Thunder Over Louisville 2024 is underway! Live updates from downtown

Thunder Over Louisville returns today, April 20, bringing one of the nation’s top fireworks displays and air shows back to Louisville’s Waterfront Park.

The theme for the 35th Thunder Over Louisville is “Celebrating Derby 150.” Thunder has traditionally served as the “Opening Ceremonies” of the Kentucky Derby Festival and begins the two-week countdown to the Kentucky Derby, held on the first Saturday in May.

“Thunder has become more than fireworks and an air show over the last three decades. It’s an annual rite of spring in Kentucky, a signature attraction for tourism in Louisville and the Bluegrass State, and an event that unites our entire community along the banks of both sides of the Ohio River,” Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival president and CEO said.

Special Derby nods will be incorporated into Thunder Over Louisville, including the “Call to the Post” in the Thunder soundtrack.

Are you planning to head downtown later today? Or do you want to watch from home and avoid the crowds? Either way, follow along with our live blog so you don’t miss anything during Thunder Over Louisville.

Louisville Metro Police confirmed a juvenile was shot near Waterfront Park Saturday evening.

LMPD received reports of a possible shooting near Waterfront Park “near the Purple lot,” directly under I-65, the department stated on X, formerly known as Twitter.

LMPD, Kentucky State Police and emergency services are on the scene.

LMPD reported a boy was shot in the stomach and was being transported to UofL Health.

More: Boy shot near Waterfront Park following Thunder Over Louisville events, LMPD reports

Madeline, Alex and Caroline all were watching Thunder Over Louisville for the first time while visiting from out of state, and agreed it was the best fireworks show they’d ever seen.

“The ending was mind blowing,”said Madeline, from Texas.

Alex, from Cincinnati, said he was impressed by how the fireworks engaged the audience along the entire riverfront, not just in one place.

“Like Disneyworld, but make it Southern Indiana,” Madeline added.

Kentucky Derby Festival’s marquee event, Thunder Over Louisville, returned to Waterfront Park on Saturday. And it did not disappoint. See all the images from the fireworks show through our gallery:

The 2024 Thunder Over Louisville soundtrack features a mix of current songs and crowd favorites.  

“The tempo is the fastest-paced soundtrack we’ve ever had,” Wayne Hettinger, producer of Thunder Over Louisville, said in a news release. “The pace of this year’s soundtrack is a mix of current music that guarantees to make you weak in the knees and looking for something to hang on to for the finale.”

Here’s a look at the 2024 Thunder Over Louisville soundtrack:

  • “The Greatest Show” – Panic! At The Disco
  • “Dance The Night” – Dua Lipa
  • “Flowers” – Miley Cyrus
  • “Just Dropped In (To See What My Condition Was In)” – The First Edition
  • “Screaming Suicide” – Metallica
  • “Lil Boo Thang” – Paul Russell
  • “Under You” – Foo Fighters
  • “When You Wish Upon A Star” – Linda Ronstadt
  • “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/Ahi Wela” – Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
  • “Worship” – Jon Batiste
  • “Run for the Roses” – Dan Fogelberg
  • “Standing Next to You” – Jung Kook and USHER
  • “Turn On The Lights again…” — (feat. Future) – Fred Again, Swedish House Mafia, Future
  • “Wild Child” – The Black Keys
  • “That is What You Came For” – Calvin Harris and Rihanna
  • “3D” – Jung Kook featuring Jack Harlow
  • “Gangnam Style” – Glee Cast
  • “Edge of Midnight” – Miley Cyrus
  • “Style” – Taylor Swift
  • “Welcome To My Island” – Caroline Polachek
  • “Help!” – The Beatles
  • “Girl In A Country Song” – Maddie & Tae
  • “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” – Big & Rich
  • “Fast Car” – Luke Combs
  • “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake, Majid Jordan
  • “Miracle” – Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding
  • “That! Feels Good!” – Jessie Ware
  • “Houdini” – Dua Lipa
  • “Baby Don’t Hurt Me” – David Guetta, Anne-Marie and Coi Leray
  • “We Are the Champions” – Crazy Frog
  • “Kiss Him Goodbye” – Crazy Frog
  • “Olympic Fanfare” – Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Erich Kunzel
  • “The Beast” – From “Sicario” – Johann Johannsson
  • “Colonel Bogey March” – Kenneth J. Alford, John Williams & Boston Pops Orchestra

More: Here’s how to watch, listen to Thunder Over Louisville on TV, the radio

Steve and Carmen Thomas were enjoying a corn dog and chicken strips with fries while patiently waiting for the firework show to kickoff.

The two arrived at around 2 p.m., but agreed the fireworks are their favorite part. “I like the night show,” said Steve. “It’s just really intense, blowing the bridge up and everything.”

Steve has seen countless Thunder fireworks, but Carmen had to come back after seeing them for the first time in 2023.

The two also lucked out on parking, with quick access to I-65 once crowds disperse after the fireworks display.

“My sister owns a convenience store at 1st and Jefferson. We parked there. I didn’t pay a penny,” Steve said.

If it feels like there’s less open space on the banks of the river to watch the show during this year’s Thunder Over Louisville, you’re right — and it’s not just the large crowds.

The Ohio River is about 5 feet higher during this year’s Thunder compared to last year, according to U.S. Geological Survey river monitoring data, leaving slightly less land in some areas along the river to stake out picnic blankets and folding chairs.

The river has also been receding in the last few days, and along with recent rainfall, much of the grassy areas along the river are muddy.

If you are spending Thunder at home, you can watch the entirety of Thunder Over Louisville on WDRB television on Saturday, April 20. WDRB will be out in force covering the Kentucky Derby Festival event for a special live edition of the air show and fireworks. 

The official broadcast coverage includes coverage of the aircraft in this year’s air show, the full uninterrupted fireworks show, and the official soundtrack along with stories you won’t see anywhere else.

For Kamry Davies, Thunder Over Louisville brings a feeling of nostalgia. Growing up, she frequently attended the event, and it was her first visit back after moving away temporarily for her education.

“I’m looking forward to the big light show and seeing all the fireworks and maybe getting some more drinks and some more food,” Davies said.

She said the event has grown significantly since she last visited.

“I feel like it was always crowded but the city has really grown bigger. A lot more people are hearing more and more about Derby, especially because it’s the 150th year,” Davies said. “It’s a lot more people than normal, but it seems safe so far compared to back then.”

Davies was accompanied by her partner, Deon Mathews, a first-timer to Thunder Over Louisville. He said he was disappointed in their first-round of food because it was “kind of rushed” but looks forward to fireworks and trying some of the other food places.

The two arrived at around 7 p.m. and were fortunate enough to get free parking pretty close to the celebration. “We’re down by the baseball fields. It’s nice especially compared to the time that we came,” Davies said.

The Thunder Over Louisville fireworks is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. Saturday night, shortly after sunset, according to the Kentucky Derby Festival’s schedule. People who are not near Waterfront Park can watch the entirety of Thunder Over Louisville on WDRB television.

The fireworks show will last roughly 30 minutes — bring an end to the festivities.

Married couple Larry and MaryLou Grindatti, of Indiana, accompanied by couple Stacy and Jim Kelley, of Georgia, arrived at 11 a.m. to secure a good viewing spot overlooking the Ohio River and Second Street Bridge, with plans to stay through fireworks.

The group arrived early to claim spots in the same area for three consecutive years, with the Kelley couple making their way north for the annual event.

As for the weather, MaryLou said she was grateful for the wall behind them to block the wind. Stacy also commented, saying despite her and her husband being originally from Ohio, they aren’t cut out for the colder temperatures.

When asked about their favorite part of the event, Larry said “mine’s the air show.” “And the fireworks,” MaryLou added.

However, Larry said this year’s air show doesn’t stack up to years prior. “It’s not as good. There’s no F-15’s.” His favorite plane in the show was a B-52.

The group, three wearing U of M gear, also enjoyed eating from the food trucks and shopping at the vendors as well. MaryLou said she bought a t-shirt while shopping, but none that would help her fit in with the group. “I’m Ohio State,” she said.

In Indiana, lines for food are long, as crowds look for dinner ahead of the fireworks show.

More than 60 people stood waiting in a line for a Ramiro’s Cantina food truck around 7:15 p.m. Another taco truck a block down the street had a similar wait.

Restaurants and bars near the riverfront have been packed, too.

Patrons of Harry’s Taphouse and Kitchen have been watching the air show from the outdoor patio throughout the day, while horses race on the televisions and live music plays out back.

