It’s not all about the Derby in April — well maybe it’s 75 percent Derby, but who’s counting? This is the magical season that Louisvillians wait for all year-round! Here are your top events in Louisville this month!
April 1, 2017: Lip Gloss Diaries Poetry Slam
ArtsReach and Lipstick Wars Poetry are joining forces to once again host the all-teenage female poetry slam at the Kentucky Center for the Arts on Saturday, April 1 at 8 p.m. The event will be hosted by poet extraordinaire Lance Newman. The young women participating will speak out against topics that they are facing in our society today. Visit kentuckycenter.org.
April 6, 2017: Big Brims and Fancy Trims
Derby will be here before you know it. Have you picked out that perfect hat? The Kentucky Derby Museum can help out with their Big Brims and Fancy Trims Derby Hat Sample Sale. Over 200 Derby hats will be available as well as the Kentucky Derby Museum 2017 hat collection. Most are priced at $18 and none are over $75. Tickets for entry from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. are $10, or $5 for museum members. Early-bird tickets for entry from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the best hat selection are $20. It’s not only about the hats, y’all — indulge in a complimentary beverage from 14 Hands, live music, local boutiques and stylist, hors d’oeuvres, raffles, contests and door prizes. Visit derbymuseum.org.
April 8, 2017: Fillies Derby Ball
The Fillies Derby Ball is where you will find REAL Kentucky royalty, for it’s on this night that the queen of the Derby Festival is crowned. The coronation, dinner and dancing will be held at Louisville Marriott Downtown on Saturday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $175 per person. Visit discover.kdf.org.
April 14 & 15, 2017: LouiEvolve
Louisville’s hip hop scene is hotter than ever! With hometown singer Bryson Tiller skyrocketing to fame, a number of local artists came together in November 2015 to participate in a series of round-table discussions with the intention of networking, sharing resources and ideas and collectively developing the scene. Out of those discussion arose a call for an event that would capture the full scope of Louisville’s hip hop community, and thus, LouiEvolve was born. This year’s all-ages music and arts festival will take place on April 14 and 15 at the Tim Faulkner Art Gallery in Portland. It will feature live DJs, graffiti, dance, spoken word, kids events, food and a full bar. Tickets are $20. Visit louievolve.com.
April 15, 2017: GonzoFest
Each year, Louisville celebrates its most famous literary son, Hunter S. Thompson, with GonzoFest. This year, GonzoFest will be held on Saturday, April 15 at noon. The festival has traditionally been held at Waterfront Park, but this year it has been moved to the Louisville Free Public Library’s Main Branch. With the move to the library, GonzoFest has also shifted its focus to highlight the literary side of the festival by expanding its panel discussions, spoken word and poetry aspects. The festival will also be returning to an all-local lineup, featuring music by Americana-Roots-Rock band Nellie Pearl, soul singer Otis Junior, psychedelic soul group Brother Wolves, experimental rock band Satellite Twin, singer-songwriter Brooks Ritter and jam band Sativa Gumbo. All musical acts will perform outside the library on York Street. A donation of $10 is suggested at the door. A portion of the proceeds raised will benefit Louisville Fee Public Library. gonzofestlou.com.
April 15, 2017: Maker’s Mark Handcraft Festival
Maker’s Mark will host the fourth annual Handcraft Festival at their Loretto distillery on Saturday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Artists and craftspeople, food trucks, cocktail classes, live music and, most importantly, BOURBON, will be on hand. The event will take place at Maker’s Mark Distillery, 3350 Burks Spring Road. This event is open to the public and draws quite a crowd, with about 5,000 people expected to attend. Visit makersmark.com.
April 15, 2017: KMAC Couture
Art Walks the Runway in this fifth annual KMAC Couture fashion show on Saturday, April 15, where designers use unusual items to create one-of-a-kind couture clothing. This is an amazing display of talent each year, and designers get more and more creative with every outfit and every show. Visit styleblueprint.com.
April 15-23, 2017: Give A Day Mayor’s Week of Service
Surely you can give just a few hours, maybe one day or even more for a volunteer service project. The mayor created Give A Day week of service five years ago, and it has been a great hit in our community ever since. There are already plenty of organized volunteer activities in which you can participate. Or, feel free to organize your own project, donate blood or give a meal. Every act of kindness counts in this compassionate city. For more information visit mygiveaday.com.
April 18, 2017: Derby Decadence
Last year, the Courier Journal hosted a Louisville Storytellers project that centered around the Kentucky Derby. It was such a hit that they’re bringing it back for another year. On Tuesday, April 18 at The Ice House, Derby Decadence will feature untold tales of high rollers, jockeys and party promoters, as well as stories from the best in the Bluegrass. Tickets start at $13 plus tax and include a reception with snacks before the show. Choose to skip the food and just listen to the stories and pay only $10 plus tax. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the stories start rolling out at 7 p.m. There will be a cash bar available throughout the evening. Visit tickets.courier-journal.com.
