Everything You Need To Know About Thunder Over Louisville 2022

Apr 19, 2022 at 4:47 pm
Thunder Over Louisville fireworks during the Kentucky Derby Festival.
Thunder Over Louisville fireworks during the Kentucky Derby Festival.
Photo by 7263255

Derby season wouldn’t be the same without its kickoff, the gigantic fireworks spectacle that is Thunder Over Louisville, which will return for its 33rd year this Saturday, April 23, at 9:30 p.m. This year’s theme: “The Legend Returns.”

Although arguably the easiest way to watch Thunder is to do so from your own home, thousands of people still love going downtown to see the fireworks in person.

If you’re going, we’ve put together this FAQ guide to help make your Thunder experience go a little smoother. 

If I’m going in-person, do I need a ticket?

Sort of — if you want to get access to the official public viewing areas, you need a Pegasus Pin, but they’re only $6 at Kroger or $7 at the gate.

Where can I watch Thunder?

You can see Thunder from pretty much anywhere along the riverfront from 8th Street to Clay Street in Louisville. Or, if you’re on the Southern Indiana side, from Ashland Park in Clarksville to Spring Street in Jeffersonville. 

You’ll need a Pegasus Pin to enter the North Great Lawn at Waterfront Park, the Big Four Bridge Lawn and the “Chow Wagon” entertainment garden.

Viewing in Southern Indiana has changed over the years: It’s limited between the Clark and Kennedy bridges, but there will be designated viewing areas between Fort and Pearl streets on Riverside Drive, which is east of the Kennedy Bridge.

(You could also go to one of the many Thunder Over Louisville parties surrounding the riverfront. Find a full list here.)

What time do the fireworks start and end?

The fireworks show will run from 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Who gets to launch them?

This year’s “Thundernator” is Lillie Ingram, a “Derby City Fanatic,” who was a long-time caregiver for her father, who passed away recently.

Where can I park?

Any available parking garage or spot downtown. There are over 52,000 public parking spots in Louisville within a 10-block walk of the Ohio River. Check out this link to see the full list.

For Southern Indiana parking info, contact the Clark/Floyd County Convention Tourism Bureau at 812-282-6654. You can also get in touch with Water Tower Square in Jeffersonville at 812-288-9057 for RV and car parking.

Can I take TARC?

Yes, and for free — Humana is sponsoring free fares to Thunder all day Saturday.

Which bridges will be closed and when?

Second Street/George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge:
  • Closed from Thursday, April 21, at 9:30 a.m. to Sunday, April 24, at 2 p.m.
Big Four Bridge:
  • Closed on Friday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to midnight

Which roads will be closed and when?