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Thunder Over Louisville awe crowds with aircrafts over Ohio River

Crowds take in the sights from Thunder Over Louisville during the air show from the Indiana side of the Ohio River on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Danielle Farris, a Louisville native, had a smile on her face as she played with her children near the Meijer Family Fun Zone. She annually attends Thunder Over Louisville with her seven children, as it’s a great event for those of all ages.

While Farris says she prefers the air show, there are plenty of other activities offered that her children enjoy. “The kids, they love the rides. They really like the fireworks too,” she said.

Farris said the 2024 air show excels compared to previous years. “I think it was way better,” she said.

Farris, along with four of her children, Sienna Clayton, 9, Lynea Anderson, 8, Jamarious Thompson, 6, and Amy Ceesay, 2, plan to stay at Thunder until the end of the firework display.

If you are spending Thunder at home, you can watch the entirety of Thunder Over Louisville on WDRB television on Saturday, April 20. WDRB will be out in force covering the Kentucky Derby Festival event for a special live edition of the air show and fireworks. 

The official broadcast coverage includes coverage of the aircraft in this year’s air show, the full uninterrupted fireworks show, and the official soundtrack along with stories you won’t see anywhere else.

Patsy Farris, 74, and Robert Farris, 76, sitting comfortably on a bench with eyes locked on the horizon, are Thunder Over Louisville returners, and big fans of the annual air show.

“Louisville’s fantastic,” Robert said. The two often attend Thunder weather permitting, and mentioned conditions have been miserable at times in previous years.

When asked about thoughts on this year’s forecast, the two mentioned chills due to winds. “It’s a little cold,” said Robert. “It’s nice, but it got chilly.”

The Louisville residents plan to watch the firework show from home on TV to avoid downtown traffic, which can be “chaos,” they said.

Later tonight, people still attending Thunder Over Louisville can expect a mostly cloudy night with a low of about 40 and northwest winds from 6 to 10 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Louisville.

A sober space was established for Thunder at the Jeffersonville Overlook by the Clark County Family Recovery Court and Thrive, a nonprofit working in 10 local Indiana counties.

Events like Thunder can be “a recipe for disaster” for people struggling with addiction, said Iris Rubadue, program coordinator for the Clark County Family Recovery Court.

Creating a sober space offers “an opportunity to do Thunder, and do it sober,” Rubadue said.

Abraham Stucky, outreach coordinator with Thrive, reported a great turnout for what he called a “big sober party.”

It’s the second year they’ve offered it, and Stucky said the group plans to continue.

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Families take in the sights of Thunder Over Louisville from downtown

Herb Melton held his 4-year-old grandson, Ian, while they both took in the sights of Thunder Over Louisville on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Saturday afternoon’s snippets of windy weather didn’t stop kids from throwing footballs or rolling down grassy hills in Waterfront Park.

The park and surrounding areas filled up with the sight of tents, hammocks, lawn chairs and blankets. And as planes appeared in view, groups of people pointed their fingers and phones up to the skies to take in the moment. 

In their spot on the steps near the intersection of Witherspoon and Brook streets, Herb Melton held his 4-year-old grandson, Ian, while they both looked to the sky. 

“We all love airplanes,” Herb said. “I’m trying to make him an addict of airplanes just like I am.”

The Honeycutt family, residing in Evansville, booked a condo in downtown to make sure they get the best Thunder Over Louisville experience.

Dustin Honeycutt has attended the event years ago, but it’s a first for his wife, Niki Abbycapps Honeycutt. “It’s been awesome so far,” said Dustin.

When asked about their favorite part of the air show, Dustin said “It’s only part way through.” He says he most enjoyed the air drop, where a series of parachuters exited a plane, descending through the sky before landing on the Ohio River.

The family plans to watch the firework show, bouncing back and forth between the condo and Waterfront. Abbycapps, 12, said the air drop was also a highlight for her, as well as the many food trucks.

Kelsey Thornberry is visiting for Thunder from Hawaii. She’s watching the show from the Indiana riverfront with her mom, stepdad, and three children.Thornberry grew up in New Albany and estimates she’s caught at least 25 Thunder shows. The air show is her favorite part — her brother is in the Air Force — but her kids love the fireworks.

502 Hemp, a CBD and THC business abiding by federal regulations, could help you celebrate 4/20 at Thunder Over Louisville the legal way. “It’s our holiday,” joked Daniel Gilligan, employee at 502 Hemp and first-timer to the Derby celebration.

The business offers a variety of products including Delta 8 for sleeping, alternatives to antidepressants for mental health disorders and pain relief for inflammation, pain and a variety of injuries.

