Parties: Hot tickets for 2009

He hosted the best party of 2008, but the interior-design guru Nicky Haslam is better known as London's chief perma-guest.

It's been said he would attend the opening of a crisp packet, so no doubt he'll be at the first party of 2009, when Walkers celebrates the launch of six new flavours with a swanky party presided over by tastebud tsar Heston Blumenthal and Gary Lineker.

Luckily the season picks up with a real cause for celebration later in January: the inauguration of Barack Obama. Naturally the hottest ticket is at the White House, but elsewhere in DC several balls are already selling out – toast the new president with Elvis Costello and Susan Sarandon at the Creative Coalition bash.

Back home, David Cameron will be getting ready for his Black and White Ball – a crucial fundraising opportunity for the Tories if a snap election is called. It promises to be ritzier than ever, albeit minus a Rothschild and a certain yacht-owning Russian oligarch.

In May it's Cannes then Hay, two indispensable week-long parties, before the annual eye-wateringly lavish Raisa Gorbachev fundraising bash at Hampton Court in June. Down the road in Windsor the following weekend Elton and David throw their grand white-tie and tiara ball before the obligatory staples of summer – Cartier Polo and the Serpentine summer party (ugh, not again). Partying like it's 1999, when Blur were last together, is forecast for their reunion gig in July, and then, in October, it's Simon Cowell's 50th. And we don't expect that to go unnoticed...

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