Melbourne Cup Day 2017 will take place on Tuesday, November 7th. The day is a public holiday in the state of Victoria, and over 100,000 spectators are expected to pack into Flemington Racecourse to watch the event.
Melbourne Cup Day is not only a big event in the state of Victoria. Many offices across the country close at lunch time to allow employees to watch the Melbourne Cup, and many host special lunches or office parties for the event.
While Melbourne Cup Day is renowned for its festive atmosphere and the high fashion on display at Flemington, the Melbourne Cup itself takes the limelight. The world’s most prestigious weight for age handicap attracts an estimated TV audience of over 500 million people around the globe, and millions of Australians bet on the race every year.
The history of Melbourne Cup Day
Melbourne Cup Day is as old as the Melbourne Cup itself, with the first Melbourne Cup Day celebrated in 1861. In 1875 the decision was made to run the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November, starting the tradition that continues to this day.
By 1873 the Melbourne Cup was attracting so much interest that Melbourne authorities made the decision to dispense with work on the day altogether. As a result Melbourne Cup Day became a public holiday in the city of Melbourne.
It took a little longer for Melbourne Cup Day to become a state-wide public holiday. In 2008 the Victoria Parliament passed legislation designating Melbourne Cup Day as a public holiday in many other towns and cities throughout Victoria.
Melbourne Cup Day’s impact on Australian culture is so profound that many are suggesting that the day be made a national holiday. At present the day boasts very high sick leave rates, combined with very low productivity rates.