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How to Do Railbird Festival on a Budget

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Put on your dancing shoes, pack your sunscreen, and prepare to have a great time at the Railbird Festival on a budget.

This handy guide will help you make the most of your time at Railbird Festival, teach you how to get free Railbird Fest tickets, how to save on parking, and how to save on accommodations. Everything you need to know about saving money at Railbird Festival.

If you’re looking for things to do in Kentucky this summer, you’ll want to check out Railbird Festival.

How to Do Railbird Festival on a Budget

Railbird Festival is a two-day music festival in Lexington as only the Bluegrass State can deliver. Music, food, bourbon, and horses. Does it get any better?

In a word, no.

So hightail it out to Lexington, Kentucky for the second annual Railbird Festival at Keeneland from August 28, 2021 to August 29, 2021.

Yes, you read that right. Second annual. The first Railbirdfest was two years ago but because of the situation last year, the second annual event was postponed until this year.

So if you can’t make it to Lexington this summer, start making plans for next year because the lineup for this year is epic. Imagine how amazing next year’s going to be.

Three stages, more than 30 bands including Dave Matthews Band, My Morning Jacket, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Tanya Tucker, Leon Bridges, Billy Strings, and more!

Check out the 2021 lineup of bands.

Railbird Fest starts at 1:30 pm on Saturday and ends at 11 pm. On Sunday, performances begin at 12:45 pm and end at 10:45 pm. You can see the schedule.

Pro-tip: The schedule can change.

Horses, Food, and Bourbon

Because it’s at Keeneland, horses come into play. You can view morning workouts and tour the Winstar facilities. There are even pony rides for the kids. Watch off-track racing (and place bets) at Del Mar from the air-conditioned lounge at Lucky Day plaza.

Or take a break from the ponies and enjoy the culinary adventures featuring James Beard nominee Ouita Michael, Samantha Fore one of Southern Living magazine’s 2020 Cooks of the year, and other prize-winning chefs like Jeremy Ashby.

Kentucky and Bourbon, enough said. While at Railbird Festival stop by the Rickhouse for bourbon tasting from Bulleit, Four Roses, Elijah Craig, Justins’ House of Bourbon, New Riff, Old Carter, Old Forester, Pinhook, Castle & Key, and Wilderness Trail.

Railbird Festival Tickets

Railbird Festival tickets sell as individual day tickets or two-day tickets for General Admission and VIP tickets. Ticket prices will increase. The sooner you buy your tickets, the less you’ll pay. Think of Railbird tickets like airline tickets, there are only so many in each class and once those sell out, the price goes up.

The 2-Day VIP tickets are sold out. But you can still buy 2-day General Admission tickets. Single day VIP tickets and General Admission tickets will go on sale soon.

General Admission

General Admission tickets include :

  • 30+ performances across three stages over two days
  • Lucky Day Plaza featuring an air-conditioned lounge and bar, Keeneland’s BETologists, and live streams of Saratoga and Del Mar
  • The Rickhouse featuring festival barrel selections and bourbon tastings (additional fee for tastings)
  • Access to food, drink, and craft vendors
  • Plus more on site experiences to be announced soon!

General Admission 2-day tickets start at $175 + fees. A layaway plan for $25 down is available. Single day General Admission tickets coming soon.


VIP tickets include all the amenities of General Admission plus:

  • VIP up-front viewing areas at the Limestone & Elkhorn stages
  • VIP Friday night reception with live music and first pick of Railbird Select Bourbon bottles at The Rickhouse
  • Canned beverages available for purchase in VIP areas
  • Access to VIP Village with shade, seating, misting fans, free hors d’oeuvres and tapas, free spa services (massages and hairstyling), Railbird merchandise, free water refill station, and Artisanal cocktail bar with drinks for purchase
  • Air-conditioned VIP lounge with seating, TV with live-streamed performances, and a private bar at the Limestone Stage
  • Access to Grandstand padded seating with elevated viewing at Limestone Stage and seated drink service
  • VIP Lounge with elevated deck with views of Elkhorn Stage, shade, seating, misting fans, private bar with drinks for purchase, free water refill stations, air-conditioned flushable restrooms
  • VIP reserved parking
  • Express entrance lane
  • Commemorative Railbird VIP gift package (T-shirt, socks, tote bag, pennant, and leather journal)
  • Concierge services

VIP 2-day tickets cost $650+ fees. Single day VIP tickets coming soon.


