As the seasons change ushering fall into Bourbon City, visitors can take in the beauty of the changing leaves while enjoying a variety of festivals and events around Louisville’s outdoor parks, venues, and historic neighborhoods. As summer fades to fall, October brings the return of some familiar festivals as well as some unique newcomers. If you are looking for a nice, local weekend getaway, Louisville has something to offer everyone, from its Pride festival to spooky season wonders.

Even better, Louisville Tourism is also currently running a sweepstakes offering a free weekend getaway to Louisville! Enter here for this amazing opportunity!

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Louisville Tourism's curated list of October events

Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular | September 30 - October 31

Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular | September 30 - October 31. Photo courtesy of Louisville Tourism.

Returning as a walk-thru event for 2021, visitors can traverse a 1/3-mile path through Iroquois Park featuring over 5,000 professionally carved jack-o-lanterns grouped in themed scenes and set to music. This year’s theme is “Changing the Channel: A Timeline of Television History,” and will feature favorite shows from the 1950’s to what we stream today on our devices and everything in between. Tickets are now on sale.

St. James Court Art Show | October 1-3

Recently capturing two top honors by Sunshine Magazine, the 65th annual art show will be held in historic Old Louisville among the nation’s largest collection of preserved Victorian architecture. Over 600 artists from around the U.S. participate in this three-day juried fine art and contemporary craft show, where guests can discover unique works of art in 17 artistic mediums, from clay to wood, and everything in between. Admission is free and the art show is a rain or shine event.

Boo at the Zoo | Thursday-Sundays October 1–30

Experience the Louisville Zoo magically transformed into a living storybook with costumed characters and trick-or-treating for kids 11 and under. A reduced nightly capacity will help with social distancing and parking is free for party guests.

Highland's Neighborhood. Courtesy of Louisville Tourism.

Louisville Taco & Margarita Festival | October 2

New for 2021, this flavorful fiesta is taking over Lynn Family Stadium complete with margaritas, tequila tacos and live music from 11am-6pm. Tickets start at just $10 (plus fees), and kids under 12 are free.

This event offers the opportunity to savor a variety of food and drinks, as the home of Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC transforms for this first-of-its-kind event. Concession stands that normally specialize in burgers and hot dogs will roll out speciality tacos, while the bourbon bars across the concourse focus on a variety of margaritas.

Kentuckiana Pride Festival and Parade | October 8-9

Originally scheduled during national Pride month, this two-day event will be held on the Big Four Lawn at Waterfront Park with performances by Todrick Hall, Neon Trees, DJ Spinderella and more. The festival kicks off with the annual Pride Parade on October 8 at 7:00 pm. This year’s parade will begin in the NuLu neighborhood at Campbell and Market Streets and end at the Big Four Lawn.

Garvin Gate Blues Festival | October 9

Held in Old Louisville on Oak Street at Garvin Place, this 26-year-tradition features music, arts and an array of food and drink vendors. The free street festival kicks off at 2pm.

This event is the largest free neighborhood street music festival in Louisville, and one of the largest and most recognized free blues music festivals in the U.S. Countless legendary blues musicians have performed at the Garvin Gate Blues Festival throughout the years, they help to keep Louisville's blues heritage alive.

Tailspin Ale Fest | October 30

Usually held in late winter, “Louisville’s winter warmer” is becoming ‘Louisville’s scary good beer fest’ in 2021 with over 250 craft beers on tap at Bowman Field, the city’s treasured 101-year-old public airfield. Guests are encouraged to dress up in costume to celebrate the Halloween season. Tailspin comes on the tail end of Louisville Craft Beer Week which celebrates the city’s local love of the sud, October 19-29.


When planning a trip to Louisville, guests can download a copy of the Louisville Tourism’s annual Visitor Guide to help plan a tour around Louisville to see the city's top attractions and bourbon distilleries. Visitors also can get additional city attraction, lodging and dining assistance at gotolouisville.com along with information on the state’s current covid-mitigation guidelines.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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