On May 6, equine enthusiasts, sporting fans, and lovers of pastel clothing will gather to watch the 143rd Kentucky Derby. Here is our shortlist of some of the most festive parties in the state where you can catch the race—with a mint julep in hand, of course.
The Denver Mini Derby
While tiny participants will not be forced to race at this adorable, animal-friendly event, guests can pet and pine over mini horses and corgis at this party at the new (and highly trendy) Stanley Marketplace. Enjoy live music from eclectic Americana band 11 Dog Murphy, food from Rolling Smoke BBQ, and the chance to win a gift certificate in the best hat contest. Breaking out your oversized hat to attend this charming gathering will not only make for a delightful afternoon full of four-legged friends, but will help benefit Kids’ Compassion Project, Minds Matter of Denver, CherryArts, and Equine 808. $69–$139, 1–6 p.m.
Don’t worry about missing any of the hoof-pounding action while wandering around this enormous, over-the-top party (an estimated 5,500 will attend) at the Denver Performing Arts Complex—more than 50 TVs and several jumbo screens placed throughout the venue will ensure you catch every second of the race. Attendees can also enjoy eats from more than 18 different restaurants and all you can drink beer, champagne, wine, cocktails, and mint juleps. All proceeds will benefit the Sean “Ranch” Lough Memorial Scholarship, which provides four-year scholarships to Denver students. $130 & $300, 1–6:30 p.m.
Seize the opportunity to celebrate Boulder-style at the historic Highland City Club in the heart of one of Colorado’s most famous and unique cities. Enjoy live music from the Drunken Hearts, food from West End Tavern, mint juleps by Arcana, and beer from Sanitas Brewing Company. This will mark Boulder Lifestyle Magazine’s fifth derby bash, and in the last four years, the celebration has raised more than $40,000 for Boulder-based nonprofits. $40–$125, 2–8 p.m.
With general entry, enjoy an open bar and hors d’oeuvres catered by Three Tomatoes while watching the race. But with the cost of a VIP Ticket, guests will enjoy a four-course gourmet dinner catered by Frasca Food and Wine, the sounds of Peneplain Jazz band, a cigar roller, a live auction for derby horses, Jack Daniels Mint Juleps, and a gift bag. Last year this party raised over $100,000 in support of pediatric cancer research through the Morgan Adams Foundation. $75 & $900, 2:30 p.m.
Celebrate in a sea of about 1,300 patrons decked out in derby garb at this festive affair hosted at the Big Red Barn at Highlands Meadows, creating the perfect atmosphere to get fans in a derby state of mind. This eighth annual event will feature grub from Rudy’s Bar-B-Q and live music from the Renegades. Hosted by NOCO Unify, which raises money for local children’s charities, primary fundraising bucks will come from a raffle for a lucky winner to take a trip to Louisville for the 2018 Kentucky Derby. $95 & $200, 2–6 p.m.
Enjoy the race while sipping a glass of Veuve Clicquot at this festive celebration at one of Denver’s hottest venues, Nativ Hotel. Treats including charcuterie platters, oysters, and chicken and waffle cones will be on hand, as well drink specials like Hennessy Punch, Bulleit Bourbon Mint Juleps, and Belvedere Cocktails. In addition to watching the race, guests can also enjoy live music from Lucid Vision while savoring the specialty drinks at this stylish event. $35, 1–4:30 p.m.