Punters, protesters and pencil hats enlivened an otherwise overcast afternoon in the city.
Vow and Declare's win certainly brightened the day for Newcastle East's Aaron Kelly who won $110 after betting $10 on the horse after a run of unlucky punts in previous years.
"I studied a lot this year, and it's come to fruition," Mr Kelly said. "He was an Australian horse with a low weight."
Aspirational dressing by Merewether resident Simon Townsend did not reap results. He sported a green outfit at The Junction Hotel in support of Irish horse Constantinople, who he backed for "the luck of the Irish".
The horse finished 13th.
Protesters at Queens Wharf attempted to communicate other negative consequences of the race. Members of the Animal Justice Party and Animal Liberation NSW marched and chanted "You bet they die", while spectators celebrated across the water.
Rochelle Wood, one of the around 20 protesters, said she felt the tide was starting to turn on public perception of the race - despite one man from "mooning" the rally's participants.
"I think with the increased media, and the recent report from 7.30, people are changing their minds about the race," she said. "It's run by a really secretive industry with people with a lot of power."
Ms Wood, who is the Newcastle convener of Animal Liberation NSW, said she would like to see the race cancelled and an independent body established by the government that has the power and funding to investigate animal welfare in racing and other industries.
Mayfield housemates Sarah Debenham and Kelly Fletcher organised their own public "Nup to the Cup" event in Islington Park, hosting a "Fashions on the Field" competition and three-legged race, of humans, to raise money for Newcastle Dog Rescue.
The pair said they hoped the picnic, which attracted around 50 people, would become an annual event retaining the social aspect of the Cup Day while expressing opposition to the race itself.
"My workplace was celebrating Melbourne Cup and I felt a bit of FOMO [fear of missing out], I really wanted to go but it doesn't align with my values. So we created a place to go to," Ms Debenham said.
"We've gone to a few protests before but we wanted to do something for a different crowd who wouldn't necessarily go marching with signs," Ms Fletcher said.
One of the participants, Jade Hall , a "maker" who has created flower crowns and headpieces for attendees of the Melbourne Cup and other horse races in the past, said she made a statement on her business' social media accounts this year that she does not support the race.
"I'm not really one for taking a big stand, but for me it felt like it was time. I might lose work, but for me this is a bit of a side hustle. If it was going to stop me putting food on the table I might think differently," the Glendale resident said.
Hairdressers Jarrod Layer and Alana Williamson who joined the celebrations at The Edwards said race day was traditionally a national event those in the beauty industry could enjoy first-hand.
"Melbourne Cup used to be a public holiday for hairdressers and beauty therapists to make up for working weekends and other public holidays. They've taken it out of the award now but we still shut up shop and go out for the day," Ms Williamson, co-owner of Shag Hair, said.
"It's our time time to shine," Mr Layer said.
The pair said bright makeup, decorative headbands, pencil hats and men's tailoring for women were all trending this year.
Emma Johnson, owner of Pony Hair Studio, who was judging the best dressed competition at The Junction Hotel, added a few more pointers to the list.
"Fascinators are not in. It's about flowers, clips and hats. For women it's all about red and pink and for men it's florals and bold colours."
Gillian Summers sported a hat with better odds than any race horse. The large nest of flowers has won Ms Summers three best dressed competitions in the past four years. The Merewether resident was vying for a fourth win at The Junction Hotel.