The secret is out: Virginians love the excuse to get impeccably dressed up and head out with a big group of friends to enjoy a day at the races. And what better time to enjoy this centuries old tradition than Charlottesville’s annual April tradition, Foxfield Races?

The Foxfield Spring Races have been held just minutes from the town center for more than forty years. The ritual involves everyone from native Charlottesville dwellers and students from the University of Virginia alike. Held this year on the 28th of April, the grass will be green, the weather will be mild, the horses will be fast, and the tailgating will be as lively as ever!

Dressing Preppy for Foxfield Races

UVA students have taken on Foxfield as a tradition of their own, with party busses and truckloads full of festively-attired young people. For them, Foxfield means an excuse to wear classically preppy spring attire, assemble a collection of friends, and bring the party outside.

While we’re talking about outfits, the dress code for Foxfield is rarely ignored. Lily Pulitzer is high on the list for women and girls, with bold prints and bright colors reminiscent of the blooming spring flowers. Big floppy sunhats are a must, and if you can’t get your  hands on one, bring your aviators for sure. For the men, salmon colored shorts are extremely popular, but brightly colored button downs paired with seersucker are also en vogue. If you’re afraid of clashing too many colors together, don’t be. It’s considered bravely fashionable at Foxfield.

Be Prepared to Tailgate

Most importantly, Foxfield is a tailgating event. Everyone brings their A-game when it comes to providing the best tailgate. While it’s not in the same vein as the fall Montpelier Races, it has it’s own charm. Whether you have a coveted parking space on the rail or infield, you know you have to drive a car with enough space to accommodate coolers full of drinks, and a vast array of snacks and southern fare. Many attendees in fact own special places along the racecourse, having purchased them for years in the past, and enjoy the consistency that comes with living in the same area of the property.

Of course, if you don’t have a parking space, you can attend with a general admission ticket, and roam the grounds freely. There are ample food vendors available, so you don’t have to lug a picnic basket around with you. Considering the high level of food appreciation that we enjoy in Charlottesville, you know it will be delicious.

Everything You Need to Know about the Races

With several miles of undulating terrain, the Foxfield Races is mainly a steeplechasing meet. Run on the grass over numerous obstacles both brush and timber, dozens of horses thunder over the impeccably maintained turf in an effort to become champion for a day. You can watch the horses being saddled in the paddock, and stand on the rail as the brightly colored jockeys whiz by on their fierce mounts at speeds in excess of forty-five miles per hour. Betting is, of course, part of the fun, and most people have low level bets amongst a group of friends on each race.

Thoroughbred racing is one of Virginia’s oldest traditions; we are, after all, the home of the great Triple Crown winner Secretariat, who still holds the record for the fastest Belmont Stakes ever run. Our love of horses extends to all realms, from Foxhunting to Three Day Eventing, with the heart of the Thoroughbred at the center. What better way to celebrate this than attend a day in the country with hoofbeats as your soundtrack?