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Monday, 18 November 2019 at 01:27PM

Fairyhouse Racecourse Expect Hundreds of Racegoers to Swap their Winter Tweeds and Faux Furs for Vintage and Pre-Loved Woolly Christmas Jumper-Fest

One in four of the Christmas jumpers bought by under 35s every year are binned or unlikely to be worn again – Vintage hand me down Christmas jumpers encouraged

Sunday 17th November 2019

You can’t get more Irish than horse racing and the people’s love of Christmas jumpers and Fairyhouse are combining the two again at their Winter Festival this year for what is being billed as the most fun fashion event ever at a horse racing meeting with tweeds and faux furs being discarded for colourful and sometimes dodgy looking hand-me-down recycled woollen knits. Last year attracted a huge number of entries to the inaugural Christmas jumper competition and Fairyhouse expect to see even more entries on Saturday November 30th with an impressive prize of VIP hospitality for two to the opening day of the Fairyhouse 2020 Easter Festival with a luxury overnight in the Dunboyne Castle Hotel.

One in four of the Christmas jumpers bought by under 35s every year are binned or unlikely to be worn again so to spur change against this style of fast fashion, Fairyhouse are encouraging all participants to take the following steps to get judging bonus points on the day (Saturday November 30): find a vintage style online or a pre-loved jumper in your grandparents wardrobe, invest in a second-hand festive sweater, re-use your favourite from last year or swap them between friends or get creative and decorate your own 100% Irish woollen knit!

The Winter Racing Festival at Fairyhouse is expected to attract 9,000 racegoers over two days on Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December and the large scale Christmas jumper competition for all ages will take place on the first day will see hundreds of vintage, bright, sparkly and glittery festive jumpers – all to be judged by Ireland’s greatest ever female jockey Rachael Blackmore who came second in last season’s jump jockey championship with 90 winners.

Last year’s inaugural event won by Paul McGrath from nearby Ashbourne, Co Meath whose Christmas themed shirt, bowtie, socks, red trousers and dartboard jumper really stood out from the crowd!

To celebrate the novel fashion competition, the Fairyhouse team dug up the following Christmas jumper fun facts to help get people into the festive spirit:

  • The history of the Christmas jumper can be traced to the heavy, warm sweaters that were hand-knitted in Scandinavia and Iceland in the late 1800s and were characterised by contrasting bands of geometric patterns which distinguished fishermen from different communities.
  • The jumpers became more widely known when they were worn by skiers as their sport developed during the first half of the 20th century. Knitwear with bands of geometric patterns and colours influenced by forest landscapes became common skiwear and thus the forerunner to today’s bright colours on the slopes.
  • Cheap, colourful and customisable knitted jumpers also became an attractive and commonplace wardrobe staple in the lean years after the Second World War, which helped to set the scene for the festive jumper to make its debut during the 1960s.
  • A survey last year by environmental charity Hubbub in the UK found that one in four Christmas jumpers bought last year was thrown away or is unlikely to be worn again and the festive apparel is so popular that about £220m was spent on them in the run up to Christmas last year and for many under 35s over there last year’s look will not do as one in three buy a new Christmas jumper every year.
  • The largest gathering in Ireland of people wearing a Christmas jumper in one location was back in 2016 when a total of 1, 513 people – with jumpers – gathered in O’Connell Street for the switching on of the Christmas tree lights but that was less than half of the Guinness World Record of 3,473 which was achieved by Kansas Athletics fans at their men’s basketball game against Montana in Lawrence, Kansas, USA on 19 December 2015.

Fairyhouse Marketing Manager Kate O’Sullivan said “This will be the most fun fashion event of the year and everyone from 8 months to 80 years of age can enter. So we want everyone to ransack their old wardrobes, dig into charity clothes shops, raid their granny’s old bedroom drawers and attack their attics to rediscover and find any and every type of woolly colourful Christmas jumper. Dust them off and then bring them along to Fairyhouse where they will all be warmly welcomed out here with us in Co Meath. We expect this year’s entries to well exceed last year’s and we’re looking for that extra bit of sparkly zany creativity to go along with it.”

The long established Winter Festival of Racing at Fairyhouse is the traditional start to the classic season of National Hunt jumps racing in Ireland which sees the best horses in Ireland all vying for pre-eminence as the look toward the ‘Olympics of jumps racing’ that is the monster Cheltenham Festival every March where the best Irish horses cross the Irish Sea to take on the cream of England’s best thoroughbreds.

Over 9,000 racing fans will flock to the Co Meath track outside Ratoath Village on Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December where €650,000 in prize money will be on offer. Sunday features no less than three Grade One races the highlight being the ‘Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle’ which has been won by Apples Jade over the last three years.

Christmas party packages from €50 per person, for more information on the Winter Festival and to book tickets click HERE

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