Music, Food and Fun Await You at Kentucky's Summer Festival Line-Up

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by Ben Mackin
Published: April 19, 2024

 

The Bluegrass State is host to dozens of music and arts festivals in every corner of the commonwealth. Whether you're into country, bluegrass, gospel, rock n' roll, R&B or something in between, Kentucky has something just for you.

 

If you find yourself in Danville on the first weekend of June and you hear trumpets, tubas and trombones, don't be alarmed. Follow the sound and take part in the Great American Brass Band Festival. This unique and free festival celebrates all things brass; from chamber brass ensembles to military marching bands to New Orleans-style brass bands. Once you experience this specialized yet diverse celebration, you will be clearing your schedule for next year's event.

 

Railbird is another can't-miss event on the first weekend of June. Held in the Red Mile racetrack's infield in the heart of Lexington since the inaugural fest in 2019, it has grown exponentially every year since. Railbird celebrates all things music, bourbon, horses and Kentucky over the course of two days.

 


Fireworks display at the Big American Brass Band Festival in Danville.

 

 

A trip to Henderson is always a good time, but it's even better if you can make the visit coincide with the WC Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival. The fest celebrates the legacy of one-time Henderson resident and widely noted Godfather of the Blues, W.C. Handy. This three-day celebration of music and cuisine will leave you with a stomach full of barbecue and a head full of 12-bar blues.

 

ROMP is a celebration of bluegrass music and lifestyle. Taking place in Owensboro every June, not only does this festival bring in the biggest bluegrass and country acts, but it also features workshops for musicians and songwriters of all skill levels.

 

The Master Musicians Festival is held every July in Somerset with the goal of celebrating a wide variety of multicultural, multigenerational and multiracial music. For more than 30 years, the MMF lineup has featured local, regional and nationally acclaimed artists from multiple genres such as blues, Haitian roots, rock, jazz, bluegrass and so much more.


Billie Renee Johnson & Cumberland Gap perform at the Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival.

 

For the last three decades the Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival has been one of the premier events in Morehead. Every September, dozens of country and bluegrass artists and thousands of fans flock to this eastern Kentucky town to enjoy a weekend of music and culture.

 

In late September, Louisville's Highland Festival Grounds is home to one of Kentucky's biggest festivals. Bourbon and Beyond hosts more than 100 bands on five stages over the course of four days. In addition to world famous acts like Dave Matthews Band, Tyler Childers and Neil Young, this festival spotlights some of the finest bourbons and food Kentucky has to offer.

A week after Bourbon and Beyond wraps up, Louder Than Life kicks off. This festival is all about cranking up the volume and taking 105 decibels of hard rock and metal to the face. With A-list bands such as Foo Fighters and Green Day and dozens more playing throughout the weekend, the memories will last way longer than the ringing in your ears.

These festivals just scratch the surface of Kentucky's offerings. To find a more comprehensive list, check out the Kentucky Tourism website.

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