10 Popular Festivals In Louisville, Kentucky

festivals in louisville

As one of the most popular cities in Kentucky, Louisville has the perfect blend of everything that this state is known for. Whether you come here for derby races or fine bourbon, the city’s various landmarks and attractions will certainly delight you. If you find yourself enamoured by this amazing destination and wish to experience the best of its culture in a short span of time, make your way to one of its many festivals. From smooth jazz to holiday flair, the city hosts events that will appeal to every kind of visitor. To know more, simply read on for our recommendations of the most popular festivals in Louisville, Kentucky.

1. Forecastle Festival

The Head and the Heart @ Forecastle 2012 (Friday)
Source: Photo by user Zepfanman.com used under CC BY 2.0

Held at the beautiful Waterfront Park in Louisville, Forecastle Festival is a three-day extravaganza that brings together the themes of music, art, environmental activism, and outdoor recreation. This event attracts more than 75,000 visitors each year and has been awarded some cool titles by various publications. On the music front, artists from around the world like Sam Smith, The Killers, Outkast, and more take to the stage to entertain the crowds. The festival also celebrates Kentucky, its bourbon, food, traditions, and culture. Talks on environmental issues by leaders of prominent organisations are held at the venue too.

Forecastle Festival

Address: 231 Witherspoon St, Louisville, KY 40202

Website: Forecastle Festival

Takes place: Usually held in July

2. Light Up Louisville

Posted by Louisville Metro Special Events on Thursday, 26 September 2019

Light Up Louisville is a festival where Santa Claus and the mayor of the city light up the downtown area the day after Thanksgiving to signify the start of the holiday season. This has been a tradition for almost 40 years now, and it attracts both residents and visitors for a day of celebration. Among the many activities held are free train rides, children’s activity corners, a holiday marketplace, a parade with a marching band, carolers, and floats. There is live entertainment on the main stage by various local musical acts and, of course, brilliant fireworks at the end.

Light Up Louisville

Address: 6th & Jefferson Streets, Louisville, Kentucky

Website: Light Up Louisville

Takes place: November

3. Louder Than Life

Posted by Louder Than Life on Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Conducted in the Highland Festival Grounds of Kentucky Exposition Center, Louder Than Life is said to be the largest rock festival in the U.S., with about 128,000 attendees in the 2019 edition of the festival. It has performances by some of the best rock and heavy metal bands, including Guns N’ Roses, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Disturbed, Rob Zombie, and Godsmack. The world-famous heavy metal band Metallica is set to headline the 2020 edition of this festival. While you headbang to the music, enjoy sipping on local brews, tucking into delicious grub from the restaurants, and sampling bourbon from popular distilleries. Several activities and awareness campaigns are also held at this event.

Louder Than Life

Address: 937 Phillips Ln, Louisville, KY 40209, United States

Website: Louder Than Life

Takes place: September

Price: 189.50 USD onwards

4. WorldFest

WorldFest 2012   (Louisville, KY)
Source: Photo by user LuAnn Snawder Pho... used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Winner of several awards, WorldFest is the perfect festival to attend in the summer in Louisville. It is one of the region’s largest international festivals celebrating food, dance, music, and culture from across the world. This event also focuses on celebrating the diversity of people living in the city. Over the course of four days, visitors are treated to dance and music performances from various countries, dance parties, a Parade of Cultures, a fashion show, and other fun activities. Beer, food, spirits, and crafts from across the globe will also be available for purchase here.


Address: Belvedere at 5th and Main Streets, Louisville, Kentucky

Website: WorldFest

Takes place: Usually held August to September

Price: Free

5. NuLu Festival

Posted by NULU Festival on Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Enjoy an old-school block party at the annual NuLu Fest in Louisville, Kentucky. NuLu stands for “New Louisville” and focuses on the revitalisation and development of the East Market District. At this celebration, visitors can sample craft beers and bourbons, taste local food, and buy arts, crafts, and organic products from regional vendors. Enjoy live music from popular bands on two stages, and DJs from the area will keep the party going all day long. Various family-friendly activities are also available here.

NuLu Festival

Address: 800 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206, United States

Takes place: September

Price: Free

6. Garvin Gate Blues Festival

Andy T Band featuring Alabama Mike and Anson Funderburgh, Four Roses stage last night.

