TUESDAY, November 5. Only four weeks to go before the return of the race that stops the nation for a bit of fun.
From pubs, clubs and hotels stretching from Newcastle and Maitland to Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens, there is no shortage of choice for those looking to celebrate the Melbourne Cup with a glass of bubbly and a punt.
Among those is the freshly renovated The Prince of Merewether.
The pub - which hosts the official relaunch of the venue formerly known as The Prince of Wales this weekend - kicks off its event at 11.30am, where punters can choose from the balcony package with exclusive access to the new balcony bar level which includes champagne cocktail on arrival, grazing menu with canapés, charcuterie and dessert stations, drinks package and live entertainment, with all the racing action live on the big screen for $120.
Alternatively, the bistro package includes reserved table seating in the new dining area with three-course lunch and champagne on arrival for $79, or head into the public bar for free and soak up the atmosphere and choose lunch from the pub food menu.
Here's an extensive rundown of Cup Day celebrations around the region:
The Edwards is hosting its own "hillbilly cup" on November 5. The all-inclusive ticketed event costs $125 and include a grazing table, roaming canapés, and drinks (with six varieties of Whitley Gin on offer) from 11.30am to 3.30pm. Book online at eventbrite.com.au
Entry is free downstairs at Honeysuckle Hotel or, if you're up for VIP treatment, choose a ticket to the lawn party for $130 which includes a three-hour drinks package, grazing stations, canapes, private sweeps and a fashions on the field competition. There's also an option to book a harbourside table (up to six people) for $150 which includes a mimosa upon arrival and antipasto platter.
Also at Honeysuckle, The Landing hosts its event from noon with two dining options available: three course banquet with champagne cocktail on arrival and three hour drinks package for $120; or grazing lunch with champagne cocktails on arrival, roving canapes and three hour drinks package for $79. The race will be screened throughout the venue and there will also be lucky door prizes, sweeps and giveaways.
The revamped Bennett Hotel in Hamilton hosts a ticketed event with a tempting grazing table (fresh tiger prawns, Sydney rock oysters, glazed leg ham, gourmet salads, a selection of cheese and more) for $69 per person. Includes a drink on arrival and ticket in the lucky door draw. Book via email at email@example.com
The Grand Hotel has four-for-three tapas specials, $10 cocktails and $5 bubbly, as well as sweeps and prizes. Book on 4929 3489.
Choose your own meal from one of five food stalls - seafood, fried, rotisserie, papilla and desserts - at MEET restaurant. The event is held from 12.30pm to 3.30pm with champagne on arrival, Melbourne Cup sweeps, lucky door prizes and entertainment. Tickets cost $75.
Whiskey bar Babylon offers an all-inclusive drinks and canapés package, with the race live on the big screen, prizes for best dressed, sweeps and live music. Tickets cost $115.
For a casual Melbourne Cup experience, The Greenroof opens at 11am with the outdoor car park area set up with a bar selling $4 tinnies all day and Corona buckets for $24. There will be live music, sweeps and lucky doors prizes, with all the action live on the big screen in the beer garden and courtyard. Entry is free.
Upstairs at the Crown and Anchor Hotel in Hunter Street Mall, Sprout Dining is putting on a three-course luncheon which includes a glass of bubbly on arrival, with all the race action screened live. Kicking off at 11.30am, tickets cost $60 with the option to add on a three hour drinks package for an additional $50. Bookings 4927 1138.
Cocktail party is the theme for Lambton Park Hotel's celebrations on November 5. For $60, feast on roaming canapés and enjoy a glass of bubbles on arrival followed by cheese and fruit platters after the big race. Every table booked for more than four guests receives a complimentary bottle of Mumm champagne. Bookings on 4956 1376.
