Abu Dhabi F1: The VIP party guide

Party like a rock star on Yas Island this weekend as the F1 brings A-list celebs and DJs to town.

Neil Churchill November 23, 2016

While the final race of last year’s F1 season at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit was a bit of a dud – Lewis Hamilton had already wrapped up the championship – this year it’s all still to play for, kind of.

If Nico Rosberg slips up, Hamilton could steal the win from his Mercedes teammate. If you haven’t got your ticket yet then hurry and book now, as there’s only a few left.

If you miss out on the racing though, there are still plenty of reasons to head to Yas Marina this weekend. Mostly though it's the parties, the yachts and the stars that will draw in the crowds. The DJ nights and VIP venues look set to be as good as they’ve ever been, with a number of A-list celebs in town.

Here is EDGAR’s guide to partying VIP-style this weekend.

Start as you mean to go on

First things first, you need to get there. If you’re already in Abu Dhabi or nearby, book a car. But if you’re heading down from Dubai however and you’re ready for a VIP night on the tiles, you probably don’t want to arrive by taxi. 

It’s been a year since Uber launched its Chopper option and the app company is bringing it back this weekend to get you and your crew to Yas Island in style. At only AED 500 per person it’s also an absolute steal. However, probably because it’s priced so well, it’s now sold out. But keep your eyes on the app as it may again become available. 

There are other air options however, including Atlantis and local helicopter operator Flyhigh Dubai working together with flights from Dubai to Yas for AED 2,500 per head one way. The fleet of VIP Agusta 109 choppers can seat six guests for the 30-minute journey, and will be running every hour from 8am until 2am, Friday to Sunday, with pick up and drop off included. If you want to go really big, it’s AED 14,670 AED per flight each way for exclusive use of a chopper. To book one seat (or the whole bird) call +971 4 701 9111. 

Amber Lounge

Regulars to F1’s pinnacle races – Monaco, Singapore, Abu Dhabi – will know that Amber Lounge is the original exclusive event to be seen at, and this year is no different. Held at Yas Links Golf Club, as is tradition Amber Lounge will host Sunday’s post-race drivers' party. This is the night that regularly sees royalty, Hollywood A-listers and F1 drivers past and present attend. Its launch night on Saturday will also be a big deal, with Jay Sean headlining. You can expect saxophonists, dancers, singers and DJs before Sean takes the stage. 

If you want to hang with the stars however, you have to be prepared to spend big. Individual entry, which includes the open bar and open-air terrace, is $1,000 (AED 3,600). Table prices range from $1,425 per person (AED 5,200) for a shared VIP table up to $23,600 (AED 86,500) for Methusalem tables, which include a 6-litre Methusalem bottle of champagne and unlimited bottle service throughout the night. There are $6,600, $11,400 and $17,700 options in between.

Amber’s yacht

It’s not just the post-race party that Amber Lounge is known for; when in Abu Dhabi, it also has a yacht. Moored up trackside in Yas Marina, the Amber Lounge Celebrity Yacht is where the big rollers go to watch the action. The two-day package, at $4,950 (AED 18,000), includes weekend marina passes, driver appearances, lunches and dinners, an open bar and access to both the Yas Island concerts and Amber Lounge’s opening party. There is also a three-day package, which includes staying on-board in one of the luxury cabins – price available on enquiry. To book Amber Lounge and/or the yacht call +971 552 914 013 or email abudhabi@amber-lounge.com.

The Lounge, du Arena

While thousands will flock into the du Arena to see Pitbull, Chemical Brothers, Lionel Richie and Rihanna perform at the after race concerts, only a very few will get backstage into VIP area The Lounge. This is where the celebs hang out and collect their freebie gifts from partner brands. This year, local restaurant Asia de Cuba is in charge alongside Levi's, Ice Watches, New Balance, TOMS, local fashion name Caliente, Pernod Ricard and a few other brands. It will also have Drake’s DJ, Charlie B, on the decks. 

The only problem however is that it’s invite-only. This is probably the most exclusive event of the whole F1 weekend, you can’t even buy access, for any price. So if you’re going to get into The Lounge, you’re going to need some contacts. 

VIP Room at Cipriani

Speaking of Drake, the trend-setting RnB megastar is in Abu Dhabi this weekend and will headline both the Saturday and Sunday nights at Dubai club VIP Room’s pop-up at Cipriani Yas Island. It’s not just him either, with live DJ sets on Friday by techno heavyweight Luciano and socialite Paris Hilton.

VIP Room has a good record for attracting big names to its F1 parties. 50 Cent, Akon, Ludacris and others have performed in previous years, so they know what makes these nights work. With its prime spot at the stunning Cipriani restaurant, overlooking the lit up marina and the colour-changing Yas Viceroy in the background, this will surely be the weekend’s Instagram spot. For reservations call +971 52 881 8888. 

MAD

MAD on Yas Island is all about the artists this weekend with some exclusive names that aren’t performing elsewhere. It all starts on Thursday with American rapper T-Pain. Rita Ora and Sean Paul perform on Friday, with hip-hop artist Travis Scott on Saturday. Things are brought to a close on Sunday by rapper Future. This one’s for the (commercial) music heads. For reservations call +971 55 834 6262 or go to madonyasisland.com/reservations 

Iris & WHITE

There’s a lot going on at Iris Yas Island across the weekend, but on Saturday it won't even be Iris. For one night only the venue will host The WHITE Experience, which is essentially a pop-up from the popular Dubai haunt. Starting at 11pm it will feature the club’s signature dancers and resident DJs.

On the other nights, Thursday hosts house music legend Steve Lawler, on Friday Mahmut Orhan has the sunset session from 5pm before Austrian electronic duo HVOB’s live set at 11pm, while Sunday features a live performance by Grammy-nominated Nic Fanciulli. There will also be a brunch everyday from 12pm-4pm. For reservations call +971 55 160 5636 or email reservations@irisabudhabi.com

Sin at Rush Viceroy

That we’ve got this far and still haven’t mentioned what’s happening at Rush is testament to the amount going on this weekend. Sin Events is taking over the bar in the Yas Viceroy for a brunch, concert and after-party all on the Friday. For AED 1,200 for men/AED 1,000 for women, you get a trackside afternoon brunch from 12pm-4pm with resident DJs on the decks. After brunch and until 7pm, platinum-selling DJ Colin Francis provides the floor fillers.

Then you have entry to du Arena and The Chemical Brothers concert, before you move on to the after-party at a secret location, with DJs Brandon Block, Alex P and K Klass until 3am. This one calls for some stamina. For tickets call: +971 56 895 7531 / +971 50 268 2403 

Roberto’s red carpet party

If you’re after a slightly calmer affair than those listed above, but still want the glamour and exclusivity, Roberto’s red carpet party should tick both boxes. On Thursday and Friday from 7pm, the Italian restaurant at the Rosewood Hotel is offering both a la carte and set menus, followed by a live DJ.

There’s also a third menu option for groups of eight or more, while the set menu includes white truffles with wine pairings. The open-air terrace will naturally be in use and will, as usual, embody La Dolce Vita until the early hours. For reservations call +971 2 627 9009.