The Kentucky Derby is scheduled to take place on Saturday May, 1 2021 at the Churchill downs in Louisville Kentucky. The event was seriously impacted in 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Kentuckians and horse racing enthusiasts from across the globe are eager and anxious to return to one of the sports largest spectacles.
How Do I Get to the Kentucky Derby?
Louisville, KY is home to an international airport as well as situated within a few hours drive of major airports. If the Louisville airport is booked - there are a couple other options within driving vicinity.
The best advice is to plan your trip and book airfare and accommodation early on in the process. If your party waits too long, flights and accommodation may be completely booked.
Louisville, KY - Muhammed Ali International Airport
The closest and most logical airport is located directly in Louisville, KY and offers daily service to several airports within the United States.
Due to the demand of this event during non-pandemic years, flights in and out of this airport may be completely booked or exorbitantly overpriced. There are however, other airports in the general vicinity that provide access to Louisville in under a few hours.
Cincinnati, OH - Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky International Airport
Believe it or not, Cincinnati's airport is actually in Kentucky. Additionally, the airport is only 110 miles away from Churchill Downs. The airport, called Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport operates out of Hebron Kentucky and serves Northern Kentucky and Southern Ohio with air travel.
Indianapolis, IN - Indianapolis International Airport
Slightly further away than Cincinnati, Indianapolis is located less than two hours away from Louisville. If getting into or out of Louisville's Muhammad Ali International Airport is an issue resulting from the demand, Indianapolis is a great alternative to flying into the busy airport of Louisville during the Kentucky Derby.
A visitor to the Kentucky Derby can provide added flexibility by renting a car and getting into Louisville via car. However, in 2021, the price of rental cars are extremely overpriced compared to years past. This is a result from the pandemic's toll on car rental agencies as companies sold off inventory in their own fleets. There are also several public transit options available between the two cities if needed.
Book Your Stay
Whether you decide to reside in a more traditional hotel, or enjoy going the airbnb route, be prepared for high prices as a result of the influx of tourists and high demand for overnight accommodations in the Louisville, KY area.
While searching for accommodation in Louisville, KY the costs for a single room in an airbnb were surprisingly affordable in 2021 compared to years past. While conducting a search for accommodations on airbnb only three weeks before the event, there were private spaces available for $150/night. However, this price is not all inclusive as different locations can have different cleaning fees, taxes and other miscellaneous fees. These fees typically range from 10% to as much as 30% of the total booking cost.
The cost for a single room in a hotel in Louisville surpassed $150/night for hotels that received ⅗ stars on Expedia. If you intend on staying within walking distance or a short drive of Churchill Downs, it is important to remember to book early. The earlier a party books the better.
Driving in a motor vehicle can lead to accidents. Accidents can increase as a result of a driver being unfamiliar with the surroundings or from driving too fast for the road conditions. This can result if there is rainy or low visibility on the roads. In 2017 driving too fast for road conditions was one of the leading causes of auto accidents in Kentucky.
If you decide to rent a car, ensure that you follow all of the local laws. The Kentucky Derby is the biggest spectator event in Kentucky in a calendar year and can draw crowds north of 150,000 people. If you are impaired, do not drive.
Be sure to stay safe if renting an automobile and commuting from any of the airports within a hundred mile radius of Churchill Downs. Always have a sober driver and ensure that you are focused on the road and not engaging in distracted driving while operating a vehicle.
Get To The Race Early
With the massive amounts of people that venture to Churchill Downs, parking can be a struggle in itself. If your party intends on parking at or near the venue, be prepared to spend some cash for a parking spot. Many of the parking spots range from $30 - $70 dependent on the proximity to the area.
If you intend on grabbing an Uber or Lyft, be prepared for high surge pricing. During very popular events, the rates can exceed 600% of the normal pricing. If you see exorbitant surge pricing, it is likely cheaper to hail a Taxi and request a meter to your hotel or rental.
Getting to the Kentucky Derby is an amazing spectacle to see - however, getting to the event and getting around Louisville during the busiest weekend of the year can be problematic. By implementing the tips outlined above, a tourist in Louisville can save money and understand what to expect during this busy weekend. Tourism in general has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and understanding what to expect can help alleviate unnecessary stress.