Downs After Dark is a great nightlife event for the party people from or visiting Louisville. It typically happens on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer time only. It costs $10 and whatever you feel like betting on the races (and you don’t have to bet if you don’t want to).
This event is all about the night racing! It starts at about 6 PM and lasts well into the night. It’s open seating around the track. At 10 PM, they have a DJ that plays dance music out in the courtyard but the main gate. There are plenty of mint juleps and mixed drinks all around the dance floor and freebies being tossed out onto the crowd (most of which are glow bracelets and other dance trinkets).
I walked in to the front gates of this nostalgic arena and could smell and hear the night unfolding with every step I took! It was exciting from the moment I stepped in… you could hear the horses warming up and smell of hay caressed the summer breeze.
Downs After Dark is a pretty happening event, so there were many people there as soon as the gates opened for the public. Thankfully, there is plenty of boxes open for us to make two side-by-side our home for the evening. We got right up on the track (as you can see in the picture, we were front row). They do all of the pomp and circumstance that you see them do if you have ever watched the Derby. The National Anthem, the bugle call right before the night begins, and the singing of My Old Kentucky Home (it’s quite a musical place , too).
I highly recommend attending Downs After Dark if you have never been to Louisville before. It’s a great introduction to horse racing culture and it’s completely relaxed (no big fancy hats required!) and it’s a pretty fun time! I definitely enjoyed myself dancing with my friends and watching the races… I especially enjoyed the part where I won $150 off of a winning horse! Woo-hoo!
Here are some tips for Downs After Dark:
- Bring cash. Parking is cash only and drinks are cash only inside. Betting and tickets, however, do allow cards (all types are accepted).
- Parking is crazy. Most of the parking up at the race track is for employees and special people that pay special large sums of money to get good seats inside the track… so normal/cheap folks like me have to park elsewhere. Thankfully, there are a lot of business close by that rent out their parking lots for a small fee per car. Usual parking prices for these lots is anywhere from $5-$10. If you get there rather early, you can get a spot closer to the track and not have to walk as far. I only walked about 2 blocks at most.
- Drink responsibly. This should be tips number 1-100 for the book of life. Always drink responsibly. If not for your dignity, for your and everyone else’s safety! They have plenty of cabs in Louisville and it’s usually not too expensive of a trip or call Uber or Lyft! Or if someone is willing and won’t succumb to the delicious drinks, have them be the designated driver.
- Don’t bring valuables. This is just responsible traveling. Don’t leave things in the car, don’t bring expensive camera’s into the track (they run the risk of being broken). If you don’t want to risk it being broken and/or stolen, don’t bring it at all! Phones are the only exception and are to be brought for communication (obviously) and for emergencies.
- Gamble responsibly. Another given. Know when to stop. There is nothing worse than losing all your money and then not having money to go home with. If you need help, please let an employee know. They can direct you to someone or a phone hotline that can counsel you about your gambling issues. Here’s their link to gaming responsibly: http://www.churchilldowns.com/responsible-gaming
- Wear comfortable shoes. Not only is there a lot of walking involved, but there’s a good chance you’ll be standing a lot (and dancing). There’s not a whole lot of sitting (even though there are chairs available for those who do want to sit) involved at these races. People get really into their horse racing!
- Relax and have fun! There’s no pressure to do anything you don’t want to do at horse races. They’re exciting and the air is full of energy!
All in all, you get your time and your moneys worth. I highly recommend going to one of these nights. If you want to look at more information, you can go to Churchill Downs website and click away!