The Six Best Places to Party Like a Racehorse on Derby Day in Denver

These Derby Day revelers ditched the mint juleps for Coors Light.
These Derby Day revelers ditched the mint juleps for Coors Light.
It’s that time of year when Denverites dress like they’re Southern aristocrats, strut around in lightly colored throwback outfits, sip mint juleps and lay down money on riders whipping horses for two minutes solid. Stumble around Mile High alleys on May 6, Kentucky Derby Day, and you’ll see backyard parties where chipper crowds gather and celebrate a race that most attendees, if asked if they could explain how it works, would simply shake their heads and respond, in horse-like fashion, “Neigh.” (If you're looking for a primer, we found this Kentucky Derby interactive animation useful.)

For those of you too dignified to sneak into one of those neighborhood backyard parties or go to King Soopers and buy a crappy Derby pie to gobble down with your $7.99 Kentucky Deluxe, we’ve put together this handy list so that you can join the belles and gents in what will surely be a sloshing good time.
Denver Derby Party
May 6, 1 p.m.
Sculpture Park – Downtown Denver

If you don’t have a ticket, you can only hope to get a peek at the seersucker-suited gentlemen and their bonnet-clad ladies parading about in Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, because this crème-de-la-crème must-attend event quickly became can't-attend when it sold out long ago. There’s a wait list for the legal eagles, and daredevils can always attempt to sneak in. (Whatever you do, don’t stain your pastel trousers and dresses in the grass.That's the Derby party-crasher equivalent of blood on your hands.)
Niwot Tavern
Derby in Niwot
May 6, 2 to 6 p.m.
Niwot Tavern

Niwot. That’s right, Niwot. If you screwed the pooch (or broken-legged race horse, to stick with the day’s theme) and failed to buy your tickets to the Denver Derby Party, you can take the seer out of the seersucker and head straight for the Niwot Tavern, where you can have a $5 mint julep or shot of Jim Beam while watching the race. The tavern advertises that hats are appreciated at the party, but neglects to mention whether you should wear the rest of the Derby Day outfit. So either show up in, well, just a hat and nothing more, or maybe wear your My Little Pony shirt and your thrift-store jams, because something tells us this won’t be the most formal event in the region. And when you’re sloshed in Niwot, good luck getting back to Denver with a positive balance in your bank account, because that's going to be one expensive Uber.
Mountain Resource Center
Derby Daze
May 6, 1 to 5 p.m.
Anchorage Farm
12889 South Parker Avenue, Pine

So you showed up to Niwot pants-less and were thrown out of the Niwot Tavern? Well, it's still not too late. The Mountain Resource Center in Conifer is holding its second annual Mountain Derby Daze Fundraiser. Daze: That means 420-friendly, right? Ditch the booze and break out a blunt? Nope. You have stumbled into an ill-titled family-friendly event full of food, entertainment and events for kids and adults. So put on your Derby duds and partake in a derby hat contest, face painting and lots of wholesome fun benefiting the Mountain Resource Center.

Read on for more of the best Derby Day events.