Grand National tickets selling well despite price hikes

The Grand National may still be nine months away, but some areas of the course have already sold out. That will prove a huge relief to organisers who took the brave decision to hike prices, despite the continued cost of living crisis and the bad press that has cast a shadow over horse racing.

The Grand National Festival spans three days every April, with the 2025 event scheduled to run from Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th April. Ticket prices vary across the three days, with the cheap seats in the Festival Zone pitched at a very affordable £35 for day one, but most tickets for the main event on the Saturday setting punters back in excess of £150.

The ticket prices have been increased by either £5 or £10 for most stands on the course for 2025, but it seems that’s not enough to put the majority off attending. Despite the underlying complaints of more and more big sporting venues taking advantage of spectators, the Earl of Derby, Queen Mother and Platinum Lounge sections are all being reported as sold out for Grand National day, even at this early stage.

The news will act as a dampener to calls that organisers need to provide a better all-round experience for those who attend horse racing. Heavy rain caused bedlam at March’s Cheltenham Festival, with spectators left stranded for hours as they queued in mud-filled car parks.

In the aftermath of Cheltenham’s problems, Ian Renton, managing director of Jockey Club Racecourses, acknowledged the situation, saying, “we and all businesses operating in the leisure and hospitality industry know only too well the huge effect that the ongoing cost-of-living crisis is having on consumer behaviour.”

“We want to ensure we are accessible at a variety of price points. Tickets started from £37 when first on sale last March, a price which will be held when 2025 tickets go on sale.”

Those in favour of the current pricing system will point to other major sporting events as justification for the price hikes. A typical Premier League football match now sets fans back in excess of £50 but is a far shorter experience than a day at the races, while a day on Wimbledon’s Centre Court now costs an eye watering £275 for finals day.

Of course, setting an affordable pricing structure to ensure attending live sport doesn’t become an elitist event isn’t just a UK-based problem.

Next month will see the eyes of the world focused on Paris, and a look at the current ticketing availability suggests there could be large swathes of empty seats on show, particularly for the early rounds of the football tournament, but also for some showpiece events including athletics.

For now, event organisers at Paris, Aintree and elsewhere will continue to tread the fine line between maximising profits and ensuring empty seats don’t become the headline when it’s their turn to take centre stage.