12 Derby Week Parties Where Locals Will Feel At Home

May 2, 2022 at 3:01 pm
The Wiggle Room is hosting a Queer Thurby party.
The Wiggle Room is hosting a Queer Thurby party. Photo courtesy of The Wiggle Room

There are certain big-name parties that draw a lot of attention from out-of-towners during Derby weekend, but what about those of us who want to go to something full of, well, other Louisvillians?

We’ve put together this list of events at local venues on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Although we know that these venues are great for tourists and locals alike, their hometown appeal makes them well suited for those of us who call Derby City home year-round. 

Note: the race is scheduled to start at 6:57 p.m. on Saturday, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to go to an event that night.


The Backside — A Queer Thurby Party! The Wiggle Room $5 at the door | 9 p.m. Girls, gays, and theys” are invited to this 21+ Thurby party, which will have drag performances and a limited supply of free t-shirts.


Oaks Day Block Party Falls City Brewing Co. No cover | Noon-midnight Drinks from Old 502 Winery and Falls City Beer and late-night beats from DJ Bombshell will make this block party bangin’.

Photo Finish Festival Headliners Music Hall $15 advance, $20 general admission | Doors at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Music from Ben Sollee & Kentucky Native, Joslyn & The Sweet Compression, Wombo, and Producing a Kind Generation. 

Coat Check Presents: DecaDANCE and Depraved The Whirling Tiger $10 | Starts at 9 p.m. You can’t really show up to Churchill Downs doused in glitter (then again, we haven’t tried), but you can cover yourself with it at The Whirling Tiger at this Oaks Night party. DJs McKinley, Sam Sneed, Kym Williams, and Angel 004 will provide the beats; Introvert will make the night even more colorful.


2nd Annual Kentucky FURby "Run for the Noses" PG&J’s Dog Park Bar No cover, but $10 per dog in the race | 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Derby is all about horses, but at PG&J’s, it’s all about dogs. For a small fee, you and your furry friend can race on the “track” to win a lei of roses — before or after you drink a “mutt julep.”

Derby Dancing Vernon Lanes $20 at the door | 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. The best ‘80s movie meets the biggest local holiday at this themed dance party.

The Pull Up — Derby Party Headliners Music Hall $15 advance, $25 day of | Doors and show at 11 p.m. This DJ party was originally scheduled for last August, but now it returns to Headliners.

Kentucky Derby Day Party Zero's Luxe Lounge $15-400 | 4 p.m.-9 p.m. The best-dressed guests at this Derby party will win prizes, but the atmosphere will be a prize enough on its own.

Talk Derby To Me (Day Party) TEN20 Craft Brewery $15-25 | 5 p.m.-9 p.m. There’ll be food, live music, hookah and three party rooms at this afternoon and evening event.

The Winner’s Circle Bourbon Brunch Loft at The Biscuit Lounge $65 | Noon - 4 p.m. The three best B’s of Derby week — brunch, beats, and bourbon cocktails — will come together at this pre-Derby event.

After The Roses Repurposed on Main Free | 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Louisville Downtown Partnership is sponsoring this event, “a wild 21+ experience like you’ve never seen,” with food, drinks, music, and shopping.

85° West Music Festival presents Janet Jackson and New Edition Lynn Family Stadium $94+  |  7 p.m.-10 p.m. The legendary singer comes to Lynn Family Stadium to perform her greatest hits, with all six original members of New Edition opening for her. This isn’t a Derby event per se, but it will be a good show.

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