Complete Kentucky Derby Party Guide

The Kentucky Derby is more than a horse race, it’s a long-standing tradition – and an excellent reason for a party! You don’t have to make the trip to Churchill Downs or even Louisville to experience the Kentucky Derby. Break out the hats and Mint Juleps, invite your friends to join you in the resident lounge (like the incredible SkyVue lounge e at Fiori on Vitruvian Park in Dallas) or rooftop lounge (like the 6th floor rooftop  deck at 13th & Market in San Diego) and get ready for the races!


You can’t have a party without partygoers! Who are you going to invite to your Kentucky Derby party? Once you’ve decided on the guest list, you’ll need to actually invite them! How you do that is up to you. The official Kentucky Derby Web site allows party planners to create and send e-vites. You can also do it the old-fashioned way and send invitations by mail. Find a variety of Derby-inspired choices at Swanky Press. My favorite: the Chalkboard invitation.


The Kentucky Derby is a chance for every woman to express her inner Southern Belle and for men to get just as dressed up and decked out as the ladies! A myriad of fashions can be found at Derby, but here are a few of my favorite style tips. For the full rundown, check out Southern Living’s Head- to- Toe Kentucky Derby Fashion Guide.

  • The Derby Hat- Wearing a hat to the Kentucky Derby is believed to bring the wearer good luck. From the fantastic to the refined, there are no rules for Derby headwear.
  • The Dress- Like hats, dresses are a given at the Derby. But the interpretation can vary, with attendees sporting everything from strapless sundresses to more formal day suits.
  • The Jewelry- Since the hat is the crowning jewel at the Derby, there’s no need for large, statement jewelry.
  • The Guys- The modern Derby man possesses an unparalleled color palette. Sun-drenched, tropical colors in bold stripes or busy plaid and bright pastels steal the limelight. Help your handsome fella pull the look together with a colorful bow tie or tie from Vineyard Vines.


No party would be complete without plenty of food. Not only are these recipes traditional for the Derby, but they are delicious too!


The mint julep is the iconic drink of the Kentucky Derby. Here are a few other derby-day refreshments for your guests.


The Kentucky Derby may be the Greatest Two Minutes In Sports, but your party is probably going to last a little longer than that! Be sure to tune in to NBC Sports Network on  Saturday, May 3, from 4 – 7 p.m. for all the Derby action! It doesn’t hurt to provide a little extra entertainment to extend your party and keep your guests entertained before and after the race.

  • Hat Contest- Derby isn’t Derby without hats, hats, hats! Put out a ballot box so guests can vote on their favorite hat. Reward the winner with a trophy, party favor or official Derby merchandise!
  • Game of Luck- Do a door prize Derby style! Have guests pull a horse’s name at random to win a party favor, bottle of bourbon or silks scarf.
  • Music- If you have the budget, consider hiring a DJ or live band to provide music. Or, make your own playlist and keep the party rocking to country music all afternoon!

Enhance and share your Derby party with friends and family, near and far! #KyDerby

Amy Johnson

is UDR’s budding social media guru, and has been instrumental in constructing the brand’s content strategy. After graduating from University of Colorado- Boulder, she started working for UDR as a marketing intern. When she isn’t perusing the web for the perfect pins and Facebook posts, she can be found hiking somewhere with her dog Rory.

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