Special Events in Louisville

Humana Festival for New American Plays
Founded in the 1960s, the Actors Theatre of Louisville began in a tiny loft space. By 1976, the non-profit organization had moved to a new complex, which had been redesigned into three separate theaters. Play submissions from unknown American playwrights were accepted and, in 1979, thanks to a grant from the Humana Foundation, the Humana Festival for New American Plays was born. Selected from a competitive admissions pool, full-length plays are produced during a five-week period in late winter and early spring. Several ten-minute plays are also acted out. Audiences hail from around the world. Special weekends are organized and theatre packages are available.

Kentucky Derby
Opened on May 17, 1875, Churchill Downs racetrack is home to the Kentucky Derby. Although the track suffered financially for years, the Derby was held each season. In the 1900s, the three premier races for 3-year-old horses, the Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes were deemed to be the U.S Triple Crown of horse racing. The Derby became the most famous horse race in the world. As a result, it has evolved into a series of traditions outside the race itself. The entire crowd, from the well-dressed grandstanders to the informally dressed infielders, belts out the words to “My Old Kentucky Home” as the race entrants are led to their positions. Mint Juleps are served to attendees. A garland of red roses, named the Derby’s official flower in 1904, is draped over the winning horse.

Forecastle Festival
The month of July brings the Forecastle Festival, where music and art activities mix with environmental education exhibits. Musical performances and a screen-printed art poster contest are scheduled during the weekend. Family friendly nature activities and conservation workshops are also available.

If you are drawn to multicultural activities, then WorldFest is for you. Over Labor Day weekend, this festival is a smorgasbord of food, exhibits and vendor booths showcasing the international communities of Louisville. Cultural parades and musical performances fill the air with the sounds of its people. Special children’s events are also scheduled.

Light Up Louisville
The holidays begin in true Louisville fashion on the day after Thanksgiving. Light Up Louisville is a series of family centered events, including a 5K Run/Walk, Winter Wonderland Parade and Santa’s Workshop. Visitors can shop for handmade holiday items while enjoying seasonal music. At night, Santa and the Mayor light up the city, which precedes a spectacular fireworks display.