If you’re new to the Winter Equestrian Festival nightlife, it may seem as if the entire city of Wellington closes at 9PM. To the untrained eye this may be the case, but the seasoned WEF veterans will tell you that this is far from the truth. There are many great nightlife options to enjoy within Wellington during the WEF season, and if you simply just “follow the crowd” you will quickly catch on to the party routine of many equestrians here at the Wellington circuit.
This guide to Wellington’s nightlife is a breakdown of where to go, when to go there, and a small review of the location for all the Weekend Warrior NEWBS to the WEF circuit (assuming you are 21+). [quote_center]As always, I cannot stress the importance of drinking responsibly, staying away from drugs, having a designated driver, and having a circle of trustworthy friends who will make sure that you make it home safe. Don’t be stupid and ruin your life or the lives of others.[/quote_center]
If you’ve been drinking a need a ride home, call UBER (download the APP). They will come pick you up in your car and drive you home for a modest price. Hey, you can even order a driver from your phone like a pizza! No excuses for drinking and driving.
Without further delay, here is a breakdown of the coolest and most popular places to go during the WEF Season to have a few drinks and socialize. (In no particular order)
JOJOS BAR & GRILL
When to Go: Weekdays 7:30PM – 12:00AM, Weekends 7:30PM – 9:00PM
Location: Wellington Trace/Greenview Shores
Atmosphere: Laid-back Sports Bar Feel
Review: Great place to go grab a few drinks or food with your friends without blowing the bank. The place has a real laid back atmosphere where you can socialize, play pool, and join in on their daily games. Service is good, and is usually “hit or miss” with popularity on weekdays. A great place to have a few drinks before you “have a few drinks”, if you know what I mean.
When to Go: Saturday Night (after Saturday Night Lights)
Location: WEF Show Grounds
Atmosphere: Night Clubbish
Review: A great place if you want to party and dance after the Grand Prix. The place is always packed on Saturday Nights, but there is plenty of room to move about so you aren’t cramped. There is also an outside area so you don’t have to be trapped in a glass boombox the whole night. Service and staff are good, plenty of underage kids are always getting busted by the bouncers checking ID’s, fun to watch while waiting for a wristband! If you aren’t familiar with the showgrounds and you’ve had a few cocktails, you may end up lost in a field somewhere at 3 am trying to find the parking lot, which is almost like a rite of passage to the WEF circuit.
When to Go: Sunday Nights (10 PM – 1AM)
Location: South Shore/Big Blue Trace
Review: Elegant and upscale by day, but after about 9:30PM the tides start to turn and the place turns into a circus. This place is consistently packed to what seems like double the maximum capacity every Sunday night. Getting a drink at the Grille is like being in an episode of “Ninja Warrior”: If you can successfully make it through the clowns on the dance floor swinging drinks around in a building the size of a four car garage, and then swan-dive over the endless hoards of people waiting in line for a drink, then you will be awarded a drink at double the price. After 1AM this place turns into a complete clown-show. Needless to say, I’ll be there this weekend playing ninja warrior along with everyone else. #PartyOn
THE COACH HOUSE (players club)
When to Go: Sunday Nights (1 AM – ?)
Location: South Shore/Greenview Shores
Review: Right down the street from The Grille, the Coach House is usually where all the pre-drinkers from Wellington go once they are all sauced up from their earlier activities. This place is kind of the centerfold of where the party meets up. After 1 AM on Sunday Nights (Monday mornings if you want to get technical) if you aren’t at the Coach House, you’re probably going to home to get some sleep. I would have to conclude that this place pulls in the crowds without the feeling like you’re in a mosh pit. Moderately spread out and very close to the showgrounds, the Coach House is the place to go if you’re wanting to party, dance, and socialize after 1 am.
