Every year, millions of fans tune into NBC to watch the Kentucky Derby, where top horses from around the world race to win "the most exciting two minutes in sports."
Though the action is happening in Louisville's Churchill Downs, as it has been since 1875, Atlanta will be tuned in, with plenty of watch parties, juleps, big fancy hats and more. So get ready to rep your Sunday's best, sip mint juleps and pick your horse for the country's most stylish and historic sporting events.
All events listed occur on Saturday, May 4, unless otherwise indicated. The race begins promptly at 6:50 p.m. EST.
Shepherd Center Derby Day. 2-8 p.m. Tickets start at $75. Chastain Horse Park. 4371 Powers Ferry Road, Atlanta. www.derbyday.com
Complete with fancy hats, lawn and casino games, live music and a silent auction, the Shepherd Center Derby Day party has been a tradition since 1983 and is Atlanta's biggest Kentucky Derby-themed fundraising event. The event has raised an outstanding $4.7 million in its 36 years, going exclusively to Shepherd Center's Recreation Therapy program.
Kentucky Derby Watch Party at Lazy Guy Distillery. 5-7:30 p.m. $35-$60. Lazy Guy Distillery. 2950 Moon Station Road NW, Kennesaw. georgiasteeplechase.org
Lazy Guy Distillery's craft whiskey served up in Kennesaw already gives patrons plenty of reasons to get out, but for the Derby they are supplying even more reasons. There will be live music by Atlanta's own Bourbon Brothers Band, Cornhole, Bocce Ball, and of course, traditional mint juleps.
Kentucky Derby Party at Avalon. 3-9 p.m. Free admission. The Plaza. 2200 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. www.experienceavalon.com
The Avalon's green plaza will transform as you know it in celebration of the Kentucky Derby. Make sure you come dolled up in your best attire for a glamorous time of live music, food, and raffles. This party is also family friendly, with pre-race fun by Craft Box Girls who are supplying a special Kentucky Derby-themed craft the little ones are sure to love.
Kentucky Derby Party at Dunwoody Country Club. 5:30-7:30 p.m. $30. Dunwoody Country Club, Magnolia Room. 1600 Dunwoody Club Drive, Atlanta. 770-274-3454. www.bethany.org
If you're looking for yummy food and beverages, celebrate the Derby at Dunwoody Country Club. There will be fun soup shooters, pulled barbecue pork sliders, cheese bites, bourbon balls and assorted tarts. The cash bar will have the infamous mint julep, beer and wine.
Alpha Derby Party. 3:30 p.m. Prices vary. Georgia World Congress Center. 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta. www.alphaderbyweekend.com
The eight chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. collaborate from across metro Atlanta to throw an extravagant Derby party. Ladies and gents are invited to don their best attire for all three events, beginning with a Kick-Off Social & Concert on Friday, the Kentucky Derby Watch Party on Saturday and the popular Jazz Brunch on Sunday.
Derby Day at Leon's Full Service. Leon's Full Service. 131 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. www.decaturartsalliance.org
Celebrate the Derby in Decatur with special food and cocktail features at Leon's. There will also be hat contests, mint juleps, and horse betting which if you lose, you're still winning because all betting proceeds go to Decatur Arts Alliance.
Kentucky Derby Party at Fainting Goat Vineyards. Noon to 6:30 p.m. Fainting Goat Vineyards. 201 Vineyard Way, Jasper. www.faintinggoatvineyardsandwinery.com
Fainting Goat Vineyards is a teensy bit of a drive — it's located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Jasper— but the winemaking establishment offers breathtaking views and quality wines. This year, Fainting Goat is hosting its fourth annual Kentucky Derby party, complete with wine mint juleps served up all day.
Or, if staying home to watching the race sounds more your speed, try this classic mint julep recipe from Woodford Reserve:
2 oz. Woodford Reserve
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
3 Fresh Mint Leaves
Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside the glass. To the same glass, add simple syrup, bourbon and crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with more ice and fresh mint.
For more classic cocktails from Woodford Reserve, click here.
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