Derby Week is marked by an impressive slate of extremely festive social events ranging from campouts like the Hillbilly Infield, to the most celebrated party of them all, the Barnstable Brown Gala.
Most Derby parties function as a fundraiser for different animal friendly charities, but some are just a pay-at-the-door affair. In either case, the atmosphere should be festive and the drinks a bit on the strong side . . . Derby only comes once a year.
Here’s a look at the different parties and Gala’s going on around derby this year:
--Wednesday, May 4--
Best of the Derby City DJ’s is a party hosted at Prime Lounge (106 West Main Street). The hours for the party are 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. DJ K-Dogg, DJ Mikus, DJ PRISM, DJ Fluid, & DJ Q are expected to perform.
Woodford Reserve Celebrity Jockey Bartending Event is an exclusive invitation only shindig taking place from 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. The Woodford Reserve Celebrity Jockey event is being held at Prime Lounge.
--Thursday May 5--
One event that is totally different from all the others is the Hillbilly Outfield. It is hosted annually by a group of volunteers called the Hillbilly Coalition.
Their website says, “The Hillbilly Outfield consists of an entire weekend overflow of free drinks, food, live music, audio and video Derby coverage, games, maybe even a dip in the pool, and more, with the purchase of a wristband. Most importantly, net proceeds from ticket sales, donations and the silent auction benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation ® to help grant the wishes of local seriously-ill children.”
$40 before May 6 will get you in there. This is a camping event so, bring your Bonnaroo gear.
Ferdinand's Ball is being held at the renowned Frazier Museum in Downtown Louisville.
The event benefits Old Friends, a non-profit charity that provides a retirement home for thoroughbred races horses, especially stallions.
Ferdinand’s Ball is named after the former Horse of the Year and 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who was sent to Japan and slaughtered at the end of his racing days. Celebrities Kate Upton and DeMarcus Cousins will be in attendance.
Aimee Wulfeck and Kim Boyle organize the event. Tickets range from $100 - $500.
The Grey Goose Flavor of Life Lounge (10 p.m. – 4 a.m.) is being held at Prime Lounge and features music by DJ Vice.
Oaks Eve at Locust Grove is a Kentucky Derby fundraiser that benefits Horse Aid Live. According to their website, Horse Aid Live promotes humane treatment for all equines, regardless of breed, and to provide support for non-profit organizations that provide humane treatment and shelter for equines.
As the name implies, the event is being held at the historic Locust Grove (561 Blankenbaker Lane) and begins at 7 p.m.
There is a raffle planned in addition to many different bourbon and vodka tastings. Horse Piss beer is the official beer sponsor. Tickets are available and range from 50 bucks to $1000 for a table of 8.
The Oaks Eve Derby Poker Championship is being held at the Louisville Palace (625 S. Fourth St.).
The event is hosted by former University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Denny Crum and poker legends Phil Hellmuth Jr. and Robert Williamson III. Proceeds benefit Kentucky Harvest: Blessings in a Backpack and the Health and Climate Foundation.
Red-carpet arrival is 6 to 7 p.m., and poker begins at 7. Tickets start at $225.
According to the Courier-Journal, several celebrities are supposed to be in attendance: Comedian Ron White; poker pro Dan Shak; “The Real Housewives of Orange County” star Vicki Gunvalson; world-renowned painter Thomas Kinkade; best-selling author Nora Roberts; “Baywatch” actress Melissa Biggs; and “Borat” actor Ken Davitian.
It’s presented by Jim Beam.
Also on Thursday night is the Taste of Derby. The Taste of Derby is being held at the Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center (1860 Mellwood Avenue). Tickets start at $275.
The Taste of Derby basically allows those in attendance to drink a lot of good bourbon and eat some really good food prepared by top chefs and restaurants across the nation; provided they do business in a nationally recognized horse racing town. You can get down from 7 p.m. – 11.
The Taste of Derby event also benefits a charity. Their website says, “Through the Churchill Downs Incorporated Foundation, the inaugural Taste of Derby raised funds and awareness for hunger relief. A total amount of $75,000 was contributed locally to Dare to Care Food Bank and globally to the World Food Programme.”
You can enter to win tickets to this event here.
--Friday May 6--
Friday of derby week is the busiest and most frenzied days of the Derby season. Friday is the running of the Kentucky Oaks, a race for the best of the fillies.