When to Go: Weekdays 7:00PM, Weekends 8:00PM
Location: Greenview Shores/Wellington Trace
Atmosphere: Dinner & Drinks
Review: This place has great food and drinks to match! Kontiki is a little place that packs a pretty good punch and the service is great. If you’re looking to sit down and have some food and drinks with friends, this is the place to do it. The decorations in this place get me every time (go there and you’ll understand). Upscale and friendly is the name of the game at Kontiki, with a mature crowd. Good drinks, good food, and good times. Check this little place out, it will be worth your while.
When to Go: Weekdays (7:00PM)
Location: Forest Hill/Wellington Trace
Atmosphere: Dive Bar
Review: If you’re looking for a little local spot that has cheap drinks and has the dive bar feel, this is your place. Usually the crowd is a mix of locals and equestrians, and is usually hit or miss in terms of the turn out. Drinks here are normally buy-1-get-1-free, so you can’t beat that! Not a great place to “party”, but a great place to socialize and grab a drink in a sports/dive bar type environment. The service is pretty good and the drinks are cheap, what more could you really ask for on a weekday?
When to Go: Weekdays (7:00 PM), Weekends (8:00 PM)
Location: Wellington Mall Area
Atmosphere: Sports Bar
Review: Probably one of the only bars in Wellington that have a full inside bar and an outside bar. The outside bar is usually where everyone hangs out, and is usually a mix of locals and equestrians. The drinks are cheap, the service is good, and they have the coolest fans on the planet. (Look at those things!) The place is moderately popular and is never cramped. Just a cool little local place where you can sit around and socialize with your friends.
WORLD OF BEER
When to Go: Weekends (8:00 PM)
Location: Wellington Mall Area
Atmosphere: Craft Beer / Sports Bar
Review: One of the cooler places in Wellington to hang out and drink, not just because of the 2 million types of beer you can choose from, but the atmosphere. They have an inside bar with live music, and an outside area with couches and tables, which is pretty nifty if you ask me. Don’t be fooled though, these craft beers have some serious kick to them. If you aren’t careful, you could end up crawling on your hands and knees to the taxi cab at 9 PM after 3 beers, which is never a good way to impress your friends. They even allow you to bring your dog there on Wednesdays…cool right? Keep your dancing shoes at home, as there is no dancing area here, but then again, anywhere is a dance floor after a few craft beers!
When to Go: Weekdays (6:00 PM) Weekends (7:00 PM)
Location: South Shore/Forest Hill
Review: A cool Mexican restaurant that has an authentic feel and is equipped with some killer margaritas. The food is great for the price, and many people flood La Fogata for lunch because of this. On weekdays La Fogata isn’t much of a nightlife bar, but the weekends can get wild with pre-gamers who are looking to go Wellington bar hopping. The food here is great, the margaritas are amazing, and the service is there to match it. If you haven’t at least stopped by to try this place out, you’re really just cheating yourself.
THE WHITE HORSE
When to Go: Weekdays and Weekends (7:00PM)
Location: Horse Show
Atmosphere: Restaurant Bar
Review: Probably the best food you are going to get in Wellington, no questions asked. This is more of an upscale place, and it would not be a good idea to show up here trying to “rage face”. This place does a great job of displaying elegance and service to their customers. The drinks are great and the food is to die for. Not your everyday restaurant/bar by any means, but is a great place to take someone who is looking for a great meal, drinks, and conversation. Great place!
OLIS FASHION CUISINE
When to Go: Weekdays and Weekends (6:30PM)
Location: Wellington Mall Area
Review: For the quality, the food is a bit pricey. The drinks are alright for the most part, and the setting is more “contained” than open, and the folks you will see here are probably not folks who go to dive bars. Oli’s tries to capture the high end feel with a luxurious after taste, but for the price, its really not that worth it for me. I’m sure they have plenty of great dishes and plenty of loyal customers, but from my experience I cannot justify the pros and cons with this place. Oli’s is a definite must to try for any WEF newb, at least once! You never know, maybe you’ll love it and call me a liar!
There you have it, the NEWB guide to Wellington nightlife! Enjoy, and remember to BE SAFE.
The reviews here are simply my opinion and my experiences, and do not reflect the views of Equestrian Empire or its affiliates.