“It’s a more natural way. People get off antidepressants and anti anxiety meds and stuff and pain killers by using this. That’s pretty much the best part,” Gilligan said.

The company is also looking into medicinal sales, which begin in Kentucky in 2025, but the process can be both lengthy and costly. Gilligan, originally from Maryland, is a current Louisville resident excited to enjoy Thunder for the first time.

He said he’s most excited for the fireworks, but will still enjoy when “the planes are going to fly by.” As for weather, “It was windy, but it’s warming up.”

Along with colorful stands selling cotton candy, corn dogs, deep-fried treats and chocolate-covered strawberries on a stick, those attending Thunder Over Louisville on Saturday could find the tastes of a local Venezuelan eatery.

Las Chamas, 8019 Dixie Highway, had a food truck outside the Chow Wagon, an area full of food and drink vendors.

Along with items from its main menu, including arepas and empanadas, Las Chamas set up a stand serving elotes, corn in a cup, mixed fruit, and horchata.

Nearby, a booth called the Lumpy Mash Potato billed itself as the “home of deep fried turkey legs” and Wild Bill’s, which had three booths set up in downtown Louisville, served refillable cups of old-fashioned soda.

As crowds grew to see the air show and enjoy live music on a stage overlooking the river, Dennis Jackson of D Jackson’s BBQ was excited to take in his first Thunder Over Louisville. The chef from Dallas, Texas prepared a menu including smoked brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, Texas-style baked beans and loaded macaroni and cheese.

“We wanted to bring y’all some good Texas barbecue,” Jackson said. “I think we’ll be back next year.”

Mallki Morales,16, with Incas Andes, was enjoying the breezy day near the Second Street Bridge, selling a range of items including uniquely designed bucket hats and ponchos.

Their business, established more than 20 years ago by Morales’ father, has been selling at Thunder Over Louisville for over a decade, coming from Chicago.

The business’ most popular item is its ponchos, with unique designs and prints, including pop culture and cartoon characters. Most items sold are native crafts from South America, many imported from the family’s home country, Ecuador.

Morales, who started attending the event at a young age, said he enjoys the diversity of the event and its Kentucky Derby ties.

Keep in mind that aircraft and times are subject to change:

  • 3 p.m.: Air Show Begins/Official Thunder Broadcast on WDRB and MIX 106.9
  • 3 p.m.:  F-16 Viper Four Ship (180th Fighter Wing OH ANG, Toledo, Ohio)
  • 3:10 p.m: UPS Airlines Boeing 747-800 (Louisville IAP)
  • 3:22 p.m.: Navy EA-18 Growler Demo Team (Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, WA)
  • 3:37 p.m.: Navy Legacy Flight
  • 3:47 p.m.: 123rd Special Tactics Squadron Parachute Team, KY ANG (Louisville)
  • 3:57 p.m.: C-130J “Super Hercules” Four Ship (123rd Airlift Wing, KY ANG, Louisville)
  • 4 p.m.: Navy MH-53 Helicopter (HM-15 Norfolk NAS, Norfolk VA)
  • 4:10 p.m.: UH-60 Helocast (Bravo Co. 2-147 Air Assault, Frankfort) and (123rd Special Tactics Squadron, KY ANG, Louisville)
  • 4:18 p.m.: BREAK
  • 4:24 p.m.: USAF KC-135 Stratotanker (97th Airlift Wing, Altus AFB, OK)
  • 4:39 p.m.: USAF C-17 Globemaster III (97th Airlift Wing, Altus AFB, OK)
  • 4:54 p.m.: Matt Younkin Twin Beech Aerobatics Demo (Day Show)
  • 5:06 p.m.: USCG MH-65 Dolphin
  • 5:16 p.m.: USAF “Wings of Blue” Parachute Team
  • 5:36 p.m.: Clipped-Wing TaylorCraft (Nick Coleman, Bowman Field, Louisville)
  • 5:44 p.m.: Navy E-2C Hawkeye Two Ship (VAW-120, Norfolk NAS, Norfolk VASN)
  • 5:47 p.m.: Britt Lincoln Extra 300 (MT)
  • 5:55 p.m.: BREAK
  • 6:01 p.m.: USAF B-52 (307th Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, LA)
  • 6:16 p.m.: Wild Blue RV-8 Aerobatics (Day Show)
  • 6:24 p.m.: Yak 52 (Bowman Field, Louisville)
  • 6:32 p.m.: USAF F-16 Viper DEMO (20th Fighter Wing, Shaw AFB, SC)
  • 6:52 p.m.: USAF Heritage Flight
  • 7:02 p.m.: BREAK
  • 7:08 p.m.: USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” (924th Fighter Group, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ)
  • 7:16 p.m.: USAF C-17 (445th Airlift Wing, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH)
  • 7:22 p.m.: A-400M Atlas (Lufttransportgeschwader (Air Transport Group) 62, Wunstorf AB, Hannover, Germany)
  • 7:30 p.m.: USAF T-1A Jayhawk (14th Flying Training Wing, Columbus AFB, MS)
  • 7:33 p.m.: BREAK
  • 7:39 p.m.: “Mister Mulligan” Howard DGA-6 (Mason City, IA)
  • 7:47 p.m.: USMC UH-1Y and AH-1Z Helicopters (Squadron 773, Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ)
  • 7:59 p.m.: SMOKE ON! Aviation (Louisville)
  • 8:07 p.m.: Jeff Gordon Carbon Cub Float Plane (Bowman Field)
  • 8:52 p.m.: Sunset
  • 8:52 p.m.: Wild Blue RV-8 Aerobatics (Night Show)
  • 9 p.m.: Magic by Moonlight, Twin Beech Aerobatics Demo (Matt Younkin Airshows)
  • 9:08 p.m.: Meijer Moment (Thunder Fans Help Light Up the Waterfront)
  • 9:12 p.m.: Drone Show Powered by LG&E
  • 9:27 p.m.: System Check: Clear Airspace
  • 9:30 p.m.: Fireworks

