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Everything You Need To Know About Thunder Over Louisville 2024

Everything You Need To Know About Thunder Over Louisville 2024

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Thunder Over Louisville 2024, the electrifying kickoff to the Kentucky Derby Festival!

As one of the largest annual fireworks displays in North America, and set against the stunning backdrop of the Ohio River, it's an event that should be on every firework fanatics calendar.

In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know to make the most of this exhilarating event, from its rich history to the event highlights and insider tips.

Historical Background

Dating back to its inception on April 20th 1990, it was originally conceived as a prelude to the Kentucky Derby. Over the years, what began as a modest celebration has grown into one of the largest and most eagerly anticipated events in the region, drawing crowds of over half a million spectators annually.

The schedule of events has also expanded to include not only fireworks but also breathtaking air shows, electrifying concerts, and a huge range of family-friendly activities.

Its name, Thunder Over Louisville, pays homage to the thunderous roar of the fireworks that light up the Louisville sky, signalling the arrival of spring and the excitement of Derby season.

Community Impact

Thunder Over Louisville is more than just a fireworks display – it's a community celebration that brings people together from across the region. As one of the leading community celebrations in the world.

With an estimated impact of $56 million to the area's economy, Thunder Over Louisville supports local businesses, stimulates tourism, and creates jobs. The event provides a significant boost to the region's hospitality industry, from hotels and restaurants to retail shops and attractions.

The 2024 Theme

In celebration of the historic 150th Kentucky Derby, Thunder Over Louisville 2024 will be themed "Celebrating Derby 150," paying homage to the iconic race and the city's rich Derby heritage.

Don't miss the incorporation of Derby season elements into the show, including the iconic "Call to the Post" in the Thunder soundtrack. 

2024 Event Highlights

Scheduled for Saturday, April 20th, this year's festival promises another action-packed event.

Air Show Spectacular
Prepare to be awed as Thunder Over Louisville presents an air show featuring both military and civilian aircraft. From heart-stopping aerobatics to breathtaking flybys, the skies above Waterfront Park will come alive with the roar of engines.

Highlights of the air show include:

  • Air Force Viper Demo and Heritage Flight: Witness the precision and power of the Air Force's elite pilots as they perform daring maneuvers.
  • Air Force C-17 Demo: Marvel at the sheer size and capability of the Air Force's mighty transport aircraft, complete with an aerial refueling demonstration that will leave you speechless.
  • Navy Growler with Legacy Flight: Experience the naval aviation prowess as the Navy's Growler aircraft takes to the skies alongside vintage warbirds in a stirring display of aerial heritage.
  • U.S. Air Force Wings of Blue: Watch in awe as the Air Force's premier parachute demonstration team showcases their skill with precision jumps and aerial stunts.
  • Matt Younkin’s “Magic by Moonlight” Performance: Prepare to be enchanted by Matt Younkin's mesmerising nighttime aerobatic display, set against the backdrop of the moonlit sky.
  • Vintage Champion Air Racer “Mr. Mulligan”: Step back in time as this iconic air racer takes flight, evoking the golden age of aviation.

But the excitement doesn't end there! Spectators will also be treated to numerous aerobatic routines, unique custom aircraft formations, and thrilling flybys from a variety of aircraft, including the legendary B-52 bomber and a flight of Kentucky Air National Guard C-130s.

Thunder Food Fest and Meijer Family Fun Zone
Indulge your taste buds and entertain the whole family at the Thunder Food Fest and Meijer Family Fun Zone. With over 115 food and drink vendors and kids' activities like bounce houses and face painting, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

The Firework Display
Obviously one of the biggest event highlights is the firework display.

Renowned for its stunning pyrotechnics and choreographed to an original soundtrack, the fireworks show is the highlight of the event, and with a run time that typically last around 30 to 45 minutes it promises to be a feast for the senses.

