5 Things To Do During The 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival


As the sun peeks over the horizon of the Bluegrass State, the thrilling buzz of the 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival begins to stir the air. This historic event is not just about the thundering hooves on the track. It’s a cultural kaleidoscope with activities catering to every taste and age.

Knowing the festival’s highlights will give you more reasons to visit Louisville in April and May. If you plan to watch the Kentucky Derby races, this list of events will help you make the most of your trip. So, without further ado, here are five things you must do during the 2024 Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky.

Witness the 150th Kentucky Derby Race

The first event that you mustn’t miss and is the highlight of the festival is the Kentucky Derby race. The Kentucky Derby isn’t just a horse race; it’s a venerable spectacle steeped in tradition and overflowing with excitement. Dubbed “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports,” the Derby captures the imagination of millions around the world. It showcases pageantry with magnificent thoroughbreds, vibrant hats, and sartorial elegance.

To witness the thundering hooves and the crowd’s cheer as the finest horses compete for the coveted title is to experience a piece of living history. From the stirring rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home” to the triumphant garland of roses placed on the winner, the Kentucky Derby is a testament to the endurance of tradition and the spirit of competition.

Watching the Derby isn’t just about the race; it’s about being a part of a tradition stretching over a century, a spectacle of culture, fashion, and the sheer joy of athleticism that you simply can’t afford to miss.

Remember to wear your best Kentucky Derby outfit when watching the Kentucky Derby. And don’t forget the iconic hat! Additionally, it’s also advisable to place a bet on your favorite horse to enhance your Kentucky Derby 2024 experience.

Participate in the Derby Burger Challenge

The Kentucky Beef Council is hosting its 12th consecutive beef competition this year in partnership with Dan-O’s Seasoning and Kroger as the Official Seasoning sponsors. Be sure to submit your signature burger recipe by January 31 to emerge as the winner.

All are welcome to join the fray, from domestic cooks to professional restaurant chefs. We invite entrants to submit their burger recipes with a unique and imaginative burger name, a detailed description, and a photograph to showcase their creations. Every submission must feature purely beef burgers and incorporate Dan-O’s seasoning into the concoction.

If you have a recipe for the best beef burger to brag about, you can participate in the Derby Burger Challenge. Judges evaluate Burgers based on their Flavor, Visual Appeal, Originality, and Simplicity of Cooking.

Experience The Great BalloonFest

The skies over Louisville paint a mesmerizing tableau each spring with the vibrant hues of hundreds of hot air balloons. The Great BalloonFest, a beloved component of the Kentucky Derby Festival, is an event that draws families, photographers, and adventure lovers alike.

This spectacle of color and grace features a variety of events, such as the Great Balloon Glimmer, the Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race, and the thrilling Great Balloon Race.

The locals and visitors are swept up into a world of wonder as these gentle giants ascend, a celebration that marks the beginning of the festivities leading up to the legendary Kentucky Derby. The 2024 BalloonFest will showcase four different events ascending into the skies:

  • April 25, 8:30 PM (Thursday) – Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville for Great Balloon Glow
  • April 26, 7 AM (Friday) – Bowman Field for Rush Hour Race
  • April 26, 8:30 PM (Friday) – Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville for Great Balloon Glow
  • April 27, 7 AM (Saturday) – Bowman Field for Great Balloon Race

Watch The Pegasus Parade

Amidst the flurry of festivities surrounding the Kentucky Derby, one spectacle combines grandeur with community spirit in an unforgettable way – The Pegasus Parade. Dating back to 1956, this annual event showers the streets of Louisville with vibrant floats, majestic equestrian units, and the infectious rhythms of marching bands. Watching the Pegasus Parade is an experience that goes beyond mere visual appeal; it is a cultural immersion into the heart of Kentucky’s heritage.

The parade marks a celebration of unity, where families, friends, and strangers gather to revel in the spirit of the Derby. If you go to Louisville, don’t forget to attend the Pegasus Parade and experience Louisville’s traditions yourself.

Enjoy the Great Steamboat Race

The last but not least thing you must do when you are in Louisville to attend the Kentucky Derby is to watch the steamboat race. The horse racing event isn’t the only race you must experience during this festival.

Since its inception in 1963, the Great Steamboat Race has been a cornerstone of the Kentucky Derby Festival on the Ohio River. This beloved Louisville tradition forms a quintessential part of the Derby weekend festivities.

Local favorites like the Belle of Cincinnati vie for top honors, navigating the river in a spirited competition for the much-sought-after title. In the previous year, the Belle of Louisville earned the distinction of champion.

Spectators are eagerly anticipating whether it will defend its title in 2024. The event, which concludes at the Wharf after approximately two hours, culminates with the presentation of the prestigious Silver Antlers at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville Chow Wagon during the Awards Ceremony.

Final Thoughts

There are so many things to do in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby Festival from April to May. Remember, the Kentucky Derby race isn’t the only exciting thing happening in Louisville during this season. There are more events that you must experience during your stay.


Paul is a professional content writer who writes for He writes articles on a variety of topics related to Sports, Blog, Lifestyle

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