The Insider's Guide to Cannes: Party central

Now to the real business of Cannes ... we review the best parties and your chances of blagging safe passage past the suited gorilla on the door.

TUESDAY 22 JUNE

Opening Gala

Most of the parties at Cannes are crammed into the latter half of the week. But if you are lucky enough to be there for the full eight days, the best place to find your feet is the Opening Gala, which is held on 22 June after the Lions Direct and the Media Lions ceremonies. This shindig, which takes place on the private beach of the Carlton Hotel, is a thoroughly enjoyable cocktail of tempting gourmet food, free booze and backless dresses. What's more, the pyramids of Champagne glasses will remind you why you got into advertising in the first place.

If at all possible, try to wangle a table on the pier - if not, the tables on the sand by the sea are not to be sniffed at. All registered delegates are guaranteed entrance to the Opening Gala bash. But if you're not an official delegate, don't panic - it's only Tuesday and the best parties are still to come.

Chances of gatecrashing: 6/10

Young Creatives Party

If the Opening Gala sounds a bit too formal for your tastes, you might want to try to sneak into the Young Creatives Party at the Plage du Festival, which is also held on the Tuesday night. This is an altogether noisier affair and if you're no longer "young" but in the mood for dancing and trying it on with someone half your age, this might just be for you. Only those invited can gain entry, and, as you may have already guessed from the party's title, unless you're a young creative you're unlikely to possess an invite already. But fear not, there will be spare tickets knocking round, and if you know anyone who is friendly with the sponsor, Adobe, you may just be in luck.

Chances of gatecrashing: 6/10

WEDNESDAY 23 JUNE

Condor Post-Production

The good news is that Condor is once again holding its Wednesday night extravaganza. The bad news is that, thanks to a huge demand, this year it will be invitation only. However, with between 800 and 900 people expected to turn up, it shouldn't be too hard to blag a spare ticket. The party will take place at la Plage du Galion and will continue through until 1am, which is late by Cannes standards. Music will be supplied by Massive Music Amsterdam and there'll be complementary drinks a-plenty.

Chances of gatecrashing: 7/10

THURSDAY 24 JUNE

Dentsu

Since 2001, Dentsu has been hosting seminars at Cannes. It will take place at the Debussy Theatre featuring two guest speakers, both creatives from countries represented by Dentsu's Asian Network. It'll be interesting to observe the very subtle differences between Western and Asian creative, but this is not one for party animals.

Chances of gatecrashing: 4/10

USA Today

This year, USA Today will be hosting a cocktail reception/dinner party at Le Moulin de Mougins in honour of the US judges at the festival. The cream of US media will be represented and the conversation flowing will no doubt be exceedingly stimulating. But this one is strictly for A-listers. If you haven't been invited you'll find it almost impossible to sweet talk your way into a three-star Michelin restaurant, you bloody peasant.

Chances of gatecrashing: 1/10

Publicis

The best thing about the Publicis party is undoubtedly the location. The Palais Bulles, otherwise known as Pierre Cardin's villa, is as sumptuous a venue as one can imagine. Quite how Publicis managed to wangle it is a mystery, but if you have any connection to the Publicis Worldwide Creative Board, use it to get yourself an invite (alternatively, just corner Dave Droga in the Gutter Bar). Grace Jones is going to be there, apparently.

Chances of gatecrashing: 6/10

TBWA

If there's one network that knows how to throw a good party, it's TBWA. However, its effort in 2003 was a wee bit disappointing, because it started so early and partly because it was dwarfed by the rival shindig held up the beach by DDB. So this year they've done the sensible thing and moved their do to 10pm on Thursday. Once again, Carlton Beach will be the venue, and, as usual, TBWA will be out in force in Cannes so negotiating your entrance should be a doddle.

Chances of gatecrashing: 8/10

FRIDAY 25 JUNE

Rushes Villa

If you tire of la Croisette, why not head up to the hills? There you'll find the good folk from Rushes Post-Production hosting a villa - something they've done every year for the last decade. There'll be something going on at the Rushes Villa every night - normally it's a dinner party thrown for between 20 and 80 people. The hospitalities culminate on Friday in a lavish barbecue with between 400 and 500 invited guests. If you like great swimming pools, live music and breathtaking views of the French Riveria, then the Rushes Villa is well worth a visit. To secure an invite, MD Jace Capper is the man to flatter.

Chances of gatecrashing: 6/10

DDB

The DDB party is the big one. In fact, it's so big the agency starts planning it in February. It's the only Cannes beach party that stays open until 2.30am and perhaps this is the reason that more than 1,000 people turn up each year. The party, held on the Martinez beach, is invitation only, but with DDB folk everywhere, you should be able to secure yourself a ticket if you put the feelers out early enough. Expect ostentatious decorations and impressive DJs, but don't expect any canapes or finger food - this one is for boozers only. This year's rather enigmatic theme is "are you ready to take off?" Make of that what you will.

Chances of gatecrashing: 7/10

BBDO

This year, BBDO's Friday night effort will be held at the Martinez Hotel, but it's invite only and pretty tough to crash. Hosted by the network's worldwide chairman, Allen Rosenshine, and its worldwide president, Andrew Robertson, it'll be quite a corporate affair, but good for networking. Just don't expect much scandal.

Chances of gatecrashing: 4/10

SATURDAY 26 JUNE

Cannes Closing Gala

The Cannes Closing Gala takes place after the film awards on Saturday at the Palais beach. Like the Opening Gala it will feature a lavish buffet, tables on the sand and DJs. It will be themed, although this year's choice is top secret. It's for delegates only, but the festival's chief executive, Terry Savage, can award special VIP passes, so if you see him, smile.

Chances of gatecrashing: 8/10

Traktor

The Traktor party is the single best argument for pacing yourself during the week, because if you're too tired to attend, you'll regret it. Traktor has held a party at the Cats Corner club in Cannes for three of the last four years. This year they're teasing us, having yet to decide if they'll return. Let's hope they do, because this is the best party in Cannes. Blagging a ticket to this shindig isn't hard, as everyone knows someone who's worked with Traktor. However, the Cats Corner gets packed quickly and it takes great patience and dedication to crowbar yourself through the doors. Great music and a huge array of alcoholic beverages should keep you moving until kicking out time at 5am. The only drawback is the oppressive attitude of the women who sell chewing gum and spray in the toilet area. But don't cheek them, as these ladies keep close council with security.

Chances of gatecrashing: 7/10

ALL WEEK

72

Know to the ad world purely as the Gutter Bar. Every night, between midnight and 5am, the cream of advertising can be found here, vomiting, molesting, laughing, crying and collapsing their way to infamy. Yes, you have to pay for drinks, and, yes, you'll have to queue for them, but the atmosphere here is second to none. But be warned, the toilets are disgusting - use the loos at the Martinez next door if you're of a delicate constitution.

Carlton Terrace

If you've failed to bully your way into any event, don't worry, there'll always be some kind of gathering at the Carlton Hotel. It's a more grown-up version of the Gutter Bar and doesn't go on all night. Campaign strongly recommends the Kir Royale.

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