The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is an extended horseracing meeting that takes place at Flemington racecourse in Victoria, Australia featuring several individual racedays that count as among Australia's greatest horseracing meetings. The 2012 Spring Carnival takes place on November 3 - November 10, with the 2013 Spring Carnival scheduled for the same period.
As well as being a feast of horse racing, the Spring Carnival is also the social highlight of the year for Melbourne - just one look at the exuberant array of hats on display can prove that, as Australia's social glitterati gather to be seen and photographed. The Carnival is an epicentre for new fashion and glitzy parties.
The Spring Carnival has always been noted for generating huge betting pools on all of its races. There are enormously big purses for the races themselves, with the VRC putting up millions upon millions in prize money during the festival.
The whole festival is of course built around the Melbourne Cup itself, Australia's single greatest and most famous horse race, which has dominated the ambitions of trainers, owners and jockeys alike ever since its inception back in 1861. In 2012 and 2013, further history will be made as the race takes on new dimensions in the modern age.
There are also plenty of other Group One races besides the Cup. These include the Victoria Derby, the VRC Crown Oaks, the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate and the Stakes - all attract huge crowds and a great deal of betting activity, some offering hints as to form and conditions for the Melbourne Cup itself.
More than 400,000 attended the Melbourne Cup Carnival in 2006, a bumper year, while in 2011 the event was attended by a total of 355,086 fans. In 2012 and 2013, the attendance is likely to be massive once again.