If you're in Melbourne in November, you'd be hard pressed to escape the Melbourne Carnival Cup. Every November, the week-long event encompasses four races including the famous Melbourne Cup Day – all held at Flemington Racecourse, just a few kilometres drive outside of the city

What's all the fuss about? Here's what you should know about the Melbourne Carnival Cup.

1) The races

The week kicks off with Victoria Derby Day, the most prestigious for many. Saturday's fashion usually comprises of monochrome for the ladies, and morning suits for gentlemen. Tuesday is Melbourne Cup Day and is considered the jewel in the crown, with the 'race that stops a nation' taking place at 3 p.m. and attracting the attention of most of the country. The third day of racing takes place on Thursday when it's Oaks Day and the Myers Fashion on the Field national prize is awarded, while Friday is family friendly Stakes Day with free activities for children alongside the races.

2) Fashion

It's about way more than just horse  racing – fashion is a major part of what has been described as the biggest social event of the year. Dressing up to the occasion is all part of the fun, with themes in place for certain days and dressing to impress being the name of the game. Myers Fashions on the Field at Flemington is one of the largest fashion events in Australia where non-jockeys can compete to win their own prize money in the competition that's been held annually since 1962.

3) Party atmosphere

With 100,000 racing fans descending on Melbourne for the event, the whole city comes alive. Bars and cafes host cup day events and specials, as do department stores and other shops. The day is so important it warrants its own state holiday on Melbourne Cup Day so that everyone can enjoy the fun. At the racecourse itself, in amongst all the racing action, there's entertainment, food and culture to keep the crowds pleased. 

4) City-centre parade

Every year the parade sees the centre of Melbourne filled with horses and jockeys, providing an up close view for spectators along with interviews and live entertainment. Thousands of spectators line the streets for the journey starting from Swanston Street (Bourke Street) and ending at Federation Square near Flinders Street station. Taking place over two hours on the Monday of race week, the parade offers street eats, performers, games and an opportunity to view the trophy before it is awarded.

5) Prize money

With over $7 million up for grabs for the Melbourne Cup alone, it's one of biggest prize purses in racing. Only four other events in the world offer more. 

6) History

Flemington saw its first race in 1840, beside the river and only five years after the city of Melbourne was established. Traditionally races were held in the autumn, but in 1854 the Victoria Turf Club hosted a spring meeting too. The Melbourne Cup was launched in 1861, with the Victoria Racing Club taking over the event in 1864. Flemington has hosted the event every spring since. By 1880 the event grew to such a size it was attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and the state holiday was agreed. The Melbourne Cup always runs on a Tuesday, except for three years during World War II when it moved to a Saturday. 

7) Get the best views – There are plenty of options for getting the best view from general admission areas through to corporate marquees and private enclosures. Check out the Parade Ring where you can see the horses between races or getting ready for their next event. There's also the Mounting Yard, where racegoers can see the horses paraded before heading onto the track. If you're not so fussed about racetrack views, you can spot fashion in The Park and celebrities in the exclusive Flemington Birdcage.

If you're ready to get going, organise your car hire from Melbourne Airport today.