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If you’re looking for Sally Jessel, just look for the small sign taped to a tree. Atop the white paper, the marker-written message reads, “Sally’s 2024 Thunder Spot.” In parenthesis, there’s a little note: “Since 1991.”

“That’s how everyone knows where I am,” Jessel, 70, said.

By now, friends and family know she can be found here, among the sea of people gathering near the Ohio River Waterfront.

And they know it’s part of Jessel’s Thunder Over Louisville tradition to get to this prime spot, near Joe’s Crab Shack, early. She and a small crew arrived, with chairs, blankets, and snacks, around 6 a.m. Saturday.

Decked out in Thunder Over Louisville merchandise, including a jean jacket, sweatshirt, and two T-shirts, Jessel said the event always brings back memories of when she first attended and saw the excitement on the faces of her kids.

That includes one her of daughters, whose interest in flying began as a teenager and now serves in the U.S. Air Force.

“She started it off and we’ve been here every single year since,” Jessel said. “I love Thunder. I love the planes and the fireworks. I love everything about it.”

Over the years, their group has grown to include more and more people, including some of Jessel’s seven children, 22 grandkids, and five great-grandchildren.

“It’s a big event for my family,” she said. “And it’s not just family. It’s family and friends. We all get together.”

In 2011, her son held his wedding ceremony during Thunder Over Louisville. The family has also recognized memorials and other celebrations with Thunder in the background. As long as Jessel has hung up a sign marking her “Thunder Spot,” she’s also invited whoever stops by to add a message or their names to the piece of paper. A bright green sign from 2019 is covered with signatures and soon the 2024 one will look the same.

“It’s amazing,” Jessel said. “It’s something we all look forward to. It’s just a good tradition.”

Sisters-in-law Chere Gardner and Shalonda Rucker have attended Thunder Over Louisville for at least a decade.

But they’re not here just for fun.

“Y’all got pins? You need a pin to get in,” their friendly voices took turns asking those passing by Bingham Way near the entrance of the Great Lawn viewing area at Louisville’s Waterfront Park.

As two members of the sprawling Pegasus Pin Volunteer Team, they planned to spend several hours Saturday at their sidewalk spot in the sun. Along with about 20 other family members, Rucker and Gardner sell pins each year to raise money for expenses relating to their annual reunion, which this year will be held in Detroit.

“We love talking to people,” Gardner said. “And we get to see the joy on their faces.”

People stopped to ask the pair for recommendations on where to go for lunch or the best place to view the air show. They also stopped to ask about the $10 pins, which allow entry into certain areas of Thunder Over Louisville and act as souvenirs.

“The weather plays a bit part in how the day goes,” Rucker said. “Today, it’s pretty good.”

