It might not be a public holiday, but Sydney is still celebrating the Melbourne Cup in style.
Whether you’re into horse racing or not, there’s no denying that the Melbourne Cup has a certain grip on Australia and Australians as a whole. I mean, it’s a bit hard arguing the opposite when 2019 saw something like $106 million being gambled just on the cup race alone. (If you’re wondering, $160 million was gambled on the first Tuesday of November last year.)
Nonetheless, the day is now also synonymous with fashion, friends, and having a good time. Subsequently, and despite ‘the race that stops the nation’ taking place 900 kilometres away, Sydney’s restaurants and bars put on an array of fabulous lunchtime events featuring oysters, champagne, and any number of bottomless drinks or food packages.
Besides, if there were a city in Australia to hold a Spring Racing Carnival event, it would best be Sydney with its gorgeous sunny spring weather and views of the harbour. It’s hard to beat.
So, if you’re lucky enough to get the day off in Sydney and you’re in the mood to get dressed up to drink champagne and taste amazing dishes put together by some of Sydney’s best restaurants and chefs, then look no further than this handy list of Melbourne Cup Day events.
1. Opera Bar
At Australia’s most iconic bar, guests at this year’s Melbourne Cup event will enjoy a three-course shared lunch featuring Kingfish ceviche, Crispy skinned barramundi and Slow roasted lamb shoulder as well as Roasted globe artichokes. An Olsson sea salt caramel tart will sweeten your afternoon too.
There’ll be lucky door prizes and a glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne on arrival as well as a best-dressed award, obviously. And to make sure there’s a festive vibe on the day, live music will play between races. All of this beneath the famous sails and with views of the harbour. That’s pretty Sydney for a horserace in Melbourne.
💰 $99 per person
2. Bungalow 8
All the racing action, including all the dressing up to impress which is really the real reason why we like the Melbourne Cup, is happening at Bungalow 8 in Darling Harbour. Every race will be shown live on the big screens and sweepstakes will be running throughout the day. A glass of Piper Heidsieck will greet you on arrival before you sit down to a three-course lunch served with a two-hour drinks package.
There’s an afterparty too because nobody wants to end the fun at 3pm.
💰 $129 per person
3. Chiswick Woollahra
The gardens at Chiswick Woollahra might not be the famous spring roses at Flemington, but they’re going to be the closest you get to a garden setting for the Melbourne Cup in Sydney.
Head Chef François Poulard, who was worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe before relocating to Australia in 2014 and working at Aria, has put together a fabulous collective menu consisting of Sydney Rock oysters, Zucchini flowers, a Barra-masalata, Kingfish crudo, and Barra-in-a-bag alongside seasonal greens. The food is going to be spectacular, but keep in mind that you’re only going to get the one glass of Ruinart Champagne on arrival. You’ll be classy and elegant, two things which the Melbourne Cup tries to be.
💰 $169 per person
Melbourne Cup at Aria with harbourside views and Joel Bickford’s specially designed four-course lunch menu with a glass of Ruinart Champagne sounds pretty lavish and lush but that’s because it is.
Enjoy Coral trout and Maremma duck for entrees before moving onto either the Cone Bay barramundi, spring lamb, or pasture-fed beef fillet for mains. To top off the fabulous lunch menu, choose a wine from a world-class wine list and savour the afternoon in style.
💰 $220 per person
5. Sir Stamford Hotel
Forget the full-blown lunch menu at Sir Stamford Hotels, and sit down to a Melbourne Cup High Tea experience with a glass of sparkling wine to begin the good times. There’ll be sweets (including an Oreo blueberry cheesecake) as well as hot and cold savoury options and housemade scones.
💰 $89 per person [+booking fee]
6. The Squire’s Landing
At the James Squire’s Brewhouse, The Squire’s Landing, Melbourne Cup day guests will be treated to a 2.5-hour drinks package and a premium menu to share. Live coverage of the races will be projected on the big screen and prizes for best dressed will form some of the day’s entertainment. Gather round your mates and book a table for ten to really horse around for the day.
💰 $99 per person
7. Vagabond Cruises
There’s no better view of the Sydney Harbour than from onboard a three-hour cruise around the harbour itself. Include with that a seafood and carvery menu, desserts and fruit platters, prizes and giveaways, sweepstakes and an MC to keep the party going, then this Melbourne Cup harbour cruise is going to be one helluva daytime party. Forget the camera at home as well because there’ll be a professional photographer to capture you in your absolute best form.
💰 $85 per person / $115 per person with unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks
8. Empire Lounge
The biggest stars arrive at Flemington in a helicopter, so why not arrive at Empire Lounge’s Seaplane Lounge in your very own water-taxi. Then graciously accept the offer of a glass of Chandon Brut and sit down to your table for a four-course coastal-inspired menu. Oysters, Tuna Tostada, and Taco Tropical snacks will tantalise your tastebuds before you share Taramasalata and slow-cooked Chimichurri lamb ribs (sharing is caring) and move onto one of three mains that you don’t have to share.
💰$160 per person
9. Babylon Rooftop & Garden Bar
An ancient wonder of the world inspires Babylon’s Rooftop and Garden Bar, so expect to be blown away by wonder when arriving for your Melbourne Cup event. To make the most of the day, Babylon’s has put together three offers for the racing crowd. Both the rooftop Meze booking and the group Bar booking include five dishes to share (the restaurant will see you devour six dishes) but all three will see you drink up for 2.5 hours
💰 $119 per person / $99 per person / $900 per group
10. Spring Street Social
Cocktails and canapes are the way forward at Spring Street Social and with cocktails priced at a very reasonable $15 for the duration of the event and canapes being given away, this just might be our favourite Melbourne Cup day event. However, if you’re going with friends, bookings can be made for more people and as a welcome gift you will receive a bottle of Moet Chandon for every two people in your booking.
💰 $29 per person