Not only is springtime in Louisville one of the prettiest times of the year to visit, but it's also packed with some of the city's top festivals and events. Thoroughbreds, billy goats, people, and steamboats are all off to the races with their own unique events, while air shows, fashion shows, and light shows marvel audiences this March, April and May.
Tailspin Ale Fest | March 4
Celebrating 10 years in 2023, this annual end-of-winter beer festival is held outdoors at historic Bowman Field, which is known as one of the oldest continually operated airports in the US. With access to food trucks, a cigar lounge, a silent disco, and over 250 beers from local and regional breweries, this event has taken off as a favorite for locals and area beer connoisseurs.
St. Patrick's Parade | March 11
Hosted by the Louisville Ancient Order of Hibernians, this annual celebration begins at 3 pm and takes place in the eclectic and energetic Highlands neighborhood. Celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2023, you'll find parade floats, marching bands, and plenty of green beer as spectators line Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue. Get there early to stake out your spot at some of the area's best Irish bars - Molly Malone's, O'Shea's, and Flanagan's. Check out more local Irish bars and ways to celebrate St. Patrick's day in Louisville here.
Wild Lights at the Louisville Zoo | March 10 - May 21
See the Zoo in a whole new light as you enjoy one of the largest lantern festivals in the nation. This family-friendly, outdoor event will guide you along a 1.4-mile paved walkway allowing you to experience unique locations from around the world as you stroll through the Zoo under the light of enormous, handcrafted, silk-covered lanterns. aglow with more than 50,000 LED lights.
NuLu Bock Fest | March 25
Located on a stretch of Market Street sandwiched between Nanny Goat Strut and Billy Goat Strut, the NuLu Bock Fest celebrates Louisville's rich beer history with local breweries, music, and even a slew of goat races. Wurst Fest is back for 2023, which will feature local restaurants facing off to create their best versions of the cased sausage. The festivities last from Noon-6 pm, but there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area for those looking to celebrate after the event comes to a close.
Disney on Ice | April 6-9
With five shows at the KFC Yum! Center, Disney On Ice will take you on a thrilling adventure filled with tales of heroism from your favorite Disney stories. Characters Moana and Maui, Anna and Elsa, Belle and the Beast, Rapunzel, and the Little Mermaid will all make appearances during this Find Your Hero ice skating performance.
KMAC Couture | April 15
Marking its eleventh anniversary in 2023, this artistically curated fashion show celebrates at the intersection of art, craft, and design, with participants constructing extravagant garments out of unconventional materials and textiles. Hosted by Louisville's contemporary art museum, KMAC, the event takes place at historic Paristown just south of Broadway near the highlands.
This electrifying, new smash-hit Broadway musical follows The Temptations’ extraordinary journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With their signature dance moves and silky-smooth harmonies, they rose to the top of the charts creating 42 Top Ten Hits with 14 reaching number one. Nominated for 12 Tony® Awards and the winner of the 2019 Tony Award for Best Choreography, Ain’t Too Proud tells the thrilling story of brotherhood, family, loyalty, and betrayal, as the group’s personal and political conflicts threatened to tear them apart during a decade of civil unrest in America. The show takes place at the Kentucky Center in downtown Louisville.
Spring into Derby at Paristown | April 14-16
Enjoyed a Derby-inspired weekend of art, bourbon and music at the revitalized historical Paristown neighborhood. This outdoor community event features an open art show on Brent Street, Bluegrass music, food and cocktails from The Café, and two nights of ticketed live music at Christy’s Garden.
Orville Peck-Bronco Tour | April 18
Combining the lulling ambiance of shoegaze with the iconic melodies and vocal prowess of classic American country music, outlaw cowboy, Orville Peck croons about love and loss from the badlands of North America.
Thunder Over Louisville | April 22
Held as the annual kickoff event for the Kentucky Derby Festival, this airshow and fireworks display can bring hundreds of thousands of spectators to the banks of the Ohio River. Watch from Waterfront Park, a downtown hotel, or even Southern Indiana starting mid-afternoon to see notable military-style aircraft, and stay until 9:30pm to catch the 30-minute "thunder" spectacle which is said be one of the largest annual firework shows in North America. Find a list of different viewing parties and other places to watch, here.
