Your Guide to the 2018 Derby

The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports

In Louisville, we turn the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports into two fun-filled weeks of food, bourbon, shows, traditions, and fun events! We also celebrate the spirit of the Derby all year with the culture and tradition of the sport of kings and many other opportunities to be at the legendary track.

What is the Derby?
The Kentucky Derby is the most prestigious annual horse race in America, and the first jewel of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. It is held at Churchill Downs, considered by many a cathedral of horse racing.

Every year since 1875, the Kentucky Derby brings the world to Churchill Downs in Louisville for a week of excitement, suspense and spectacle. What you see, hear, taste and smell at the Derby may be easier to imagine, but the feeling of being at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby is unmatched. The Kentucky Derby is a bucket list item recognized in the popular book “1000 Places To See Before You Die”.

When is the Derby?
The longest annually held sporting event in the US, the Kentucky Derby is always held on the first Saturday in May. The 143rd Kentucky Derby will be on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Where is the Derby?
The Kentucky Derby is held in Louisville at Churchill Downs, the legendary and historic horse-racing track.

How do I get tickets?
While Millionaire’s Row seats may be elusive, there are a variety of other ticket options to see the Run for the Roses up close and personal. Reserved seating tickets for the Kentucky Derby are offered in a variety of outdoor seat locations along the first turn and the finishing stretch of the historic racetrack. Reserved seating tickets are also available in a variety of seat types, such as stadium-style seats and bleacher-style seats. You can register to purchase Kentucky Derby tickets sold as a 2-day package, including both Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks days online here:

You may also wait to purchase General Admission tickets on the day of the event at the gates. The cost of day-of General Admission tickets for the 2016 Kentucky Derby was $60.

Kentucky Derby Festival

The Kentucky Derby has been called the “Superbowl and Mardi Gras rolled into one.” In Louisville, we’ve taken a two-minute horse race and turned it into a two-week party featuring more than 70 events during the Derby Festival.

Thunder Over Louisville kicks off the two-week celebration with the largest fireworks event in North America, featuring extravagant fireworks and a world-class air show on the banks of the Ohio River. Thunder returns in 2017 on April 22.

Kentucky Oaks

The Longines Kentucky Oaks, or simply “the Oaks,” is considered by some to be one of the most popular horse races in America, attracting about 100,000 people each year.
Modeled after the British Epsom Oaks, the Kentucky Oaks race is held annually on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby. The winner receives a $600,000 purse, a large garland of lilies (affectionately referred to as the “Lillies for the Fillies”) and a silver Kentucky Oaks Trophy.
Every year, the infield of the race track hosts crowd-pleasing musical attractions, boardwalk games, food, and alcoholic beverages for purchase.