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20+ Festivals & Events to Plan for this Summer in Louisville

Bourbon, music, culture, art, beer, and pride collide this summer in Louisville with dozens of concerts, festivals and events planned in Bourbon City. Here are some of the area's biggest and most anticipated events for 2022.

Shakespeare Festival in Central Park | May 25-August 7

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 and include the Shakespearean plays Twelfth Night, Richard III, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Shows begin nightly at 8pm, but 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.

Abbey Road on the River | May 26-30

Celebrating its 20th year, 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 The Fab Four, Tommy James & the Shondells, The Cyrkle, and The Love Album Concert. Free admission for a guests age 20 and under when accompanied by a matching adult ticket.

Forecastle Festival | May 27-29

With a new date of Memorial Day Weekend, the Forecastle Festival is expected to be poppin' with headliners Tyler, The Creator, Tame Impala, and Louisville native, Jack Harlow. The annual festival, which is held on the banks of the Ohio River at Louisville's Waterfront Park, aims to combine the best in music, art and activism, and offers attendees a taste of local Bourbon, restaurants, and shopping, on top of three days of live music.

Louisville GreekFest | June 3-4

Celebrate Grecian hospitality and culture with Louisville's Greek community at the annual Louisville Greek Fest. Food vendors will be offering up popular Greek items like gyros, souvlake sandwiches, tiropitas, along with an assortment of pastries and desserts. Live music and traditional Greek dancing will also be performed from a number of local groups. Weather permitting the event will be held outside of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in the Lyndon neighborhood off of Ormsby Lane.

Ali Festival | June 3-9

Six years after the passing of Louisville's native son, the annual Ali Festival celebrates Muhammad Ali’s impactful legacy and love for Louisville. The community celebration will include an array of events including fitness, art, history, community service, family activities, and special announcements. On top of a visit to the Louisville Muhammad Ali Center and the Champ's final resting place at Cave Hill Cemetery, other participating venues include TKO Boxing Gym, Trolley de 'Ville, and the the Louisville Bats. If you can't be in town for the week of celebration, you can always follow in the Footsteps of Greatness while taking this self-guided tour around the city.

Summer Beer Festivals | June 11, July 16, August 6, August 26, August 27

Though Louisville is known as popularly known as Bourbon City, many are unaware of the city's hoppin' local beer scene. Get a taste of the state of Kentucky's beer scene at the Kentucky Craft Bash (June 11), which highlights over 70 local breweries from around the state. The J-town Beer Festival (July 16) is a neighborhood beer fest brining together beer, music and food to support local area businesses. The Summer Beer Fest at the Frazier (August 6) is expanding this year on to Louisville's Main Street and will feature over 200 beers on tap outside of the city's history museum. Old Lou Brew (August 26) is set in Central Park in the Old Louisville neighborhood, which is home to one of the largest collection of Victorian-era mansions in the country. And, you'll be sure to have a wild time at Brew at the Zoo (August 27), an annual fundraiser at the Louisville Zoo.

Downs After Dark | June 18 & September 24

One of Louisville’s longest running traditions extends their hours just a few times a year for what Churchill Downs has coined Downs After Dark. With gates opening at 5pm and the last horse race not starting until 11:10pm, racing fans will have a chance to see Churchill Downs in a whole new light. Live music, festive attire, and of course classic cocktails add to the excitement with general admission tickets starting at $14.

Kentuckiana Pride Parade & Festival | June 18

Held at Louisville’s Waterfront Park, the Kentuckiana Pride Parade & Festival has been a tradition in downtown Louisville for more than 20 years. Start the day with the annual Pride parade down East Market Street in the popular NuLu neighborhood as it marches 1.5-miles towards the Ohio River and the iconic Big Four Bridge. Headliners for this year's entertainment include Tove Lo, Miki Ratsula, Daisha McBride and others, as more than 20,000 people are expected to attend one of the state's largest LGBTQ+ events.

Waterfront Park Fourth of July | July 4

Celebrate Independence Day on the banks of the Ohio River at Louisville's Waterfront Park. This annual holiday event includes music, fireworks, food vendors and more, and will be fun for the whole family from 6-11pm.

