After a four-month postponement because of COVID-19, the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby will take place this weekend, on Saturday, September 5. Unlike other sporting events that last for hours, the actual derby itself—known as the “greatest two-minutes in sports”—is quite short. And while sure, watching diminutive men ride horses quickly for a few minutes is technically the main event, it’s only one component of the Kentucky Derby experience.
Of course, because of the pandemic, no spectators will be on the grounds in attendance, looking dapper in their fancy hats. But like so many other cultural events over the past seven months, many of the festivities surrounding the Kentucky Derby will be held virtually with everyone safely in their own homes. These events started today, but the real action kicks off tomorrow, with the main event happening on Saturday. Here’s how to watch the Kentucky Derby itself, along with its other activities.
How to watch the actual race
You’re probably here to find out how to watch the Kentucky Derby for free, so we’ll start with that. The good news is that you don’t need cable, because the derby and many of Saturday’s other events will air on NBC (just the regular network you can at least hypothetically get through any digital box).
It will also be available to stream on the NBC Sports app and the NBC Sports Live website, but you do need a cable login to access those. NBC’s coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET, but the actual two-minute race itself won’t be on for a few more hours: the riders are scheduled to mount their horses at 6:30 p.m. ET, with the race beginning around 7 p.m.
Other ways to stream the Kentucky Derby for free
If you don’t have cable or access to a TV, there are still other ways to watch the race. The whole thing will air live and for free on TwinSpires.com (once you register), though we should point out that it’s a betting website, so if that’s something you’re trying to avoid, you may want to go with an alternative. For instance, if you want to use your imagination to visualize the race, you can listen to the derby for free on the Horse Racing Radio Network.
The 146th Kentucky Derby will also air on the usual live streaming services, like Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, FuboTV and AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now)—all of which include free trials you can sign up for (and then set a reminder to cancel either immediately after the race, or whenever the trial runs out).
How to watch some of the other ceremonies and festivities
In addition to behind-the-scenes looks at the race, the Kentucky Derby’s official social media channels will livestream many of the other ceremonies and festivities starting today, and then continuing into tomorrow and Saturday. The best way to find out what is happening, when it’s on, and which social media format to use, is to check out this schedule of events.
For example, if you want to catch the Kentucky Derby Fashion Contest, it’ll be on their Instagram and Twitter feeds tomorrow at 10 a.m. ET, followed by the “making of the garland of roses” at 2 p.m. Just so it’s handy, here are the links to the Kentucky Derby’s official Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages.
There is also a section called “Kentucky Derby At-Home” on their website that offers additional information on how to host your own derby party at home. This includes everything from recipes for creating the perfect derby meal at home, instructions for making some of the event’s most famous cocktails (yes, including the mint julep, though we’re also kind of partial to our recipe), and a some DIY craft projects that the whole family can attempt together (including a paper flower fascinator).