Kentucky Derby Festival celebration in full swing : Official Travel Source

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Kentucky Derby Festival celebration in full swing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 25, 2017) - The Kentucky Derby Festival came out of the gate strong this past weekend with Thunder Over Louisville®, its annual airshow and fireworks extravaganza that kicks off the two-week countdown that will culminate in the running of the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6. And while Thunder is undoubtedly the largest of the Festival events, many of its annual iconic celebrations are still to come.

The Festival is one of the premier events of its kind in the world, and a proud five-time winner of the International Festivals & Events Association award for Best Overall Festival. It brings fun, excitement, international recognition and a spirit that is unmatched anywhere. Produced annually since 1956, the Derby Festival has become a whirlwind of more than 70 special events. With two-thirds of the Festival events free, families can enjoy numerous just-for-kids activities without stretching their pocketbook.

The Festival will host some of the most beloved events in the remaining days before the Derby. They include a half and full marathon, hot-air balloon events and live bed racing! The Great Steamboat Race pits historic paddle-wheelers on the mighty Ohio River. And, the event that started it all, the Pegasus Parade marches down Broadway in colorful fashion on May 4, just days before the 143rd “run for the roses.”

Highlights of the 2017 Derby Festival Schedule:

April 27: Kroger’s Fest-a-VilleSM Concerts on the Waterfront Opens

April 27: Chow Wagon® at Waterfront Park Opens

April 27-29: U.S. Bank Great BalloonFestSM

April 29: Marathon/miniMarathonSM presented by Walmart and Humana

May 1: Thorntons Great Bed Races

May 2: Republic Bank Parade Preview Party

May 2-3: Kentucky Proud WineFest

May 3: Great Steamboat Race Presented by IBEW Local 369

May 4: Republic Bank Pegasus® Parade

For tickets and more information about these and all the Kentucky Derby Festival events, visit

The events of the Derby Festival lead up to the running of the legendary Kentucky Derby at historic Churchill Downs. General admission tickets can still be purchased at In addition, live racing begins on Opening Night April 29 and continues with the spring meet through June 30. “Derby experiences” can still be had throughout the meet and include a visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum for a Mint Julep and a slice of Derby Pie® at more affordable hotel rates.