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Top 7 Kentucky Derby Festival Events

Posted by Nathan Garrett on Saturday, April 25th, 2015 at 10:45am.


Popular Derby Festival Events

  A collection of the top festivals held in Louisville Kentucky leading up to the Kentucky Derby, the largest annual events held in Kentucky.


And it all takes place in within close distance of Downtown Louisville. The most exciting time for the city and the state of Kentucky! Two weeks leading up to Derby Day...very highly anticipated events jam packed in this short period of time all kicks off with Thunder Over Louisville.


Thunder Over Louisville kicks off the Kentucky Derby Festival excitement. Get there early and you can enjoy the air show throughout the day, leading up to the nation’s largest firework show. The air show is considered as one of the top five air shows in the country. If you’re a fan of pyrotechnics this is the place to be, you can expect over 500,000 plus other spectators to join you as well. The night time annual firework display started in 1990 and then the following year it was brought to the Ohio River.

Celebrity Grand Marshals.

Over the years you can expect to see celebrities featured as the Grand Marshal of the Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade. Some of the celebrities that have been featured in the parade have been Muhammad Al, Diane Sawyer, Colonel Harland Sanders, John Calipari, Rick Pitino and more. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Republic Bank-most of the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade route is available for free attendance.

the Original Budget for the Parade Was Only $640!!

An annual event that is typically held the Wednesday before the first of May. The Great Steamboat Race takes place on the Ohio River every year, starting back in 1963. The race between the Belle of Louisville and Just recently the Delta Queen has retired and now in place is the Belle of Cincinnati to join in the competition. The race of the two steamboats stretches from Downtown Louisville down to Jeffersonville Indiana, back to the 2nd Street Bridge in Louisville at an average speed of 7 miles an hour.


A Family Tradition.

Leading up to the Great Balloon Race is the Balloon Glow, sometimes the weather may permit with an event such as this. With a cluster of hot air balloons taking off from Bowman Field, held the Saturday before the Kentucky Derby. The event takes place early in the morning but is a must see.

Kentucky Derby Balloon Glow


A Boston Qualifier miniMarathon.

The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and mini Marathon race has participants from all over the nation and other countries as well. A marathon that ranks in the top 100 by USA Track and Field. Two separate races take place but they share the same start and finish line. You can always expect a big crowd to show up to cheer on the 10,000 plus participants. 

Kentucky Derby Festivals


Live Music and Entertainment.

Taking place in Downtown Louisville on the great lawn at the Waterfront-are two week long events taking place the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Both the Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront and the returning festival event; the Chow Wagon. An outdoor gathering with great food and live entertainment and music made available with a Pegasus Pin.  

  Other Festival Events:

  • A
  • Academic Challenge
  • B
  • BalloonFest
  • BalloonFest: Crew Challenge
  • BalloonFest: Glimmer
  • BalloonFest: Glow
  • BalloonFest: Race
  • BalloonFest: Rush-Hour Race
  • Basketball Classic
  • Battle of the Bounce
  • Bed Races
  • BeerFest
  • Blues Traveler: Saturday Concert
  • C
  • Celebrity Day at the Downs
  • Children's Tea
  • Chow Wagon
  • Cinco de Mayo Fiesta
  • Craze: Derby Eve Concert
  • D
  • Da'Ville Classic
  • Derbyhole Classic
  • Don Fightmaster Golf Outing
  • F
  • Fashion Show
  • Fest-a-Ville
  • Festival Unveiled
  • Fillies Derby Ball
  • G
  • Da'Ville Classic
  • Derbyhole Classic
  • Don Fightmaster Golf Outing
  • F
  • Fashion Show
  • Fest-a-Ville
  • Festival Unveiled
  • Fillies Derby Ball
  • G
  • Genevieve with The Deloreans: Wednesday Concert
  • Give A Day
  • GospelFest
  • H
  • HappyTail Hour
  • Health Fair
  • Hole-in-One Golf Contest
  • K
  • Knights of Columbus Charity Dinner
  • L
  • Louisville Youth Orchestra Concert
  • M
  • Marathon & miniMarathon
  • Mayor's Derby Brunch on the River
  • miniFun Run
  • Morning Line
  • N
  • Night At Vincenzo's
  • Night of the Future Stars
  • NPC Derby Championships
  • O
  • Ohio Valley Wrestling Run For The Ropes
  • P
  • Pegasus Parade
  • Pegasus Parade Preview Party
  • Pegasus Pin Party
  • Pro-Am Golf Tournament
  • R
  • O
  • Ohio Valley Wrestling Run For The Ropes
  • P
  • Pegasus Parade
  • Pegasus Parade Preview Party
  • Pegasus Pin Party
  • Pro-Am Golf Tournament
  • R
  • Race Expo And Packet Pick-Up
  • Rose Royce & Midnight Star: Tuesday Concert
  • S
  • Spelling Bee
  • Steamboat Race
  • Student Art Contest
  • T
  • Taste of Derby Festival
  • Texas Ho Ho Hold'Em Tournament
  • Texas Hold'Em Tournament
  • TheSlice: Spice, Style & Soul
  • They're Off! Luncheon
  • Thompson Square with A Thousand Horses: Friday Concert
  • Thunder on the Ground
  • Thunder Over Louisville
  • Tour de Lou
  • Training Program
  • U
  • Unspoken with Jonny Diaz & JJ Weeks Band: Celebration Sunday Concert
  • V
  • Vance Joy with MisterWives: Thursday Concert
  • Volleyball Classic
  • W
  • WineFest
  • WineFest: Farm To Table Dinner
  • Y
  • Yard Sale
  • Z
  • Zumba Fitness Party

Nathan Garrett is a local real estate agent in Louisville KY. Creator of the website. He specializes in Real Estate in Louisville and Oldham County. Questions about buying a home? Send him an email:


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