The Lucky's cocktail-style event includes a rose spritz cocktail on arrival, canapés and pails, a four-hour drinks package, live music from band Soda, prizes for best dressed and sweeps. Tickets cost $135. It starts at noon. Bookings at theluckyhotel.com.au
Charlestown's Mattara Hotel hosts the Chambord Garden Party on November 5, with a drink on arrival, canapés and grazing tables, and access to the exclusive Chambord Garden Bar. There's live music, fashions on the field, and sweeps. Tickets cost $45 and the event kicks off at 11.30am. Bookings at oztix.com.au
Lake Macquarie Yacht Club at Belmont hosts an affordable Melbourne Cup luncheon event. Enjoy all the day's entertainment, including live music, with sparkling wine on arrival for $10 entry, or choose a VIP ticket for $20 which includes a cheese platter and sparkling wine on the table (available for tables of 10). Crusoe's on the Lake full bistro menu will be available to order from on the day. Doors open at 11am. Bookings on 4945 0022.
Belmont 16fts annual Melbourne Cup Fun Day will be held in the Spinnaker Room from 9.30am, with bingo followed by a two-course lunch at 12noon. The event includes live entertainment and a fashion parade, prizes for best dressed and sweeps. Tickets cost $35. Bookings at 16s.com.au
At Pelican RSL Club, enjoy a three-course lunch for $30, along with live entertainment from Anthony Lee as well as cup day attractions including sweeps, prizes for best dressed and the racing action screened live. Starts 12noon. Bookings at stickytickets.com
The Anchorage is offering bottomless bubbles and overnight stay packages for Melbourne Cup. Begin with a cocktail from Chandon and an oyster tower, followed by share plates of local seafood and charcuterie, mains, decadent dessert boards and endless Chandon sparkling wine ($135 per person). Upgrade to the Moet package bubbles for an extra $50 or add on a stay (including sparkling wine buffet breakfast) for a total of $299 per person. Starts 12noon. Bookings at anchorageportstephens.com.au
Glam up for cup day at Shoal Bay Country Club. The recently revamped hotel will host a fashions on the field event with prizes awarded for best dressed, live music, race day games and sweeps. All lunch bookings receive a complimentary glass of champagne on arrival. Bookings on 4981 1555.
Settle in for a four-course lunch at the Belmore Hotel's new bistro for $50 and enjoy a day of racing action on the big screen, prizes and more. Bookings 4933 6351.
The Whistler's ticketed event includes two complimentary drinks and a feast of canapés, entree and main meal. There will be sweeps held throughout the day, with proceeds donated to assisting The Mai-Wel Group. The event kicks off at 11.30am and costs $87.
Hunter River Hotel offers free entry on Melbourne Cup Day, with a full lunch menu available, bistro and cocktail specials, prizes for best dressed, sweeps and live music from 2pm. Open from 8am, book a table on 4933 7244.
Feast on a seafood buffet, carvery and sweets, and enjoy two complimentary glasses of bubbly at Telarah Bowling Club's cup day celebrations. There's also live entertainment by Reggie Sinclair, sweeps and prizes for best dressed. The event runs from 11am to 4pm. Tickets cost $40.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley hosts its event in the garden on the Haven Pool Lawn, with a luncheon that includes a grazing entree followed by a plated main and a dessert graze, as well as a drinks package. There will be prizes awarded for best dressed, sweeps and the big race screened live. The event runs from 12noon until 4pm. Tickets cost $110. Book online or phone 4991 0944.
Goldfish Bar and Kitchen has an all-inclusive package with grazing tables, canapés, two-hour drinks package and cocktail on arrival at its Melbourne Cup celebrations for $95. The event kicks off at 1pm, with all the race action screened live, along with sweeps and fashions on the field prizes. Book on 4998 7671.
Celebrate Cup Day among the vines at Hope Estate, starting with a glass of champagne on arrival before sitting down to a three-course menu and three-hour beverage package. There will be sweeps and prizes for the best dressed from 12noon to 3pm. Tickets cost $89.
Harrigan's in Pokolbin is offering a two-course menu and cocktail on arrival at this year's event, plus sweeps, prizes for best dressed and more for $79. Bookings on 4998 4084.
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