Cheltenham Festival 2023: The businesses hoping to benefit as the races come to town

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Businesses across Cheltenham will be looking to benefit from the thousands of people having their day at the races.

The festival begins on Tuesday 14 March and finishes with Gold Cup Day on Friday 17 March.

Last year's event was the first since the pandemic and brought in more than £274m to the local economy.

One business owner says the arrival of Cheltenham Festival will herald one of her best months.

Lynne Bitterlin owns The Hat Shop in Charlton Kings in Cheltenham and says despite having a very quiet start to the year, business has now picked up as women seek out hats to wear for the races - particularly Ladies day.

Hats on sale in Lynne's shop Credit: ITV News

Lynne said: "Prior to Cheltenham, we are very very quiet. Then all of a sudden we’ve got the festival and then everybody is looking for the mother of the bride's hats, and wedding hats.

"And so we get all the business that all comes at once!"

Hat prices in Lynne's can range from £60 to £160 depending on the shape, size and style.

Although organisers recently announced they would be scrapping the long-standing traditional formal dress code, many will already be planning what to wear for the event and will be keen to make sure their attire is weather appropriate.

With the weather forecast set for a blustery week at the races, some could be worried about their hats blowing off in the wind.

Lynne added: "Basically with the hats we can fit them so that they are snug fit so they don’t blow off people's heads, and some have bands that fit around the hair too."

But it's not just independent retailers that benefit from the festival with the hotel, leisure and hospitality sector also set to cash in from the event.

The Queen's Hotel has fully booked rooms for the course of the week but will also be looking to rack up bar sales, ordering so much extra drink they are having to stack it in some of the service corridors.

Herman Pires, Operations Director at The Queen's Hotel, said: "Plenty of Guinness - litres and litres goes across for the four days.

"The revenue is a lot within the four days - what we normally do for Christmas in three weeks."