round the world, there are just a handful of exclusive events that command enough interest to attract high society’s most elite denizens – and if you’re looking to move in these rarefied circles it pays to be in the know. Looking to purchase your next vintage car? You’ll find like-minded motorheads on the shores of Lake Como. And, while a trip to the Tate Modern is nice once in a while, in Miami you can rub shoulders with supermodels while building a collection for your new not-so-humble abode.
So how to gain access yourself? Sometimes it’s not what you know, but rather who you know – and having a great concierge company on hand will certainly help. Other times, entry is as simple as stumping up the eye-watering asking price for tickets. Regardless of how you choose to get through the door, these are the events to be seen at this year.
US Masters Tournament
The Masters Tournament is the first major golf championship of the year, and sees the best talent descend on Augusta National Golf Club for a packed schedule of swinging action. Records have been broken here and careers have been made, with Tiger Woods winning his first major on the course in 1997.
As well as being one of the most prestigious staples in the golfing calendar, it is favoured by luxury lovers thanks to the hospitality offered at Berckmans Place. At 90,000 square feet, the palatial property offers exclusive lounges, dedicated bars, and premium restroom facilities. Housing an array of all-inclusive restaurants, access is sought-after by foodies just as much as golf fans.
Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este
Since 1929, motorheads and socialites have congregated on the banks of northern Italy’s Lake Como for a series of events celebrating the best cars the industry has produced. There was a hiatus of more than 40 years before the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este was reimagined in 1995, but the classic vehicles, and their adoring fans, were quick to migrate back to the lavish grounds of the grand Villa d’Este. The most sought-after tickets package promises unparalleled access to the show alongside a stay at the property – a palatial lakeside hotel that for centuries was a residence of the Italian aristocracy.
Monaco Grand Prix
From supermodels to big-screen royalty, superyacht owners to the generally super-rich, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the few global events guaranteed to pull in some seriously big names year after year. First held in 1929, the world’s premier motor race has lured elite circles towards the principality since its very inception, with an array of VIP events, parties and hospitality offerings making the weekend about much more than the nail-biting racing.
Should you have a superyacht at your disposal for a few days, or an enviable contact book, you’ll be bobbing on the Mediterranean Sea as supercars shoot past. Short of this, Paddock Club ensures the ultimate hospitality experience. Expect champagne showers, privileged track access, appearances from Formula 1 drivers, and views over some of the circuit’s most thrilling sections, all under the principality’s signature sunshine.
Each summer, the All England Lawn Tennis Club opens its towering green gates to hordes of court enthusiasts eager to catch a glimpse of sporting legends, world number ones, and the odd celebrity passing through one of London’s leafier enclaves. Accordingly, securing tickets isn’t easy, with the vast majority offered by a random public ballot or offered to hardcore early birds. A select few, however, are able to skip camping in Wimbledon Park and hours of queuing in sweltering heat altogether: the debentures.
Whether you are looking to fork out the £46,000 cost for five-year debenture status or opt to purchase the tournament’s only freely transferable tickets from specialist sellers, these passes ensure an altogether different experience. Champagne receptions, afternoon teas, multi-course meals, and access to dedicated bars and restaurants – including outdoor spaces away from the crowds – are packaged with the best court-side seats.
For the ultimate day out, book into the Champions’ Room restaurant where fizz and Pimms kick off the day, televisions hang on each wall so not a minute of the action is missed, and cheeseboards decked with truffle honey and gourmet nibbles are always within reach should the stunning lunch service still leave you in need of a pick-me-up (unlikely) before pretty pastries silently fly out of the kitchens.
The Rose Ball, Monaco
Tradition and modernity collide to head-turning effect as socialites, celebrities and humanitarians congregate for the pinnacle of Monaco’s jam-packed social calendar: The Rose Ball. Established in 1954 by Princess Grace of Monaco, it is considered one of the year’s most important events due to the substantial sums of money it raises for the Princess Grace Foundation – an organisation devoted to helping those in need around the world.
Karl Lagerfeld personally designed the decorations for many years, while Dame Shirley Bassey is one of many notable figures to attend at the behest of Monaco’s royal family. Perhaps surprisingly, considering the exclusive allure of the evening, the event is not invitation only and anyone willing to part with the cash, and adhere to the strict dress code, may attend.
Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance
In the shadow of Blenheim Palace, a sophisticated hum can be made out among the usual hustle and bustle Winston Churchill’s ancestral home entertains. On the manicured lawns, the flashiest supercars sit alongside limited edition makes, classic models and sought-after vehicles from leading luxury car manufacturers including Bugatti, Ferrari, and Rolls-Royce.
Pop-ups from the likes of Boodles and Geoffrey Parker offer retail therapy, while horologists are catered for as Piaget and Christopher Ward, among others, set up in a dedicated emporium. Shelter from the summer heat in The Glass House for bespoke tasting menus and stunning views.
On the surface, Frieze London may appear to be a comparatively un-flashy affair in comparison to other global contemporary art events. However, with curators, investors, and some serious collectors roaming the galleries, this fair is much more than a day out for those in the industry. Secure a VIP card to access the galleries before doors open to the public and amble between the booths as you scout out your new favourite artist. VIPs are also the first to hear about private viewings.
You’ll need friends in high places to get past the rope at the capital’s most exclusive Frieze Week parties, where high-profile figures from the art and fashion worlds are found, though. Should mingling not be your thing, discuss newly discovered talent over world-class food in Marylebone or Mayfair with friends – just be sure to book well ahead of time.
Art Basel Miami
Established in the 1970s in Switzerland, the Art Basel team has acknowledged the international appeal of its initiative in recent years, with events in Miami, Hong Kong, and Paris popping up since the start of the new millennium. Private collectors mingle with curators, patrons, and those simply curious about the new pieces galleries have on offer each year. Art is categorised and divided among different spaces: head to the main show to browse the latest contemporary art, Meridians for large-scale projects that may prove a little harder to put on display back home, Nova for works created within the last three years, Positions for up-and-coming artists and galleries and Editions for prints, multiple and numbered works.
As well as the stunning artistic showcases, Art Basel is known for bringing the party to town. Friends in the right places? You’ll be rubbing shoulders with Hadids, Kardashians, and an array of entertainment megastars looking to deck out their latest Hollywood Hills homes (or boost their Instagram kudos) at exclusive events across the city.
White Turf St Moritz
Already looking ahead to next year? While the pure white peaks of St Moritz are widely associated with wealthy winter sports enthusiasts, February welcomes a different breed to the frozen lake: the equine kind. As the continent’s finest thoroughbreds descend on the resort for a series of races across three weekends, over 35,000 spectators take to the stands to see which horse and jockey duo will claim the generous prize fund (which currently stands at around CHF500,000). For exclusive access to VIP terraces, specially curated menus, and a complimentary bar, join return visitors in securing gold and platinum tickets.
Where to stay after a tiring day of champagne sipping and sporting fun in the Swiss Alps? Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, of course. Sprawling suites boast breathtaking views over the lake, while a dedicated wellness team is on hand should you find time for some pampering between racing, skiing, and indulging in its 13 bars and restaurants.
Read more: The essential London culture guide for 2022