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Hat’s off! Kentucky Derby weekend kicks off at Churchill Downs with head-turning fashion

The Kentucky Derby is almost upon us – and attendees at pre-race events are already pulling out all the stops when it comes to their fashion choices.

The annual horse race is set to take place on Saturday, May 7 at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Festivities kicked off on Friday and attendees turned up in their derby best, donning their most colorful outfits – and their most head-turning hats. 

Racegoers have shown up in droves showcasing some truly eye-popping accessories as they gear up to watch what has been dubbed ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports.’

From enormous floral fascinators to heavy feathered hats, guests of the Kentucky Derby have certainly dressed to impress – and call attention to themselves – at the annual event.

The Kentucky Derby is almost upon us – and guests have pulled out all the stops when it comes to their fashion choices for the event

The annual horse race is set to take place on Saturday, May 7 at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky

The annual horse race is set to take place on Saturday, May 7 at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky

The big events kicked off on Friday and attendees have already gone all out with their ensembles

The big events kicked off on Friday and attendees have already gone all out with their ensembles

One racegoer was spotted wearing a large, colorful, festive hat, while her friend opted for something a little more simple

One racegoer was spotted wearing a large, colorful, festive hat, while her friend opted for something a little more simple

This woman had all eyes on her when she attended the event with a hat that had butterflies attached to it

This woman had all eyes on her when she attended the event with a hat that had butterflies attached to it

Racegoers have shown up in droves showcasing their most eye-popping accessories as they gear up to watch what has been dubbed 'the most exciting two minutes in sports'

Racegoers have shown up in droves showcasing their most eye-popping accessories as they gear up to watch what has been dubbed ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’ 

From enormous, floral headpieces to bright pink, ruffled hats guests of the Kentucky Derby have certainly dressed to impress

From enormous, floral headpieces to bright pink, ruffled hats guests of the Kentucky Derby have certainly dressed to impress

The Louisville event has always been a horse race with a healthy side of fashion.

Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. – who established the horse race – and his wife thought that the event would be more appealing to crowds if it they incorporated fashion into it.

Now spectators enjoy dressing up for the event, often sporting flashy hats and decadent dresses, as well as other unique and at times bizarre accessories.

On the racing grounds on Friday, one woman could be seen in a large hot pink feathered headpiece, while another wore a hat made out of studded, multicolored pieces of fabric that seemed to orbit her head.

Another woman’s hat was topped with large butterflies, while one more complimented her black and pink hat with huge sparkly sunglasses.

While it’s often the women who most wholeheartedly embrace the dress-up culture, some men got in on the fun, too, including one in a hot pink suit and matching hat and another whose pink floral hat was complimented by a fake white beard and custom bedazzled sunglasses. 

One woman was seen wearing a large, feathered, hot pink headpiece on Thursday

One woman was seen wearing a large, feathered, hot pink headpiece on Thursday

Dressing up is not just for the ladies - one male fan in head-to-toe pink went all out

Dressing up is not just for the ladies – one male fan in head-to-toe pink went all out

Hundreds of people flocked to Churchill Downs this week ahead of the highly acclaimed race, and they certainly dressed to impress

Hundreds of people flocked to Churchill Downs this week ahead of the highly acclaimed race, and they certainly dressed to impress

Hundreds of people flocked to Churchill Downs this week ahead of the highly acclaimed race, and they certainly dressed to impress

One woman was spotted donning a hat shaped like a giant, pink flower, as she attended a pre-event for the 148th Kentucky Derby

One woman was spotted donning a hat shaped like a giant, pink flower, as she attended a pre-event for the 148th Kentucky Derby

One woman wore a rose headpiece which had stunning vines coming off of it

One woman wore a rose headpiece which had stunning vines coming off of it

Another opted for a giant, red, rose hat, while a third chose a black headband with peacock feathers on it

Another opted for a giant, red, rose hat, while a third chose a black headband with peacock feathers on it

Others opted for headbands, and most came complete with ruffles galore

Others opted for headbands, and most came complete with ruffles galore

Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. - who originally established the horse race - and his wife thought the event would be more appealing if it they incorporated fashion into it

Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. - who originally established the horse race - and his wife thought the event would be more appealing if it they incorporated fashion into it

Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. – who originally established the horse race – and his wife thought the event would be more appealing if it they incorporated fashion into it

According to the event’s website, wearing a hat to the race is believed to bear good luck.

‘Wearing a hat is much like getting into costume, you might be pleasantly surprised to see what type of character you become,’ its website reads. ‘From the fantastic to the sublime, there are no rules or limits.’

Event organizers tell those lucky enough to attend the sports event that they should keep their dresses ‘simple, so it doesn’t take away from your hat.’ 

They said: ‘When selecting your dress for the Kentucky Derby, the recommended practice is to keep it simple, so it doesn’t take away from your hat. 

‘You can also let the color and excitement of spring inspire you and select a dress full of color, or floral or equine patterns.

‘Since the hat is the focus of Derby fashion, there’s not much need for large, statement jewelry. Let your hat be the attention grabber as your primary accessory and keep the jewelry simple.’

