Louisville EventsIn addition to its many cultural and historic landmarks, this destination hosts a number of outstanding festivals and events that may coincide with your visit.
Louisville has much to celebrate and wastes no time doing just that through various ethnic festivals, fairs, music events, art and trade shows, and of course, horse races. For current listings of events check the local newspapers.
To Louisvillians, the Kentucky Derby , held on the first Saturday in May, is not just a horse race but the last day of the Kentucky Derby Festival , a 2-week event accented by picnics, banquets and dances; music events with top-name entertainment; and bicycle, balloon and steamboat races. The whole festival is kicked off in grand style by Thunder Over Louisville , one of the nation's premiere air shows and fireworks displays. The city comes down with Derby fever a week before the race, and its population mushrooms with the influx of tourists, all anxious to experience one of the nation's largest celebrations.
The National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pull , held at the Kentucky Exposition Center, draws crowds in mid-February. The center is also the site for the NSRA Street Rod Nationals , usually held late July-early August and said to be the world's largest street rod event with more than 11,000 pre-1949 vehicles.
Beatles fans flock to the Abbey Road on the River Music Festival on Memorial Day weekend when a tribute to Britain's fab four is presented. In July the Forecastle Festival , a music, art and activism event, draws more than 40 bands and some 50 environmental organizations to entertain and inform along the Ohio River.
In mid-August Louisville presents the Kentucky State Fair and Horse Show , also held at the Exposition Center. Besides the horse show—a prestigious event for Saddlebreds—exhibits and musical entertainment also are on the fair's schedule.
WorldFest , on Labor Day weekend, features international music, dance and food. Also in September, the IdeaFestival attracts highly diverse thinkers from across the globe to explore and celebrate innovation, imagination and cutting-edge ideas. Mid-September ushers in Oktoberfest at the German-American Club.
The fine arts are celebrated during several fairs and festivals. Shakespearean plays are performed each summer, late May to early August, during the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival . Performances are free. The first weekend in October, the St. James Court Art Show is held at St. James and Belgravia courts.
Step back in time to a Victorian era with holiday lights, vendors selling British fare and a parade during Light Up Louisville in late November.
See all the AAA recommended events for this destination.
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