Taking a long weekend for the Melbourne Cup is just as much an institution for Melburnians as the Cup is itself!  

Don’t wait until Tuesday 4 November to embrace the spring festivities – The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, just one hour from Melbourne, provide perfect getaway options so you can make the most of the weekend, and if you’re lucky a four-day break!

Music, markets, art, food and wine and so many choices for some Tuesday fun with all eyes locked on a big screen for the 3.20pm run. Sweepstakes and sweet steaks! Bubbles and banter, dressed in your finery or just relaxing in fine surrounds.  There’s more to do, no crowds (guaranteed!) and a local craft beer, wine, gin or cocktail to savour. Toast the Cup, and toast the good things in life in the Yarra Valley.

Friday night ease in

Start the weekend with a session at No.7 Healesville for their Friday Night live series, or head over to Barrique Wine Store for a Friday night tasting.

Saturday in style

Celebrate Derby Day in true Healesville country style with a picnic racing day in relaxed atmosphere. BYO food and drink and there is plenty of grandstand seating and kids activities to keep everyone occupied! 

Visit a cellar door and taste the latest vintages from more than 90 Yarra Valley Wineries. Enjoy a meal or sharing plate and lean out from a busy week.

The second annual HopFest is on Saturday and Sunday at Healesville Sanctuary. Taste the Yarra Valley’s best craft beer brewers and small batch cider makers the beautiful grounds and native wildlife of Healesville Sanctuary.

Music lovers, make your way to the Rochford Concert Lounge for the musical stylings of The Herberts.

Sunday Markets and linger longer lunches

How many markets can you do in a day? There’s a market to visit regardless of the direction you’re travelling! Yarra Glen Racecourse Market, Rotary Lilydale Craft and Produce Market, Warburton Artisan and Produce Market, Eltham Farmers Market, Hurstbridge Farmers Market, Healesville’s River St Market all on Sunday.

Big Lunch plans are easy at the Aussie Buffet Lunch event at SkyHigh Mt Dandenong. Carvery, seafood and all your favourites. No tummy left unsatisfied.

Monday Funday

Monday feels like a bonus day! Start with a bushwalks or nature wander or browse a pretty village for shopping delights (there are 55 towns in the Yarra Ranges all with their own unique charm). Stock up on fresh produce, buy some locally inspired art, or just lay back on some spring grass and finally make a start on that book you’ve been meaning to read. 

Check out the Redwood Forest in East Warburton or take in an on-top-of-the-world view from the Observation Tower on Mt Donna Buang.

Race into Tuesday (Cup Day)

Yarra Valley Racing at Yarra Glen provides an easy country style alternative for race day. This Melbourne Cup Day at Yarra Valley harness racing is going green, bringing back the trots for the first time in 16 years! There’s a free ‘Family Fun Zone’ with a carnival atmosphere including rides, entertainment, lawn games and the opportunity to meet HERO horses (retired horses with new future!).

Micawber Tavern in Belgrave will entertain punters with ‘Your Shout Trivia’ on Tuesday night. Astound your friends with your general knowledge.


And if the Melbourne Cup isn’t your thing there’s plenty of other things to do on the day.

Here’s three perfect Yarra valley experiences:

  • Experience the Archibald Exhibition at TarraWarra Museum of Modern Art. Open all weekend, including Monday 4 November and Tuesday 5 November.
  • Celebrate all things gin at Four Pillars Distillery at Healesville. The ‘By Barney' food truck will be in the car park on Tuesday and the much-anticipated Australian Christmas Gin will be available (launching Saturday 2 November)!
  • Take a drive – wind down the windows, gulp in some fresh air and explore! There’s short drives, long drives, drives with views, drives with picnics, rivers and more here.

While Melbourne Cup day is a public holiday, the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges is open for visitors. However, if there is a special place you want to visit, it may be work checking their website or giving them a call to ensure they are open or have capacity for you on the day. You can find contact details for key destinations on this website.