Party With The Ponies: Kentucky Derby Parties And Packages

bartender at willard intercontinental makes mint julepThe most famous horse race of the year takes place on Saturday, and it’s time to place your bets. ­­Our safest pick? A party. Can’t make it to Louisville and the famed Barnstable Brown celebrity bash? Some of our favorite events around the Run for the Roses are listed below.

Derby Day at Sea Island
Sea Island, the Forbes Five-Star resort on the southeastern coast of Georgia, is joining in the Derby celebrations with their own package for resort guests. The resort’s 11th Annual Derby Day Party will include a viewing party of the Derby along with a silent and live auction, hat parade, live music and dancing under the stars. In addition to celebrating this Saturday, Sea Island is also hosting a pre-party on Friday night with a casual evening of corn hole games, potato sack races, bocce ball, horses and jockeys to greet everyone and a bourbon tasting. Stay overnight and the weekend ($1,400) includes a Cloister River View Room (with upgrade if available), access to parties Friday and Saturday, a $100 experience credit per person and a welcome amenity.

Mint Juleps Galore in DC
Washington’s historic Willard InterContinental hosts their 26th annual “Bonnets and Bow-Ties” party in honor of the Derby on Saturday. A $75 cover fee includes red carpet entry, two handcrafted Henry Clay Mint Juleps – the Round Robin Bar’s signature cocktail – or two cocktails of choice and a traditional Southern buffet with prizes and raffles throughout the event.

Double Down in Austin
The Four Seasons Hotel Austin hosts an annual Derby Day event in their Lobby Lounge, featuring a live broadcast of the races, mint juleps and other drink specials as well as a contest for Best Hat (for the ladies) and Best Seersucker Suit (for men). The two winners of these contests will each take home a silver-plated cup that they can bring in to receive free mint juleps for an entire year.

Run for the Roses at The Plaza
New Yorkers and guests of The Plaza alike can watch the race and attend a “Best Hat” contest at the hotel’s legendary Rose Club. The lucky winner of the hat contest will receive a bottle of Special Edition Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby Bourbon.
Fun in the Irons at the Iron Horse Hotel
Milwaukee’s equine-inspired hotel is getting into the action with their second annual Derby party, offering a best hat contest, photo op with the hotel’s own “winner’s circle,” Mint Juleps and an array of prizes. You can even “bet” on your favorite horse and win prizes via a donation of gently used business clothing, which will be given to a local charity.

Noir Does the Derby
The Charles Hotel’s Noir bar is hosting their first annual Derby Infield Party. Watch the race on a 9-foot projection screen while sipping a variety of Mint Julep-inspired cocktails and enjoying southern-themed bites. Dressing the part is encouraged, and prizes will be awarded for Best Attire (Southern belle and Southern gentleman) as well as Best Hat. Cast your vote for the winning horse to win a chance to receive Derby related prizes. Tables are available with a $95 food and beverage minimum for up to four people ($50 for up to two people).

Hold Your Horses with the Los Angeles Athletic Club
The club is hosting their second Annual Kentucky Derby Viewing Party appropriately named “Hold Your Horses” on its newly renovated third floor. Races will be shown on multiple TVs, guests will enjoy equine-inspired activities, a live band, southern-inspired dishes and whiskey flights. There will even be a hat designer onsite. $30 per person includes entry, complimentary Mint Julep, buffet, games and live entertainment.

Show Your Horse Racing Love at in St. Augustine
In St. Augustine, Florida, the Casa Monica Hotel is hosting Derby and a Dinner on Saturday, May 5 from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Upon entering the event, guests will participate in a blind draw to select their horse. Attendees enjoy complimentary mint juleps and light hors d’oeuvres along with a cash bar, but those who pick horses “in the money” (first, second or third) will win prizes, and all guests wearing a hat are entered to win brunch for two. Tickets are $25 per person, and everyone attending will receive a $25 dinner credit at 95 Cordova after the event.