How to Attend the Kentucky Derby

If you're attending the Kentucky Derby, held each year on the first Saturday in May in Louisville, plan to arrive early: the festivities begin 2 weeks before race day!


  • Step 1: Purchase a 2-day pass if you want a seat. Passes are available for unreserved ($250) and reserved ($375) seating. The reserved seating pass affords limited visual access to the track.
  • TIP: Purchase a general admission pass for the Derby for $40 if you are on a budget. The pass does not include a seat or visual access to the racetrack, but you can still watch the race from television screens.
  • Step 2: Recognize that the Derby is a major fashion event. Women in reserved seating should wear pastel-colored suits, dresses or bold separates, and a hat. Suitable attire for men includes seersucker suits, sport coats, khakis, and ties. Enjoy the most exciting 2 minutes in sports!
  • FACT: The Kentucky Derby always begins with a rendition of the state's official song, "My Old Kentucky Home" as the horses assemble on the track.
  • Step 3: Attend the running of the Kentucky Oaks. The Oaks is a race for thoroughbred fillies held each year on Friday, the day before the Derby.
  • Step 4: Visit the track on any day of Derby Week between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m. to catch Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses going through their morning workouts.
  • TIP: There are over 70 different events going on in the Louisville area in the 2 weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby. Costs vary and many are free.
  • Step 5: Plan to attend the Thunder over Louisville event if you like fireworks. This Derby kickoff event is the largest fireworks display in the U.S., and always happens 2 Saturdays prior to the race. There is no charge to attend this event.
  • Step 6: Catch the Great Steamboat Race, a 14-mile paddleboat race, down the Ohio River on the Wednesday of Derby Week.
  • Step 7: Visit "": for pricing details and purchase tickets early, especially for the main event. They go fast and may not be available at the door.

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