Whether or not people stop to buy a pin, she and Gardner say the same thing: “Enjoy your day!”

You don’t have to battle the crowds to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Thunder Over Louisville.

If you are spending Thunder at home, you can watch the entirety of Thunder Over Louisville on WDRB television starting at 3 p.m. WDRB will be out in force covering the Kentucky Derby Festival event for a special live edition of the air show and fireworks. 

The official broadcast coverage includes coverage of the aircraft in this year’s air show, the full uninterrupted fireworks show, and the official soundtrack along with stories you won’t see anywhere else.

One of the things that makes Thunder Over Louisville so magical each year is the soundtrack broadcast from the Thunder sound system around the venue. If you aren’t within earshot of the many thunder sound towers throughout the venue, tune your radio to MIX 106.9to hear a live feed of the soundtrack during the fireworks show.

You may like: Here’s how to watch, listen to Thunder Over Louisville on TV, the radio

The Transit Authority of River City expects to transport more than 10,000 people during Thunder Over Louisville. As in past years, it has largely stuck with the same service plan to smoothly transport passengers in and out of the city’s core.

To keep up with increased riders, TARC is increasing service into downtown Louisville and designating five post-event boarding areas for the Thunder Over Louisville. All routes on TARC will be fare-free to provide convenient access to and from Thunder Over Louisville, thanks to sponsorship by the Kentucky Derby Festival and Humana. 

On the day of the fireworks, TARC will add 68 buses to accommodate the public. A shuttle service from Shawnee Park to Union Station will also run throughout the day to accommodate an expected increase of passengers heading downtown.

While extra buses should allow the agency to transport more people quickly, the routes could face delays as police set up barricades for the 9:30 p.m. fireworks display. For more information, visit ridetarc.org or call 502-585-1234.

You may like: Heading to Thunder Over Louisville? Here’s what to know about free post-event TARC routes

Betty and Dwain Hitchcock made the five-hour trip from the Chicago area to Louisville this weekend for one reason.

“Him,” Betty Hitchcock said, pointing to her 15-year-old grandson, Aiden Nolte. “He’s big into jets.”

Shortly after arriving early at their spot near the Muhammad Ali Center on Louisville’s Ohio River waterfront, and hours before the air show kicked off, Nolte already carried a big smile and a camera, readying to capture the show.

“I’m excited for the lineup,” he said, noting the “rarity” of what he and thousands of others are about to see.

This marks the family’s first time attending Thunder Over Louisville, but Hitchcock said there will definitely be a “next time.”

For safety reasons, the following are not permitted in the Thunder Over Louisville event area, which goes south from the Ohio River to Main Street between Clay Street to 10th Street and includes the Thunder Chow Wagon, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere, and North Great Lawn viewing area:

  • Outside alcohol or any liquid in glass bottles. Plastic bottles and food are fine and vendors selling food and alcohol will be plentiful.
  • Anything that flies via remote control but especially drones. This is an air show and such things are banned by the FAA.
  • Leave your tents, canopies, stakes, pennant lines, and hammocks at home. Picnic blankets, tarps (limited to 10-inch-by-10-inch) and lawn chairs are OK.
  • No taping or roping off of areas.
  • Charcoal or propane grills.
  • No pets.
  • Bikes, skateboards and skates are not allowed in the viewing areas including rental bikes and scooters. If you ride your bicycle to Thunder Over Louisville, you can park it at the “Free Valet Bicycle Parking” located on the northeast corner of Witherspoon Street and Preston Street, north of Slugger Field. The facility is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Bring a lock.

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If you’re driving and parking downtown, find a spot farther away from the chaos that is Waterfront Park. Walking a few blocks early in the day can save you from having to sit in a traffic jam at the end of the night.

You can also pre-book a spot online at louisville.pmreserve.com where spaces are available from now until midnight starting at $22.

What parking garages in downtown Louisville sell reserved spots?

The following parking garages in downtown Louisville sell reserved spots. However, some may be sold out day of the event, so be sure to check louisville.pmreserve.com for details:

  • One Arena Plaza at Arena Garage: $62
  • 141 N. Sixth St. at Riverfront Garage: $39
  • 658 S. Third St. at Brown Hotel Garage: $22
  • 120 S. Sixth St. at Sixth and Main Garage: $28
  • 120 S. Eighth St. at Eighth and Main Garage: $28
  • 838 W. Market St. at Glassworks Garage: $28
  • 550 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. at Louisville Gardens Garage: $22
  • 536 W. Market St. at Market Street Garage: $28
  • 523 S. Fifth St. at Seelbach Garage: $22

Many downtown businesses will offer parking in private lots for varying fees. For more information on garage and lot locations in downtown Louisville visit louisvilleky.gov/PARC or contact the Parking Authority of River City at 502-587-PARK.

