Summers are humid with highs in the upper 80s, but locals are used to the heat, and the city is alive with small cultural events. Check out the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, in June, where players perform the Bard’s hits in Old Louisville’s scenic Central Park, a green space inside America’s largest Victorian neighborhood. In July, the Forecastle Festival combines music and environmental awareness on the Belvedere Festival Plaza overlooking the Ohio River. And one of the most intriguing events all year has to be the Lebowski Fest, a two-day celebration honoring the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski, complete with White Russians, bowling, and Dude look-alikes. Come August, the Ford Ironman attracts the country’s fittest athletes while the World Championship Horseshow attracts the most beautiful saddlebreds.
If you’re a horse lover, the only time to come is in May, when the heart of horse country is at its most frenetic: The Kentucky Derby dominates the city with two weeks of events leading up to the famous race at Churchill Downs. The derby is obviously the apex of horse culture, but the hot-air balloon races, marathon, and fireworks leading up to it are crowd-pleasers as well. The weather is ideal too, with temperatures staying in the 70s.
Fall brings milder weather with temps dropping to the 60s. Louisville is a surprisingly legitimate fall foliage destination thanks to Jefferson Memorial Forest, the country’s largest urban forest at 6,000 acres. Thirty miles of trail twist through hardwoods that glow with fall color in October, and it all sits within the shadow of Louisville’s skyscrapers.
Dress warmly during winter, which can be surprisingly cold, with freezing temperatures and the occasional snowstorm.