What will Kentucky Derby 2021 be like? Here’s a guide to Derby celebrations

By Hayley Robb, Building Kentucky

Whether you’re celebrating at-home or at Churchill Downs, there’s plenty of ways to honor the state’s most beloved event — the Kentucky Derby.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Derby 2021 has made some changes this year. Here are a few ways you can play it safe and have a good time leading up to Derby Day 2021.

Dress up and decorate for the 2021 Pegasus Parade

 April 10-11, 2021

The show will go on. Only this year, it’s coming to you! The Zoeller Pump Company Touring Pegasus Parade is scheduled for Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11.

The theme for the popular Derby Festival event this year is “A Tribute to the Community,” and will feature nearly 20 units including colorful inflatables, mascots and special guests.

The parade will travel over 60 miles in and out of Louisville neighborhoods. So, grab your poster board and glitter and show some spirit from your old Kentucky home! Local are encouraged to decorate their porches, yards, cards and homes and post to social media with hashtags #PegasusPorchParade and #DerbyFestivalSpirit to join in the fun.

To find out when the Pegasus Parade will be near your neighborhood, visit discover.kdf.org/pegasusparade. Kentucky Derby Festival’s website also has all the latest information on which Derby Festival events will and will not take place this year.

Enjoy Thunder Over Louisville from a cozy spot

April 17, 2021

Thunder Over Louisville and Waterfront Park will look a little bare this year. The fireworks show that typically draws in thousands and many from out-of-state will take place without spectators and in a different location that has not been announced.

Locals are still encouraged to enjoy the Thunder At Home show with loved ones and friends they can safely be in close contact with. Although different, this year’s fireworks show will bring a glimmer of hope.

Find out more about Thunder Over Louisville 2021 on its website at thunderoverlouisville.org.

Watch the races on TV

April 30-May 1, 2021

There will be spectators in Churchill Downs this year. Officials said they will be limiting the number of reserved seats by 40-50% of capacity, which is about 66,000 to 82,500 spectators.

That number may still feel a little high for some. Another option to celebrate and show your Kentucky pride is gathering with a few friends or family members at home and tuning in from your living room.

The races will be televised on NBC and NBCSN.  You can find the full schedule here.

Get behind-the-scenes on social

April 19-May 1, 2021

Did you know you have a special all-access pass right in the palm of your hand? This year, the Kentucky Derby will be sharing special live coverage of events happening from April 19 through Derby Day on May 1.

Some of the featured live coverage includes:

  • Kentucky Derby and Oaks contender morning workouts
  • An interactive handicapping roundtable discussion
  • From the Backside: Derby Day and Oaks Day

Get the inside scoop by following @KentuckyDerby on social channels.

Host an at-home Taste of Derby

While you’re watching the races from home, add a little flavor to the day by creating a Derby-inspired dish.

And don’t stop at food. Themed cocktails are another great way to spice up at-home festivities.

Here’s a few Derby-inspired cocktail and food recipes:

For more on Taste of Derby, visit kentuckyderby.com.

Celebrate safely at the races

May 1, 2021

The Kentucky Derby is scheduled to take place on the First Saturday of May in-person. Reserved seating is limited and will delay the sale of general admission tickets.

Officials said if the current health situation changes, the available seating could change. Those with contractual seating, annual tickets and memberships and those who received a refund in 2020 will have the first opportunity to receive tickets in 2021.

To be notified when more tickets become available, you can subscribe to Kentucky Derby’s email list here.

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