Kentucky serves up a wealth of fall festivals

The fall festival season is upon us, and one of the best places to soak up those rich autumn colors is in Kentucky. The Bluegrass State is home to a wealth of natural and cultural treasures just waiting to be explored. From gently rolling pastures dotted with grazing thoroughbreds to the rugged mountains of Appalachia and the genteel cities of Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky is certainly worth a visit.

Best of all, the neighboring state is only a (reasonably) short drive away. Hop in the car after breakfast and you could be in Lexington or Louisville by lunch time. And Paducah to the south takes just under three hours to get to.


Kentucky is divided into five main regions and each has its own distinct flair. Visitors will be happy to know that cities and towns throughout the state host festivals that celebrate that particular region’s local traditions, food and music.

The Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism has compiled a list of upcoming fall festivals to give you a taste of what’s available to see and do. Check out the list below to find your perfect fall festival. They include:

Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Sept. 17 through 22

Uncork a good time as bourbon lovers flock to Bardstown for the 22nd annual festival celebrating the passion, history and art of making Kentucky bourbon. With more than 40 events and attractions scheduled, you can learn about bourbon mixology and cooking with bourbon, dine and dance in black-tie style and witness the World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay.

Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival, Sept. 17 through 21

This music festival in Morehead has been going strong for more than 20 years and is a must-see for bluegrass fans. More than 20,000 visitors flock to the festival every year to listen to 100 bands perform on dual stages and enjoy the area’s more than 1,000 acres of camping. Past performers have included Lonesome River Band and Dr. Ralph Stanley.

Horse Cave Heritage Festival, Sept. 20 and 21

Celebrating the heritage of the community, this event features a downtown street festival including arts and crafts, folk life program interviews, a quilt show, antique cars and tractors, live music and a 3K walk/run.

Barbecue on the River Tournament and Pig Out & Market Days, Sept. 26 through 28

This family-friendly event in Paducah features plenty food and fun. More than 50 teams compete for the Grand Champions trophy for the best western Kentucky barbecue. The festival includes live music and entertainment, a charitable 5K run and riverboat tours.

Cave City PROUD Days, Sept. 27 and 28

This festival takes place in the downtown and antiques district of Cave City. Special events include the Old Time Outhouse and Bed Race, live music, parade, tractor and motorcycle show, street fair, 5K-10K run and more.

St. James Court Art Show, Oct. 4 through 6

In a tradition spanning more than five decades, one of Kentucky’s premier fall events is this internationally acclaimed art show held in the Old Louisville neighborhood. Featuring 750 juried artists from around the country, the event is attended by lovers of arts and fine crafts from across the region.

Breathitt County Heritage Fair, Oct. 4 through 6

Held at Douthitt Park in Jackson, this fair features live music and entertainment, a parade, craft booths, petting zoo and dog show, and outdoor concert.

Forkland Heritage Festival, Oct. 11 and 12

This festival hosted by Gravel Switch in Boyle County features a variety of historical exhibits including Native American artifacts and vintage farm machinery, a wildlife exhibit, living history skits, live music and entertainment, wagon rides, sorghum making, and a silent auction.

Arts Council of Mercer County Fall Festival, Oct. 11 and 12

This is a two-day arts and crafts festival featuring the works of juried artists. The event takes place at Old Fort Harrod State Park in Harrodsburg, and includes live demonstrations, music and entertainment, food, children’s activities and more.

To start planning your trip or for more information about Kentucky and its many festivals and attractions, visit the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism’s website at or call toll-free at (800) 225-8747.