20 Written and Unwritten Rules Kentucky Derby Guests Must Follow

19 Apr 2024


The Kentucky Derby is a thrilling annual sporting event—and a lavish cause for celebration, too—but there are strict rules and proper etiquette spectators are expected to bear in mind from crafting an upscale Derby-ready outfit that can withstand unpredictable weather to leaving certain prohibited belongings at home. (Sorry, no umbrellas!)

The race, which is always held on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, is steeped in southern tradition, from the freely flowing bourbon to the preppy fashion—think florals, pastels, and plenty of seersucker. Although the Derby has frequently been dubbed the greatest two minutes in sports, the event is truly a day-long affair, with gates opening nearly twelve hours before the race.

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