Buy your parking pass in advance and save money. Parking is $20 a day when purchased in advance and $30 a day when purchased at the festival.

Camping, RVs, overnight parking, and tailgating are not allowed. This is a new change because in the first year, they allowed tailgating.

How to Save on Railbird Festival Tickets

Advance Purchase

The best way to do Railbird Festival on a budget is to buy your tickets and passes in advance.

Kids Go Free

Railbird Festival is family-friendly so bring the young ones because kids go free.

At Railbird Festival children 10 years old and younger go free. For each adult ticket purchased, two kids get in free.

Family-friendly activities include pony rides, musical workshops, arts and crafts, and more!

Pro-tip: Got extra kids? Partner up with your single neighbor or DINK friends.

Follow on Social Media

Follow Railbird Festival and all the performers on social media. Last year Railbird Fest and several musicians gave away free tickets. They may do so this year too!

Earned Ticket Program

Save your cash and take part in Railbird Festival’s Earned Ticket Program. Do good and get rewarded with a free ticket.

When you volunteer with one of Railbird Fest’s non-profit partners you earn a free General Admission ticket.

It’s a win-win for everyone. You get a free ticket to Railbird Festival, the non-profits get help, and you get a warm fuzzy feeling for doing good.

How to Save on Parking at Railbird Festival

Parking for Railbird Festival is available at Keeneland: advanced purchase for $20 and on site daily for $30 a day.


If you didn’t buy advanced purchase parking, consider carpooling.

Uber or Lyft

Save money, time, and a few steps of taking Uber or Lyft to Railbird Festival. Designated drop-off and pickup areas for Uber and Lyft by the Clubhouse.

If you’re new to Uber, signup with my Uber referral link for a $20 Uber credit.

Get a $10 Lyft credit on your first ride when you use my promo code DEBRA191454.

How to Save on Accommodations


Coming from out of town or want to stay up late and sleep in? Railbird Festival has discounted prices on hotels. Some hotels like Hyatt Place Lexington include free breakfast.

Pro-tip: Always compare rates because sometimes the price is cheaper when not booking through the group.

Check rates for:


Missed out on a hotel? Try Airbnb.


Getting down with tunes at Railbird Festival means you don’t have to dress fancy. Nor does it mean your digs need to be fancy. Book space at Kentucky Horsepark Campground or Elkhorn Campground.


Railbird Festival is a two-day musical festival that embodies everything that is the Bluegrass State: music, horses, food, and bourbon.

The second annual Railbird Festival starts on August 28, 2021, and ends on August 29, 2021.

You can buy a single day pass or two-day passes. General Admission and VIP Passes are available.

Can’t make it to Lexington this year? Start planning for next year. You’ll save the most money when you buy your tickets in advance. Layaway plans available. Watch the Railbird Fest site for details.

Bring the kids because children aged 10 and younger go free. Each paying adult can bring in two kids for free.

Save on parking fees by using Uber, Lyft, or carpooling.

Any tips I missed on how to do Railbird Festival on a budget?

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Wednesday 25th of August 2021

I purchased VIP tickets but don’t really need the VIP parking passes…does anyone know if I try to sell them, does the person buying them have to have to present a VIP band too when parking??

Lauren kehr

Saturday 17th of July 2021

Re: Railbird festival, why will No One publish the general or expected times of the acts? Yes, I know who’s expected on Saturday and on Sunday, and I know there are 3 stages, but why aren’t the estimated times of the various performers/singers/bands published? (I’m driving in from out of Townsend need to know who is performing when.) Thanks much. Lauren Kehr

Debra Schroeder

Wednesday 11th of August 2021

Hi Lauren,

Last year, they waited until the day of. Thankfully, this year, they're giving more advance notice. They just published the schedule. There's a link in the post. But be advised, the schedule could change. Let me know if you have any other questions.


Thursday 20th of May 2021

I never heard of this festival. Sounds so fun though. Have fun and be safe!


Tuesday 18th of May 2021

I have never actually heard of a Railbird festival. It was interesting to learn about this - how fun!


Tuesday 18th of May 2021

These are great tips. With the right advice and some common sense, it's definitely possible to save some money!

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