The growth of Louisville’s riverfront events, such as Forecastle and the recent Centennial Celebration of Riverboats, is one of the biggest success stories in the city’s waterfront redevelopment, according to David Karem, president of the Waterfront Development Corp.
Forecastle, for instance, drew more than 70,000 people to the Great Lawn over the three-day music festival, and presale tickets for the 2015 event, to be held July 17-19, already have sold out.
Come time for Thunder Over Louisville, invitations from those living downtown with balconies or river views are some of the hottest tickets in town. But for the myriad other downtown events, a downtown residence means not having to fight traffic or find parking. It also eliminates the need for a designated driver if you’re hoofing it to the events.
The ability to produce a crowd – possibly as many as 400 people at a recent marina event on a Wednesday when the weather was not that great – was among the things that convinced Chip Hamm the new restaurant planned at RiverPark Place could be successful.
There’s an array of festivities within walking distance for the urban dweller in Louisville. “People [here] like to gather down on the river for any old reason at all,” as Ralph Ross, who rents an apartment at RiverPark Place, put it.
Among the possibilities:
Thunder Over Louisville Festivities – The myriad Thunder events would be just an easy walk from your front door. Indulge in a funnel cake at the chow wagons and catch an open-air concert. Another spectacular celebration and fireworks show takes place for Independence Day.
Waterfront Wednesdays –sponsored by radio station WFPK, these free concerts with a happy hour atmosphere take place on the last Wednesday of each month, April through September.
Hike Bike and Paddle — on Memorial Day and Labor Day, these events encourage local residents to be active as part of the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown initiative.
Abbey Road on the River –a five-day music festival honoring the music and spirit of The Beatles. This year’s event, May 21-25, will feature a stage dedicated to violinist Rachel Blanton, who passed away on Christmas Day.
WorldFest — one of the region’s largest international festivals, this three-day event at Labor Day celebrates global music, cuisine and culture. A similar event, Greekfest, takes place in June.
Humana Festival of New American Plays – downtown, but not on the river (you might have to catch the trolley), this nationally known event will feature six world premieres in 98 performances between March 4-April 12.
IdeaFestival – Held each fall at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts (you might need to catch the trolley for this, too), this series of thought-provoking talks celebrates innovation, imagination and world-changing ideas.
Charity events – An array of fund-raising walks, runs, and other events, such as Dare to Care Food Bank’sPaddle for Hunger, take place along the riverfront. RiverPark Place renters Ralph and Joan Ross said they enjoyed watching the Ironman Triathlon from their balcony.
Light Up Louisville – What could be more magical than the awesome light display that Louisville turns on each year the night after Thanksgiving? Though it might be a brisk walk, with a mug of hot chocolate, it can be an invigorating and inspiring outing.