The Kentucky Oaks will attract over a hundred-thousand people. Once the Oaks are finished, 100K people scramble from Churchill Downs to every restaurant and party known to man. The top restaurants are all already booked, so good luck making that last minute reservation.
Of the parties getting started on Oaks Day, the Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala is arguably most famous of all. The staple of Kentucky Derby parties has been recognized among the top ten parties in the nation by Conde Nast.
The Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala reportedly benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana.
There will be tons of familiar celebrities, athletes, and local celebrity gawkers.
The Barnstable Brown party is held annually at Louisville home of Tricia Barnstable Brown located in Cherokee Park. The party is invitation only.
The Derby Eve Gala is being held at The Seelbach Hilton and begins at 8 p.m. derby eve.
This event features Burning Las Vegas, a popular band from Nashville. Proceeds from the gala benefit the American Lung Association. It is a black tie optional event.
A table for you and 9 of your close friends will run you about $3,000. If you want to come alone, individual seats cost $300.
The Derby Eve Spectacular is talking place at Headliners Music Hall. The Derby Eve Spectacular is an 18 an older event, so if you’re looking to party and you’re not quite 21, this might be the derby eve party for you. Doors open at 11 p.m.
Flame Run is hosting The Derby Hot 100 in their gallery. Flame Run is a glass-blowing studio located in Louisville’s Nu-Lu neighborhood. This event will be taking place from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The Derby Hot 100 website says that they will be hosting NBA, NFL, and Hollywood celebrities immediately following the balls and galas.
$100 gets you in the door, or a table for eight people with three bottles of liquor and VIP tickets costs about $1,500.
The event ambassador is actress/model/sports broadcaster Bonnie-Jill Laflin.
Not sure what to wear? From the event website: “Women: A sexy cocktail dress . . . Men: A suit or a sport jacket
The Maxim Party is also being held at the Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center (1860 Mellwood Avenue) from 10 p.m. – 3 a.m. This event will feature Maxim GoGo Dancers and Maxim Girl jockeys . . . in addition to late night food and cocktail service.
The Mint Jubilee is organized by Chris Thieneman, Tom Thieneman, Jr., and Matt Battaglia and is aimed at benefitting, “. . . the non-profit organizations committed to finding cures and controls for cancer”.
It is being held at the Louisville Palace and will take place from 7 p.m. – 1 a.m.
This year’s honorary host is the iconic NBC sports announcer Bob Costas. The Mint Jubilee is also expected to host such celebrities as: American Idol 2009 winner Kris Allen, 2007 Idol winner Jordin Sparks, and actress Jennifer Tilly.
The Playboy Celebrity Lounge is being held at Prime Lounge. This derby eve party features Music by Celebrity & Supermodel Sky Nellor. The hours are 9 p.m. – 6 a.m.
After spending another long day at the track, people older than 30 tend to run out of gas so to speak. There is however, plenty to do after the running of the Kentucky Derby. There are two highlighted events for derby night.
The Darrell Griffith Foundation All-Star Celebrity Derby Affair will be in the Cascade Ballroom at the Kentucky International Convention Center.
"Headlining our entertainment this year is Fantasia" Barrino, Griffith said, referring to the recording artist and Broadway and TV actress who won American Idol in 2004.
General admission is $65. Proceeds from the All-Star Celebrity Affair have gone to UofL's Autism Treatment Center.
The Night of Silk Derby Party features an open bar, which is always . . . awesome. And hopefully they will have some Red Bull and vodka on hand for those felling like they could use a pick-me-up.
Comedian Jay Leno will be making an appearance.
The Silk Party is held in the Grand Ballroom of the Galt House and will “showcase Louisville's finest cuisine, cocktails and entertainment.” Their website also says that the Kentucky Derby 137 jockeys will be in attendance. It starts at 8 p.m.
Also Saturday night, the 48th Moonlight Derby Cruise is scheduled on the Belle of Louisville. The event is part of a Louisville Urban League Guild fundraiser for the activities and programs of the Louisville Urban League Guild. The Louisville Urban League Guild Moonlight Derby Cruise is the third oldest official Kentucky Derby Festival event.
You can pay fifty bucks to enjoy the historic steamboat and entertainment. Rhythms are provided by DJ Yancey Entertainment, and they are planning a set of Top 40 tunes and more.
There will be a cash bar on the boat and plenty of Hors d'oeuvres. If youre planning on going, make sure you take advantage of the raffle which promises prizes galore.
Get on board soon after 8 p.m. Saturday night. The cruise is scheduled 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.