The Kentucky Derby is held each year on the first Saturday of May, the 149th Kentucky Derby will be held on May 6th, 2023.  While thousands of people usually race to Louisville, Kentucky to watch the biggest day of horse racing in our nation, host your own Derby At Home party, and we have some ideas to help you plan the best Kentucky Derby party in town!


Kentucky Derby watch parties have become increasingly popular over the years. The Derby provides all of the elements that a great party needs: excitement, competition, fashion, and culinary delights. From the comfort of your own home, you can bring these elements together with friends and family to experience the enjoyment that horse racing brings.



So, you want to give your home the classic derby feel. Start with the official flower of “The Run for the Roses” Kentucky Derby: the iconic red rose. The actual red rose that goes into the 400–500 plus red rose winner’s blanket is the Freedom Rose. The Kroger Company fashions and creates the official Kentucky Derby winner’s rose blanket, so look for this rose at your local Kroger’s (available at East Coast Krogers only), and maybe you’ll get lucky. What a great omen for betting on the horses on Derby Day!

Begin decorating the dining table by picking a base tablecloth color; we suggest red or white. Adding a patterned table runner will give a touch of depth and texture. Make sure your table runner color and pattern stand out against your base tablecloth or table.

For the centerpiece, keep it simple by putting fresh or artificial roses in a silver vase. You can also put roses in a mint julep glass. (Mint julep is the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby.) If you want to add even more texture and fun to your table, try squares of artificial grass for placement alongside your centerpiece; spray-paint some toy horses gold, and place them on the grass squares.

Place horse racing paraphernalia throughout the party space. You’ll need the iconic trappings of horse racing, such as red roses tied to a display of horseshoes (available new at your local Tractor Supply Co. or used from a local horse farm and refreshed with sparkling silver or gold spray paint). This arrangement will complete your coffee table or sofa table.

The bright colors and designs of jockey silks are art in and of themselves! You can print jockey silks onto paper and display them in your picture frames during the party.


Dressing up and using photo props are what a Derby party is all about! There are plenty of horse racing picture backdrops you can purchase online. If the weather’s nice, you can set up your photo booth in a nice green corner of your yard.

If it’s blustery outside, decorate a plain wall in your house with a Derby theme. Hang a horse racing banner to give your photo area more visibility and to inspire your guests to join in.

Order paper photo prop kits online or make your own genuine photo prop kit, with dapper hats and bow ties for your gentlemen guests and elegant hats for your ladies to wear. (Remember: The more over-the-top, the better!) Check your local thrift store for hats and ties at bargain prices.

Finally, don’t forget to come up with a hashtag for your party that your guests can use on their social media posts — for example, #SmithsDownAndDerbyBash.


There is so much you can do to entertain your guests before the big race.

Games are a great way to get guests into the spirit of your party. As they arrive, ask each to fill out a card with horse picks for first, second and third place. Make sure you print the list of Derby contenders and their post positions so that every lady and gent can easily pick their horses. Give prizes to the three guests who have the most horses in order of placing.

Let your guests know that they don’t have to be at the track to put real money on the races. Raise the stakes, and watch your party get more exciting when guests make real bets online. Send your guests to to get a quick introduction to wagering, types of bets and where to place them online.

Other outdoor games, like cornhole and horseshoes, will help to keep the party atmosphere going. Try putting on a race of your own! Put the guests’ names in a hat and put six names to be horses and another six to be jockeys on piggyback. (NOTE: You’ll want to pick your “horses” and “jockeys” wisely, based on the size and strength of your guests.)


When it comes to race time, make sure your TVs are tuned to your local NBC channel for all the pre-race coverage. The Kentucky Derby event consists of five hours of live-coverage broadcast from Louisville, and coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET. The official post time (when the race begins) is set for approximately 6:50 p.m. ET. You can also tune in to the Kentucky Derby on the NBC Sports app and Peacock!



Let’s face facts: Food and drinks are the most important things to guests attending a party.

The food:

Bravo’s “Top Chef” contenders made their finest dishes for Derby’s main event. Here are some Kentucky Derby classics (with a Pennsylvania twist) that are sure to please your guests:

Yuengling Lager Cheese Spread

Pennsylvania Dutch Deviled Eggs

Bourbon Meatballs

Fried Chicken and Biscuits

Crockpot Bourbon Bacon Pulled Pork Sliders

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Peach Pie

The drinks:

What’s a Derby party without the race’s signature drink (for adults of legal drinking age, of course!)?

The mint julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1939. With Kentucky being the birthplace of bourbon whiskey, the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby does, of course, feature bourbon.

Pennsylvania has its own history with signature whiskey. Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey is the perfect whiskey for your Derby recipes and drinks. Add to your party’s drink menu Dad’s Hat’s “Derby” drink, a unique drink made with maple syrup that’s sure to put some giddyup in your Derby party.



Disclaimer: This party guide is intended only for responsible adults of legal drinking age in the United States of America (21 years old or older). It is purely intended for entertainment purposes. Please do NOT drink and drive. If you need transportation, use a designated driver or a taxi service. And please be careful when crossing the street after drinking. The PHRA does not advocate or encourage the abuse of alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly and with moderation. We do not, under any circumstances, accept responsibility for any damages that result to yourself or anyone else due to the consumption of alcoholic beverages or the use of this site and any materials located on it. We cannot take any responsibility for the effect these drinks may have on people.

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