Last Updated on August 4, 2023

Long before the U.S. Senate declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month in 2007, Louisville has been shining a spotlight on America’s Native Spirit.

Once considered the “Wall Street of Whiskey” before prohibition decimated the industry in the 1920s, Louisville has recently undergone a city-wide renaissance largely thanks to the rising popularity of the Kentucky-born beverage. In 2013, the city began to reclaim its “Wall Street of Whiskey” title with the opening of the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which kicked off a Bourbon resurgence throughout the city.

A decade later, new hotels, restaurants, cocktail bars, and festivals are riding the Bourbon wave as Louisville holds strong to the title of Bourbon City.

The top reasons to visit Louisville this September:

The Myriad Hotel: Located in a former disco ball factory in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood, the Myriad will open mid-September and feature 65 guest rooms, including 15 different room styles and two bunk rooms, along with high-end amenities including an outdoor pool & club, Mediterranean-inspired Paseo restaurant (opened in June), and vibrant café and cocktail experience Switchboard, offering grab and go coffee and pastries, space to work remotely, and a selection of curated cocktails. 

The Last Refuge: GRAMMY Award and Nobel Prize-winning American songwriter Bob Dylan is opening a bar, restaurant, and music venue inside a 150-year-old church in Louisville’s vibrant NuLu neighborhood late this September. A homeplace and brand experience for Dylan’s co-owned whiskey brand Heaven’s Door, The Last Refuge will feature a retail store selling Heaven’s Door products, Dylan’s albums and books, a bar with a towering whiskey wall featuring over 1,500 whiskey brands, and a music venue occupying the church’s former sanctuary on the second level.

Phase 2 of the project will include the opening of an accompanying art experience which will showcase some of Dylan’s artwork, multimedia displays, and curated work by other Kentucky artists.

Exterior of Angels Envy Distillery.
Exterior of Angels Envy Distillery. Photo by Simon LockMy Eclectic Images

Bourbon & Beyond: Proclaimed the “World’s Biggest Bourbon & Music Festival,” Bourbon & Beyond brings four days of award-winning musicians to Louisville’s Highland Festival Grounds, September 14-17. Headliners include Brandi Carlile, The Killers, The Black Keys, and Bruno Mars, along with dozens of other internationally known acts.

In addition to incredible music, more than a dozen distilleries will be on-site, offering over 100 different varieties of rare, vintage, and experimental bourbon expressions to taste. Culinary experiences include intoxicating celebrity and Kentucky chef demos, great eats from local restaurants, and local and regional vendors.

Louder Than Life: Named the “Largest Rock Festival in America” in 2019, Louder Than Life will feature an incredible lineup of musicians at Louisville’s Highland Festival Grounds September 21-24, with headliners Foo Fighters, Tool, Avenged Sevenfold, and Green Day all taking the stage over the four-day event.

Local food and drink culture will also be incorporated into the festival’s culinary offerings with pop-ups from popular Kentucky whiskey brands and local Louisville restaurants.

Live Racing at Churchill Downs: Historic Churchill Downs racetrack will kick off its September meet on September 14 with live Thoroughbred racing, Wednesdays – Sundays through the end of the month. Highlights include Twilight Thursdays, Stakes Room Brunch on Sundays, Senior Day on Sept. 22, and popular night racing event, Downs After Dark, taking place on Saturday, Sept. 23.

The theme for this year’s late-night event is Bourbon & Boots, promising music, Bourbon, fashion, horse racing, and Louisville biggest “honky-tonk.”

Additional September Festivals:

–       WorldFest | Aug. 31- Sept. 4

–       Parrotheads in Paristown | Sept. 1-2

–       Louisville Pride Festival | Sept. 9

–       Big Four Arts Festival | September 9-10

–       Kentucky Bourbon Festival | September 15-17 (Bardstown, KY)

While planning a trip to Louisville, guests can download a copy of Louisville Tourism’s annual Visitor Guide to see the city’s top attractions, culinary hotspots, and bourbon distilleries. Visitors also can get additional city attraction, lodging and dining assistance at gotolouisville.com.

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