Which is harder: figuring out how to buy Kentucky Derby tickets or planning your trackside wardrobe? Trick question! Neither dressing for the Derby nor buying race day tickets is difficult when you’ve got the Let’s Go Louisville team to help you out. Besides, no need to stress over choosing the perfect Kentucky Derby tickets, your wallet will do that for you! Oh, um, I mean… because we’re here to show you the ropes. With our guide to buying tickets to the Kentucky Derby, the process will be as easy, breezy as the whoosh of regal thoroughbreds thundering down the track.  We'll show you everything you need to know about buying Kentucky Derby tickets, including where to buy them, when to buy them, and how to get the best deals. So saddle up, and let's get started!

How To Buy Kentucky Derby Tickets (& How to Save) in 2024

Which is harder: figuring out how to buy Kentucky Derby tickets or planning your trackside wardrobe?

Trick question! Neither dressing for the Derby nor buying race day tickets is difficult when you’ve got the Let’s Go Louisville team to help you out. Besides, no need to stress over choosing the perfect Kentucky Derby tickets, your wallet will do that for you!

Oh, um, I mean… because we’re here to show you the ropes. With our guide to buying tickets to the Kentucky Derby, the process will be as easy, breezy as the whoosh of regal thoroughbreds thundering down the track. 

We’ll show you everything you need to know about buying Kentucky Derby tickets, including where to buy them, when to buy them, and how to get the best deals. So saddle up, and let’s get started!

2025 Kentucky Derby Tickets & Parking Passes

Need to pick up a ticket for Derby, the Oaks, Thurby, or Dawn at the Downs, or a parking pass for Churchill Downs? Before you pay full price, we highly recommend looking on VividSeats and StubHub, where you can usually find reduced price tickets, single-day tickets, and even parking passes to help you save money (so you can spend more on betting and Mint Juleps, obviously)!

Oh, and make sure to check out our other local’s guides to the Kentucky Derby:

See also
The Best Hotels Near Churchill Downs & Where to Stay for the Kentucky Derby in 2024 (a local's guide)
 
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Mint Julep at Churchill Downs and Barbaro Statue in Louisville Kentucky

When is the best time to buy Kentucky Derby Tickets?


Now. The best time to buy Kentucky Derby tickets is right now, this very moment, while you’re reading this post.
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but Derby tickets can be pricey and the rates only go up the longer you wait.

Kentucky Derby tickets go on sale mid-November, so if you’re planning for the future, go on and set that reminder for the group chat.

\While you’re at it, reserve a room at a hotel near Churchill Downs (here’s our complete guide to where to stay for the Derby), book the bourbon distillery tour of your choice, and plan an afternoon with Louisville Food Tours exploring some of the most famous foods in Louisville. ASAP. Because all of those things sell out for Derby – months in advance!

How much do Kentucky Derby tickets cost?

There are plenty of Kentucky Derby events to attend, all at wildly different price points.

Two-day tickets to the Oaks and Derby start at around $55 – that’s if you buy them in November – and can exceed $10K. We’ll let you guess which row those tickets grant you access to, let’s just say it has “Millionaire” in the title.

If you want seats, but don’t have “box seating with celebrities” kind of money to blow, expect to spend around $500 to attend both the Oaks and the Derby.

On the budget end of things, you can attend the Derby and stand in the infield for $50-$100 if you buy your tickets early.

Check StubHub to see what General Admission tickets are currently selling for, and don’t wait, because they won’t get any cheaper.

We’ll break down each kind of ticket below!

See also
23 Fun Fall Festivals in Louisville (Updated for 2023)

Horses crossing the finish line of the Kentucky Derby Louisville Kentucky
The most exciting two minutes in sports end with the winning horse crossing the finish line!

Which Kentucky Derby Tickets should you buy?

Kentucky Derby tickets can cost anywhere from $65 for the Infield to $10,000 for Millionaires Row. Depending on your preferences and budget, there are a few different choices. Review the options below to decide what’s right for you.

Infield Tickets (General Admission)

If you’re there for the party, Infield tickets are the way to go! It can get pretty wild here on Derby day. These affordable General Admission tickets grant you access to the field inside the race track, as well as public spaces near (but not inside) the Paddock, where you can see the rich and famous pep talk their horses.

The infield, also known as the Derby Party, is just that – 80,000 people partying in the center of the race track, where debauchery rules. If it is raining, or has rained recently, which is highly likely, you will be wading through mud/ watching people literally mud-wrestling. Don’t wear your nicest shoes.

Luckily, you are allowed to bring a collapsible camping chair. I recommend this one, which has a canopy – essential on a sunny day, and might even be somewhat helpful in the rain, too!

Now, remember – this is the most budget-friendly way to attend the derby, which means amenities are lacking. You probably won’t be able to see the actual races (since you’ll be the same height as the track and surrounded by people) so you’ll have to rely on the announcer or watch from a TV screen.

