Top Events Happening in Louisville this May : Official Travel Source

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Top Events Happening in Louisville this May

Named one of the best places to travel in May by The Points Guy, TripAdvisor, AFAR, Good Housekeeping, and more, springtime in Louisville is undoubtedly one of the best times to visit the city. From a party-packed Kentucky Derby week to a diverse mix of art and music festivals, here are some of Louisville's top events taking place this May.

Cinco de Mayo Street Party at Guacamole | May 5

Back for its second year in a row, Guacamole Modern Mexcian in NuLu is celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a night-time fiesta. Featuring tacos, tequila and turntables, this rain or shine event will include a 360 photo booth, DJ and plenty of themed giveaways. Guacamole’s taco truck will keep partygoers well-fed and drink specials that include $10 Patron and Grey Goose cocktails.

Kentucky Oaks & Derby Parties | through May 6

While there is no shortage of events for the entire month leading up to Derby, we've managed to get a list together of some of the annual parties and new additions that locals and visitors can attend during the days leading up to the race. With superstar headliners like Dustin Lynch, T.I. and Diplo to neighborhood block parties in the Highlands and NuLu, there will be plenty of ways to get down and Derby in Louisville this spring.

Wild Lights at the Louisville Zoo | through June 4

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. This year's theme is Wild Lights: Around the World and will feature famous landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House, and the Great Sphinx of Giza.

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 a special guest, the American Countess. Tickets to ride the racing riverboats are available, as well as the Mary M. Miller riverboat, which will be trailing the 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. Find more ways to do the Great Steamboat Race here.

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 on 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.

Seal: World Tour | May 7

Known for his hit songs Kiss from a Rose and Fly Like an Eagle, Grammy Award-winning singer Seal will be bringing his talents to the Louisville Palace the day after the Kentucky Derby. The 30th Anniversary Tour will commemorate three decades of his landmark self-titled debut album Seal (1991) and eponymous follow-up Seal II (1994). No cameras, audio or video recording of any kind is permitted during the performance.

Opening Day at Kentucky Kingdom | May 13

Kentucky's largest amusement park will re-open for its 2023 on Saturday, May 13! Owned by Herschend Family Entertainment and spanning over 67 acres, Kentucky Kingdom offers family-friendly entertainment with over 70 rides and attractions – including five World-class roller coasters. The Hurricane Bay Waterpark, which is also located on the property, offers two giant wave pools, thrilling water slides, and plenty of places to relax in the sun, will open just a few weeks later during Memorial Day Weekend.

Poorcastle Festival | May 19-21

A self-described "Festival for the Rest of Us," Poorcastle is held at Breslin Park in the Highlands with goals to benefit local businesses, artists and vendors as a way to support the community. The three-day music festival prides itself in its affordability, with day passes starting at $15 and a 3-day pass being only $35.

Old Louisville SpringFest | May 20

Located at Toonerville Trolley Park, near the corner of Brook & Oak Street in historic Old Louisville, this annual festival and neighborhood market is free and open to the public. Taking place from 10am until 7pm, the event features nearly 100 local handmade artists and vendors selling unique local art, upcycled goods, jewelry, pottery, clothing, handmade soaps, wood crafts, and artisanal food. Food trucks and live music will also be on hand, along with a DJ in the SpringFest beer garden.

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.

MindFest | May 21

Held at Roots 101 African American Museum, this free community mind-strengthening event features music, food, entertainment, art, yoga, vendors, panel discussions, and more. The purpose of the festival is to share resources via hosted activities and break the stigmas surrounding mental health.

Kentucky Shakespeare Festival | May 24-August 6

Taking place in Old Louisville’s scenic Central Park, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival continues its sixty-plus-year 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 includes the Shakespearean plays A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Love's Labor's Lost. 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 25-29

A celebration taking place for more than 20 years, this annual Beatles tribute is set at the Big Four Station Park in Jeffersonville, IN, just across the river from downtown Louisville. The Memorial Day weekend festival features some of the best Beatles cover bands rocking out in tribute to the iconic British boy band. Headliners include Micky Dolenz of the Monkees, The Rascals, Back 2 Mac, and BritBeat. Individual day, weekend and VIP ticket options available.

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.

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Jordan Skora

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