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.
St. Patrick's Parade | March 12
Hosted by the Louisville Ancient Order of Hibernians, this annual celebration begins at 3pm and takes place in the eclectic and energetic Highlands neighborhood. With this year's theme being The Return of St. Patrick, 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 18 - June 5
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 past thousands of handcrafted silk-covered lanterns aglow with more than 50,000 LED lights and over 70 full lantern displays.
NuLu Bock Fest | March 26
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 also returning in 2022 which will have local restaurants facing off to create their best versions of the cased sausage. The festivities last from Noon-6pm, but there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area for those looking to celebrate after the event comes to a close.
Elton John at the KFC Yum! Center | April 16
Celebrated singer, songwriter and musician Elton John returns to Louisville this spring with newly rescheduled dates for his award-winning, Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour. Starting at 8pm at the KFC Yum! Center, be sure to get downtown early to stop in at one of the many bars and restaurants within walking distance of the arena before the show.
KMAC Couture | April 16
Marking its tenth anniversary in 2022, 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 on historic museum row with a runway that stretches down Main Street.
Thunder Over Louisville | April 23
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.
Cherokee Triangle Art Fair | April 30 & May 1
Celebrating its 50th year, the Cherokee Triangle Art Fair is back after a two year hiatus. 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.
Pegasus Parade | May 1
Typically held the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby, in 2022 you'll find the annual Pegasus Parade marching down Broadway on a Sunday, 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 4
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 and BB Riverboats Belle of Cincinnati. Tickets to ride both racing riverboats are available, as well as the Mary M. Miller riverboat, who 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 birds eye view of the start and finish from the historic Big Four Bridge.
Kentucky Oaks | May 6
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 7
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.
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival | 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.
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.
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