Sebastian and the Balloon
The Cloud Spinner

Kentucky Derby Activities for Kids

A little something special this week: Instead of featuring one of our favorite books, we are celebrating all things Derby in honor of the Kentucky Derby, which will be run here in Louisville in just a few short days. Kentucky proudly considers itself the horse capital of the world and every year, on the first Saturday in May, the world's longest continuously run horse race is held at Churchill Downs. In the two weeks leading up to this exciting day, Louisville hosts the Kentucky Derby Festival with events ranging from fireworks and parades to marathons and steamboat races. In honor of our city's big event we are sharing with you a few fun ideas to help you and young reader celebrate this time honored tradition. Welcome to Our Old Kentucky Home!


Books About Horses

Fritz and the Beautiful Horses

Horses: Trotting! Prancing! Racing!

Robert the Rose Horse

Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse


Great Balloon Fest

The Great Balloon Fest consists of three hot air ballon races, the Great Balloon Glimmer, and the Great Balloon Glow, where visitors can speak with the balloon owners and be close to the balloons before they are lit up and rise a short distance above the ground. Invite your young readers to make their own Hot Air Balloon Craft and then enjoy some high flying imaginative play with a race of their own.


Enjoy this video of the Balloon Glow!


Pegasus Parade

The Pegasus Parade takes place the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby and features beautiful floats, marching bands, equestrian units, and giant inflatable balloons. The Pegasus Parade is the Kentucky Derby Festival's oldest event and is one of the largest parades in the country. Invite your young reader to make a float or two of their own and enjoy imaginative play with a parade at home.

Strategies for Decorating a Shoebox Parade Float Project for Children


Thunder Over Louisville

Thunder Over Louisville is the kickoff event of the Kentucky Derby Festival and takes place two weeks before the Kentucky Derby. This event consists of an air show in the afternoon and a fireworks show in the evening. It is the largest annual fireworks display in North America. Invite your young reader to create a colorful fireworks display of their own with this Painting Dish Brush Fireworks from Crafty Morning.



Derby Hats

Hats are a long-established part of the Kentucky Derby experience. In fact, wearing a hat to the Derby is believed to bear good luck! From the classic to the crazy, all kinds of hat are seen at Churchill Downs the day of the big race. Invite your young reader to create a hat of their own and get in the spirit of Derby Day!

Making a Cardboard Hat from Let's Do Something Crafty



Steamboat Race

The Great Steamboat Race draws excited race fans to shores of the Ohio River to watch hometown favorite Belle of Louisville vs. the Belle of Cincinnati in this exciting contest. The winner is determined not only by the first vessel to cross the finish line but through an accumulation of points awarded by performing a series of five tasks including a Calliope Contest and other tasks performed by the boat crews both on board and on the shore. Invite your young reader to join in the Great Steamboat Race excitement and create a Styrofoam Boat or two at home and see who wins the race!


Enjoy some calliope music from the steamboat Delta Queen!

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