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Kentucky's Favorite Festivals
Enjoy these popular events in Kentucky
Home to some of the nation’s best bluegrass and folk music, famed distilleries, and, of course, premiere equestrian events and facilities, it’s no surprise Kentucky features some of the nation’s best annual festivals. No matter your interest, give a look at some of our favorite annual Kentucky festivals, and plan your visit accordingly.
Festival of the Bluegrass
Residents and visitors in the lively city of Lexington, in eastern Kentucky, know how to have a great time. For nearly four decades, they have gathered to celebrate bluegrass music at the Festival of the Bluegrass. This lively bluegrass music festival was established by the Cornett family in 1974, the oldest of its kind in the bluegrass region. Initially, the festival was held on a barn wagon at Walnut Hall Farm. You can experience the fun with a short drive in from nearby Georgetown.
The site of the festival moved throughout the years, until its final location at the Kentucky Horse Park. The festival has grown from its humble beginnings to feature live bluegrass music on three stages, as well as music camps for children. While in Lexington, the heart of the bluegrass region, partake in the celebration of Kentucky's bluegrass music.
Kentucky Derby Festival
Draw up plans to visit Kentucky in the late spring. Each year, Louisville is host to the Kentucky Derby Festival, a two-week celebration of life, culture, fun, and everything Louisville. It all leads up to the actual Kentucky Derby horse race, which takes place on the first Saturday in May.
The Kentucky Derby Festival is one of the biggest and most exceptional celebrations you'll find in Louisville. It features Thunder Over Louisville, North America's largest annual fireworks display, and the Great Steamboat Race where you can see the Bell of Louisville.
Other events at the yearly KDF include the Pegasus Parade, the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon & miniMarathon, and the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic.
Kentucky Exposition Center
With a total area of 1.2 million square feet, the Kentucky Exposition Center is the premier expo and event venue in the state. Found near downtown Louisville along Interstate 65, the Kentucky Exposition Center is governed and overseen by the Kentucky State Fair Board.
Originally this multi-use facility and venue was named the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, otherwise known as KFEC. On site, you'll find the Freedom Hall, a basketball arena, and Cardinal Stadium, a football stadium which seats 37,925 fans. This site hosts the annual Kentucky State Fair in late August.
Catch plenty of action in Lexington, the state's second-largest city. This "Horse Capital of the World" not only showcases equestrian events, it also hosts a variety of special events, sporting events, concerts and conventions at the Lexington Center. This impressive complex contains the 23,000-seat Rupp Arena, home of the University of Kentucky men's basketball team, as well as the Lexington Opera House, the Lexington Center Museum and Gallery, the Lexington Convention Center. Throughout the year, the 130,000-square-foot convention center hosts a variety of events, trade shows, private parties and meetings.
Explore eastern Kentucky and checl out the Lexington Opera House, which has become the premier facility for ballet productions, family shows, musical performances and Broadway tours. Visit from nearby Georgetown and schedule plenty of time to tour the 10,000-square foot Museum and enjoy shopping at the Shops. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city in beautiful Triangle Park, featuring waterfalls, green space and tables.
Paroquet Springs Conference Centre
Plan out your next visit to Kentucky – you'll have a wide range of exciting and can't-miss attractions to explore. In Shepherdsville, just south of downtown Louisville, be sure to check out the Paroquet Springs Conference Centre, one of top meeting and event venues in the state.
You can find the Paroquet Springs Conference Centre just off the Salt River, and just east of Kart Kountry, another top attraction in the state. At the Centre, you'll find 40,000 square feet of meeting, exhibit, and banquet space available – this really is the premier location in the event you need to host a gathering in Shepherdsville.
Kentucky Bluegrass & Bourbon
Kentucky’s two most prized exports – bluegrass and bourbon – all in one fun-filled weekend at Louisville Water Tower Park in early September. But wait, there’s more – barbecue, craft vendors, and more. This is the premiere end-of-summer celebration in Louisville.
Are you a fan of great live music? Then check out the Forecastle Festival, held in Louisville at Louisville Waterfront Park in July. The fest is just under 10 years old, but it's quickly risen up the ranks, now known for hosting some of the world’s biggest up-and-coming indie rock, hip-hop, folk, and pop artists on the planet.
Another of Kentucky’s excellent equestrian events, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in April features tons of saddled fun and for the whole family. The event is hosted at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Make the short drive in from Richmond or Georgetown and enjoy visiting Lexington.
Kentucky Bourbon Festival
Similarly, over in Bardstown, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in mid September brings great drinks, jazz, dancing, and plenty more at a handful of venues. Check the festival event schedule and mark your itinerary accordingly. Make the drive in from Shepherdsville or Campbellsville.
Kentucky State Fair
Who doesn’t love the fair? The Kentucky State Fair, held in Louisville in August, brings all the classic state fair fun and amenities to Freedom Hall and the Kentucky Exposition Center. Check out the Midway, big-name concert events at University of Louisville's Cardinal Stadium, endless vendors and festival food, and the fun at Kentucky Kingdom.