Note: This post was originally published in April 2018 and has been updated in April 2019 to provide an accurate summary of the 2019 racing season.

There’s nothing more exciting than a day at the races, whether you enjoy a flutter or simply like the spectacle of the event.

Here at YHL Parks, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to horse racing in North Yorkshire – there are numerous options in easy reach of our holiday parks.

To help you get started, here’s our guide to the best horse racing in North Yorkshire.

Thirsk racecourse 

Opened on its present site in 1923, Thirsk is one of several historic race courses in North Yorkshire.

The 2019 flat racing season begins at Thirsk on April 29, the first of 16 meetings between April and September. There’s live entertainment during race days, which include five super Saturday afternoons and fantastic family fun days.

The popular Thirsk Summer Cup takes place on the Saturday, August 3, and is followed by the James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small Family Day on Friday, August 9. The season concludes with the popular Ladies’ Day on September 7 and the season finale on September 16.

Thirsk has a great selection of bars and dining venues on site, as well as hospitality packages to suit all tastes. You can even park up alongside the course in certain areas and enjoy a picnic as you watch the racing.

The Family Enclosure offers free entry to accompanied under 18s and has plenty of entertainment for youngsters during meetings on Saturdays and in school holidays.

For keen race-goers planning to attend regularly, the annual pass is a great option. Not only does it give you entry to all the season’s meetings, but it also includes a package of reciprocal offers such as free entry to more than 40 other racecourses in the UK, free attendance at Yorkshire County Cricket Club fixtures, and discounted entry to the World of James Herriot museum in Thirsk.

Distance from our parks:

Abbots Green – 4.3miles

Old Hall – 13miles

Swaleside – 4.8miles

York House – 4.3miles

Ripon Races

Ripon’s links to horse racing go back almost 400 years and it remains a popular place to enjoy horse racing in North Yorkshire. Its course on Boroughbridge Road is known as Yorkshire’s Garden Racecourse thanks to the attractive surroundings.

There are 17 meetings in 2019, running from mid-April to late September and featuring a selection of afternoons, evenings, weekends and family days. Ladies’ Day during Ascot week in June is always a highlight, with prizes handed out to the best-dressed attendees as judged by local designers and fashion business owners.

The season concludes with the Theakstons BBQ ‘n’ Beer Festival on the last Saturday in September, promising a great day out with plenty of entertainment.

Hospitality packages are on offer throughout the season with plenty of options to suit all budgets. Of course, there are numerous bars and food outlets across the various enclosures – and you can even bring a barbecue to use in designated areas.

Again, annual badges are a worthwhile investment if you plan to be a regular visitor and bring benefits including reserved car parking and a bar with a viewing balcony, as well as reciprocal arrangements with other courses.

Distance from our parks:

Abbots Green – 15miles

Old Hall – 5.3miles

Swaleside – 7.2miles

York House – 15miles

Catterick Racecourse 

Following re-development works at the course, the 2019 flat racing season begins at Catterick on June 17, running through to the season finale on October 29. Fixtures include family events, charity days, Ladies’ Day and the Yorkshire Beer Festival.

The enclosures are well served by food and drink outlets, or picnics are allowed in the course enclosure. The indoor and outdoor play areas are a great feature for youngsters and, during the school holidays and on Saturday afternoons, additional entertainment is on offer to keep them busy.

The annual badge at Catterick is among the most affordable in the region, but still covers all fixtures, as well as reciprocal arrangements elsewhere.

Distance from our parks:

Abbots Green – 23.9miles

Old Hall – 24miles

Swaleside – 21.1miles

York House – 23.9miles

Wetherby Racecourse 

Hosting both national jump and flat racing, Wetherby has 19 meetings in 2019. The dates run throughout most of the year, with jump racing fixtures from October through to April, including the hugely popular Boxing Day races. Three flat fixtures take place between April 28 and May 30, with no racing in 2019 between June and September.

There is an extensive choice of enclosures and hospitality packages, and children are admitted to all enclosures free of charge. There’s family-friendly entertainment at many events and in particular the annual Family Raceday on April 28.

As well as the usual benefits of an annual badge, including reciprocal arrangements with other courses and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Wetherby offers a discount scheme with restaurants in the town. You can get 10% off at some great local places – perfect for dining out after a successful day!

Distance from our parks:

Abbots Green – 26.7miles

Old Hall – 12.8miles

Swaleside – 21.9miles

York House – 26.7miles

York Racecourse 

The largest racecourse in our region – and the third largest in the UK in terms of prize money offered – is York.

Whenever race day arrives in York, the streets are thronged with race-goers heading to the course and there’s a fantastic atmosphere across the city.

York offers 18 days of racing in 2019, running from May to October. The highlight of these is no doubt the Ebor Festival in August – a four-day celebration of racing which attracts visitors from around the UK.

There’s a great choice of enclosures including one dedicated to picnicking with views of the finish. There are numerous restaurants and bars around the site so you’ll never be short of choice, and as you would expect the hospitality options are extensive.

For families, there are plenty of special events with entertainment on offer. Under 18s are admitted free and there is a special rate for 18-22 year olds as well.

York particularly specialises in mixed events, combining racing with live music and a festival atmosphere. A series of events in the summer celebrates the best of both worlds and always proves popular with families.

The list of benefits for the annual badge is extensive, so regular race-goers will certainly benefit from the investment.

Distance from our parks:

Abbots Green – 24miles

Old Hall – 25.3miles

Swaleside – 23.6miles

York House – 24miles