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Case Studies

Doncaster Racecourse: Christmas Live

Remote working trend drives Christmas party growth at Arena Racing Group

Christmas Live, a glamorous festive shared party experience for 1,400 guests per night, recently celebrated its 14th year at Arena Racing Group’s (ARC) Doncaster Racecourse, which ran across eight evenings in December.

The event is so popular each year that there is a waiting list before tickets go on sale. Clare Marsden, Regional Events Sales Manager for ARC, explains why: “Christmas parties are more important than ever as the UK workforce has become more fragmented because of the growing WFH trend. Senior leaders know how vital it is for their business to bring their staff together for a memorable and celebratory event to thank and reward them at the end of the year.

Christmas Live meets this demand with its unbeatable fun and festive atmosphere, premium entertainment, and a brigade of chefs who deliver restaurant-quality food. We have a high volume of repeat business each year because we keep evolving it to make it better and better.”

To mark Christmas Live’s ‘Dance the Decades’ theme last year, guests were greeted on arrival in the main grandstand by four lit-up podiums, each with a dancer that appeared out of the darkness on cue to music, representing every decade from the 1960s to the Noughties. The room featured eight bars, including a ‘Bad Santa Bar’ serving shots, and a cocktail bar.

Guests then proceeded to the main dining area, adorned with festive starlit walls, for a three-course Yuletide menu accompanied by table service for drinks. Before dinner, guests enjoyed a 20-minute performance from an eight-piece band, who played Christmas classics from artists like Mariah Carey and Wham! After dinner, a popular compere entertained the audience with shout-outs to some of the companies present. The band also returned to deliver a one-hour immersive musical show.

Christmas Live provided many fun features for partygoers, including arcade games, such as Pac-man, and a host of others dating from the past five decades in line with the event’s theme. There was also a giant Jenga and a basketball game. Previous years have included a bucking reindeer, dodgems, casino tables, and entertainment huts featuring gameshow-style experiences, such as Play your Cards Right.

Prior to Christmas Live, many businesses add on a conference or meeting at Doncaster Racecourse, or the onsite Hilton Garden Inn hotel, which can also accommodate private parties for up to 300 people. The property has 154 bedrooms, many overlooking the stunning racecourse, providing a huge advantage for guests who wish to stay overnight.

In December 2024, Doncaster Racecourse will host Christmas Live at the Movies, with music featuring classic soundtracks such as Moulin Rouge’s Lady Marmalade and Mama Mia’s Dancing Queen.

For one night only, the racing venue will host its first DJ night with a famous soon-to-be-announced star guest. Marsden explains: “We are launching our first resident DJ night with a street-food-style experiential dining concept because there is a growing appetite for less formal parties centred around music and dancing.”

As the UK’s largest racecourse group boasting 21 venues and 16 premier racecourses nationwide, ARC’s Christmas programme also features a range of thrilling race days and hospitality packages, offering unparalleled trackside action coupled with exquisite dining and high-end service.

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