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Annual Events in Louisville KY

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If you’re a fan of fun, Louisville’s the place for you.

No matter what the season or time of year, there are umpteen-million things you can do in this city. Louisville is home to a veritable plethora of high-profile festivals that celebrate the arts and culture, reflecting the joy of conversation and community in the city. Louisville is a superstar when it comes to putting on festivals and events.

Top 20 EventsAnnually the city’s events have been recogniKITAzed by the Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 and Kentucky Travel Industry Association Top 10 for their cultural and historical significance.

In 2010, Louisville joined Sydney, Australia, as the only two cities to receive the inaugural World Festival & Event City designation by the International Festivals & Events Association. Louisville was judged #1 in its class and named the Top North American City for populations of over one million.

Louisville offers the opportunity to experience both cultural identity and diversity through many attractions and historic sites as well as festivals and events. Look around and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the array of events representing a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds that make up the fabric of our community. Check out a few of the city’s multicultural events signified by this fleur de lis logo.

Below is a robust list of our annual events and festival. Visit the websites listed for specifics on this year’s event, or check out our searchable calendar to the left.
 

JANUARY
Dinnerworks
The Louisville Visual Art Association’s annual exhibition of handmade dinnerware coupled with unique table designs.

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration
Greater Louisville & Jefferson County, (502) 583-3682


FEBRUARY
Black History Month Activities
Greater Louisville & Jefferson County, (502) 583-3682

National Farm Machinery Show
Start your year out right with row after row of brand name products and services, hands-on demonstrations of the latest technology advancements, and a selection of free seminars that are both practical and informative.


MARCH
Dining at the Mansions
This one-night event begins at the JB Speed Mansion (built in 1883) with hors d’oeuvres, wine and silent auction. Private residences in the historic Old Louisville neighborhood participate with homeowners giving diners a rare glimpse of their elaborately decorated homes. Guests dine on a three-course dinner before returning to the JB Speed Mansion for dessert.  

Humana Festival of New American Plays
Held at Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Humana Festival celebrates the genius and diversity of contemporary playwrights by presenting a rotating repertory of up to seven new works that incorporate a wide spectrum of themes, theatrical forms, and styles of dramatic literature.

Mid-America Trucking Show
Equipment and services of every conceivable description, representing the most innovative technology and advanced developments in the industry will be on display!


APRIL
Kentucky Derby Festival
The nation’s largest civic celebration with over 70 accessible events including the nation’s largest annual fireworks show Thunder Over Louisville, the Great Balloon Race, the Great Steamboat Race, Marathon/Mini Marathon, and Pegasus Parade.

Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/Mini Marathon
The marathon is 26. 2 miles and the mini marathon is 13.1 miles. The marathon is a Boston Marathon Qualifying event and is a sanctioned course and event by United States Track and Field.

The Cherokee Triangle Art Fair
The juried art fair, held on Cherokee Parkway the weekend before Derby, got its start in 1972 when area residents started a garden plant exchange. Since then, it has gained acclaim for the quality of the arts and crafts displayed by the exhibitors. There’s plenty of great live music, entertainment, food and is a family-friendly event.


Spring Race Meet
Churchill Downs offers live Thoroughbred horse racing action in the spring – late-April through early-July – including Friday night racing under the lights.


MAY
100 Black Men of Louisville Derby Gala

A black-tie fundraiser for the 100 Black Men of Louisville, the organization awards scholarships to selected 7th-grade African-American males.

Abbey Road on the River
Held Memorial Day Weekend on the Belvedere Festival Plaza overlooking the Ohio River in downtown Louisville, Abbey Road on the River is the largest Beatles tribute festival in America. This five-day art, music and food festival honors and celebrates The Fab Four by attracting more than 60 bands – on seven stages – from 12 countries and over 25,000 attendees.

Kentucky Derby
The most prestigious horse race in America and the first jewel of the Triple Crown is always the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Oaks
The Kentucky Oaks is Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious race for three-year-old fillies.

Kentucky Reggae Festival
Enjoy live Reggae music, ethnic food and vendors of all types.

Mayor’s Hike, Bike & Paddle
Explore the city’s historic neighborhoods and parks with cyclists, walkers, runners, canoe paddlers and kayakers twice a year – Memorial Day and Labor Day – for a 5K walk (which is wheelchair-accessible), 15-mile bike course or 3-mile paddle along Beargrass Creek and the Ohio River.

The Fifty and Over Games
Formerly known as the Louisville Regional Senior Games this one-week, annual competition includes 13 different events for participants of all skills and abilities, from basketball and a road race to bowling, billiards and table tennis. Participants come from seven states and Canada.


JUNE
Americana World Festival
International food and entertainment are a major part of the festival. Past performances have ranged from African drumming to Latin music and Rwandan traditional dance to traditional Bosnian dance. The festival includes a kidzone, crafts, information, and exhibits showcasing the programs of the Americana Community Center. The area surrounding the Americana Community Center has become a vibrant mix of refugee and immigrant families and U.S. born families. An all day celebration of the sights, sounds, and tastes of the world that are right here in our own neighborhood!

FandomFest
In 2006 Fright Night Film Festival began with 400 attendees and has grown to the largest juried film festival in the regions, showing over 100 films, and combining all aspects of Fan interest as FandomFest. As the greatest gathering of pop culture fans, the three-day weekend event includes the Mid America Comic-Con, gaming, animee, literary, artist alley, nearly 30 celebrities, New York Times best sellers, filmmakers, seminars, family-friendly activities and over 200 vendor booths.

Flyover Film Festival
This three-day festival celebrates film by bringing together both industry professionals and audiences of all kinds for screenings, workshops, panels, forums and special events.

Greek Festival
Enjoy ethnic food and pastries, beer, dancing, live music, jewelry, art, groceries and books at this Friday-Saturday festival.

Hispanic/Latino Health Fair
The Annual Hispanic/Latino Health Fair provides information about the services and resources in Louisville and provides valuable health information to Hispanic/Latino families. More than 600 people attend the health fair, which includes information on prevention, health screenings, and educational workshops. Since 1998, the Hispanic/Latino Coalition has been involved in efforts focused on advocacy, outreach, and support to this growing community.

Kentucky Pride Festival
Held on Belvedere Plaza in downtown Louisville, the Kentuckiana Pride Festival is a place where the GLBTQI community and its supporters can meet and celebrate, enjoying a variety of food, entertainment, and showcases from local and regional businesses and organizations.

Kentucky Shakespeare Festival
To be or not to be! Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, held in Old Louisville’s Central Park has been presenting the Bard’s works for more than half-century. It’s the longest-running free summer festival of its kind in the country, attracting 10,000-15,000 patrons annually.

Louisville Hoopfest
Kentucky's largest 3-on-3 outdoor basketball tournament with all the proceeds benefiting charity.


JULY
Blues-n-Barbeque Festival
This festival has been heating up mid-summer since 1998, offering a chance to kick back and enjoy the intoxicating sounds of New Orleans and Memphis as well as some outstanding barbeque.

Forecastle Festival
Named one of the top 101 things to do in America by SPIN Magazine, the annual Forecastle Festival is held on the Belvedere, overlooking the scenic Ohio River. This Music, Art and Activism festival features more than 40 bands, 15 artists, and nearly 50 environmental organizations from five states.

Kentucky Music Weekend
The largest traditional and folk music festival in the region.

Lebowski Fest
The Lebowski Fest began in Louisville in 2002 and is a two-day celebration of all things related to the 1998 Coen brothers’ cult comedy, “The Big Lebowski.” Fans of the film (aka “Achievers”) come from far and wide to drink white Russians, throw some rocks; and party with an array of Dudes, Walters, and Maudes (not to mention a nihilist or two).

Louisville Defender Newspaper’s West Louisville Appreciation Celebration & Proud Family Reunion
The West Louisville Appreciation Celebration Festival & Family Reunion emphasizes the positive aspect of the African American Community and is held for two days in western Louisville’s Shawnee Park. This community celebration started in 1980 and features activities for the entire family as well as arts, crafts and community agency exhibits.

Waterfront Independence Festival
Celebrate Independence Day downtown on the Great Lawn with music, food and fireworks during this two-day event.

World Championship of Dainty
In the 1850’s, an influx of German immigrants settled in what is known today as the Germantown and Schnitzelburg neighborhoods. They brought with them a European children’s game called Dainty. Since 1970, the World Championship of Dainty tournament has been held every year on the last Monday in July. Spectators are welcome at Hauck’s Handy Store.


AUGUST
Brew at the Zoo
Held annually in August, Brew at the Zoo was established in 2004 by the Friends of the Zoo and is the organization’s 2nd largest annual fundraiser. In 2011 it included 26 breweries, 3 wineries, 25 restaurants and 6 other beverages including water, coffee and sports drinks.

Ironman Louisville Presented by Norton Sports Health
Ironman Louisville made its debut in 2007 and has quickly become one of North America’s most popular Ironman races. The triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run within a 17-hour time frame. The event serves as a qualifier for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona Hawaii.

Kentucky State Fair
The "Pride of Kentucky" draws over 600,000 people with attractions from rooster crowing contests and pig racing and top name concerts.

NSRA Street Rod Nationals Plus
Recognized as the world's largest automotive participation event, more than 11,000 pre-1949 street rod's are showcased each year. In 2010, the event opened its doors to any vehicle 30 years-old and older-vehicles from the 50's, 60's, and 70's joined the street rods!

World Championship Horse Show
A showcase for American Saddlebred, Hackney Ponies, and Road Horses that crowns the world championship saddlebreds in different divisions.


SEPTEMBER
A Taste of Louisville
Since 1973, over 40 Louisville restaurants have presented some of the finest cuisine and libations in the area.

Captain’s Quarters Regatta
The Captain's Quarters Regatta is one of the region's premier sailing events. Started in 1972 by Ennis Mahon, then owner of Captain's Quarters Restaurant, the regatta has become a fall tradition noted for warm camaraderie, good parties and hot competition.

Founder’s Day
This free event, held September 1st is the Frazier History Museum’s annual street party. It includes inflatables, educational crafts, games and activities, as well as food, music and live performances by the museum’s costumed historic interpreters.

IdeaFestival
Founded in 2000, the IdeaFestival (IF) is a world-class event that attracts leading and highly diverse thinkers from across the nation and around the globe to explore and celebrate innovation, imagination and cutting-edge ideas.

Jeffersontown Gaslight Festival
What started as a small street party in 1969 has grown to become the 5th largest festival in the region and has taken its place as one of the top 20 in the Southeast. The nine-day festival includes a motorcycle rally & car show, a golf scramble, a 5K run/walk, a parade, balloon glow, children’s playground, live entertainment and over 140 arts, crafts, and commercial booths. Held the 3rd weekend in September.

Kentucky Bluegrass Music Festival
Held at the Water Tower, this festival is one of Louisvill'e oldest and best known music events.

Louisville Irish Fest
Irish Fest features live Irish and Celtic music, Irish dancers, food & beverages, and Irish Tea Room, cultural exhibits, and Irish Marketplace, children's activities and much more.

Mayor’s Hike, Bike & Paddle
Explore the city’s historic neighborhoods and parks with cyclists, walkers, runners, canoe paddlers and kayakers twice a year – Memorial Day and Labor Day – for a 5K walk (which is wheelchair-accessible), 15-mile bike course or 3-mile paddle along Beargrass Creek and the Ohio River.

National Jug Band Jubilee
The National Jug Band Jubilee is a gathering of the nation's best jug bands bringing America's Happiest Music back to its old Kentucky home, in the city that started it all. The one-night Jubille is dedicated to preserving jug band music.

National Quartet Convention
Gospel music’s biggest annual event showcases the finest talent in Southern Gospel Music.

NuLu Festival
The NULU Festival features “all things local” and offers live music, micro-brewed beers, food and shopping by and from local vendors and participants. The festival takes place in the 700 block of East Market Street on the last night of the IdeaFestival with all festivities being free, family-friendly, and open to the public.

Rooftop Dance Party
Adelante Hispanic Achievers' annual rooftop dance party at the Glassworks brings together more than 500 people for an event of tapas, tequila tastings and dancing under the stars.

Salsa in the Infield
Salsa in the Infield includes “Salsa in the City” Best Salsa Contest featuring all the local competing Mexican, Caribbean, and Texan salsas and local groups perform fiesta music with salsa dancing. The Boy Scout Exposition includes demonstrations for families in Spanish. And, several local social service groups for refugees and immigrants present the “Know Your Rights” Seminar. All countries and cultures are welcome.

WorldFest
A three-day annual festival held Labor Day Weekend, WorldFest features international music, dance and food; a “Parade of Cultures;” free children’s crafts and activities; and a Naturalization Ceremony.


Fall Race Meet
Churchill Downs offers live Thoroughbred horse racing action in the fall – late-October through late-November – including Friday night racing under the lights.


OCTOBER
Garvin Gate Blues Festival
The Garvin Gate Blues Festival is the largest free neighborhood street music festival in Louisville. A celebration of the blues, the two-day festival has been attracting a multi-racial, intergenerational audience to the cozy Old Louisville neighborhood of Garvin Place, between 4th & 6th Streets, since 1988.

Harvest Homecoming
Harvest Homecoming has been a family-oriented festival in New Albany, Indiana since 1967. What is now a week of events began as a three-day “Pumpkin Festival” and now draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to its parade featuring over 200 units, crafts and food booths, Farmer's Market, children’s rides and riverfront activities.

Louisville’s International Festival of Film
This four-day festival gives independent filmmakers a chance to showcase their artistic films not usually shown at commercial venues. The festival also includes a variety of seminars, events and parties.

St. James Court Art Show
More than 750 artists from throughout North and South America will converge for the annual Saint James Court Art Show. Held the first weekend in October.

Taste of Louisville
Since 1973, the Taste of Louisville has featured 50 of the best food and beverage selections the city has to offer, benefitting Community Health Charities and sponsored by the Kentucky Restaurant Association Louisville Chapter.

The Spirit Ball
A one-night, masquerade ball has been annual event since 2006. The Spirit Ball is held in the heart of America's largest Victorian neighborhood. Gourmet fare and cocktails are served amidst the backdrop of costumed splendor at the 1890s Conrad-Caldwell House.

Victorian Ghost Walk
Tour Central Park, Floral Terrace, Fountain Court, Millionaire's Row and the Conrad-Caldwell House on St. James Court. The Victorian Ghost Walk, held since 2005, is a guided, evening tour taking place on the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the month.

Week in the Highlands
A week of family-friendly events from the unique blend of lifestyles that make the Highlands a special place. Events include The Highlands Cup 5K Run/Walk, Highlands-Douglass Big Rock Jazz Fest, Empty Bowls Soup Supper and Auction, Belknap Neighborhood Fall Festival, and the Farmington Harvest Festival.

World’s Largest Halloween Party
Not-too-scary, Halloween fun for the entire family with larger-than-life costumed characters and fanciful storybook scenes throughout the Zoo, plus trick-or-treating and the Halloween Train Express!


NOVEMBER
Christmas at the Galt House Hotel
KaLightoscope Christmas is a multi-layered celebration of the holidays at the Galt House Hotel including the exhibit, Colors of the Season dinner show, Mistletoe Marketplace, the world’s largest life-sized gingerbread village, breakfast with Santa, and more. The KaLightoscope exhibit is comprised of larger-than-life, lighted holiday sculptures handcrafted by more than 30 artisans from Zigong, China. Made of sheer, painted fabrics, each towering sculpture is enhanced by light, color, and an imaginative setting.

Day of the Dead Celebration
El Día de los Muertos blends indigenous and Catholic traditions to celebrate and honor the lives of deceased family members and friends who return each year in November to pay their loved ones a visit with flowers, candles, and food.

Festival of Faiths
Held annually since 1996, the Festival of Faiths is a weeklong festival featuring exhibits, music, film, art and more. This celebration allows attendees to learn about different faiths from one another and celebrates the diversity of religions in the Louisville area.

Festival of Trees and Lights
The indoor gallery of the Louisville Slugger Field becomes a winter wonderland of events for an estimated 10,000 attendees in support of the Kosair Children’s Hospital Festival of Trees and Lights. Local businesses and individuals sponsor hundreds of beautifully decorated trees, wreaths, and assorted greenery in which the most unique designs are awarded and all items are available for purchase to benefit Kosair Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Hospital Foundation. Visitors can enjoy ongoing attractions such as traditional Kwanza, Christian, and Jewish celebrations and festive displays, shop for holiday gifts and homemade delicacies, and attend fun family events such as Dickens Family Night.

Holidays Around the World
Holidays Around the World is a visually-stunning, multi-cultural tree display at the Frazier History Museum that celebrates holiday traditions found throughout Louisville’s diverse communities. It ranges from trees decorated as they would be in countries that observe Christmas, to cultural displays showcasing other holidays observed around the globe throughout the year.

Light Up Louisville
Held the day after Thanksgiving, Light Up Louisville has been a holiday tradition since 1981. Events include Run Run Rudolph 5K, Workshop and Children’s Crafts, entertainment, and a Winter Wonderland Parade – an evening parade of lights, Santa’s arrival, and a fireworks show. In 2012, Light Up Louisville expanded moving to Fourth Street, creating a three-block festival of lights between the Galt House and Fourth Street Live.

North American Livestock Exposition
The North American International Livestock Exposition is the world’s largest all-breed, purebred livestock exposition. Accompanying the event, the North American Quarter Horse Show is one of the largest shows in the nation and the North American Championship Rodeo features the Great Lakes Circuit finals for the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association.


DECEMBER
Christmas Gift and Décor Show
One of the nation’s largest and finest free admission Christmas Shows! Over 700 booths of wonderful Christmas craft and gift-type items.

Lights Under Louisville
Seventeen miles of Louisville MEGA Cavern’s passageways are transformed into an underground holiday light spectacular for the Christmas season. Drive your own vehicle inside the cavern on this 30-40 minute tour which features over 500 lit characters and over 2,000,000 points of light. It’s the only underground light show of its kind on the planet.

Old Louisville Holiday House Tour
Visit historic Old Louisville’s most beautiful homes all dressed up for the holidays.