Most may know the Kentucky Derby by its famous horse race, but true fans know that it wouldn't truly be the Derby without its kickoff event –The Kentucky Derby Festival. The festival is a two-week long event held annually at the end of April.
It originated in 1956, and has since grown to feature 70 events each year and attract an estimated 1.5 million. The festival kicks off with Thunder Over Louisville--the largest fireworks show in the country--and gives way to weeks of concerts, sports events and just-for-kids activities.
Events include the Great Steamboat Race, which takes place on the Wednesday before the Derby and features a race down the Ohio River between the Belle of Louisville and the Belle of Cincinnati. The first ever event of the Festival, the Pegasus Parade, remains one of its biggest featuring floats, a marching band and horses.
Check out more great festivals in Louisville.