There is always nowhere to sit (unless you pay extra for bleacher seating), so plan to bring a chair. And you’ll be using the facilities in a port-a-potty along with everyone else on the infield. But hey, it’s all part of the Infield experience!

Check StubHub to see what General Admission tickets are currently selling for, and don’t wait, because they won’t get any cheaper!

  • Essential Items to pack for the Infield: Unless you’re getting bleacher seats, we highly recommend bringing a foldable chair so you’re not on your feet all day, especially our ladies who plan on getting fancy with the shoes! You’ll want to bring a poncho in case it rains (which is likely). Unfortunately, no umbrellas are allowed at Churchill Downs. You can save money by bringing snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Just make sure to check the list of prohibited items before you go. You’ll find more tips in our Kentucky Derby first-timers guide!

Infield Bleacher Seats (aka Turf Bleachers)

A step up from GA tickets, Infield Uncovered Reserved Bleacher Seating (aka Turf Bleachers) is the cheapest “reserved seating” you’re going to find on Derby day.

While you’ll definitely be able to see the track, uncovered bleacher seats are not very glamorous. But they do include all the food and drink you care to enjoy, AND parking at the Kentucky Expo Center with a free shuttle to the track.

If you buy your tickets early, you can expect to spend about $500 for 2 days, which includes both Derby and Oaks.

For single-day tickets, or once the official pre-sale is sold out, resellers like VividSeats and StubHub are your best bet.

I find that VividSeats makes it the easiest to search by section and ticket type – take a look at the screenshot below. See where “Infield Bleachers” is selected in blue? That’s what you’re looking for.

Standing Paddock Tickets

Starting with the 150th Kentucky Derby, there’s a NEW ticket type for standing-room-only – and it’s not in the Infield!

Called Frontside Plaza Walkaround, this ticket offers Plaza and Paddock access with views from the ground floor and premium amenities including offsite parking + shuttle and all-inclusive food and drinks.

You won’t have direct views to the actual race, and you won’t have a seat, but you also won’t be covered in mud and will have access to actual restrooms – a huge step up from Infield seating.

Horse on the Track at Churchill Downs in Louisville Kentucky
Fun fact: the video screen at Churchill Downs is the largest 4K video board in the world, standing at a whopping 171-foot wide by 90-foot tall. So don’t worry, you’ll be able to see what’s going on on the big screen no matter where you’re sitting!

Premium Reserved Seats & Boxes

The next tier up from GA and Infield Bleachers is where things start to get pricey! But there are a few important perks that come with your reserved seating or box ticket:

  • All-Inclusive Food and Beverage Menu including beer, wine, spirits, non-alcoholic options and concessions. Yes, you can enjoy as many Mint Juleps as you like! (They taste better the more you drink.)
  • Off-Site Parking Access at the Kentucky Exposition Center, with complimentary shuttle service to Churchill Downs. This is huge because it means you

We’ve broken down the options below, including whether a section is covered or not. Here’s the thing about covered seating: it’s great when it’s super hot and sunny or rainy, but it’s also usually further back from the track – so keep that in mind.

Some ticket options, like the Homestretch Club, offer the best of both worlds with outdoor seats and access to private indoor areas for food/drinks and weather protection while retaining the views you’re paying for!

  • Pro Tip: Use the A View From My Seat site to preview your exact section to know what to expect before you commit! You’ll also find comments about the view and whether the seats are uncovered (and whether you’ll get wet if it rains, which again, happens about 50% of the time).

Here are the options available for premium reserved seating and boxes at the Kentucky Derby:

  • Grandstand Bleacher Seating: These outdoor bleachers are located on the first and second floors overlooking the track. Pay attention to what you’re getting, because some rows are covered and some aren’t. Tickets start at $843.
  • First Turn Reserved Seating: This angle allows you to watch horses being paraded from the track to the barn to the paddock right before the race begins – a coveted media angle from which reporters breathlessly report whether a horse looks cranky or energized that day. If you’re betting big money, that extra observation might just give you an edge. These seats are also covered, which is fantastic for sun or rain protection. Tickets start at $1,495.
  • Clubhouse or Grandstand Box Seating: Enjoy the open air in a “box” that’s actually an outdoor group of 6 padded fold-down seats. Clubhouse seats are located on all 3 levels, and Grandstand seats are located on the 3rd level. Both of these options sit right along the finishing stretch and offer covered or uncovered options. Tickets start at $808 for Clubhouse or $1,617 for Grandstand.
  • Homestretch Club Reserved Seating: Named for its excellent views of the “home stretch,” that thrilling key moment of the Kentucky Derby when the winner usually pulls in front, this section also has a fantastic view of the Big Board and the Winner’s Circle. Your seating will be uncovered and outdoors, but this clubhouse level includes air conditioned club access on the first floor with a buffet and private bar – and you can spend as much time there as you like enjoying your all-inclusive ticket. Tickets start at $2,595.

