Louisville's Top 30 Summer Festivals 2

Louisville’s Top 30 Summer Festivals

Bourbon, music, art, beer, and pride collide this summer in Louisville with dozens of concerts, festivals and events planned in Bourbon City. Here are some of the area’s biggest and most anticipated events for summer 2023.

Shakespeare Festival in Central Park | May 24-August 6
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 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

Celebrating its 21st 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 musicians rocking out in tribute to the iconic British boy band. Headliners include Micky Dolenz, The Rascals: Felix Cavaliere & Gene Cornish, Tony Kishman, and Back 2 Mac. Free admission for guests age 21 and under when accompanied by a matching adult ticket.

Ali Festival | June 2-11
Seven years after the passing of Louisville’s native son, the annual Ali Festival celebrates Muhammad Ali’s impactful legacy and love for Louisville. The community celebration will include an array of events, including fitness, art, history, community service, family activities, and special announcements. On top of a visit to the Louisville Muhammad Ali Center and the Champ’s final resting place at Cave Hill Cemetery, other participating venues include the Actors Theatre, Logan Street Market, Lynn Family Stadium, and the Louisville Bats. If you can’t be in town for the week-long celebration, try following in the Footsteps of Greatness while taking this self-guided tour around the city.

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Buy Local Fair | June 10
Local retailers, organizations and artists will fill Waterfront Park’s Festival Plaza for the annual Buy Local Fair. Festival-goers are invited to enjoy performances by local musicians, sip libations, watch cooking competitions, and let the kids run wild at the on-site kid zone. While admission is free, there is a $3 suggested donation to the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA)– the organizers of the festival.

Juneteenth Celebrations | June 10-19
Louisville will be home to a variety of Juneteenth festivals and celebrations, marking the anniversary of the federal holiday. The annual Juneteenth Jubilee (June 10-19) will feature a Jazz Excursion at the Belle of Louisville, Black Baseball with the Louisville Bats, day camp, Miss Juneteenth Pageant, special performances, and their annual Juneteenth Gala. The Louisville Juneteenth Festival (June 1-18) has a schedule that includes a HBCU night Brunch, bourbon-infused events, and a day-long festival on the Belvedere downtown. The MELANnaire Marketplace (June 17 & 18) will host a two-day event at Louisville’s Fourth St. Live! highlighting local Black entrepreneurs selling everything from food, arts, and retail products. Celebrating 50 years of Hip-Hop, The Louisville Funk Fest (June 16 & 17) will take place at Waterfront Park with headliners including Jeezy, Juvenile, and Fantasia. Celebrate Juneteenth with Lil Jon (June 18) at the Jeffersonville Riverstage as part of the free summer concert series “Jammin in Jeff.”

Kentuckiana Pride Parade & Festival | June 17
Held at Louisville’s Waterfront Park, the Kentuckiana Pride Parade & Festival has been a tradition in downtown Louisville for more than 20 years. Start the day with the annual Pride parade down East Market Street in the popular NuLu neighborhood as it marches 1.5 miles towards the Ohio River and the iconic Big Four Bridge. More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the event, one of the LGBTQ+ events in the state. Click here to book your weekend stay for KY Pride Weekend.

Downs After Dark | June 17 & September 23
One of Louisville’s longest-running traditions extends their hours just a few times a year for what Churchill Downs has coined Downs After Dark. With gates opening at 5pm and the last horse race not starting until 11:10pm, racing fans will have a chance to see Churchill Downs in a whole new light. Live music, festive attire, and of course, classic cocktails add to the excitement, with general admission tickets starting at $20.

Summer Beer Festivals | June 24, July 15, July 29, August 25, August 26
Though Louisville is known as Bourbon City, many are unaware of the city’s hoppin’ local beer scene. Get a taste of Kentucky-made beers at the Kentucky Craft Bash (June 24), which highlights over 50 breweries from around the state. The J-town Beer Festival (July 15) is a neighborhood beer fest bringing together beer, music, and food to support local area businesses. The Summer Beer Fest at the Frazier (July 29) is taking over Louisville’s Main Street and will feature over 200 beers on tap outside of the city’s Frazier History Museum. Old Lou Brew (August 25) is set in Central Park in the Old Louisville neighborhood, which is home to one of the largest collections of Victorian-era mansions in the country. And you’ll be sure to have a wild time at Brew at the Zoo (August 26), an annual fundraiser for the Louisville Zoo.

