On May 1, over 50,000 fans will descend on Louisville, Kentucky, for the 147th annual Kentucky Derby horse racing event. Often referred to as the the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports, the Derby is steeped in tradition and carries with it enough history and pageantry to rival England’s Royal Ascot. On a side note, the two races share many similarities, such as being held annually, being open and affordable for the general public and being a premier event for fashion displays and celebrity sightings. But they also share a unique history that’s much deeper than fashionable celebrities.
Although tickets for the Kentucky Derby are still available, many wishing to check off this historical event from their bucket list may choose to wait until COVID and its restrictions have passed. Even if you can’t attend the Derby in person, there are many ways to celebrate the event in the comfort of your own – hopefully COVID-free – home.
5 Easy Ways to Celebrate the Kentucky Derby at Home
Dress the Part – The Kentucky Derby has long been associated with glamorous fashions and fabulous style, for both men and women. From fancy hats and fascinators, to fresh, floral spring dresses and flirty heels, the more fun the attire better. No matter what you choose – short and sassy, to long and flowing – the most important thing is that the dress makes you feel as pretty as a Southern Belle and lucky enough to belong in the winner’s circle – and don’t forget your matching hat!
Run for the Red Roses – The red rose is the official flower of the Kentucky Derby named for the blanket of red roses the winner receives, hence the race’s nickname Run for the Roses. According to KentuckyDerby.com, each year, a garland of more than 400 red roses is sewn into a green satin backing with the seal of the Commonwealth on one end and the Twin Spires and number of the race’s current renewal on the other. Each garland is also adorned with a “crown” of roses, green fern and ribbon. The “crown,” a single rose pointing upward in the center of the garland, symbolizes the struggle and heart necessary to reach the Derby Winner’s Circle. No need to spend a lot on decorations. Keep your decor simple, beautiful and your house smelling amazing – grab a dozen or two red roses and place them around your house, condo or apartment, then it’s off to the races you go!
Drink Like a Derby Darling (Photo by Ari Agustian on Unsplash) – The Mint Julep has been the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. The classic Mint Julep contains simple mix of sugar, water, ice, fresh mint, bourbon and crushed ice, and is served in a silver Julep Cup. For something a little more daring and glamorous, try one of the many variations of the classic Julep, including the sparkling Mint Julep made with brut Champagne or sparkling wine, or the Cherries and Cream Julep made with cherry juice and vanilla bean. If mint or bourbon isn’t your thing, grab a mimosa, bellini or a Bloody Mary and you will still fit right in.
Savor Southern Favorites – Food is an important part of the Kentucky Derby festivities and traditional Southern dishes take center stage, including fried chicken, pulled pork sliders, bourbon glazed meatballs and plenty of pimento cheese dip. And we can’t forget about dessert! Opt for Southern favorites like peach cobbler, bourbon bread pudding or make your own sundaes. In all honesty, anything that you would normally find at a fancy backyard BBQ would work. Find all of your official Derby Day recipes – past and present – here.
Brush Up on Your Derby Lingo – Like any sporting event, it’s good to know the meanings of a few important words and phrases in order to better understand the game or event (or merely to impress your friends). Ever wonder what a hot walker does? Or what makes a thoroughbred a thoroughbred? Or what the 3 races are that make up the Triple Crown (hint- the Derby is the 1st race)? Find the answers to these questions and more.
Now that you’ve checked off all of your Derby Day boxes, sit back with your cocktail and enjoy the race. Race coverage begins at 2:30pm ET on May 1 on NBC and post time for the 2021 Kentucky Derby is set for approximately 6:57 p.m. ET.
Learn more about the Kentucky Derby, including its history, traditions and all of your race day information at the official site of the Kentucky Derby.