 per person and includes transfers.

Art, Photography

Polly Borland: Polyverse

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

It’s unlikely that any photographer boasts a portfolio like Australian artist Polly Borland’s. It’s as chock full with celebrities as it is with fetishists – Borland spent five years documenting the surreal lives of adults who get their kicks by dressing up as infants. But it’s the wild diversity of her work that is perhaps its most distinctive quality. In Polyverse, the showcase of her new and recent work at the NGV, another facet of Borland’s photography will be on display. These otherworldly images feature human subjects distorted with stockings, gags and lumps of padding; smeared with make-up; bodies straining and restrained in poses that are both sexually charged and monstrous. It’s a collection that toes a fine yet powerful line between shock and awe.

Bartender at Garden State Hotel

Garden State Hotel

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Watch the race from the comfort of the beer garden at this CBD pub. The Garden State crew will be creating bubbly cocktails from their pop-up Schweppes Bar, with the races being played live and loud on the big screen. You can also kick on with DJs playing from 9pm.

A plate of food next to a glass of beer on a bench at Arbory Bar

Arbory Bar and Eatery

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Take a pew upon the Arbory's 150m deck this Melbourne Cup weekend. It's the ideal spot for post-race drinks – glance upon well-dressed Melburnians as they totter out of Flinders Street station and sip on a something from the carefully curated wine selection. Hungry? Line your stomach with one of Arbory's European share plates, burgers or head across to Arbory Afloat for a nautical moment. 

Sign at Lamaros Hotel
Photograph: Graham Denholm

Lamaro's Hotel

icon-location-pin South Melbourne

This South Melbourne restaurant will be putting the race on the big screen and hosting a range of sweeps throughout the day with a $5 buy-in and cash prizes. Settle in and grab yourself a $10 Aperol spritz, French sparkling wine and Espresso Martinis, as well as $5 schooners of Brick Lane Lager.

Langham Melbourne Spring Racing Melbourne Cup
Photograph: Shellie Froidevaux

The Langham

icon-location-pin Southbank

Dress up and enjoy a gorgeous lunch at the Langham on Melbourne Cup Day. Some 225 race-loving diners will be able to watch the day’s action unfold on plasma screens while digging into Melba’s seafood station, which will be stuffed with oysters, blue swimmer crab, lobster bisque and vanilla bean poached lobster. There will be prizes for best dressed and for best hat, so make sure you’re in your race day best. The lunch kicks off at 12.30pm and is $149 per person (which includes free-flowing sparkling wine).

Things to do, Exhibitions

Mandela My Life: The Exhibition

icon-location-pin Melbourne Museum, Carlton

Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa and the election of Nelson Mandela as the country’s first democratically elected leader. So it’s fitting that the first English language version of Madiba the Musical – A Celebration of the Life of Nelson Mandela opens in Australia this month. Told through the eyes of young artist Will, a victim of apartheid, the musical interweaves the story of Mandela with tales of forbidden love and the fight against apartheid, alongside music and choreography inspired by African dance and vocal traditions. 

Show more

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Whisky and Alement bartender
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

The 50 best bars in Melbourne

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Looking to get out of town?

Great Otway National Park
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Travel, Short getaways

The best day trips from Melbourne

If you're looking for a break from the inner-city grid, there's no better cure than a day trip from Melbourne. The state of Victoria is full of friendly neighbourhood towns, whether you're in the mood for a winery tour, a road trip or a national park to explore. These one-day escapes are just what the doctor ordered, so get out there and explore Melbourne's beautiful backyard.