Waterfront Park Fourth of July | July 4

Celebrate Independence Day on the banks of the Ohio River at Louisville’s Waterfront Park. This annual holiday event includes music by the Louisville Orchestra, fireworks, and food vendors. This family-fun event will be free and take place from 5-10pm.

Beyoncé | July 17

Undeniably one of the world’s most powerful musicians, the pop icon and record holder for most Grammy Awards is back on stage with her Renaissance World Tour. Known for songs like “Single Ladies,” “Crazy in Love,” “Flawless”, and “Cuff It,” “Queen B” is set to perform at the L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium in a show that promises mind-blowing choreography, innovative outfits, and unforgettable vocals.

Kentucky State Fair | August 17-27
Held annually at the Kentucky Exposition Center, the Kentucky State Fair is a century-plus-old tradition that celebrates Kentucky’s culture, art, agriculture, music and more. Travel the entire Commonwealth and discover what Kentucky has to offer without having to leave the fairground at the Pride of the Counties exhibit or explore Agland, more than an acre of agriculture exhibits highlighting Kentucky’s farm and field heritage.

The Big Stomp | August 18 & 19
Located on a 90-acre private nature preserve, the annual Big Stomp festival is a multi-day, immersive event filled with activities, live music and mindful programming focused on helping to “stomp” out the stigma surrounding mental health. This year’s headliners include Lettuce, Bahamas, and Heartless Bastards, along with 30+ other musical acts.

Louisville Wine & Food Festival | August 19

Presented by USA Today, the Wine & Food Festival nationwide tour is coming to Louisville’s Waterfront Park this August. Bringing together the best local wine and food, the festival celebrates the city’s culinary scene with local classics and regional favorites. The Grand Tasting brings together renowned culinary luminaries, emerging talent, and local chefs for a culinary showcase for guests to taste and savor throughout the day.

WorldFest | September 1-4

Louisville’s WorldFest is one of the region’s largest international festivals that celebrates with four days of expanded world food, music, dance, culture and education every Labor Day weekend. Taking place in Downtown Louisville on the Belvedere overlooking the Ohio River, the festival highlights cultures from around the world all without ever leaving the city (WorldFest 2023 info coming soon).

Louisville Pride Festival | September 9

Held every September in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood, this annual block party has become a staple end-of-summer event. The 2023 entertainment lineup is still TBA but past headliners to take the stage have included Todrick Hall, Vincint, and Deborah Cox. The festival is held across multiple blocks on Bardstown Road, which is also home to some of the city’s most popular LGBTQ bars – Chill Bar and Big Bar, which stay open late after the festival performances end.

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Big Four Arts Festival | September 9 & 10

The 7th annual Big Four Bridge Arts Festival will be held on Louisville Waterfront Park’s Big Four Lawn located at the base of the popular Big Four Walking Bridge overlooking the Ohio River. More than 150 juried artists will set up shop during the two-day event featuring artistic styles ranging from painting, jewelry, sculptures, photography and more. Tickets for the event are just $5 and can be purchased at the entrance of the festival.

Bourbon & Beyond | September 14-17

The World’s Largest Bourbon & Music Festival is returning to the Highland Festival Grounds after a record-breaking 2022 crowd. This star-studded event brings together the best in Classic Rock, Alt Rock, and Bluegrass music with 50-plus bands across three stages, alongside hands-on bourbon workshops, tastings, and culinary programming with celebrity chefs. This year’s festival includes headliners Bruno Mars, The Killers, Brandi Carlile, and The Black Keys.

KY Bourbon Festival | September 15-17
Located just 45 minutes south of downtown Louisville in Bardstown, KY, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival has been celebrating America’s native spirit for over 30 years. Both single-day and three-day passes are available for this annual Bourbon Heritage Month festival, which with experiential tastings, dinners, auctions, and the World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay. Bourbon enthusiasts can sip their favorite hard-to-find bourbons or get signature cocktails prepared by pro mixologists. VIP-level experiences are already sold out so be sure to purchase tickets in advanced.

Louder Than Life | September 21-24
Louder Than Life will wrap up an incredible summer of music in Louisville with a four-day rock festival just south of downtown at the Highland Festival Grounds at the Kentucky Expo Center. Headliners for the festival include Foo Fighters, Green Day, Tool, and Avenged Sevenfold. Local food and drink culture will also be incorporated into the festival’s culinary scene with pop-ups from popular Kentucky Bourbon brands and local Louisville restaurants. Weekend General Admission, VIP and Top Shelf passes are currently on sale.