Victoria Racing Club and Crown Melbourne take racing to the city with Cup Week at Pétanque Social

12 October 2023 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) and Crown Melbourne will bring Melbourne Cup Carnival magic to the heart of the city in 2023 with Cup Week at Pétanque Social, a live site on the Crown Riverwalk that is set to become the go-to venue for Cup Week celebrations outside of Flemington.

The VRC and Crown Melbourne will showcase all the fun of the Melbourne Cup Carnival to the public, open every day until late from Penfolds Victoria Derby Day on Saturday 4 November through to TAB Champions Stakes Day on Saturday 11 November.

Lexus Melbourne Cup eve celebrations will continue to be a focal point of the week and fans will once again be able to see the Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy up close and meet their favourite jockeys, trainers and participants along the Crown Riverwalk on Monday 6 November at 11am. This will be followed by an industry and media event at Pétanque Social for connections of the 24 Lexus Melbourne Cup runners. 

All 37 races over the Melbourne Cup Carnival will be televised on the big screen at Pétanque Social for the public to enjoy from midday every race day and 10am on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day. The live site will offer eats from Crown’s popular Gradi Restaurant, entertainment from Melbourne DJs and a bespoke beverage list that includes Flemington’s signature cocktail, 1861.

Cup Week at Pétanque Social will be the official destination for race day after parties for each of the four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival for guests who celebrated racing on track and for those off track who want to celebrate into the evening when the races conclude.

To honour legends of racing, Cup Week at Pétanque Social will be launching a ‘Champions Hour Party’ on Friday 10 November before ending the week on a high note with the grand finale of the Melbourne Cup Carnival on TAB Champions Stakes Day.

VRC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said Cup Week at Pétanque Social is an innovation on the traditional CBD celebrations, which for 2023 have been disrupted by the Big Build construction in the city.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival draws thousands of visitors to our city from interstate and overseas every year, and while we hoped to run a traditional parade this year, we could not with the current Big Build activity in the city,” Mr Rosich said.

“The one-year challenge that we have with the Big Build activity created an opportunity to think differently and innovate to create a central spot for people to enjoy the festivities all week long in 2023, with plans to return the parade to city streets next year with the support of the City of Melbourne.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is unique for the fact it showcases so many different elements that make Melbourne wonderful, from live sport to fashion, hospitality and entertainment and the VRC is thrilled to be working with Crown to deliver a taste of those elements in the middle of the city, creating more opportunities across Cup Week for the public to experience the magic of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

“Crown is synonymous with major events and this will be the first activation of the year at Pétanque Social, located on the Crown Riverwalk, which has hosted similar live sites for events such as Presidents Cup.”

The Cup Week activation will celebrate the return of Pétanque Social to Crown Melbourne for the 23/24 Summer, with the iconic river-side bar set to provide guests with unparalleled views and world-class hospitality and entertainment.

Crown Melbourne Chief Executive Officer Mike Volkert said: “Crown is thrilled to be bringing the best of the Melbourne Cup Carnival to our guests, both onsite at Crown Melbourne and at Flemington Racecourse.

“We’ve had a strong relationship with the Melbourne Cup Carnival for many years, but this year marks an exciting moment for Crown as we join the Birdcage Enclosure. It builds on a successful first year of our partnership with the VRC as official hospitality partner, supporting 1,500 jobs on site. Incredibly, in its first year over 104,000 glasses of Mumm champagne, 64,000 chicken sandwiches and 41,000 oysters were enjoyed, and we look forward to bringing more of the world-renowned Crown hospitality to racegoers in 2023.

“An extension of the magic of Flemington, Crown Melbourne will provide unique experiences such as the Style Salon and the Nerida Winter millinery service to get race ready.”

The live site will provide another opportunity for the public to purchase Lexus Melbourne Cup pins, with proceeds going towards the Australian Childhood Foundation as part of the VRC’s Pin & Win program.

The 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival kicks off with Penfolds Victoria Derby Day on Saturday 4 November, followed by Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on the first Tuesday of November on 7 November, Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday 9 November and TAB Champions Stakes Day on Saturday 11 November.