5 Kentucky Derby Festival events not to miss


The best Kentucky Derby Festival events for families

KDF is such an amazing opportunities to get out together and enjoy our city. Sometimes, it can seem like such an undertaking to figure out which events are the best for kids and families. Here are some suggestions of events we know and love! 

Kentucky Derby Festival events 2023 are getting back to the traditional events of the past. Here are some updates! 
Kentucky Derby Festival has created a special “Thunder at Home” section at ThunderOverLouisville.org which includes tips for planning a Thunder party at home, Thunder inspired cocktail and food recipes, coloring pages, Zoom backgrounds and more! This is fun any year for families who like to celebrate events with parties at home. 
1. 2023 Thunder Over Louisville 
April 22 air show and fireworks. 
  • The 2023 Thunder Air Show will celebrate the 76th anniversary of the United States Air Force with a packed line-up of military and civilian aircraft. Scheduled performances include the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demo, U.S. Air Force C-17 Demo, U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight, the Kentucky Air National Guard 123rd Airlift Wing with the new C-130J, and the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29, B-24, and B-25, as well as the U.S. Navy E/A-18 Growler Demo with a Legacy Flight, Younkin Airshows, and many more. The air show also returns with a Category 1 aerobatic box, which allows for more of the fast and loud aircraft, as well as the demo teams. More details on the 2023 Thunder Air Show will be released closer to the show date.
  • Thunder’s fireworks show is choreographed to an original soundtrack each year. Zambelli Fireworks will design the show again in 2022. On Thunder Day the FoodFest and Ford’s Thunder On the Ground open at 11:00 AM, the air show starts at 3:00 PM, and fireworks roll at 9:30 PM.

Kentucky Derby Festival events 2021

NEW BONUS EVENT!!! Tour de Lou Family Ride 1-3 mile options / Children and Families (for ages 4-12 years old). Snacks and water will be provided along with some fun surprises and entertainment along the route

2. Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville BACK FOR 2023!

April 27-May 5 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM: Daily Hours, Sundays 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Sunday Hours. Entry is free with a Pegasus Pin. This is a family friendly area with tickets rides, food, and drinks.

Pegasus PlayVille, sponsored by Norton Children’s, features a variety of kid-friendly activities, including Charlie Chopper, Rainbow Rock, Fun Slide, Lil Wheel and more. 

Kentucky Derby Festival Neigh-Maste on the Waterfront: Friday, April 28, noon-1 p.m. Festivalgoers can relax and recharge at this yoga event while enjoying views of the Ohio River and Louisville skyline.

There are a variety of free concerts- many of the acts are family friendly. Dance the night away while enjoying the waterfront. A fantastic concert lineup. 


Kentucky Derby Festival events 2021

BONUS for Kentucky Derby Festival events 2023! Instead, go to Churchill Downs and watch the horses workout in the morning. It’s free. A lot of families typically do this Derby week for Dawn at the Downs, they still have this. But, they also have the track open for visitors daily now and you can bring in breakfast some days. Click here for info. 

3. Caesar’s Foundation FamFestApril 7, 2023 4-8pm.

This new-ish event is taking place in New Albany as a special preview of the festival. Details to come. It’s great they are able to do this as part of the Kentucky Derby Festival events 2023. Enjoy FREE indoor and outdoor activities with the entire family including:Inflatable obstacle course, Face Painting, Live Music, Food Trucks and more. 

First 1,000 attendees receive a custom Event Pin.


4. Republic Bank Pegasus® Parade– April 30 starting at 3pm down Broadway. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Derby Traditions.”

There’s also a touring parade again this year. The touring parade is April 1 and takes place all around the city from 10am – 6pm. Here is a link to the route so you can be ready

  • Noon: Leaves Ballard High School
  • Between Noon – 1:30 p.m.: Graymoor-Devondale, Lyndon, Norwood, Beechwood Village, Woodlawn Park, Bellewood, Druid Hills, St. Matthews and Broadfield
  • Between 1:45 – 3 p.m.: Seneca Park, Seneca Gardens, Belknap, Strathmoor Village, Hawthorne, Wellington, Strathmoor Manor, Deer Park, Cherokee Park, Cherokee Triangle, Highlands-Douglass, Bonnycastle, Original Highlands, Germantown, Schnitzelburg, Shelby Park, Smoketown, Phoenix Hill and NuLu
  • Between 3 – 4:30 p.m.: Central Business District (Main Street), Portland, Shawnee Golf Course, Russell, Parkland and California
  • Between 4:45 – 6 p.m.: Shawnee, Chickasaw, Parkland, Park DuValle, Hallmark, Algonquin, Shively and finishing at Zoeller Pump Company at around 6 pm.


Kentucky Derby Festival events 2021

Along the route, you will see 4 Inflatable balloon characters: Zoeller Pump Company (Goldie Pegasus), Caesar, Gobo, and Daniel the Tiger

Festival VIPs: 2023 Derby Festival Board Chair, Ken Selvaggi and the 2023 Royal Court riding the Derby City Express

Specialty Units: Kosair Shriner’s Calliope, TARC Design-A-Bus showcasing local student artwork, on route music provided by Zoeller Pump Company and the KDF Spirit Squad will be onsite at the noon start, as well as a few stops along the route!

5. Great Balloon Glow

April 28 at 8pm at Waterfront Park (At Fest-a-Ville). See the balloon up close either at the Glow or for the race – the Great Balloon race is April 29 at 7am. For the race, the balloons launch from Bowman Field. The kids are always memorized with them. Be sure to check the weather and news because these events can get canceled due to certain weather conditions.


For more SPRING FUN ideas from LouFamFun, click here
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