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Navigating downtown Louisville and southern Indiana is a little challenging during Thunder Over Louisville. Here are a few roads that are already closed for Thunder Over Louisville 2024: 

Roads closed now through 8 a.m. on Sunday, April 21

  • Westbound River Road from northbound 2nd Street to northbound 6th Street
  • Witherspoon Street from northbound Preston Street to northbound Brook Street
  • Eastbound River Road from northbound Preston Street to Witherspoon Street
  • Bingham Way from westbound River Road to Witherspoon Street
  • Northbound Floyd Street from Witherspoon to Washington Street

For more information or to see additional road closures, visit the Louisville Metro Police Department’s website: louisville-police.org/478/Kentucky-Derby-Festival-Information

You may like: Here’s what to know about road closures in downtown during Thunder Over Louisville

If you and your 500,000+ closest friends are all planning to head to downtown Louisville this weekend for Thunder Over Louisville, chances are there’s going to be some traffic and lots of road closures. 

Thought you could walk across the Big Four Bridge, or watch the show from that vantage point? Sorry, you’re out of luck. Here’s what to know about bridge closures for Thunder Over Louisville:

  • The Clark Memorial Bridge (Second Street Bridge) from westbound Main Street to westbound Riverside Drive is closed from now until 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 21.
  • The Big Four Pedestrian Bridge will be closed from 10 a.m. until midnight on Saturday, April 20. Signage will be placed on the Big Four Bridge to help notify the public of the closure.
  • The Kennedy Bridge at Interstate 65 northbound will be closed from 5-10:30 p.m. (approximate) and at Interstate 65 southbound from 7-10:30 p.m. (approximate) Saturday.

Heading out to Thunder Over Louisville 2024? You know cell phone service will be spotty! So download, print or screenshot the helpful guide to the air show, Thunder on the Ground, and more. 

Inside you’ll find details on the air show, which roads are closed, where to park (or how to take a free TARC ride if that’s more your speed), how to listen or watch Thunder at home, and more.

Plus, take a look at the Kentucky Derby Festival sponsors for this year’s event.

You may like: Print or download this complete guide to Thunder Over Louisville 2024

According to the seven-day forecast from Louisville’s National Weather Service, Saturday is expected to be sunny with a high near 62. Northwest winds between 6-11 mph with gusts of up to 20 mph are possible.

Saturday night is forecasted to be mostly cloudy with a low near 41, with north winds of 6-8 mph.

Latest forecast: What will weather be like for Thunder Over Louisville, Kentucky Derby?

What time does Thunder Over Louisville 2024 start?

Thunder Over Louisville is scheduled for Saturday, April 20, with the theme “Celebrating Derby 150. Thunder On the Ground opens at 11 a.m., the air show starts at 3 p.m., the drone show is at 9 p.m., and the Zambelli Fireworks show choreographed to an original soundtrack, will blast off at 9:30 p.m.

Where is Thunder Over Louisville?

Public viewing areas stretch from 8th Street to Clay Street north of Main Street in Kentucky, and along Riverside Drive from Ashland Park in Clarksville to Spring Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana, according to kdf.org. The Chow Wagon and Waterfront Park and North Great Lawn at Waterfront Park offer front-row seats to the show.

What is Thunder Over Louisville?

Thunder Over Louisville is a beloved community event that kicks off the Kentucky Derby Festival each year. The annual event is hosted in downtown to kick off Kentucky Derby celebrations and festivities. The Kentucky Derby Festival offers more than 70 events ahead of the Run for the Roses, beginning with Thunder, with a stunning firework display and aircraft show.

When did Thunder Over Louisville start?

The first official Thunder Over Louisville took place in 1991. The year prior, “opening ceremonies” were hosted at Cardinal Stadium to kick off the celebration for the Kentucky Derby, featuring a firework show and artist Janie Frickie. Over time, the event developed into what it is today, one of the nation’s best fireworks displays and air shows.

More Thunder Over Louisville coverage

Reporters Kirby Adams and Gege Reed contributed to this report.