January 12, 2022, Louisville, KY. – Mark your calendars! The Kentucky Derby Festival is planning for a return to live and in-person events in 2022. The Festival, known for producing more than 70 events leading up to the first Saturday in May, is releasing dates for its upcoming season. Events will span several weeks from mid-March through Derby week. The schedule for the world-renowned civic celebration includes signature favorites such as Thunder Over Louisville (returning to the banks of the Ohio), Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront, the Great BalloonFest, the Great Bed Races, the Great Steamboat Race, the Zoeller Pump Company Pegasus Parade and many more. After producing events without spectators in 2021, the Festival is ready to return to its traditional in-person festivities.
“We’re looking forward to spring and being able to gather safely again to enjoy our favorite Kentucky traditions,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “The past couple of years has given us all a new perspective and that’s been a driving force for the Festival as we’ve been planning for 2022 and beyond.”
Festival fans will notice some changes to the event schedule as events stretch through the entire month of April. The changes will help with overall production timelines and improve accessibility for Festival fans. Some events like the PNC Tour de Lou, Stock Yards Bank $1 Million Hole-in-One Golf Contest, and even the Zoeller Pump Company Pegasus Parade are moving to new dates on the Festival schedule.
“The Pegasus Parade is what started the Kentucky Derby Festival more than 60 years ago and we want everyone to be able to enjoy it,” said Gibson. “As we traveled around the community last spring, we learned attending a parade during the workweek is challenging for our fans, so we’re trying something new this year.”
The parade is the founding event of the Kentucky Derby Festival. For the first time in its history, the parade will step off on Broadway in Downtown Louisville on Sunday afternoon, May 1, to kick-off Derby week, instead of marching on the traditional Thursday. The first parade was produced in 1956 to create a way for the community to celebrate before the Derby horse race. It was organized by just a handful of volunteers on a budget of $640 and has become one of the Festival’s largest events.
The Zoeller Pump Company Touring Parade – a smaller traveling display that takes Festival into the community – will also return in 2022 after its debut last year and will help kick start the Festival celebrations around the city on Saturday, April 2, followed the next week by Caesars Foundation FamFest on April 8, and the Fillies Derby Ball on April 9.
Other dates for Festival events include:
- Republic Bank BourbonVille – April 14
- Stock Yards Bank $1 Million Hole-in-One Golf Contest – April 14-24
- PNC Tour de Lou – April 16
- They’re Off! Luncheon – April 22
- Thunder Over Louisville – April 23
- Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront – April 28-May 6
- Great BalloonFest – April 29-30
- GE Appliances miniMarathon & Marathon – April 30
- Zoeller Pump Company Pegasus Parade – May 1
- Great Bed Races – May 2
- Kentucky Proud WineFest – May 3
- Liberty Financial Great Steamboat Race – May 4
- Festival Day at the Downs – May 5
- Derby Eve Jam – May 6
The complete 2022 Festival Highlights schedule is available on the Kentucky Derby Festival website, KDF.org. More event details will be released in the coming weeks and months.
Kentucky Derby Festival events and programs will adhere to local, state and federal COVID-19 safety guidelines to ensure the safety of participants, attendees, volunteers, partners and organizers. The Festival continues to closely monitor developments with COVID-19 and updates policies and procedures as the guidance evolves. More specific guidelines will be shared in the coming weeks, leading up to the Festival season.
About Kentucky Derby Festival
2022 marks the 67th year for the Kentucky Derby Festival. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, more than 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. It entertains more than 1.5 million people and has a local economic impact of more than $127 million. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.