Clark Memorial Bridge (Second Street Bridge)  
  • Thursday, April 21: 9:30 a.m. to Midnight
  • Friday, April 22:  All day
  • Saturday, April 23: All day
  • Sunday, April 24: Midnight to 2 p.m.
10:30 a.m. (Friday, April 22) – 2 p.m. (Sunday, April 24)  
  • River Road from Bingham Way to Sixth Street
  • Bingham Way from Joe’s Crab Shack/Witherspoon Street to River Road
11 a.m. (Friday, April 22) – 9 a.m. (Sunday, April 24)  
  • Witherspoon Street from Preston Street to Brook Street
  • Floyd Street at Washington Street closed (only open to residents)
  • River Road from Preston Street to Witherspoon Street
Midnight (Friday, April 22  – 9 a.m. (Sunday, April 24)  
  • Ramp from westbound Interstate 64 to Third Street (no turn on River Road)
  • Ramp from Second Street to eastbound Interstate 64
8 a.m. (Saturday, April 23) – 1 a.m. (Sunday, April 24)  
  • Second Street from Main Street to River Road (local access to local garages only)
9 a.m. (Saturday, April 23) – 1 a.m. (Sunday, April 24)
  • (Local traffic and pass traffic will be allowed provided there are no pedestrian safety issues.)
  • River Road from Witherspoon Street to Preston Street
  • Frankfort Avenue from River Road to Story Avenue (local and Tow Lot traffic only)
  • Witherspoon Street from Brook Street to Second Street
  • Witherspoon Street from Preston Street to Adams
  • Washington Street from First Street to Second Street
  • Preston Street from Main Street to Witherspoon Street
  • Floyd Street from Main Street to Witherspoon Street
  • Brook Street from Main Street to Witherspoon Street
  • First Street from Main Street to Witherspoon Street
  • Second Street from Main Street to River Road
  • Third Street from Main Street to River Road (access will be allowed to parking garages)
6 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. (Saturday, April 23)  
  • Ramp from Muhammad Ali Boulevard to Interstate 65 northbound
  • Ramp from Jackson Street to Interstate 65 northbound
9 p.m. (Saturday, April 23) – 1 a.m. (Sunday, April 24)  
  • Market Street from Sixth Street to 10th Street will be reversed from eastbound traffic to  westbound traffic
9 p.m. – end of night (Saturday, April 23)  
  • Third Street from Main Street to Broadway will be one way southbound
8:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. (Saturday, April 23)  
  • Interstate 65 northbound from Interstate 264 (Watterson Expressway) to Interstate 64
  • Interstate 65 southbound from Interstate 265 (Indiana) to Interstate 64
  • Interstate 64 westbound from Interstate 264 (Watterson Expressway) to 22nd Street
  • Interstate 64 eastbound from Interstate 264 (Shawnee Expressway) to Interstate 65
  • Interstate 71 southbound from Interstate 264 (Watterson Expressway) to Interstate 65
Emergency Route

Only authorized emergency vehicles can use the following route from 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 23.

  • Muhammad Ali Boulevard from Roy Wilkins Boulevard to Clay Street
  • Second Street from Main Street to Jacob Street
  • Northbound Second Street traffic will be diverted at College Street

What am I allowed to bring? What am I not allowed to bring?

  • A picnic blanket or tarp up to 10 ft. by 10 ft.
  • Lawn chairs
  • Food, non-alcoholic drinks
  • Plastic bottles, plastic containers
  • Toilet paper for the port-a-potties (recommended)
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses
  • Ear plugs
  • Portable chargers
  • Cameras
  • A full tank of gas (there will be a looooot of traffic)
Leave at home:
  • Alcoholic beverages (beer will be available for purchase on-site)
  • Glass bottles
  • Pets
  • Drones
  • Tents or canopies
  • Grills
  • Caution tape, rope, or anything else to section off big areas
  • Skateboards, skates, scooters, or bikes (you can’t ride them within the venue space, and you’ll be asked to walk them into the space.)
The Kentucky Derby Festival also said in a statement, “All persons and parcels are subject to search.”

What else is there besides the fireworks?

The Thunder Air Show, which will feature more than 30 different types of planes, starts at 3 p.m.

There’s also “Thunder on the Ground,” which is explained below.

What’s Thunder on the Ground?

It’s a collection of family-friendly events and places for adults to grab a drink along the river throughout the day leading up to the fireworks. Most attractions open at 11 a.m.

Some highlights are:

  • Thunder FoodFest with over 100 food vendors from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Chow Wagon, Great Lawn, West Belvedere and along Witherspoon Street and East River Road.
  • Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere, starting at 11 a.m., with inflatables, face painting, a golf putting exhibit, craft tent, photo opportunities, giveaways and more.
  • Beer gardens at the Chow Wagon, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere, North Great Lawn and Big Four Bridge Lawn.
  • Kids’ Activities and Interactive Displays on the South Great Lawn, including games, rides and more.
  • Merchant Row shopping along Witherspoon at the Great Lawn.

Can I see those airshow planes up close (that is, when they’re not moving)?

Yes, the day after Thunder. On Sunday, you can go to the Kentucky Exposition Center to take a shuttle to see the Planes of Thunder Static Display. Aircrews will be there alongside their aircraft to answer questions. The event costs $10 per vehicle.

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