Horse Races of Sanlúcar de Barrameda – Carreras de Caballos


The horse races of Sanlúcar de Barrameda  is one of the biggest events of the year!

The races take place in two cycles; the first cycle is in the beginning of August and the second is towards the end of the month– the cycle dates are chosen based on which days have the lowest tides in the afternoon (because the horses race on the beach).

The 2015 race dates are 12, 13 and 14th of August and the second cycle will take place on the 26, 27 and 28th of August. The first cycle is a more “light” version of the races; the first cycle involves less people and less partying than the second but if you’re actually going for the races I think it’s the better cycle to attend. If you’re more interested in partying and attending the event to “see and be seen” then the second cycle is all you! The second cycle is usually more packed with people and if there are any celebrity appearances it will be during the second cycle. One of the main attractions of the second cycle are the “palcos” and big party after the races end each night. Many people refer to the segundo ciclo as the closing event of summer so it’s not to be missed!

Getting your tickets

My family and I outside the main entrance (ticket booth is to the right of the entrance)

When you buy a ticket you get access to the high-rise bleachers to watch the race! (I’ve got my betting receipts in hand hoping to win!)

If you want to watch the races for free you can see them up close from the beach. If you want to view the races from the event tent you can purchase tickets at the entrance; to the right of the entrance there is a ticket booth where you can buy daily passes (12 euros) or 3 day passes.

What to wear

During the races pretty much any type of attire will do; you’ll see people in jean shorts, t-shirts, and sandals and at the other extreme you’ll see girls walking around in elegant dresses or “club clothes” and heels. At night people tend to dress a bit more formal; especially if you’ve been invited into one of the palcos or the company balconies. I tend to wear something in between the two extremes when I attend the races and go with short flowy dresses and comfortable wedges – can’t go wrong with that! 😉

Place your bet!

Pick a winner!

Betting makes the whole event more exciting! Before a race you can go to the horse ring and watch the contenders circle around before the race. Choose the horse that looks the most promising and head over to the betting booth. You can place a minimum bet of 2 euros on one horse, or if you’re feeling lucky try betting on a gemelo or “twin” (first and second place winners – reversible) which costs 2 euros or a triple (first, second and third place) which costs 1 euro and if you want to make the bet reversible it costs 6 euros. The payout for the gemelo or triple bets can be quite big – one year my boyfriend’s brother won 700 euros for a winning triple bet!

VIP Zone

There are two VIP zones at the races; there is a large sitting area at ground level with a private bar and the upper balcony with bleachers for viewing the race along with private bar and betting stand – not to mention bathrooms! The only way to get into these zones is by invitation – usually from the president of the races or any of the partners/sponsors of the race.

Balconies “Palcones”

View of the balconies and main tent from the bleachers on the beach!

Inside one of the balconies

The balconies is the pace to be! I like to call them “Palcones” because they are like the little palcos (see below) or tents wherein guests are provided free food and drinks while they watch the races from above. Usually companies sponsor these balconies like La Caixa Bank or the Federacion Español de Baloncesto (the NBA of Spain) for example. The only way to get into the balconies is by receiving an invitation/pass or if you happen to be friends with any of the balcony hosts they can escort you past security and up to their balcony 😉

Palcos & After-party

Picture from last year’s races! Check out the palcos in the background

Palcos to the carreras are like casetas to feria – they make the event! Groups of people reserve a tent and chip in to buy food and drinks for themselves and friends and family they invite to join them. During the second race cycle the palcos are set up outside of the main tent and after the races finish around 10pm people make their way out to the palcos to enjoy the rest of the evening. Swarms of people crowd around each tent while their hosts bring out trays of food and drinks to share. In the main tent there’s usually a DJ or band playing where people can drink and dance until 6am in the morning.


Thoughts on “Horse Races of Sanlúcar de Barrameda – Carreras de Caballos

  1. Pingback: 12 Things you should do in Sanlúcar de Barrameda | Kate's Travel Tips

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