Amber Lounge Grand Prix Parties: Monaco 2019 A Roaring Success

F1 drivers, teams, celebrities, sports stars, and guests mingled, danced and dined at the most glamorous of the Grand Prix parties Monaco hosts each year during the Formula One races. Since 2003, Amber Lounge events have been the go-to destination for people wanting to experience the Monaco Grand Prix in style. The 2019 edition didn’t disappoint, with three days and evenings of VIP race viewing, celebrity yachts, fashion, fine dining, and parties.

Grand Prix parties Monaco; F1 parties Monaco

The party of F1 parties: Monaco VIP guests dazzled

To kick off the Grand Prix parties, Monaco guests, including a bevy of celebrities and VIPs, headed to the pop-up venue in the Meridien Beach Plaza hotel for the annual Amber Lounge Fashion Show and silent charity auction. The hotel stands close to some of the most luxurious property for rent in Larvotto, the Principality’s famous beachside district.

Guests hoping to rub shoulders with stars and royalty were not disappointed. The A-list celebrities at the “Ice White” themed fashion show included HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, Victoria’s Secret model Josephine Skriver, Pamela Anderson – with boyfriend Adil Rami and son Brendon Lee –  Freddie Hunt, Eddie Irvine, and Chachi Gonzales.

Grand Prix parties Monaco; F1 parties Monaco

George Russell (Williams), Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), Esteban Gutierrez (Mercedes),  and Monaco’s homegrown talent Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) were among the F1 drivers who took to the beachside catwalk to model chic menswear by Canadian-born, Milan-based designer Christopher Bates.

Alfa Romeo’s Tatiana Calderon made her Amber Fashion debut with the “Ladies of F1” and the runway models, who showcased bridal gowns by Yolancris and Ladyship swimwear by Lady  Victoria Hervey. 

After the catwalk action, it was over to the traditional charity auction in aid of  Sir Jackie Stewart’s foundation Race Against Dementia. Among the many lots up for auction was a mini F1 helmet signed by Lewis Hamilton and a silkscreen print by Banksy. Pamela Anderson was one of several people to raise a hand when guests were asked who would be willing to donate 10,000 euros to the charity without a lot. A sophisticated “arctic bar” by Arctic Blue Gin extended the “Ice White” theme with its white and cool blue decor.

The Amber Lounge after party took off at around midnight with DJ Sigma providing the high energy soundscape. The atmosphere was euphoric. Strangers danced together, like robots on stilts mingled with them – the whole scene illuminated by sparklers in Cuvée Sensorium’s innovative porcelain champagne bottles.

But it wasn’t just on land that Amber Lounge’s F1 parties took place. On Saturday and Sunday, guests boarded Amber Lounge’s tri-deck yacht to watch the race, quaff champagne and mix with the F1 drivers and celebrities such as Victoria’s Secret model Josephine Skriver, TV star Olivia Culpo, Blaise Matuidi, Mark Cavendish and model Madison Headrick.

They later stepped back on shore the Amber Lounge after parties that welcomed, among others, NBA star Rudy Gobert, Rugby players Sam Warburton and George North, AS Monaco player Nacer Chadli, Red Bull athlete Lindsay Vaughn and PK Subban.

Grand Prix parties, Sonia Irvine, Mrs Amber Lounge
Grand Prix parties, Sonia Irvine, Mrs. Amber Lounge

Sonia Irvine: “Mrs. Amber Lounge”

Amber Lounge is the brainchild of Sonia Irvine, a long-time Monaco resident and the sister of former F1 driver Eddie Irvine. Summing up the 2019 Monaco events, she said:

“It was another incredible year of Amber Lounge Monaco which attracted a long list of celebrities and royalty The Amber Lounge Yachts were the place to be for luxury race viewing all weekend. Arctic Blue Gin’s Arctic Lounge was a huge hit at the after parties as well as our breathtaking Cuveé Sensorium bottle moments.”

Sonia started in F1 as her brother’s physiotherapist and socialized constantly with the drivers, team principals, and sponsors.

“We all worked so hard during a Grand Prix weekend and wanted to let our hair down at the end of it but there never seemed to be one communal place where everyone could enjoy themselves,” says Sonia. “The idea of setting up a classy, fun place to party and celebrate the races all together came to me.”

Sonia tried out her concept at the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix and it was a huge success. Attendees included F1 drivers, of course, but also HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Bono, The Edge, and Heidi Klum, among many others.

“Word spread that Amber Lounge was the place to be if you wanted to party and enjoy yourself away from the cameras and the outside world,” explains Sonia.

The parties became world-famous and today there are Amber Lounge Grand Prix lifestyle experiences not only in Monaco but also in Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

Grand Prix parties Monaco; F1 parties Monaco

Unflagging enthusiasm

Tickets for the Amber Lounge Grand Prix parties Monaco hosts are booked up to a year in advance. 

“The number of celebrities and VIP guests that come to the region during the Grand Prix adds to the already exclusive Amber Lounge parties,” says Sonia.

For Sonia, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Principality of Monaco as a whole are very special. It’s where her success started and where she raised her family.

“Obviously, my favorite time of year in Monaco is when the Grand Prix event takes place,” she says. “No matter how long I have been involved in F1, I always get the same level of excitement when that time of year comes around!”

Looking ahead

Sonia says she and her team pride themselves on making each detail perfect so people feel like it’s a special place as soon as they walk in.

“Since it’s a pop-up club that only happens three times a year, we have the flexibility to be creative with the design of the clubs and the experience we offer guests,” she says.

Amber Lounge will continue to develop.

“We have the intention to extend Amber Lounge to other sports and we are currently looking at opportunities to showcase our brand to the world outside of Formula 1,” says Sonia.

In the meantime, in the Principality, the F1 enthusiast can pride herself on yet another successful three days and nights of Grand Prix parties. Monaco will be back to its pre-Formula Oneself in just a couple of weeks. The grandstands and party venues are already being dismantled and the crowds have gone. But the indefatigable Sonia is already working on the organization of September’s Grand Prix parties in Singapore.

Marianne Burkhardt
Marianne Burkhardt
Marianne Burkhardt is a trained journalist who has held roles in media and communications for 30 years, She was head of the Montreux Jazz Festival press office, corporate communications manager at the FEI, the world governing the body of horse sport, and editor at the International office of Medecins Sans Frontieres. She has written for numerous publications, including the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation’s English language news website, Time Out and Local Switzerland.

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