Out of all the horse racing events held during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, which takes place every October through November at various venues throughout the city, none are as well-renowned as the Melbourne Cup.

The race celebrates its 157th birthday this year and, as per tradition, is held on the first Tuesday of November at 3pm, as it has since 1875. While other cities are sent to work as normal, in Melbourne residents get a public holiday to make their bets and watch the races.

But it’s not just about gambling – the Melbourne Cup is just as famous for its fashion. Expect pop-up stores selling fascinators (those headpieces made from lace, feathers and flowers) and department store windows showcasing spring-inspired formal wear. And if you can’t get enough of the elegant fashion, on the Thursday after the Melbourne Cup is Kennedy Oaks’ Day, locally known as “ladies’ day”, when both men and women are seen to take style to a whole other level.

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Over the years the Melbourne Cup has had its fair share of controversy, from underage jockeys (horse racers) to deaths on the field, but no one can deny that it’s an event and tradition that’s at the heart of Melbourne.

Go visit the Melbourne Museum (free with your student card) before the Cup and check out the Phar Lap exhibition, where you can see the legendary horse and Cup winner, and read up on one of the greatest murder mysteries in Australian history.