We highly recommend looking on VividSeats and StubHub, where you can find reduced-price tickets, single-day tickets, and even parking passes to help you save money. I find that VividSeats makes it the easiest to search by section and ticket type.

The next level up gets into private suites and clubhouses – these are typically the kinds of tickets purchased by companies or A-listers. You can even buy a $9,500 ticket that includes a 7-course meal at Matt Winn Steakhouse.
And for these kinds of tickets, you’ll need to get in touch with a Concierge at Churchill Downs. Congratulations: you’ve made it and officially entered the realm of ultra-luxury. Enjoy (and if you ever need a +1, hit us up)!

For the rest of us, read on for a few more budget-friendly ways to enjoy Derby festivities!

See also
Louisville Weekend Trip: The Perfect 3-Day Itinerary

Local Travel Tip: The best way to taste the best food in Louisville is on a food and history walking tour with Louisville Food Tours! Explore the story of Louisville and Kentucky while tasting culinary classics like bourbon balls, biscuits, fried chicken, and - of course - bourbon! You can book a tour with Louisville Food Tours and use the code LGL10 for 10% off your booking..

Kentucky Derby Race Week Events

Although the Derby itself is actually a 2-minute long race on the first Saturday in May, there’s a whole week-long celebration surrounding it.

Longer than that if you count the Kentucky Derby Festival, which includes 2 weeks of events kicking off with Thunder Over Louisville. Listen, in Kentucky, we take pride in our claims to fame, okay, y’all? We’ve got to celebrate allllll month long.

Attending these other events can be just as exciting as the main attraction, and much cheaper. If you mostly want to attend for fun and vibes and aren’t going to be betting big bucks, these events are a fantastic way to experience the Derby without actually going to the Derby. (And yes, you’ll still get to dress up.)

Here’s are the raceweek events at Churchill Downs to schedule into your plans:

Dawn at the Downs

Early birds, families, and horse lovers, this is event is for you! Every morning during the week of the Derby from 7-10AM, you can attend a unique behind-the-scenes experience at the track for FREE called Dawn at the Downs.

Basically, you’ll be watching Derby and Oaks contenders warm up and train for the big races. Which, if you’re betting, is a great time to analyze your pick – and there will be some expert commentary to help.

But if you’re, say, the parents of a baby or toddler who LOVES horses, this is also the best way to introduce your little one to the excitement of the Derby! (And we will see you there!) Horses get up close and personal, and you might even get to give one a carrot or a pet its nuzzle, especially when things are winding down around 10AM.

Thurby

If you’re on a budget, or don’t particularly care about the pedigree of the horses/jockeys racing and just want to have a good time, Thurby is the event for you!

Thurby, the THURsday before DerBY (heh, get it?) has been known as the local’s day. where you can enjoy the races for less money and with less crowds. Plus, you get to hang out with cool Louisvillians like the Let’s Go Louisville team so it’s obviously a great choice!

Tickets are as low as $8 and races go from about 12-5.

Oaks Lily at Epiphany Bar in Louisville Kentucky
Mint Juleps aren’t the only festive cocktail at Churchill Downs! The Oaks Lily is just as tasty. (… OK, we like it more.)

Oaks

When you think Oaks, think pink! Oaks takes place the Friday before Derby and is a local holiday in Louisville. (Seriously, there’s no school on Oaks day. No, we’ve never understood why.)

Oaks is a day of races with fillies and mares (female horses). What makes Oaks so fun is the fashion! You’ll see people decked out in pink to support breast cancer awareness.

The Oaks even has its own themed cocktail, the Oaks Lily, a fruity pink vodka drink that gives the bourbon-y Mint Julep a run for its money (get it?? Run for its money? Horse racing???)

While Oaks can be almost as crowded as Derby (and, some may argue, a cuter day for fashion, all around!), tickets are way more affordable. You can expect to pay around $50 for GA and $175 for reserved seating if you buy in advance.

Derby Parties

If you want to experience the Kentucky Derby in style, attending one of the many Derby parties is a great way to do just that. These events can range in prices that vary as wildly as tickets to the Derby. One of the most popular parties is the Barnstable Brown Gala, which has taken place on Derby Eve since 1988. For a whopping  $1,325 you can mingle with celebs while supporting diabetes and obesity research.

Not your style? There are plenty of other Derby week festivities like the Derby Week Concert Series at 4th Street Live with tickets around $20 each. You can also hit up the Fillies & Stallions Gala which doesn’t offer tickets, but instead sells VIP sponsorships. Oooh exclusive. (But, seriously, if we can get on that list, let us know.)

See also
Louisville Weekend Trip: The Perfect 3-Day Itinerary

What tickets do you want to buy for the Kentucky Derby? What questions can we answer? Drop us a comment below!

Before you go, be sure to check out these other posts:


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