April 20, 2017: Hats for Hope
On Thursday, April 20, Kosair Charities will host a fun-filled evening featuring a silent auction of over 300 Derby hats and gift baskets. Guests can sip on the signature pink drink and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and desserts while helping fight against cancer. The event will take place at the Triple Crown Conference Center, located at 1776 Plantside Drive from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Visit hatsforhopelouisville.org.
April 21, 2017: Gallop Gala
This year marks the 7th annual Gallop Gala, which will be held at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. This year’s gala will feature music by The Louisville Crashers. Kick off your Derby festivities with a red carpet entrance and cocktail party from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Follow that up with dinner and a live auction at 7:30 p.m. and dance the night away beginning at 9:00 p.m. Tickets for Individual Dinner Amenities are $250 each and tickets to the after party are $25 each. All proceeds will benefit the Down Syndrome of Louisville. Click here for more information.
April 21, 2017: They’re Off! Luncheon
Friday, April 21, is the luncheon nobody wants to miss, because with it, the Derby has officially begun. The 60th annual They’re Off! Luncheon will be held at the Galt House Hotel. Do what everyone else does: Go to the luncheon and take the rest of the day off. (Only kidding.) Visit kdf.org.
April 22, 2017: Thunder Over Louisville
Thunder Over Louisville is the official kickoff of Derby, even though it is two weeks before the event. The air show and fireworks are something to look forward to all year. Whether you watch from Waterfront Park, a downtown venue, on television or from your own secret viewing spot (as many of us do), everyone watches. Visit thunderoverlouisville.org.
April 25, 2017: Taste of Derby Festival
Now in its 30th year, this popular event brings together 40 restaurants and 20 local distilleries and beverage companies that serve up generous samples. There is also a silent auction, and all the fun benefits Dare to Care Food Bank. The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. in the Louisville Slugger Hall of Fame Pavilion at Louisville Slugger Field and finishes at 8 p.m. Tickets are sold only in advance for $80, with early-bird pricing available until April 18. tasteofderbyfestival.org
April 27-29, 2017: U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest
One of the best things about Derby is not only the horses, it’s also looking up in the sky and seeing a fleet of hot air balloons gliding across the Louisville horizon. The official balloon activities include the Balloon Glimmer, Balloon Rush-Hour Race, Great Balloon Glow, and the Great Balloon Race. Keep your eyes on the sky the week before as you might see a few balloons “practicing.” Check out their website for more information at discover.kdf.org.
April 27 through May 5, 2017: Chow Wagon and Fest-a-ville on the Waterfront
The Chow Wagon, where diets be damned for two weeks, opens up Thursday, April 27, along with Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront. This boils down to great food (think elephant ears and meat-on-a-stick) paired with different live entertainment every night. The event runs through Friday, May 5, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, visit discover.kdf.org.
April 29, 2017: Lemonade Day Louisville
Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 29 because it’s Lemonade Day! Lemonade Day is a free, fun, experiential learning program that teaches kids how to start, own and operate their own business – a lemonade stand. Lemonade Stand Louisville’s goal is to register 500 youth who in turn will start new businesses all across Louisville on a single day. Each child that registers will receive a free backpack with an entrepreneur workbook that teaches them the valuable lessons of Lemonade Day, including how to set a goal, make a plan, work the plan and achieve their dreams. Once a child pays their investor back, they keep all of the money they earn and are encouraged to spend some, save some and share some of their profit. Once a child is registered, they will be able to pick up their backpack and materials at a Louisville-area River City. Additionally, River City Bank is offering a $5 incentive to any child who goes through the Lemonade Day Louisville program and opens a savings account at one of their branches. Visit louisville.lemonadeday.org for more information.
April 29, 2017: Opening Night at Churchill Downs
It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Louisville. Kick off Derby Week by attending Opening Night at Churchill Downs on Saturday, April 29 at 5 p.m. The first race starts at 6:00 p.m., and the evening is “Dress to Impress.” Ladies are encouraged to wear party and cocktail dresses and men are encouraged to wear sharp pants and a dress shirt; a tie is optional. Tickets are $10 for general admission. Visit kentuckyderby.com.
April 29, 2017: Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon
It’s the moment you runners have been training for all winter, through the snow, the aches and the subzero temperatures. The Festival miniMarathon and Marathon will be held on Saturday, April 29. If you are not a runner yourself, be sure and go out to support those that are, as it means so much to them. For more information, visit derbyfestivalmarathon.com.
April 29, 2017: Awards in the Arts
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