Cherokee Triangle Art Fair | April 29 & 30
For over 50 years, the Cherokee Triangle Art Fair has ushered in springtime in Louisville in one of the city's historic neighborhoods-- the Highlands. This free, two-day event is one of the oldest art fairs in the region and features art ranging from paints to sculptures to jewelry. Food vendors will also be on-site as well as live music performances which will take place in the Willow Park Gazebo.
Kentucky Derby Festival Mini & Marathon | April 29
The Kentucky Derby Festival miniMaration is a long-standing tradition held every April and allows runners to see iconic Louisville sites including the world's largest baseball bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum, historic homes of Old Louisville, and the twin spires at Churchill Downs. Those who opt to run the full marathon will get sweeping views of the Louisville skyline and Ohio River as they cross the Big Four Bridge into Southern Indiana.
Pegasus Parade | April 30
Happening once again on a Sunday afternoon, the annual Pegasus Parade marches down Broadway symbolizing the start of Derby Week. Originating in 1956, the parade is the Derby Festival's oldest event and has featured a wide variety of celebrities such as Muhammad Ali, John Wayne, Diane Sawyer, Colonel Sanders, and William Shatner.
The Great Steamboat Race | May 3
Beginning in 1963 with a head-to-head battle between two historic vessels, the Belle of Louisville and the Delta Queen, the Great Steamboat Race is one of the Kentucky Derby Festival's most unique traditions. Scheduled annually for the Wednesday before Derby Day, this year’s race will include Louisville’s Belle of Louisville, BB Riverboats Belle of Cincinnati and the American Queen Steamboat Company's American Duchess. Tickets to ride both racing riverboats are available, as well as the Mary M. Miller riverboat, which will be trailing the two vessels throughout the two-hour race. For those not looking to cruise, locals enjoy picnicking along the river at Waterfront Park and getting a bird's eye view of the start and finish from the historic Big Four Bridge.
Kentucky Oaks | May 5
Held the Friday before the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks is held annually at Churchill Downs racetrack and is the 2nd highest attended horse race in the United States. Run by 3-year old fillies, spectators have developed a tradition of wearing pink on Oaks Day in an effort to bring attention to the fight against breast and ovarian cancer.
Kentucky Derby | May 6
As the longest continually held sporting event in North America, the Kentucky Derby is a Louisville tradition unlike any other. Held at the iconic Churchill Downs racetrack, "the most exciting two minutes in sports" takes place annually the first Saturday in May as up to twenty Thoroughbreds race head to head for a chance at being named Kentucky Derby champion and a shot at the coveted Triple Crown.
Poorcastle Festival | May 19-21
The three-day Poorcastle Festival is filled with 30+ local bands. Held in Breslin Park, it bills itself as an alternative to pricier festivals without sacrificing the quality of the music or the fun.
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival | May 24-August 6
Taking place in Old Louisville’s scenic Central Park, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival continues its decades-long tradition of providing free live-action performances of some of Shakespeare’s greatest works. This year’s entertainment kicks off just prior to Memorial Day weekend, with shows beginning nightly at 8pm. Guests are encouraged to arrive as early as 6pm to get a bite at local food trucks and to ensure seating is available. Guests are also welcome to bring their own blankets and chairs, as well as dogs, as long as they are leashed. Previous years' performances have included plays Romeo & Juliet, the Twelfth Night, Richard III, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Norton Commons Art Festival | May 20 & 21
Located in the walkable Norton Commons neighborhood, this free, 2-day event will feature over 75 artisan vendors including painters, jewelry makers, soap milliners, photographers, woodworkers, and mixed media artists. Local food trucks will be on site along with live music, and a kids' zone.
Abbey Road on the River | May 25-29
This annual Beatles tribute takes place just across the river from Louisville at Big Four Station Park in Jeffersonville, IN. The Memorial Day weekend festival will feature some of the best Beatles cover bands rocking out in tribute to the iconic British boy band. Headliners include Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees, Back 2 Mac, BritBeat, and Classicstone. Free admission for guests age 20 and under when accompanied by a matching adult ticket.
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.
For discounts on local attraction tickets and hotel rooms click here.