Beyond Van Gogh | July 6 - September 3

Celebrating world-renowned impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, this immersive experience will be taking over downtown Louisville's Kentucky International Convention Center this summer, occupying over 30,000 square feet of space. With 300+ still and moving masterpieces, Van Gogh's art will come alive while projected across the center, appearing and disappearing as the art flows in and out of frames.

The International Women’s Cup | August 14, 17 & 20

After a thrilling penalty shootout championship game for the inaugural 2021 event, The Women's Cup is back as home team Racing Louisville FC joins global soccer powerhouses Tokyo Verdy Beleza (Japan) and Club América (Mexico) at Lynn Family Stadium this summer, with two more international teams still to be announced. The OL Reign will round out the tournament as an additional National Women’s Soccer League team in the six-team, seven-game tournament. A doubleheader kicks off the tournament with two games on Sunday the 14th, a tripleheader on Wednesday the17th, and an another doubleheader which will include the championship game on Saturday the 20th. Ticket reservations are now available.

Kentucky State Fair | August 18 – 28

Held annually at the Kentucky Exposition Center, the Kentucky State Fair is a centuries-old tradition celebrating Kentucky’s culture, art, agriculture, music and more. Travel the entire Commonwealth and discover everything Kentucky has to offer without ever having to leave the room at the Pride of the Counties exhibit, or explore Agland, more than an acre of agriculture exhibits highlighting Kentucky’s farm and field heritage.

WorldFest | September 2-5

Louisville’s WorldFest is one of the region’s largest international festivals that celebrates with four days of expanded world food, music, dance, culture and education every Labor Day weekend. Taking place in Downtown Louisville on the Belvedere, the festival highlights cultures from around the world all without ever leaving the city.

Big Four Arts Festival | September 10 & 11

The 6th annual Big Four Bridge Arts Festival will be held on Louisville Waterfront Park’s Big Four Lawn located at the base of the popular Big Four Walking Bridge over four acres of tree lined walkways overlooking the Ohio River. More than 150 juried artists will set up shop during the two-day event featuring artistic styles ranging from painting, jewelry, sculptures, photography and more. Tickets for the event are just $5 and can be purchased at the entrance of the festival.

KY Bourbon Festival | September 16-18

Located just 45 minutes south of downtown Louisville in Bardstown, KY, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival has been celebrating America's native spirit for over 30 years. Both single day and three-day passes are available for this annual Bourbon Heritage Month festival, which with experiential 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. VIP level experiences are already sold out so be sure to purchase tickets in advanced.

Bourbon & Beyond | September 15-18

The World’s Largest Bourbon & Music Festival is returning to the Highland Festival Grounds after a two-year hiatus. This star-studded event brings together the best in Classic Rock, Alt Rock, and Bluegrass music with 50-plus bands on three stages, alongside hands-on bourbon workshops, tastings, and culinary programming with celebrity chefs. This year's festival is expanding to four full days and includes headliners Alanis Morissette, Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam and Chris Stapleton.

Louisville Pride Festival | September 17

Held every September in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood, this annual block party has become a staple end-of-summer event. The 2022 entertainment lineup is still TBA but past headliners to take the stage have included Todrick Hall, Vincint, and Deborah Cox. The festival is held across multiple blocks on Bardstown Road, which is also home to three of the city’s most popular LGBTQ bars - Nowhere Bar, Chill Bar, and Big Bar, which stay open late after the festival performances end.

Louder Than Life | September 23 – 26

While technically the first weekend in Fall, we would be remiss not to mention Louder Than Life which will wrap up an incredible summer of music in Louisville with a four-day rock festival just south of downtown at the Highland Festival Grounds at the Kentucky Expo Center. Headliners for the festival include Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot, KISS, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Local food and drink culture will also be incorporated into the festival’s culinary scene with pop-ups from popular Kentucky Bourbon brands and local Louisville restaurants. Weekend General Admission, VIP and Top Shelf passes are currently on sale.

To find all events happening in and around the city be sure to check out our online event calendar and subscribe to our email newsletters for the latest updates on news and events.

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Jordan Skora

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