History Of Thunder

What started as a better-than-average fireworks display has become the pinnacle of pyrotechnics. It is the nation’s largest annual fireworks event. It also is one of the top five air shows in the country. Thunder Over Louisville has made a lot of people happy, garnered international attention, entertained millions and given Greater Louisvillians something else to brag about. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of civic-minded companies like Horseshoe Southern Indiana, KentuckyOne Health, LG&E, Meijer, UPS and Valero – Thunder continues to be THE special event that brings the community together like no other celebration. For more history, click here.

This year's Thunder Over Louisville will happen on April 21.

Have any questions or concerns about this year's event? Join our Facebook group and let us know.

Thunder Venue Map

(Click map to enlarge)


To some, it’s the official kick-off to the Kentucky Derby Festival. To others, it’s the unofficial beginning of spring. But to all, it’s simply one of the largest annual fireworks shows in North America and the setting for some of the most memorable moments you’ll ever share.

Now in its 28th year, Thunder Over Louisville continues to deliver a pyrotechnics spectacular like no other. Created as the Opening Ceremonies of the Kentucky Derby Festival, it offers an explosive kick-off to three entire weeks of celebration in Louisville, Kentucky and Southern Indiana. With an estimated average attendance of half a million people, it has become the largest annual event in its region. The show continues to be the largest annual pyrotechnics display in North America thanks to the artistry of Zambelli Internationale and the production of Visual Presentations.Click here to learn more about the fireworks.

Fireworks begin at 9:30 PM.


Thunder Over Louisville will feature one of the nation’s top air shows in the country. As the official Kentucky Derby Festival Opening Ceremonies, Thunder kicks-off the two-week 2018 Festival. After dark, prepare for the Thunder as the 28th annual pyrotechnic spectacular explodes to a sensational soundtrack in front of hundreds of thousands of our friends that come in from all across the country.

The Air Show begins at 3 PM.

Here’s the line-up of performers for the 2018 Air Show:

A-10 Demo

A-10/P-51 USAF Heritage Flight

AH-1/UH-1 Helos

Billy Werth, Pitts S-2C



C-130 123d AW KYANG & STS Parachute Drop

Canadian Harvards

CF-18 (2)




F-15 Mass ANG (2)

F-15 335th FS (4)

F-16 180th FW (4 ship)

Golden Knights

Harvard Twilight -This is the same as the Canadian Harvards-just their twilight show

HH-60 Navy (2)

Jeff Gordon Carbon Cub


KC-135 Grissom

KC Flight (6)

Lee Leet Super Tucano

MH-53 (Navy)

Matt Younkin Twin Beech Day Show/Night Fireworks

Nick Coleman Taylorcraft





UPS 747-8

US Navy Tac Demo (F/A-18)

USN Legacy Flight (F/A-18 & A-1)

Red Star (Yakovlev flight)

PLEASE NOTE: Aircraft performances subject to change on show day.


► North Great Lawn: 9 a.m.

► Chow Wagon: 11 a.m.

► Meijer Family Fun Zone: 11 a.m.

Each location offers FREE admission with a 2018 Pegasus Pin, a Beer Garden, Thunder Sound, and Food Vendors


Saturday, April 21, 2018

11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Admission is FREE with a 2018 Pegasus Pin.

►Kids activities including:

►Bounce Houses

►Face Painting

►Photo Opportunities


►Beer Garden

►Thunder Sound.



This year's Pegasus Pins are now on sale at dozens of locations on both sides of the River.

Children 6 and under are not required to have a Pegasus Pin for admission to Festival events.

Click here for more information

2018 Pegasus Pin


► A Reader’s Corner

► A Taste of Kentucky

► Adrienne & Company

► Airport Shell Gas Station

► * American Founders Bank

► * B B & T

► Bader’s Food Mart

► Bae Systems

► * Beacon Community Credit Union

► Belle of Louisville

► Biff’s Gun World

► BloFish

► Brownsboro Hardware

► * Central Bank

► Coca Cola North America

► Courtyard Downtown

► Cox’s Variety

► Curtis Market


► DB Bourbon Candy

► Derby Dinner Playhouse

► Discount Labels

► Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

► * Fifth Third Bank

► Forcht Bank

► * Frank Otte Nursery

► *Gray’s College Bookstore

► Greater Friendship Church

► Kentucky Derby Museum

► Kentucky Science Center Gift Shop

► Knights of Columbus

► * Kroger

► L & N Federal Credit Union

► * Liquor Barn

► Louisville Visitors Center

► Meijer

► Nearly New Shop

► * Park Community Federal Credit Union

► Party Mart

► R.H. Clarkson Insurance Co.