One woman was seen wearing a navy blue hat, which had feathers poking out in every direction

One woman was seen wearing a navy blue hat, which had feathers poking out in every direction

Now, spectators enjoy dressing up for the event, often sporting flashy hats and decadent dresses

Now, spectators enjoy dressing up for the event, often sporting flashy hats and decadent dresses

The Kentucky Derby was plagued with controversy last year, after the winning horse - Medina Spirit - later tested positive for a banned substance

The Kentucky Derby was plagued with controversy last year, after the winning horse – Medina Spirit – later tested positive for a banned substance

But the unfortunate events didn't seem to take away from the excitement for this year's race

 But the unfortunate events didn’t seem to take away from the excitement for this year’s race

Messier, Taiba, Epicenter, and Zandon seem to be the favored horses for this year's race, which will air live on NBC at at 6:57 p.m. ET and is set to last a mere two minutes

Messier, Taiba, Epicenter, and Zandon seem to be the favored horses for this year’s race, which will air live on NBC at at 6:57 p.m. ET and is set to last a mere two minutes

Approximately 150,000 fans and spectators gather every year on the first Saturday in May for the iconic race, which stretches across one and a quarter miles

Approximately 150,000 fans and spectators gather every year on the first Saturday in May for the iconic race, which stretches across one and a quarter miles

Two attendees offer different takes on pink hats - both of which matched their outfits

Two attendees offer different takes on pink hats - both of which matched their outfits

Two attendees offer different takes on pink hats – both of which matched their outfits

Messier, Taiba, Epicenter, and Zandon seem to be the favored horses for this year’s race, which will air live on NBC at at 6:57 p.m. ET and is set to last a mere two minutes.

The Kentucky Derby was plagued with controversy last year, after the winning horse – Medina Spirit – later tested positive for a banned substance.

The horse’s trainer, Bob Baffert, was subsequently banned from participating in the race for two years, and runner-up Mandaloun was then crowned as the winner. 

Baffert has since claimed that an ointment used to treat dermatitis caused the positive test.

This year will mark the 148th Kentucky Derby, which was first started in 1875 and is now the longest-running sports event in the U.S.

Approximately 150,000 fans and spectators gather every year on the first Saturday in May for the iconic race, which stretches across one and a quarter miles. 

Many people tried to outdo each other with their stylish looks

Many people tried to outdo each other with their stylish looks

According to the event's website, wearing a hat to the race is believed to bear good luck

According to the event's website, wearing a hat to the race is believed to bear good luck

According to the event’s website, wearing a hat to the race is believed to bear good luck 

Event organizers tell those lucky enough to attend the sports event that they should keep their dresses 'simple, so it doesn't take away from your hat'

Event organizers tell those lucky enough to attend the sports event that they should keep their dresses ‘simple, so it doesn’t take away from your hat’

'Wearing a hat is much like getting into costume, you might be pleasantly surprised to see what type of character you become,' its website reads. 'From the fantastic to the sublime, there are no rules or limits'

 ‘Wearing a hat is much like getting into costume, you might be pleasantly surprised to see what type of character you become,’ its website reads. ‘From the fantastic to the sublime, there are no rules or limits’

The Kentucky Derby was first started in 1875 and is now the longest-running sports event in the U.S.

The Kentucky Derby was first started in 1875 and is now the longest-running sports event in the U.S.

It appears that many women opted to wear pink in honor of Churchill Downs' partnership with Horses and Hope - a project designed to 'increase breast cancer awareness, education, screening, and treatment'

It appears that many women opted to wear pink in honor of Churchill Downs’ partnership with Horses and Hope – a project designed to ‘increase breast cancer awareness, education, screening, and treatment’

Not everyone chose pink, however, with this spectator rocking a red and black hat

Not everyone chose pink, however, with this spectator rocking a red and black hat

Made of such delicate fabric, it's unlikely the hats did much for these women once the rain started

Made of such delicate fabric, it's unlikely the hats did much for these women once the rain started

Made of such delicate fabric, it’s unlikely the hats did much for these women once the rain started

Despite it being an overcast day, many people paired their dramatic looks with sunglasses

Despite it being an overcast day, many people paired their dramatic looks with sunglasses

Flowers, feathers, and head-turning hues are must have at Churchill Downs

Flowers, feathers, and head-turning hues are must have at Churchill Downs

From bold and bright colors to intricate and delicate designs, the hats worn to this year's event did not disappoint

From bold and bright colors to intricate and delicate designs, the hats worn to this year's event did not disappoint

From bold and bright colors to intricate and delicate designs, the hats worn to this year’s event did not disappoint

Some of the headpieces, like this tulle and pearl one, were more understated than others

Some of the headpieces, like this tulle and pearl one, were more understated than others

The hats and headpieces are certainly all unique and give the women a chance to show off some style

The hats and headpieces are certainly all unique and give the women a chance to show off some style

The hats and headpieces are certainly all unique and give the women a chance to show off some style

While some men dress up a bit for the races, it's usually the women who go all-in on outfits

While some men dress up a bit for the races, it’s usually the women who go all-in on outfits 

There's a full range of style on display, from fashionable dresses to loud, statement-making shirts

There's a full range of style on display, from fashionable dresses to loud, statement-making shirts

There’s a full range of style on display, from fashionable dresses to loud, statement-making shirts

One especially creative woman appears to have had a pair of custom beaded earrings made

One especially creative woman appears to have had a pair of custom beaded earrings made

Given some of the embellishments, it's possible that some women customize their hats at home ahead of the event

Given some of the embellishments, it's possible that some women customize their hats at home ahead of the event

Given some of the embellishments, it’s possible that some women customize their hats at home ahead of the event

A man who really got into the spirit picked a perfectly on-theme tie and jacket for the event

A man who really got into the spirit picked a perfectly on-theme tie and jacket for the event

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk