You're finally doing it! You're making your dreams of attending the Kentucky Derby® come true this year!
But, wait! Where do you start? You don't know the first thing about attending the Derby. Where do you get tickets? How do you ensure celeb spotting at Churchill Downs®? Where are the best places to stay in Louisville? How much money should you be saving for your trip?
Now, before you have a slight panic attack and push your Derby dreams aside because "it's just too hard," it's going to be okay. You can do this! And I'm going to help you! This 2019 Kentucky Derby Newbie Guide is going to give you the answers to all of your questions! So without further ado, sit back, relax and prepare to gain the knowledge to navigate the 2020 Kentucky Derby weekend like a pro.
Kentucky Derby Newbie's Guide: Your Questions Answered!
1. Seating Locations at Churchill Downs
The first decision you need to make when it comes to attending the 145th Kentucky Derby is where you want to sit. There are three primary locations you need to choose between and then you can narrow down exact locations from there. These three locations are the Clubhouse, the Grandstand and suites in the infield.
The Clubhouse is the most elite area of seating at Churchill Downs. Dress code is required and this is where majority of celebrities watch the race from. The Clubhouse begins at the center-most part of the track and stretches all the way down to the first bend. Therefore, if you're seeking a seat right at the finish line, you're looking for the Clubhouse.
The Grandstand is the remainder of the seating area, stretching from the Clubhouse out to the final turn. It offers three levels of seating - covered and uncovered - granting unparalleled views of the racing. If you're wanting to be in prime position as the horses break from the starting gate or round the final bend, Grandstand seating is for you.
The final vantage point you could opt for is from the infield. Super Suites are located within the infield and combine the amenities of a semi-private suite with an incredible view of the races. The Super Suite is located trackside and literally has no viewing obstructions. It's hard to compare anything to watching the Kentucky Derby be run with the twin spires in the background.
2. Hospitality vs No Hospitality
Next on your radar should be whether or not you want hospitality at the 2020 Kentucky Derby.
Essentially, hospitality is an oasis within Churchill Downs that you can escape to throughout the race days. What many Kentucky Derby newbies don't realize is that during the Kentucky Derby weekend, you'll be spending two full days - 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. - at the track. Races are being run all day long with the Kentucky Oaks® and Kentucky Derby being typically one of the last races of the day.
When you're there for so long, it's nice to have a comfortable venue to go to, just to get away from your seat in the stands for a while. Within hospitality, there is plenty of relaxed seating, complimentary gourmet fare, premium open or cash bars depending on the area, simulcast TV coverage of what's taking place on the track, self-service wagering stations, and meet-and-greets with celebrity jockeys.
Now, if you don't have hospitality access, it's important to keep in mind Churchill Downs is a historic landmark and when it was built, no one ever fathomed it'd hold crowds of this caliber - the facility accommodates more than 100,000 people on Derby day! With crowds of that size, it's going to be difficult to find a seat anywhere that is not your ticketed seat and lines are going to be long for concessions and wagering.
3. Meeting Celebrities
While Churchill Downs does have backdrops set up for celebrities to walk in front of for pictures and interviews with the press, it's hard to actually meet them in person at the Kentucky Derby... unless you know where they're going to be later on!
Throughout the Kentucky Derby weekend, various celebrities make appearances within hospitality areas to meet-and-greet with fans. From star jockeys, to Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, to actress and model Nichole Galicia from Django: Unchained, hospitality is where you want to be if you want to meet the stars!
Not to mention, some stars actually perform during the day at the Kentucky Derby!
4. Kentucky Derby Parties
A big part of the Kentucky Derby weekend is all the official Derby parties. A-list stars flock to Louisville to attend some of the most prestigious parties of the year and if you know the right people, you too can get invites!
Hi, I'm your 'right people' and this is how to get access:
- Fillies & Lilies Party
—this VIP party is held on the eve of the Kentucky Derby and features a live performance by celebrity musical artist.
- Winner's Party — held in the Kentucky Derby Museum immediately following the Kentucky Derby, this is a celebration of the winning horse, jockey, owner, and trainer.
- Taste of Derby™ — this party kick-starts the entire weekend as it's on Thursday, and it highlights some of the top chefs from top horse racing locations around the country.
5. Staying in Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky holds some of the most delectable restaurants, has a booming nightlife scene, and is one of the most scenic cities in the nation. It comes alive during Kentucky Derby week and there is always something to do.
Depending on which side of the city you stay on, Louisville is anywhere from a 10-20 minute drive to Churchill Downs, located right on the outside of the city.
6. K.I.S.S. - Official Ticket Packages
We've all heard the age-old saying "Keep it simple, Stupid!" In the case of the Kentucky Derby, this is a good saying to live by. Here's why:
When it comes to attending the 2020 Kentucky Derby, you have two options.
First, you can purchase a ticket to the 146th Kentucky Derby (and the Kentucky Oaks if you want to attend that day, too) and then purchase everything à la carte throughout the day. And I do mean everything - your ticket, parking at the track, drinks throughout the day, food throughout the day, any souvenirs you'd like, and accommodations in Louisville.
I don't know about you, but I see an awful lot of dollar signs adding up.
The alternative is an Official Ticket Package through Derby Experiences. In a nut shell, an
Official Ticket Package combines everything you could possibly want at the 2019 Kentucky Derby into one price - transportation to and from the track, accommodations, all-inclusive hospitality access, your tickets to both days of racing, and much more! You could even opt to include invites to official Kentucky Derby parties!
Derby Experiences also offers easy payment terms allowing you to break the price of your package up into multiple payments instead of paying the whole price up front. There's really no better way to experience the 2015 Kentucky Derby!
Book Your Kentucky Derby Experience Now!
Congratulations, Kentucky Derby newbies! You're now seasoned veterans! Go forth and have the time of your lives at the 2020 Kentucky Derby!
The next step is to get in touch with Derby Experiences and book your trip. Call 1-888-384-7088 to speak to a representative or visit Derby Experiences' website for additional package information. We can't wait to meet you in Louisville for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby!