Named one of the best places to travel this Fall by both Travel + Leisure and Hotels Above Par, Louisville is a great destination for a Fall weekend getaway. From Bourbon-infused events, haunted ghost tours, and some of the biggest music festivals happening in the country, there are plenty of reasons to escape to Bourbon City this Fall.
Oktoberfest at the German American Club | September 8 & 9
Head to the German American Club for one of their biggest events of the year. The annual Oktoberfest celebration will feature German food, pretzels by Klaus, imported beers, live music, and plenty of Gemütlichkeit. The Friday night Oktoberfest will last from 4-11pm, and the Saturday event will take place from 2pm until midnight. The River City Polkatz will play each night, with Rheingold band also making an appearance on Saturday. The cost for the event is $5 for adults and free for children.
Louisville Pride Festival | September 9 | FREE
Held every September in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood, this annual block party has become a staple end-of-summer event. The 2023 entertainment lineup includes John Austin Clark, Robbie Bartlett, members of the Louisville Orchestra, Siena Liggins, Bungalow Betty, and a special reunion performance with Carol Kraemer and Laura Shine. The festival is held across multiple blocks on Bardstown Road, which is also home to some of the city’s most popular LGBTQ bars, including Chill Bar and Big Bar, which stay open late after the festival ends.
Big Four Arts Festival | September 9 & 10
The 7th annual Big Four Bridge Arts Festival will be held on Waterfront Park’s Big Four Lawn at the base of the popular Big Four Walking Bridge. Over 150 juried artists will set up shop along the Ohio River during the two-day event, featuring paintings, jewelry, sculptures, photography, and live music. Tickets for the event are just $5 and can be purchased online or at the entrance to the festival.
Gaslight Festival Week | September 10-17
Centered around the small-town ambiance of Gaslight Square, the Gaslight Festival has evolved into an eight-day extravaganza that has become a time-honored tradition of East Louisville's Jeffersontown (J-Town) community. The festival's signature events include a car show, golf scramble, 5K run, parade, balloon glow, motorcycle rally, live entertainment, and over 200 arts, crafts, and commercial booths.
Bourbon & Beyond | September 14-17
Proclaimed the "World's Biggest Bourbon & Music Festival, Bourbon & Beyond is back and bigger than ever with a four day lineup of award-winning musicians. Headliners for the 2023 festival include Brandi Carlile, The Killers, The Black Keys, and Bruno Mars. In addition to incredible music, more than a dozen distilleries will be on-site, offering over 100 different varieties of rare, vintage, and experimental bourbon expressions to taste. Culinary experiences include intoxicating celebrity and Kentucky chef demos, great eats from local restaurants, and a few surprises along the way.
Kentucky Bourbon Festival | September 15-17
Located just 45 minutes south of downtown Louisville in Bardstown, KY, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival has celebrated Kentucky Bourbon for over 30 years. Both single-day and three-day passes are available for this annual Bourbon Heritage Month tradition, which highlights America’s only native spirit through tastings, dinners, auctions, and the World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay. Bourbon enthusiasts can sip their favorite hard-to-find bourbons or get signature cocktails prepared by pro mixologists.
PNC Broadway presents: WICKED | September 20 - October 8
Broadway sensation WICKED will be coming to the Kentucky Center with two dozen performances taking place in downtown Louisville this Fall. With a thrilling score that includes the hits “Defying Gravity,” “Popular” and “For Good,” WICKED has been hailed by The New York Times as “the defining musical of the decade.”
Louder Than Life | September 21-24
Named the “Largest Rock Festival in America” in 2019 Louder Than Life will feature an incredible lineup of musicians, with headliners Foo Fighters, Tool, Avenged Sevenfold, and Green Day all taking the stage over the four-day event. Local food and drink culture will also be incorporated into the festival’s culinary offerings with pop-ups from popular Kentucky Bourbon brands and local Louisville restaurants. Single-day, Weekend General Admission, VIP, and Top Shelf passes are currently on sale.
NuLu Fest | September 23 | FREE
Once named "One of the Coolest Neighborhoods in North America," Louisville's East Market District, or NuLu, will have its annual neighborhood street fest on the last Saturday in September. Known for its art galleries, unique retail stores, and some of the most popular restaurants in the city, the neighborhood block party will feature live music, regional micro-brewed beers, Bourbon, and numerous food and retail booths by local vendors.
Pumpkins at Kentucky Kingdom | Weekends Sept. 30 - Oct. 29
Back for its second year, discover more than 1,000 illuminated pumpkins at Kentucky Kingdom amusement park. By day, fly through the crisp fall air on world-class rides, savor tasty autumn treats and discover new seasonal fun around every corner. Wait until night falls to see expertly carved towering pumpkin sculptures that light up the night with special effects and pops of color, in addition to family-friendly entertainment, mazes, special fall photo opportunities, trick-or-treating, and limited-time seasonal bites.
Boo at the Zoo | Sept. 30 - Oct. 29, Thursdays - Sundays
A tradition for over 40 years, Boo at the Zoo transforms the Louisville Zoo into a living storybook, complete with some of your favorite characters brought to life, fun music, and a safe place for trick-or-treating for kids 11 and under. Celebrate with an all-inclusive party experience designed to give all the kooky you love with less of the spooky. A Spooktacular Carousel, "not-so-itsy-bitsy" Spider House and a Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow experience are all included with admission.
Louisville Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular | October 3-31
Fall favorite Jack O'Lantern Spectacular is back at Louisville Iroquois Park for another season of Halloween fun. Visitors can stroll along a 1/3-mile path to enjoy over 5,000 carved pumpkins illuminated every evening as a part of the nightly art show. This family-friendly Fall celebration is the perfect ending to a day of exploration and has become one of Louisville’s most popular October traditions. This year's theme is Wanderlust: The World Is Your Pumpkin.
Venardos Circus | October 5-15
Venardos' classic red-and-white striped circus tent will return to Waterfront Park this October with over a dozen shows to choose from. Founded by former Ringling Bros. Ringmaster Kevin Venardos, this new-age circus brings a modern-day twist to the classic tradition. Adults and children alike will enjoy trapeze artists, aerial stunts, dance numbers, jugglers, and more.
St. James Court Art Show | October 6-8 | FREE
Celebrating its 67th anniversary in 2023, the St. James Court Art Show is a juried fine art, and contemporary crafts show that brings over 600 artists to the city every first full weekend in October. The event spans 4 square blocks and is set in the Old Louisville neighborhood, home to the country’s most extensive collection of Victorian-era homes.
Garvin Gates Blues Festival | October 13 & 14 | FREE
Set in Old Louisville, Louisville's largest free street music festival makes a triumphant two-day return in 2023. This annual tradition is celebrating its 28th year of arts and blues music featuring local and regional performers, including Ray Fuller & The Bluesrockers, Walnut Street Rhythm &Blue Band, and the Hole Shot Blues Band. In addition to continuous live entertainment, the festival will feature an array of food and drink vendors. The festival takes place on Oak Street between 4th & 6th. You can find the full musical lineup and schedule on their website.
Urban Bourbon Half Marathon | October 14
Presented by Jim Beam® and routed through Louisville's historic Whiskey Row and scenic Cherokee Park, this experiential event celebrates the area's 200+ years of distilling history. The half marathon features exclusive bourbon experiences and a post-race party that Runners’ World magazine heralded as one of the "Best Half Marathon After-Parties in the Country." You must be at least 21 or older to participate in the event.
Louisville's Great Chili Cook Off | Oct. 14 & 15
Taking place on the 800 block of East Market Street in the NuLu neighborhood this annual event brings together chili enthusiasts, food lovers, and families from across the city. Happening from noon to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday, the event will feature delicious chili tastings, live music, family-friendly activities, and friendly competition among participating teams.
Victorian Ghost Walk | October 20-22
Visit one of "America's most haunted neighborhoods" during this annual ghost tour in Old Louisville. Created by Louisville local and New York Times-reviewed author David Domine, this limited-time event will bring spirits to life with actors portraying the figures that allegedly roam some of the neighborhood's most haunted buildings. If you can't make it this weekend, Louisville Historic Tours offers nightly ghost tours through the Fall, though if you spot a ghost during one of those, it may be the real thing.
Louisville Beer Week | October 20-27
Though referred to as Bourbon City, Louisville's Beer scene holds its own with dozens of top-tier breweries located around the city. Louisville Beer Week will kick off with the return of Louisville Beer Fest at the German-American Club and fill the following week with brewery collabs, interactive panel discussions, and more. This year's theme is Around The World in 8 Days with participating breweries partnering with each other as well as some of Louisville's international restaurants to create some genuinely unique tasting experiences.
Hot Brown Showdown | October 22
Celebrating the official sandwich of the state of Kentucky, this popular edible event returns to Louisville's Waterfront Park to highlight local professional and amateur chefs and their spin on the iconic dish. The event will kick off the annual Louisville Hot Brown Week, which takes place October 23-29 and offers $9 Hot Browns or Hot Brown-inspired dishes at select restaurants around the city. Use the Hot Brown Week app to be in the running for a free weekend stay at the iconic Brown Hotel.
Louisville Ultimate Halloween Parade & Festival | Oct. 26-29
One of the region's largest Halloween celebrations will take place in Butchertown this Fall with over a dozen events to attend to get you in the Halloween spirit. Mostly taking place at Lynn Family Stadium, events include musical performances by Molly's Midnight Villains, The Dead Speak, and the Blue Brothers, among others, as well as a two-night Balloon Glow, costume contests, car show, trick-or-treating, and of course, the annual Halloween Parade, which will kick off at Louisville Slugger Field on Oct. 28.
Fall Meet at Churchill Downs | November 1-26 (See calendar for live racing days)
Best known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs will host its annual Fall Meet featuring live Thoroughbred racing this November. In addition to being a popular Thanksgiving and Black Friday tradition, the historic race track will host Sunday brunches, a Military Appreciation Day, Senior Day, and Breeders' Cup Watch Party.
Louisville Chocolate, Wine & Whiskey Festival | November 4
Taking place at the Mellwood Arts Center, this sweet and savory festival features a broad selection of artisan chocolates, premium wines, and fine whiskies, along with cakes, cookies, candies, champagne and prosecco. Tickets include chocolate samples, whiskey samples, boozy milkshakes, a wine glass, and Louisville's 1st chocolate fondue bar. The event is exclusively 21+, and VIP tickets are available.
ColorFest at Bernheim Forest | Nov. 4 & 5
Named one of the Best Places to See Fall Colors in the US, Louisville has a variety of destinations to visit while in town during the colorful fall months. During this annual Fall Festival, Bernheim Forest will show off the region's famous foliage with two days of activities. Some of the available activities include a corn pit, mud pie kitchen, pumpkin rolling, giant launch, nature games, and giant slides. ColorFest will occur from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
North American Championship Rodeo | Nov. 9-11
Held at historic Freedom Hall this high-energy lineup of events includes bull riding, team roping, women's barrel racing, rodeo clowns and more as a part of the North American International Livestock Exposition.
For a list of Halloween and spooky season-specific events, check out this round-up of Halloween Haunts + Happenings in Louisville.
To find all events happening in and around the city be sure to check out our event calendar and subscribe to our email newsletters for the latest updates on news and events.