► Rellek

► * Republic Bank

► Residence Inn Downtown

► Revelry Boutique Gallery

► * Rite Aid

► River City Bank

► * Save Rite

► Southern Indiana Visitor Center

► Southside Pic-PacPic-Pac

► Stock Yards Bank

► * ThorntonsThorntons

► Total Wine & Spirits

► Turning Heads Salon

► * ValuMarket

► Walgreens

► Walmart

► Watts Food Mart



This applies to ALL viewing areas within the Thunder Over Louisville venue on the Kentucky side – which goes south from the Ohio River to Main Street between Clay Street and 10th Street and includes Thunder Chow Wagon, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere and North Great Lawn viewing area.

No Drones – The FAA has established a no-fly zone around the Thunder venue. Unmanned aircraft, such as drones, won’t be allowed within 5 miles. Any drones on site could shut down the air show. Violators face confiscation and up to an $11,000 fine. This will be strictly enforced.

No Tents or Canopies of any kind will be allowed within Waterfront Park. Structures of ANY kind will be required to be taken down. This will be strictly enforced.

No taping or roping off of larges areas will be allowed. This will be strictly enforced throughout the Thunder venue.

No overnight camping allowed in Waterfront Park or the overall event area. Waterfront Park officially closes at 11PM on Friday Night and will open at 9 AM on Saturday morning.

No glass bottles are allowed at the event site. Plastic containers, cans and food are permitted. There are food and soft drink stands throughout the venue to take care of any needs you may have. Beer is also available at the Chow Wagon at Waterfront Park, North Great Lawn and Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere.

No alcoholic beverages are allowed.

No grills are allowed within the Thunder venue.

No bikes, skateboards or skates are allowed in the event venue. You will be asked to walk them in for pedestrian safety. If you ride your bike to Thunder, please bring a lock and use the bike parking available at Bingham Way and Witherspoon Street, the corner of Preston and Witherspoon Streets and the base of the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge (on both sides of the river).

Please leave any pets at home.

A picnic blanket or tarp (limited to 10’x10′) and lawn chairs are allowed inside the Thunder venue (including the North Great Lawn viewing area).

FOOD or DRINK is permitted in the North Great Lawn viewing area, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere, and other areas of the Thunder venue.

All persons and parcels are subject to search.



Click here for Louisville road closures

No parking areas


Click here for Jeffersonville road closures

Road closures, prohibited items and no parking

Handicapped parking information

General information for Thunder goers in Clarksville

Jefffersonville event area map
Jeffersonville routes


TARC is increasing service into downtown Louisville and designating six post-event boarding areas for Thunder Over Louisville on Sat., Apr. 21. The service plan mirrors TARC service for Thunder in recent years with the exception of an added boarding location on Broadway at 11th.

Passengers traveling on TARC from Southern Indiana are cautioned that buses on cross-river routes #71-Jeffersonville, Louisville, New Albany and #72-Clarksville will not make return trips to Indiana after 8pm due to the closure of the Clark Memorial (2nd Street), Lincoln and Kennedy Bridges. Those two routes will also be detoured (see below) during the closure of the bridge leading up to and following the event.

Post-event boarding in downtown Louisville will be restricted to six locations, most within blocks of the waterfront. Buses will operate until 11 p.m. at those locations (see list and map below). Due to traffic, buses have limited access on downtown streets after the event. The boarding locations are designed to keep buses out of heavy traffic as much as possible and to get people home as quickly as possible.

Beginning at 3:30 p.m., on the day of the fireworks, more buses will be added on routes serving downtown, improving the frequency of bus arrival times at stops and adding capacity. However, as the event draws closer, downtown routes may be delayed due to police barricades and heavy pedestrian traffic.

Regular TARC fares will apply. A one-way fare is $1.75 or 80 cents for passengers over the age of 65, riders with disabilities and ages 6-17. TARC ID is required for reduced fare. Children under the age of 5 ride free.

Easy trip planning, maps and schedules are available at ridetarc.org, on the “Transit” app (free download) or Google Maps. TARC customer service can also be reached at 502-585-1234; TTY 502-213-3240.

Detours - Routes #71 - New Albany, Louisville Jeffersonville and #72 - Clarksville

The Clark Memorial Bridge will be closed to traffic Thurs., Apr. 20, 9:30 a.m. – midnight; Fri., Apr. 21 and Sat., Apr. 22, all day; Sun., Apr. 23, midnight to 2 p.m.

Note: Interstate 65 bridges (Lincoln and Kennedy) are expected to close at approximately 8 p.m. on Saturday. When that occurs, Routes No. 71 and No. 72 will no longer provide service to Louisville. However, service will continue for customers on the Indiana side.

When the bridge is closed, buses will use the following detour:

Routes #71 eastbound and #72 northbound: From Liberty, I-65 N to Court Ave. exit, right on Court to regular route.