Posted by Garvin Gate Blues Festival on Saturday, 13 October 2018

All blues fans, make your way to Garvin Gate Blues Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. This two-day event is said to be the largest, free neighbourhood street music festival in the city, with more than 24 years in operation. Keeping Louisville’s blues heritage alive, the festival sees legendary blues musicians perform side-by-side with local talent. Attended by a very diverse audience, this is a celebration of music that also has a variety of booths selling eclectic food, drinks, crafts, and artisan products.

Garvin Gate Blues Festival

Address: 500 W Oak St, Louisville, KY 40203, United States

Website: Garvin Gate Blues Festival

Takes place: October

Price: Free

7. Old Louisville Annual Holiday Home Tour

Werne's Row 4th and Hill, Old Louisville
Source: Photo by user Retired username used under CC BY 2.5

Now on its 43rd year, Old Louisville Annual Holiday Home Tour is a weekend-long celebration of the historic homes of Louisville. It gives visitors a glimpse of life in the city during the Victorian times, especially in relation to the holidays. You get to visit many gorgeous Victorian townhouses and mansions in the area, all decorated in their holiday best. Visitors can enjoy a traditional tea party with a sampling of teas and various teatime treats. You can also do a premium bourbon tasting between stops or shop at the holiday gift boutique.

Old Louisville Annual Holiday Home Tour

Address: Historic Old Louisville Visitors Center in Central Park, 1340 S. 4th St., Louisville, Kentucky

Website: Old Louisville Annual Holiday Home Tour

Takes place: December

Price: 25 - 50 USD

8. Bourbon & Beyond

Posted by Bourbon And Beyond on Thursday, 26 September 2019

Described as ‘a perfect blend of bourbon, food and music’, Bourbon & Beyond is a bourbon-themed festival in Louisville. As an ode to Kentucky’s bourbon tradition, this festival has more than 40 bourbon brands displaying their finest selections. Plus, there are talks, workshops, and demonstrations from bourbon masters and celebrities. Visitors can also watch chef demos, interact with celebrity chefs, and sample bourbon and amazing grub from local restaurants. A great lineup of world-famous and local musicians will also be entertaining the crowd.

Bourbon & Beyond

Address: Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Ln, Louisville, KY 40209, United States

Website: Bourbon & Beyond

Takes place: September

9. Derby City Jazz Festival

Posted by Derby City Jazz Festival on Monday, 9 October 2017

Just four years old, Derby City Jazz Festival is a relatively new event in the summer lineup of festivals in Louisville. But it has made its mark on the crowds with outstanding performances by renowned jazz musicians complemented by the best in food, culture, and spirits in and around the city. At this event, you will get to experience smooth jazz music and some amazing bourbon sampling opportunities from local distilleries. A variety of food and beverage vendors, including awesome local food trucks, will be on-site to cure any hunger pangs!

Derby City Jazz Festival

Address: Iroquois Amphitheater, 1080 Amphitheater Rd, Louisville, KY 40214

Website: Derby City Jazz Festival

Takes place: Usually held in August

10. Rock the Water Tower

Come enjoy all your favorites at #RockTheWaterTower 2019 rock, bourbon, BBQ… and lobster! We are excited to announce...

Posted by Rock The Water Tower on Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Held at the Louisville Water Tower Park, this music, bourbon, and food festival is another great addition to the burgeoning festival scene of Louisville. This event is dedicated to celebrating the legendary music of the city, with a side of classic festival fare. The region’s hottest classic, punk, glam, metal, and rock bands are known to perform here, and local restaurants serve up the city’s barbecue favourites. A bourbon tasting lounge is also set up to offer you the finest of Louisville’s whiskeys.

Rock the Water Tower

Address: 3005 River Road, Louisville, KY 40207

Website: Rock the Water Tower

Takes place: September

Price: 16 USD

Festive Louisville!

Renowned for its association with bourbon, barbeque, and jazz music, Louisville encapsulates the best of the city’s culture in its festivals. For your next trip to this city, remember to check out our list of the most popular festivals in Louisville, Kentucky.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Isha is a former corporate nobody. She lives a quiet life of travelling, writing, and minding her own business.

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