The Voice covered more than 250 events in 2018, so selecting the best parties of the year was no easy feat. Each soiree that received a superlative stood out in one way or another, whether it be because of its entertainment, its theme or its mission.
Ultimately, what makes a party is the people who attend it, organize it and enjoy it. We applaud the planners of Louisville society who make each event a success and allow our trusted photographers to be a part of the year’s best parties. Thank you to photographers Kathryn Harrington, Andrea Hutchinson, Tim Valentino, Bill Wine, Tim Girton, Scott Henson and Sydney Wray for capturing some of our favorite moments this year.
The Speed Ball
Most Coveted Ticket
The Speed Art Museum has a long-standing reputation for throwing amazing parties, and this year was no different. At the 2018 Speed Ball, guests were treated to an elegant evening beginning with dinner in the museum’s galleries and ending with a raging after-party with entertainment from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. This party could also receive the Best Photo-Opp award thanks to photographer Clay Cook, who captured every guest in their sharpest attire at The Voice’s Portrait Lounge. With one of the most prized tickets in town, the Speed gave its patrons a night to remember.
Best Costume Party
There was no holding back, on the food or the costumes, at this year’s Lobster Feast. Supporters of Actors Theatre came dressed as their favorite Louisville celebrities, heroes, jockeys and other notable hometown figures. While the delicious lobster was brought out in a grand display, it was the guests who stole the show with their imaginative outfits.
Wine Women and Shoes
Best Fashion Show
Wine Women and Shoes gives “girls night out” a whole new meaning at their party benefiting Family Scholar House. Equipped with fine wines, helpful Shoe Guys and dozens of shopping opportunities, this annual party is an absolute blast. Best of all, the fashion show takes place on and off the runway as attendees compete for the Best Shoe and Best Dressed awards.
Signature Chefs Auction
Best Culinary Experience
Each year, March of Dimes Kentuckiana curates this delightful event that brings together dozens of representatives from Louisville’s vibrant food scene. The night features a wide variety of gourmet food and drinks made from Louisville’s most renowned chefs. This year saw a record-breaking $339,000 raised for mothers and babies. There is no doubt that this was the most delicious party of the year.
Celebrity Day at the Downs
Best Daytime Party
To celebrate Thurby, Celebrity Day at the Downs takes over Millionaire’s Row at Churchill Downs. Celebrities from the Republic Bank Pegasus Parade were on-hand to participate in the fun while preparing for the Kentucky Derby. Spending the day watching exciting races with notable figures made for a delightful day that had all the energy of a night-time celebration.
Parklands Field & Fork
Best Outdoor Party
Despite a torrential downpour, the Parklands of Floyds Fork’s annual fundraising event still proved to be 2018’s best outdoor party. Their delicious sponsors, Butchertown Grocery and Ladyfingers Catering, provided tasty food and drinks for the guests. The vibrant atmosphere and the Afterglow Lounge made it an unforgettable late-summer soiree.
KMAC Couture: Art Walks the Runway
Most Anticipated Party
Local designers brought their works to life at KMAC’s annual art and fashion experience. The sold-out show featured one-of-a-kind pieces, all with their own unique structural design. Models sported the high-fashion looks against a “blank” backdrop as audience members wore all white. Every year, KMAC Museum has upped the ante and made this event a fabulous experience, and 2018 may have been the best year yet.
The Snow Ball
Best Winter Party
The winter social season always begins in style thanks to the Snow Ball Gala. In recent years, the annual fundraiser for Norton Children’s Hospital has included a grand way to enter the venue thanks to dancers from the Louisville Ballet and seriously gorgeous decor; not to mention the excitement and anticipation that surrounds the Home & BMW Raffle.
Awards in the Arts
Best Pre-Derby Party
Churchill Downs and Fund for the Arts collaborated with the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation to bring together the best of Louisville’s thriving arts community, and the Oscar-winner even made an appearance on the orange carpet this year. With performances and award presentations happening throughout the track, the night was alive with art and inspiration, making it the perfect kickoff to Derby season.
Race to Greatness: A Celebration of the Black Jockeys
Best Historical Event
To share the rich history surrounding the Derby and black jockeys, the Kentucky Derby Museum hosted this fun and informative afternoon event. The late John Asher spoke about the history of racing at Churchill Downs, and guests enjoyed performances from the Kentucky Black Repertory Theatre and Simmons College Marching Band.
Tuxes and Tails
The Kentucky Humane Society’s annual fundraiser for homeless animals didn’t miss a beat this year at Louisville Marriott East. Guests rocked sparkly suits, wigs and platform shoes in keeping with the Disco InFURno theme. The lounge took place at the hotel’s Charr’d Bourbon Kitchen & Lounge and included an open bar, desserts and adoptable dogs, making it the best, and cutest, lounge of 2018.
Supper Under the Spires
Best Inaugural Party
In its first year, Supper Under the Spires benefiting the Churchill Downs Foundation did not disappoint. A cocktail hour on the paddock and a gourmet dinner on the racetrack made for a most elegant evening. After the success of this inaugural party, we look forward to seeing its 2019 iteration.
Pride at the Museum
Best LGBTQ Party
This October, a fundraiser for University of Louisville’s LGBT Center was presented at the Speed Art Museum by Terri Bass, Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty and the Bass Family Foundation. The festive party included entertainment from Louisville Ballet, Teddy Abrams, DJ S.Y.I.M.O.N.E and drag performers from PLAY Louisville. The evening was a beautiful and colorful celebration of diversity and it demonstrated the massive amount of love the city has for our LGBTQ community.
Best Derby Party
With Arsenio Hall as the master of ceremonies and Stevie Wonder as the musical guest, it is no wonder this gala earned the award for Best Derby Party. The star-studded event put on by the Bridgeman family benefitted the West End School, the Kosair Charities Center for Autism and many other valuable organizations.
New Year’s Eve 2018
Best Dance Party
Mellwood Art Center rang in the new year in style at this bash hosted by J. Wagner Group and Eventris. Guests raged all night on the packed dance floor thanks to entertainment from Tony and the Tan Lines and DJ K-Dogg.
After Hours at the Speed
Best Casual Party
Each month, the Speed Art Museum gives patrons and guests a chance to let loose and explore the museum after dark. The museum opens its doors for special performances and stays open until 10 p.m. The entertainment varies each month, but some of our favorites included the Rocky Horror Picture Show in October and drag performances from PLAY Louisville throughout the year. The Speed has consistently made this a can’t-miss party each month, making it the best casual, after-work event you will find.
Barnstable Brown Party
Best Red Carpet
Once again, the Barnstable Brown Party takes the prize for the best red carpet of the year. As a premier Derby party, the star-studded event is dubbed as one of the most glamorous events in the city. This year, Tricia Barnstable Brown and Cyb Barnstable hosted celebrities like Ty Burrell, Gabrielle Union, Kid Rock and many more at the famous Highlands estate.
The Candle Glow Gala and Lounge
The premier fundraising event for Hosparus Health went above and beyond in 2018. Bringing together beautiful decor, a comprehensive silent auction, entertainment from 12 South, gourmet food and an epic lounge experience, the committee for this year’s gala brought their A-game and the crowd enjoyed every moment.
The 2018 Chocolate Fest at Mellwood Art Center brought foodies and chocoholics together for one of the tastiest events of the year. Along with a silent auction, guests tasted delicious, chocolaty goodies from some local favorites like Macaron Bar, The Comfy Cow, Sweet Cheeks and more.