We were lucky to make the short journey to Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY to experience music, art, and activism at one of the country’s top summer festivals. Forecastle Festival started in 2002, and now draws thousands of people from across the globe.
Much like Nashville, Louisville is one of the more progressive cities in the Southern region, with a strong focus on the local and global community. Forecastle Festival is the brainchild of Louisville native JK McKnight, who has a sincere love for the city and its people. AC Entertainment, the company that brings us Bonnaroo every year, co-produces the event.
To get a quick glimpse, check out our video below.
Forecastle: A Day In The Life
Forecastle: Top 10 Sights, Sounds, and Savors
Similar to Nashville Riverfront Park concerts, Forecastle Fest takes place at Louisville Riverfront Park. The Ohio River and bridges connecting Kentucky to Indiana provide a beautiful backdrop. Though slightly unusual at first, the interstate overhead provides plenty of shade to escape the heat. Additionally, parking spots and hotels are easier to snag than most other cities.
Before and after the festival, explore the city. Some places to check out are Garage Bar, Against The Grain, Seelbach Hotel, The Historic Brennan House, and Fourth Street Live.
2. Old Crow Medicine Show
Old Crow Medicine Show really worked with Forecastle’s energy. Their down-home, folky sounds were perfect for the sunny afternoon. It was nice to hear “Wagon Wheel” from some of its originators (excluding Bob Dylan), a song we rarely hear in Nashville (wink).
We were happy to see a variety of food options, including many healthy choices from companies like 99 Potatoes and McDevitt Food Supply (Super Heady Tacos). There were also plenty of tasty alternatives like Pie for the People and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
The beer selection was different than most. Instead of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors, Forecastle went a slightly different route with Sierra Nevada, Heineken, and good ol’ PBR. They even had Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA on draft, for any of you hop heads.
4. Giant Characters
There were some moments when we were afraid of these giant characters, particularly when they snuck up on us (see the video). One of the companies that creates these is Louisville’s own Squallis Puppeteers. They made for great entertainment, both in the crowd and on stage.
5. Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes has gained a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. They have an authentic sound and solid songs. The audience was packed for their early evening show.
6. Bourbon Lodge
According to the mayor, Kentucky makes 95% of the world’s bourbon — the rest is counterfeit. One of the most popular aspects of Forecastle is the newly expanded Bourbon Lodge. Kentucky is well-known for their bourbon, and the Bourbon Lodge is the ideal place to get some shade and try local bourbon. The Burlesque All-Stars were also entertaining.
Even if you don’t like bourbon, it’s worth checking out.
No matter what concert or festival you attend, the crowd can make it or break it for you. The Forecastle crowd was pretty easy-going, as you would probably expect at a festival. Needless to say, there was a lot of hula hooping, napping, and dancing going on.
8. Matt & Kim
Earlier in the week a friend mentioned we should definitely see Matt and Kim. Though this genre of music rarely makes its way to our Spotify playlists, Matt and Kim surprised us with a high-energy, fun performance that’s worth talking about. The crowd was just as energetic. They’ll kick things off at Nashville’s Live on the Green, so check them out there.
9. Art & Activism
Artists spent the weekend painting incredible pieces, a few of which you see here. For a donation, you could also participate. Forecastle Foundation’s goal is to help educate people and preserve the world’s “hot spots.” Learn more about the Forecastle Foundation, hot spots, and how you can help.
10. Fre3bird Boat
The Fre3bird Boat is a welcoming sight at Forecastle Fest. Artists paint the blank boat all weekend, which eventually becomes an incredible art piece. Watch out for the waves and the dancing lifeguard.
For more information on Forecastle Fest, visit: