Longing to get outside this spring and summer for some fun, in-house event experts Marcella and Ina share their tips on Louisville’s upcoming festivals and events around town.
What does “Keep Louisville Weird” mean to you? To us, it is a plea to preserve the unique people, places and culture of our fair city. There is no better time to see that wild and wonderful fun on display than during festival season. It seems every weekend there is another reason to celebrate, and in the Kentucky spring and summer, there is no better place to do that than outside.
Festivals are one of our favorite types of events to plan. We get to work with city officials, artists, and entrepreneurs, all with one common goal; to promote different aspects of Louisville’s unique spirit. Following is a list of our favorite festivals. Make sure to mark your calendars, plan travel accordingly, and prepare for the best Louisville has to offer this summer.
It feels like music festivals have taken over the city, but this is the one that started it all. When founder JK McKnight created his celebration of music, art, and activism in Tyler Park in 2002, he began a tradition that has helped make Louisville one of the best music festival venues in the country. While the festival has undoubtably grown and matured, its spirit has stayed the same. Make sure to get tickets in advance!
Expert Tip: As the festival has grown so have the number of stages, but Forecastle works hard to keep the spotlight on hometown favorites with an all local stage. This year some highlights include The Louisville Orchestra’s own Teddy Abrams and that sultry songbird Carly Johnson. You might also spot some local celebrities in the crowd. Last year, we sat at a picnic table with the mayor as we enjoyed musicians we happened to go to high school with... only in Louisville.
This inaugural festival features local Blue- grass acts including Plum Hokum, Noam Pikelny, and Relic. Food and beverage providers will be located throughout the park, making this experience more than just a music festival, encouraging guests to explore the jewel that is Cherokee Park.
Expert Tip: Cherokee Park is often con- fusing for those who haven’t been cutting through it for years. Lost? Locals know the venues by many names... Dog Hill, Frisbee Field, Rugby Field... no worries, just follow your ears and you will find the way. Want to make a day of it? While the festival is free to the public, a VIP option will give you pre- ferred seating, access to private restroom facilities, and includes a membership to Olmsted parks so you can give back to the parks that give so much to us!
Say it ain’t so... Summer can’t be ending. Go out with a bang in the NULU neighborhood with NULU Fest, now in its 12th year. What started as a block party in an up-and-coming neighborhood is now one of the city’s biggest street fairs featuring over 100 booths. This year’s festival will feature a curated experience one can only find in a place as unique as NULU.
Expert Tip: There is more going on than the booths in the street. The popularity and success of this neighborhood is rested comfortably on the shoulders of the entrepreneurs who brought it back to life over the last decade. Now it’s one of the best shopping districts in town. Make sure you step into the wide range of unique shops and restaurants throughout the day to really connect with the heart of the neighborhood: its residents.
Louisville has no shortage of amazing art fairs, in fact we have one of the biggest in the country every October, the St. James Court Art Fair. Don’t forget the Cherokee Triangle Art Fair, Mellwood Art Fair, or many others. It would seem our art fair calendar was full, but three years ago a new one emerged. Even though they are the new kid on the block, the Big Four Arts Festival has found a niche all its own and attracts local, national, and international talent alike in one of our most iconic settings, the banks of the Ohio River.
Expert Tip: While the Festival is family friendly, make it a date night. Big Four Arts Festival has partnered with Louisville Gymnastics for a parents’ night out. For $30, your kids can enjoy 4 hours of fun and food in the gym, and you can enjoy an evening out on the town. Round out the night by hopping on the Festival’s free trolley service and grab dinner on Main Street.
Over 180 vendors, all locally owned and operated, set up to enjoy the sunshine in the beautiful and historic Louisville Water Tower Park. From food, to art, to clothing, to plants, this festival has it all.
Expert Tips: Ride your bike and skip the parking fee. This festival truly strives to be green, therefore all food vendors use compostable materials, and volunteers work diligently to minimize the carbon footprint. Fit in and bring your own refillable water container - we have some of the best tasting tap water in the country after all.