Route #71 westbound: From Court Ave. right on Spring St., left on 10th St., I-65 S to Jefferson Street exit and regular route.

Route # 72 southbound: From Spring St., left on Court Ave, left on Wall St., left on 8th St., right on Spring St., left on 10th St., to I-65 S, Jefferson St. exit to regular route.

Post-Thunder boarding

Locations listed and on the map below are the only downtown boarding options:

Eastbound Routes

Boarding on Market, near Floyd

#15 - Market Street (to La Grange Road)

#19 - Muhammad Ali (to Oxmoor and Lyndon)

#31 - Middletown

Boarding on Liberty, near Floyd

#17 - Bardstown Road (to Fern Creek and Sebree)

#21 - Chestnut (to Bashford Avenue)

#23 - Broadway (to Jeffersontown and Breckenridge Plaza)

#40 - Taylorsville Road

#25 - Oak-Westport Crosstown

Westbound Routes

Boarding on Main west of 9th

#15 - Market Street (to Shawnee Park)

#18 - Preston (to Valley Station)

#19 - Muhammad Ali (to Park Duvall and Rockford Lane)

#21 - Chestnut (to Shawnee Park)

#23 - Broadway (to Shawnee Park)

#43 - Portland/Poplar Level (to 32nd & Portland Loop)

Boarding on Broadway at 11th

#23 - Broadway (to Shawnee Park)

Southbound Routes

Boarding on 6th near Chestnut

#4 - Fourth Street (to Iroquois Park and Southland Park)

#6 - Sixth Street (via Central to Auburndale)

#63 - Crums Lane (to West Pages Lane)

Boarding on 1st at Muhammad Ali

#2 - Second Street (to Airport and UPS)

#18 - Preston (to Okolona – Outer Loop Plaza)

#43 - Portland/Poplar Level (to Fern Creek)


1. Pick-up the Official Thunder Program in The Courier-Journal Saturday, April 23rd – it has a Thunder map and full airshow schedule.

2. Wear your Pegasus Pin. Show your support for the Festival, plus you’ll need it for the Thunder Chow Wagon, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere and North Great Lawn viewing area.

3. Park as far away from event venue as you can comfortably walk. Refer to the LMPD Traffic Plan to help choose the best place to park and exit route.

4. Dress in layers. The temperature can vary a great deal throughout the day. Bring sunglasses & sunscreen.

5. Know your limits and your children’s limits for the day. Seven hours can be a long day for toddlers. Consider picking air show OR fireworks.

6. Bring a roll of toilet paper (Thunder Pots can run out!)

7. Please do NOT bring pets, tents or materials to rope off/section off areas of the venue.

8. You can bring food and drink to the venue (except in the Thunder Chow Wagon). Vending is also available throughout the venue. (All parcels subject to search.)

9. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings AND be aware of the services around you…EMS, Lost Child Stations, General First Aid.

10. Make sure your car has plenty of gas for the exit traffic delays.


► Thunder Station 1. West Wharf in Joes Crabshack Parking Lot

► Thunder Station 2. Waterfront Park in South Great Lawn (south west corner of lawn)

► Thunder Station 3. Waterfront Park in North Great Lawn (South center)

► Thunder Station 4. Waterfront Park in Orange Parking Lot (near EMS compound)

► Thunder Station 5. Waterfront Park in Lincoln Lot (near JCSO compound)

► Thunder Station 6. Clarksville in Ashland Park near entrance of Park

► Thunder Station 7. Jeffersonville at base of Big 4 Bridge


► Designate a driver if you plan on drinking in the only beer-vending areas of the event: Thunder Chow Wagon at Waterfront Park, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere, North Great Lawn and the Red Lot near the Big Four Bridge.

► Identify a location to regroup should you lose any in your party.

► Bring your patience. This is not an event for the crowd-shy. Remember the event is for fun – try to have some!

► Don’t count on cell phones working 100% that day. With that many folks and signals service can be unreliable.

► Know what your children are wearing and carry a photo of them with you. Make sure they know to find a police officer and know your phone number and address. Lost Child Stations are set-up throughout the venue at all First Aid Stations.

If you plan to bring young children (toddlers and infants) to the venue, bring ear plugs for them. The loud noises from the air show and fireworks frighten some children. Plus, it will help protect their tiny ear drums.

► Entertain restless children in the kid’s interactive areas or playgrounds in Waterfront Park and along River Road.

► Thunder Wear (official Thunder merchandise) can be found in several locations. If you plan on buying a poster, wait until later in the day to keep it from getting damaged.

► You can tune into the Command Center and complete air show commentary on 106.9 PLAY.

► NO-NO’S – Keep glass bottles, grills, tents, stakes, pennant lines, caution tape, alcohol, skates and pets at home.

For more FAQs, visit thunderoverlouisville.org