Where To Watch The Show

Thunder Over Louisville takes place at Waterfront Park, offering multiple viewing locations for spectators to enjoy the festivities. From the North Great Lawn to the Chow Wagon and the Meijer Family Fun Zone at Big 4 Lawn, there are plenty of spots to catch all the action. Gates open early at each location, so be sure to arrive in plenty of time to secure your preferred viewing spot.

Viewing Locations:

  • North Great Lawn: Gates open at 9 AM.
  • Chow Wagon: Gates open at 11 AM.
  • Meijer Family Fun Zone at Big 4 Lawn: Gates open at Noon.
  • West Belvedere: Gates open at 11 AM.

Admission and Amenities:
Admission to the viewing locations is free with a 2024 Pegasus Pin, which you can buy online here.

Each location offers amenities such as food vendors, beer gardens, and Thunder Sound to enhance your experience. Additionally, the Meijer Family Fun Zone at Big 4 Lawn provides entertainment for children, including bounce houses, face painting, and photo opportunities.

VIP Rooftop Party and Official Broadcast Partners
For the ultimate Thunder experience, secure your tickets now for the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport Thunder VIP Rooftop Party Presented by Kentucky Proud. With exclusive access to prime viewing areas and premium amenities, it's the perfect way to enjoy Thunder in style.

Plus, tune in to WDRB television and MIX 106.9 radio for the official broadcast coverage of Thunder Over Louisville 2024.

Parking and Transportation
Parking is available at various locations around Waterfront Park, but spaces fill up quickly, so consider carpooling or using public transportation to avoid traffic congestion. Shuttle services may be available from select locations for added convenience.

Safety and Guidelines
For the safety and enjoyment of all attendees, please follow the event guidelines and regulations. Remembering to leave tents, stakes, tape, and pets at home, and also to follow any instructions from event staff or security personnel.

Ten Insider Tips

  1. Arrive Early for the Best Views: To secure the best viewing spots at Waterfront Park, arrive early at your chosen location. Gates open early, so make the most of it by getting there ahead of the crowds.

  2. Opt for Alternate Viewing Locations: While Waterfront Park offers prime viewing spots, consider exploring alternative locations along the Ohio River for unique vantage points. Look for elevated areas, such as nearby bridges or riverside parks, to enjoy panoramic views of the airshow and fireworks.

  3. Plan Your Transportation: With large crowds expected, plan your journey in advance to avoid traffic congestion and parking issues. Consider carpooling, using public transportation, or utilising shuttle services to and from the event.

  4. Know the Schedule: Familiarise yourself with the event schedule, including the airshow times, fireworks display, and any additional entertainment or activities happening throughout the day. This way you can plan your day to make sure you don't miss any highlights.

  5. Bring Cash: While a lot of vendors will accept card payments, it's always a good idea to have cash on hand for purchases at food stalls, beer gardens, and merchandise booths.

  6. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on the weather forecast leading up to the event and come prepared for any changes in conditions. Additionally, stay informed of any event updates or changes via the official Kentucky Derby website and social media channels (Facebook, X (Twitter), Instagram)

  7. Bring Portable Chairs or Blankets: To ensure comfort during the day-long event, bring portable chairs or blankets to create a cozy seating area wherever you choose to watch the festivities. This will provide a comfortable spot to relax and enjoy the entertainment without having to stand for extended periods.

  8. Stay for the After-Party: Extend your Thunder Over Louisville experience by staying for the after-party festivities. Join fellow revelers at designated gathering spots for post-fireworks celebrations and live music performances well into the evening.

  9. Learn About Derby Festival Traditions: Take the opportunity to learn about the rich traditions and history of the Kentucky Derby Festival, of which Thunder Over Louisville serves as the official kickoff. Discover the significance of Derby season rituals, such as the Pegasus Pin tradition, and immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Louisville.

  10. Bring Essentials: Be sure to pack essentials such as sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and comfortable footwear, especially if you plan to spend the day. Additionally, don't forget to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Get Involved At Home

Can't make it to the event in person? No problem.

There are loads of recipes, kids activities and ideas for how you can bring the magic of Thunder Over Louisville to your home on the Kentucky Derby Festival website.

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