Our city’s cultural offerings heat up this season. Here, our Arts Insider’s short list of can’t-miss experiences – most are free!
Written by Gioia Patton/Arts Insider
Kentucky Shakespeare in the Park
“I’m honored to kick off my 10th season as Producing Artistic Director!” says Matt Wallace about the 63rd season, which began with A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring a flying Puck. “It is followed by witches returning to Central Park in the classic spooky tragedy, Macbeth, and a whimsical production of Love’s Labor’s Lost, set at a resort in the 1950s (featuring some music and a little dance of the period). Wallace says the season will again feature two weeks of repertory in July, in which all three productions rotate nightly.
In addition to the three main stage productions, Kentucky Shakespeare will present The Two Gentlemen of Verona by their Globe Players (professional training program for high school students) — directed by Kyle Ware and set in the Old West; a new production of Shakespeare in Dance from the Louisville Ballet (this year inspired by Macbeth and called Lady M); and Late Night Shakes, a Shakespearean improvisation comedy show from the Louisville Improvisors. New this year, the Louisville Fringe Festival will present three late night performances of their GLOBE Arm Wrestling, featuring Shakespeare characters going arm-to-arm in a unique live theatrical experience.
The Kids’ Globe tent will open an hour before every performance, with free interactive arts-based activities tied to the production, and various community pre-show groups performing at 7:15 p.m. nightly.
WHEN: Rotating productions through August 6.
WHERE: Louisville Central Park
FOR INFORMATION: kyshakespeare.com
Food and drinks available. Pets on leashes welcome.
African Heritage Festival
The African Heritage Festival is a celebration of unity, culture, art and history across the African Diaspora. The celebration of African, African-American, and Caribbean cultures is a joyous event for the whole family with food, live entertainment from 12:30-5:30 p.m., sports, fashion, cultural demonstrations and much more. The African Heritage Festival was designed to build relationships between local diaspora groups and celebrate their history and cultures in our city.
WHEN: July 15, 11 AM – 7 PM
WHERE: Ben Washer Park (between Fifth and Sixth on W. Kentucky Street)
FOR INFORMATION: bridge-kids.org/africanheritagefestival
Fiesta Latina del Rio
“The Idea for this festival was first talked about in April 2023,” explained Ramiro Gandara of Ramiro’s Cantina, who, along with Katherine Aphaivongs, chef/owner of All Thai’d Up, are the co-founders and executive producers of the festival. That initial conversation between the two have resulted in this month’s inaugural Latina Fiesta del Rio, with a DJ set beginning at 6 p.m., followed by back-to-back Louisville-based Latino music groups: Grupo Basilon SON, and Grupo FLOW. Ramiro’s Cantina will provide the margaritas and a beer tent. Food trucks will also participate, including Rolling Tacos, Jays Street Mexican Tacos, and Made in Brazil.
WHEN: July 29, 5 PM – 11PM
WHERE: Big Four Lawn @ Waterfront Park
21st Annual WorldFest
WorldFest features a wide array of performers, merchandise booths, and food vendors, along with the popular Parade of Cultures (Saturday at noon). Themed nights take place on the Overlook Stage where dancers/musicians/singers perform throughout the course of the festival. Food and merchandise vendors come from a variety of countries including Mexico, Thailand, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Cuba, Italy, Greece, Chinese, India, and Turkey, Africa and South America. The Global Village and World of Information feature educational and cultural programming including traditional Ghana drumming and Mexican dance.
WHEN: September 1-4 (Friday/Saturday/Sunday 11 AM-11 PM, Monday 11 AM-8 PM)
WHERE: The Belvedere
FOR INFORMATION: louisvilleky.gov
Kentucky State Fair
We can’t talk about summer cultural experiences in Louisville without mentioning The Kentucky State Fair. The fair is a time-honored tradition that showcases everything Kentucky has to offer. Every year, it hosts hundreds of vendors, food, rides, competitions, and agriculture exhibitors. The Texas Roadhouse Concert Series is included with general admission, and this year’s wide range of acts include country music artist (and Kentucky native) Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry fame, the funk/rock/pop sound of Morris Day and the Time, heavy metal singer Vince Neil (of Mötley Crüe), and the “Happy Together” tour featuring The Cowsills, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap and The Vogues. New this year is BEERFEST, on Saturday, August 19, in partnership with Louisville Ale Trail.
WHEN: August 17-27
WHERE: Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Lane, Louisville, Ky.
FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION: kystatefair.org