2018 Louisville Family Fun Bucket List
Are you ready for family fun in 2018? Our bucket list of fun events and activities will get you started with a kid-friendly suggestion for each month. For more ideas, be sure to check our calendar, follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and read our monthly “free event” articles and seasonal lists.
January: Winter sports are in full swing! The Original Harlem Globetrotters will be in town on 1/13. The Bellarmine Knights have won 50 home games in a row, which is currently the longest home win streak in men’s basketball in any division of the NCAA. They have 4 more home games this month. The Louisville Cardinals Women’s Basketball team plays at home for 5 games this month. Tickets are inexpensive and the team is one of the highest ranked teams in NCAA Women’s Basketball. The U of L Cardinal Hockey team also has a couple of home games this month. Tickets for kids age 6-12 are only $2!
February: Bundle up and head southwest to Jefferson Memorial Forest! It’s the perfect place for hiking, camping, archery and learning all about nature. For adults, they offer a very special, romantic Valentine’s event on 2/13 and 2/14. It sells out every year, so be sure to register in advance! For families, check out FOX (Families Outside X-ploring) on 2/17. It may be cold, but the bare trees offer a great opportunity to experience nature in a whole new way. A trained Naturalist will guide your family in forest exploration. When you’re finished, warm up with some coffee or hot chocolate at one of these locally owned shops!
March: Take advantage of Owsley Sundays at the Speed Art Museum. Thanks to a generous contribution from Brown-Forman, admission to the Speed is FREE on Sundays through March 2021. You’ll definitely want to go multiple times while this offer is available. A family of 4, will save up to $40!! Like many parents, I was a bit nervous about taking my kids to an art museum, but I quickly learned that Speed is very family-friendly. Depending on the age of your kids, you can probably get away with viewing a few “grown up” exhibits before heading to Art Sparks— an interactive, hands-on area especially popular with children. Art Sparks offers opportunities to learn more about the important elements reflected in art, such as color, patterns and perspective. Supplies are provided for creating art which can be taken home or displayed on the public bulletin board.
April: One of the biggest events of the year is Thunder Over Louisville. I’m always surprised at how many people travel to Louisville to see it, while so many locals have never attended in person. To simplify your first visit (especially with children) consider a ticketed venue, such as Slugger Field or Kentucky Science Center which offer perks such as indoor restrooms, seating, special views and additional entertainment during the day. Local hotels and restaurant wants offer viewing too, but reservations must be secured well in advance, so don’t delay.
If fireworks aren’t your thing, the Kentucky Derby Festival has many other offerings. Here are some of our reviews (some occur during the first week of May): Kroger’s Fest-A-Ville and Chow Wagon, Great Steamboat Race, Pegasus Parade Preview Party, Pegasus Parade.
May: Become a tourist in your own hometown. Every year, Louisville participates in a 3 week long Hometown Tourist Celebration. In 2017, more than 90 of Louisville’s top attractions, museums, hotels, restaurants and shops offered discounts to anyone with a Kentucky or Indiana ID, local college ID or military ID. Details for 2018 will be released in the coming months! This is an awesome opportunity to experience some of the best that Louisville has to offer without breaking the bank!
If you have kids 21 and under, you can continue the hometown fun throughout the summer, with the Louisville Cultural Pass (details released later in the spring).
June: For a truly unique experience, visit the Kentucky Highland Renaissance Festival in nearby Eminence, Kentucky. See our review from 2014 here. The festival spans 7 weekends in June and July. Each weekend offers a different theme from Vikings to Steampunks. In past years, there has been a special discounted children’s weekend, so check the schedule for an opportunity for savings. The Festival features live shows, fairies, jousting, knights, jesters and more! Last summer, my husband got to participate in two of the shows and our kids had a blast watching him get wet and muddy. (It all washed out, so no worries). This is an outside event so dress appropriately for the weather and make sure you have plenty of space on your phone for photos and videos!
July: Visit Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Oldham County for their 6th Annual Family Fun Day. Date TBA. This event typically offers inflatables, face painting, interactive booths, a fire truck splashdown, animals and an ice cream eating contest! Don’t forget to hike the trails and check out the frog pond and playground!
The rest of the month you can splash or dive in and go for a swim. Kentuckiana boasts a wide variety splash pads and swimming pools.
August: Spend some time with local animals. Blackacre Conservancy is open for farm animal feedings on Saturdays at 9:30am (spring – fall). Feed is provided or you can bring your own healthy treats for the animals.
Here are a few other fun places to meet or feed animals:
- Louisville Zoo- For the most animal interaction, take the extra time to visit the lorikeets and Boma African Petting Zoo. You can also feed a giraffe and enjoy on a ride on a pony or camel!
- Oldham County- Visit and interact with domestic and exotic animals at Henry’s Ark. Feeding is not allowed. Donations are welcome.
- Shelby County- Feed ducks and geese and pet farm animals at Gallrein Farms.
- Horse Cave KY- Visit a wide variety of animals and even pet and feed a kangaroo at Kentucky Down Under. Review here.
September: The 14th – 16th is the 49th annual Gaslight Festival in Jeffersontown. This event has grown from a small street party to an event that boasts over 100,000 visitors each year! The Gaslight Festival includes a parade, balloon glow (reviewed here), 100’s of arts and craft vendors, live entertainment and much more! There are additional events before and after to the festival, including a motorcycle rally, car show, golf scramble and 5K!
October: Experience the majesty of fall at Bernheim Forest ColorFest. This annual event features hayrides, a hay maze, pumpkin slingshots, mud pie making, corn pit hands-on nature activities, food vendors and more! See our review here. A $10 per vehicle fee applies to all non-members, and a few of the activities cost a small amount. Watch Bernheim’s Facebook page for the date and additional details.
November: Light Up Louisville is the official kick-off of the holiday season in the Ville. It takes place on the day after Thanksgiving when Santa and our mayor plug in the lights to illuminate the giant tree and decorations in downtown Louisville! There are fireworks and photo opportunities with Santa. Prior to the light up moment, enjoy the Lots of Lights parade or visit skate in the outdoor ice skating rink that traditionally opens on this day.
December: Great holiday events are plentiful in Louisville and Southern Indiana. We publish a giant list of events in early November, so be sure to watch for it. For a little something different, check out Christmastide, 1816 at Locust Grove. First Person Interpreters recreate an 1816 Croghan family holiday party in the historic home. Historic artisans demonstrate their trades, give hands-on experiences, and sell their wares for a unique holiday shopping experience. Children’s activities are also offered. This event typically occurs on the first Saturday of December, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
By Guest Contributor: Brandy