Everything You Absolutely Must Do in Louisville This Spring

Updated On 03/05/2018 at 02:55PM EST Updated On 03/05/2018 at 02:55PM EST
Taste of Louisville
Taste of Louisville | Taste of Louisville
st patrick's day parade
Manuel Findeis/
Mar 10
It’s tradition! Every year, Louisville’s Ancient Order of Hibernians put together a parade in honor of St. Patrick’s Day that regularly brings out 100,000-plus people to socialize, admire more than 100 floats as they roll by, and drink copious amounts of green beer. This year’s event is themed “Shamrock and Roll.” The parade starts at 2pm, and the roads will be closed into early evening. Take Uber or Lyft to avoid parking (and let’s face it, if you’re at a St. Patty’s event, you don’t want to be driving anyway).
Cost: Free
Saturday - Sunday
Mar 10-11
Looking for some handmade pillows to go with those old records? Or maybe some old trinkets to pair with pickled vegetables? Yeah, it makes no sense at all, but that’s what is at the heart of the Flea Off Market. Food vendors join in the fun, and the miniature flea market becomes a party, with plenty of booths to peruse, and even craft beer and mixed drinks to sip while you shop.
Cost: Only your spare time
Mar 13
We're talking competitive poetry. Bring your best rhymes and join in the fun along with other slammers in the friendly confines of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. Enjoy live music during intermission and do a little shopping in the gallery of unique crafts while you’re at it.
Cost: Free ($7 to participate)
Thursday - Sunday
Mar 15-18
Kentucky Fair & Expo Center
I love dogs. You love dogs. Who doesn't love dogs? The annual Kentuckiana Cluster of Dog Shows is back, with dozens of vendors for all the cool stuff your dog needs, from toys to swanky clothing. On top of that, you’ll get to watch a flurry of competitions among a variety of dog breeds in conformation, obedience, and more. But don't miss the dock-diving competition. That's where things get crazy.
Cost: $4-$15
Mar 24
Many years ago, Bock Day was something of an annual holiday in Louisville, carrying on German traditions of celebrating the release of bock beer, which had been fermenting and lagering over the winter months. These days, the beer is a bit quicker to make, but Louisville will still celebrate with the third annual Bock Fest. Plenty of food, beer (including bock!) will join a new entry this year: Wurstfest, wherein local restaurants will create their own version of cased sausage. As always, there will be baby goats wearing clothes. Fun for the entire crew.
Cost: Free
Thunder over Louisville
Thunder over Louisville | Alex Zhu Photography/Shutterstock
Apr 8
This spring, Louisville welcomes the inaugural Kentucky Proud Lamb Jam at 21C. Chefs from local restaurants will show off ways to utilize leg of lamb, there will be a demonstration of lamb butchery, and you’ll be able to sip bourbon cocktails while eating lamb-based canapés utilizing every part of the animal, from tail to nose. You can even enter a raffle to win a farm-to-table lamb dinner and demo at Proof on Main.
Price: $25
Apr 14
California Neighborhood
Louisville’s most popular restaurants can be found in the Highlands, NuLu, Downtown and beyond, and Taste of West Louisville is a way of introducing burgeoning foodies to what’s available in a different part of town. This year’s edition will be the fourth, and the premise is the same: Attendees will sample food and drinks from west-end businesses, and the proceeds go to Uplifted Life to provide college scholarships to local students.
Cost: $20
Apr 18
Every spring, Louisville’s location of Gordon-Biersch plays host to Pints for Parkinson’s, a street fest at Fourth Street Live with a special mission. The restaurant and brewery’s general manager, Jason Smith, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and decided to make a difference. The festival raises money for his own Pints for Parkinson’s Foundation, dedicated to providing education, therapy and more for Parkinson’s patients. The brewer’s maibock lager will be tapped, live music will be played, and a silent auction will add to the fun.
Cost: Free
Apr 21
Waterfront Park
Talk to anyone in Louisville in mid-April, and you’ll be asked, “What are you doing for Thunder?” Louisville Thunder has become a legendary event that literally draws hundreds of thousands of people to the waterfront to watch and all-day air show featuring all sorts of aircraft, followed by a spectacular fireworks display after the sun sets. This year’s theme is A Disco Thunder, so wear your dancing shoes.
Cost: Free
Apr 27
One of the Kentucky Derby Festival’s most loved events is the annual Great Balloon Glow, a night-before kickoff to the Great Balloon Race. Some 50,000 people show up to enjoy the after-dark spectacle of hundreds of hot air balloons inflated by their burners, the whole scene set to a musical score. A great event for date-night or for a family outing.
Cost: Free with purchase of Derby Festival Pegasus Pin
Apr 30
When John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a “bed-in” back in the late 1960s, it was in protest. Here in Louisville, during the Kentucky Derby Festival, the beds have wheels attached and take to the streets for the annual Great Bed Races. Groups from various businesses, organizations and charities design their bed, then dress in fun costumes and clothing to promote whatever charity or cause they’re supporting. It’s great fun with an even better purpose.
Cost: Free to watch; $150 per team to enter
The Belle of Louisville
The Belle of Louisville | Thomas Kelley/
May 2
Watching vintage steamboats race isn’t as exciting as watching horses, but it’s a Louisville tradition that dates back to 1963. The beloved Belle of Louisville squares off with the Belle of Cincinnati in a contest that is more than a race, which used to be the format. The boats receive points based on events, ranging from a calliope contest to drills completed by the crews. Bring the family, find a viewing spot, and enjoy.
Cost: Free to watch; you can ride on the Belle of Louisville for $130
May 3
Kentucky Fair & Expo Center
One of the favorite family events of the year, the annual Pegasus Parade takes over Broadway for two hours for a 17-block parade featuring a colorful collection of floats, inflatable figures, marching bands, and equestrian units from around the country. Bleachers are set up in the street, so get there early to get a seat. And be sure to arrive in time to see the leader of the parade, the “Peggy Bank” inflatable Pegasus.
Cost: Free
May 12
Louisville Zoo
A nice walk through the Louisville Zoo on a crisp, spring morning can be quite the refresher. How about a run? With the annual Throo the Zoo 5K, you can take to the trails for two hours to run a predetermined course amongst the many exhibits at the zoo. Enter the costume contest, get a finisher’s medal, and then have lunch at one of the many park food stations.
Cost: $30
May 19
Waterfront Park
The annual Mighty Kindness Hoot is one of those places that emphasizes friendship and kindness. You’ll have live music, lots of friendly local vendors selling locally-sourced products from art to clothing to food, and just an overall good vibe. It’s all about health and unity, with free educational seminars, performance art, activities for kids, and plenty more. Leave your stress at home.
Cost: Free
Friday - Wednesday
May 25-30
The Kentucky Flea Market does it up right for big holidays, which brings us the annual Kentucky Flea Market Memorial Day Spectacular. Browse some 600 booths in the two main wings, plus another 100-plus in the special antiques and collectibles wing. Food and beverage vendors will be on site, so you can refresh between rifling through old comic books or vintage clothing. When you’re done, try dinner at nearby Cardinal Café, which is a veritable University of Louisville sports museum.
Cost: Free admission; $8 for parking