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Kentucky Derby Schedule

Kentucky Derby weekend is packed with fun activities and social events in addition to the racing. To help you get the most out of your Kentucky Derby experience, we’ve detailed some of the weekend’s highlights below.

When is the Kentucky Derby?

The 151st running of the Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday, May 3rd, 2025, with the main event usually taking place between 6:00 and 7:00 pm EST. The Kentucky Derby is typically run on the first Saturday in May, with Derby week events starting one week before this.

Kentucky Derby Weekend Schedule

Thursday, May 1

‘Thurby’, the official start of Derby weekend takes place at Churchill Downs. Featuring racing, live music, and, of course, bourbon, Thurby is not only a whole lot of fun, but it’s also a great time to explore Churchill Downs while the crowds are typically smaller than they are on Friday and Saturday. Thurby runs from late morning to early evening.

Thursday evening offers a couple of great social events. The Mint Julep Sunset Social includes a memorable farm-to-table dinner at the picturesque Hermitage Farm, preceded by a tour of the gorgeous property. Another option is Taste of Derby, which allows guests to mingle with horse racing VIPs while enjoying incredible regional dishes prepared by nationally renowned chefs, with live music to cap off the evening.

Friday, May 2

Friday is a big day in Louisville. The day begins with the Kentucky Oaks, the premier horse race for 3-year-old fillies. The gates at Churchill Downs open mid-morning and there are races all day until early evening. The day is a celebration of racing, fundraising for women’s health issues, and fashion. Speaking of which, the event includes a fashion contest if you’re so inclined. The color of the day is pink, so be sure to include as much of it as possible when planning your outfit for the event.

In the evening, join celebrities and other VVIPs at the hottest party of the weekend: The Barnstable Brown Gala. This exclusive black-tie gala is the place to be seen on Derby eve. It’s been dubbed as one of the top 10 parties in the world by Condé Nast and each year it attracts some of the biggest names in film, sport, and music.

Saturday, May 3

Saturday is the day all of this has been leading up to: the Kentucky Derby. Plan to spend a full day at Churchill Downs enjoying the racing and taking in the electric atmosphere. The racing begins mid-morning and keeps going until well into the evening. The main event usually takes place between 6:00 and 7:00 pm, with pre- and post-race ceremonies bookending the race itself.

Kentucky Derby Disclaimer

Roadtrips is in no way associated with the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, or Churchill Downs. The terms Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks are used only for the purpose of properly describing certain events and without the specific permission of event organizers. Roadtrips’ travel packages and services are not affiliated with the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, or Churchill Downs.

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Kentucky Derby

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