Five Ways To Enjoy The Great Steamboat Race : Official Travel Source

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Five Ways To Enjoy The Great Steamboat Race

One of the Kentucky Derby Festival's oldest traditions, the original Great Steamboat Race took place in 1963 with a head to head battle between two historic vessels, the Belle of Louisville and the Delta Queen. Now scheduled annually for the Wednesday before Derby day, this half a century-old tradition has seen its fair share of participants. The 2022 race takes place on May 4 and will include Louisville’s Belle of Louisville, BB Riverboats Belle of Cincinnati, and the American Countess. Since we love every reason to celebrate all things Derby, here’s a list of 5 ways you can enjoy this year’s Great Steamboat Race.

  1. Take it to the Waterfront
    • Grab some friends, a bucket of KFC, some refreshing beverages, and pop a squat along the Ohio River to enjoy a picnic style afternoon of boat racing. We suggest the Big Four Lawn or Cox’s Park as fun, free viewing areas.
  2. Stroll the Big Four Bridge
    • Opening to the public as a pedestrian bridge in 2013, the Big Four Bridge is a great place to get a birds eye view of the action. Close to the race's start and finish lines, you’ll be able to see the integral parts of the event, with enough time to grab some grub in Southern Indiana in between. Be sure to wear walking shoes, the span of the bridge is close to a mile from start to finish.
  3. Kroger's Fest-aVille and Chow Wagon
    • Returning to to Louisville's Waterfront Park, Kroger’s Fest-A-Ville lets you enjoy the race with a variety of other food, drink and entertainment options near by. Free with a 2022 Pegasus Pin, the venue will feature an inflatable playground, midway rides, happy hour specials from 4-6pm, and a variety of food trucks selling your fair fair and festivals treats. Stay after the race to catch Tony and the Tan Lines take the stage with special guest Jameron, starting at 8pm.
  4. Ride a Riverboat
    • While it may not be feasible every year, riding the Belle of Louisville during the Great Steamboat Race is something to definitely put on your Derby bucket list. Guests dress in Derby-wear for this 3-hour event, which includes fancy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar, aboard a century old historic landmark. Tickets start at $165 on the Belle of Louisville, but the Belle of Cincinnati and Mary M. Miller also have ticket options available.
  5. Take Cover Indoors
    • Worried about the weather? There are limited, but good options to catch the race while dining indoors. Swizzle at the Galt House, River House at the Levee, Joe’s Crab Shack, and King Fish on the River are all places to catch a glimpse of the slowest two hours in sports.

The race begins at 6pm at the 2nd Street Bridge which is considered both the start and the finish line. All boats typically come racing back (at 10mph) around 8pm, so be there for the photo finish. Also, don’t forget to bring a jacket because once the sun goes down being on the river can get chilly! Let us know how you enjoy the Great Steamboat Race this year and be sure to tag your photos with #LouisvilleLove.

You can find more events happening around town by visiting our event calendar.

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