Camping for the Cats: It’s Big Blue Madness campout time


University of Kentucky Basketball fans set up tents outside Memorial Coliseum for the Big Blue Madness Camp Out in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Chandler | Stevenson

Roman West

Big Blue Madness is once again right around the corner, and that means campus will soon host campers from all over who can’t wait to see their Wildcats in person.

The year’s first open practice has been a tradition for the Big Blue Nation since 1983, when Joe B. Hall gave UK students their first ever taste of Big Blue Madness— back when they called it “Midnight Special.” That year, more than 10,000 fans entered Memorial Coliseum to watch Sam Bowie and Kenny Walker, along with the rest of the 1983’s Final Four team.

The tradition of camping out hasn’t been around as long as the event itself, however. The first person on record to camp out was in 1993, 10 years after the first Big Blue Madness.

The ticket distribution will begin at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the ticket windows in Memorial Coliseum. Fans are also able to collect their free tickets through

Campus public safety officials have asked the public to wait to camp out for tickets until 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26.

The campout is a way for Cats fans both young and old to bond with the other campers over this year’s team and score some free tickets. All the tickets for Big Blue Madness are free, and the best seats are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis, which is why Big Blue Nation is willing to camp out for hours on end for it. It’s a sight to see, and if you’re on the north side of UK’s campus during the campout, you’ll be able to see the many dedicated fans waiting for their tickets.

If you arrive before Friday afternoon, you will be given a control card that you will use to obtain your tickets. Those control cards are going to be handed out at 2 p.m. on Friday. If you aren’t there in time to receive a control card, you are encouraged to use for your tickets. Once available space for fans has reached capacity, the remaining fans will have to get tickets online.

A few expectations for campers are to be respectful of those around you, whether they be fellow campers, students, staff or security. The use of permanent, wooden-type structures, portable generators, and propane tanks or other open flames used in cooking is prohibited due to safety concerns, and tobacco and alcoholic beverages are prohibited as well.

This season’s Big Blue Madness will be held in Rupp Arena at 7 p.m. on Oct. 12.