Thank you AES rubbish and recycle bin services! We got an email invitation from our local bin service for a free family day at the Punchestown Racecourse. Typically it costs €30 per adult for a ticket. What an amazing gift!
It was probably one of the most gloomy days this spring with down-pouring rain and grey skies. We arrived in the parking area, a massive field, my husband hurriedly bundled our toddler into the buggy covering it with the rain guard while I gathered my baby under a load of blankets. I was wishing for an umbrella; my little black hat with the feather on top was getting doused and quickly wilting. The high heeled black boots I wore sunk in the mud making me wonder about my choice of shoes for the day, but as I looked around there were several other women attempting to walk the muddy field with fancier dresses and higher heels. I was determined not to change into my more practical boots that I had thought to bring…this was my first REAL horse race at a big grandstand and I wanted to be dressed in style. I’ve seen many movies over the years of horse races where women wore the big fancy hats and beautiful dresses, my husband told me this was one of those, and I wanted to take part. I love wearing fun hats and rarely get an occasion. Once we made it to the covered area I looked around and saw loads of women in hats and heard an announcement for the fancy dress contestants to gather. I asked a few ladies if they would mind if I took a photo with them and their hats, they looked at me like I was crazy, but then laughed and agreed when I told them I was an American at my first Irish race. I must have sounded silly…but I got the picture.
We then headed to the large yellow building where they said there would be stuff for the kids and we were amazed to find how much they had. There were at least 30 huge bouncy castles, 5-6 people doing elaborate face painting for the kids, a smaller bouncy castle area for toddlers, a mini band parade, and a coloring contest. Helpers dressed up in big heart and fruit costumes handed out little back packs with colored pencils to the kids and a man walked around on high stilts. I was impressed by the organization of the activities. It was all free and there was a massive amount of people but the way things were set up everything seemed to flow well and not seem too crowded. For instance, the bouncy castle section was enclosed by a waist high fence, the staff allowed in a certain number of people at a time and then a timer was set for 15 minutes, after the allotted time everyone inside were kindly ushered out and the next set of people allowed in. The system worked very well making it possible for everyone to use the bouncy castles their entire 15 minutes without waiting around in lines. As soon as your time was over you could choose to get back in line and wait 15 minutes, or you could go on to do something else. A+ for organization and kid friendly atmosphere!
They offered free pony rides for all the kids. My daughter got to ride on her first pony by herself as I walked along beside her. I think I was more delighted to have my girl on a horse than she was though.
There was also an outdoor carnival with €2 rides and little tent shops and fast food vendors.
Finally, at 3:30 we headed over to the race track and got to see two of the horse races while eating our Abrakababra sandwiches and sweet chili chips. It was exciting to watch as the horses raced by our little section of the stands and also to be able to follow the rest of the race on the big screens out in the field. After the final race was through we watched the muddy horses and their jockeys walk into the winners circle. It was impressive.
So for family fun, kids day out, and fancy hats, and beautiful horses…I’d definitely recommend Punchestown races.
THANK YOU AES!!!!!!