Thunder over Louisville – 2024 Fireworks Display and Airshow

The Event and Its History

Thunder over Louisville is a fireworks display and annual airshow event in Louisville, Kentucky, and marks the beginning of the Kentucky Derby Festival each year in April. The spectacular event attracts hundreds of thousands of onlookers each year to marvel at the massive fireworks display that follows an impressive air show over the Ohio River. In fact, since the mid-1990s, the average number of attendees has exceeded 600,000 making the gathering a major event in the state’s calendar.

Originally the fireworks displays were conducted during the day, however, since 1991 the event has been held after dark making the displays even more impressive against the backdrop of the night sky. The fireworks are launched from the decks of 8 large river barges around the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, as well as from the bridge itself to the delight of the onlooking crowds. Amazingly the attendance at the Thunder over Louisville far exceeds the attendance of the festival’s main event, the Kentucky Derby Horse Races, held at the nearby Churchill Downs.

The first Thunder over Louisville was held in 1989 and was overseen by the multimedia guru and producer Wayne Hettinger. The first event featured a stage show, followed by the release of over 20,000 colored balloons with a daytime fireworks show for the grand finale. The estimated attendance at this first event was around 10,000 people.

What time does the Thunder over Louisville 2024 kickoff?

The Thunder over Louisville display show always starts at 9:30 pm ET at George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge in Louisville, Kentucky.

The following year, the fireworks show was moved to the nighttime, and with attendance rocketing to over 35,000 the event was gaining momentum. The Thunder of Louisville, after some venue changes throughout the years, finally settled in the mid-1990s in its current location and began gathering the huge audiences it attracts today. In 2024 the event is scheduled for Saturday, 20th April with the fireworks show set to start at 9:30 PM ET.

Weather and the Thunder over Louisville

The event is a huge undertaking requiring the help of police for road closures, traffic redirection, and security on the ground. There is also a long list of technical elements that come together on the night so there is no way the date can be changed due to bad weather. Fortunately, this has not happened many times, except once in 2005 extremely unusual and cold weather was followed by a short spell of heavy rain. This dispersed much of the crowds and the final estimate for the total number of onlookers was only 10,000 that year, down from over 600,000 the previous year!

TV Coverage

This huge regional event has been televised locally every single year since its inception. The state is rightly proud of this amazing show and since 2007, when the event was first broadcast in High Definition, its TV coverage has allowed people from all over the world to enjoy the show. The highest ratings for the TV coverage of the event coincided with the years of colder weather since many locals chose to stay at home and watch the fireworks on their TV sets rather than face the bad weather!

What TV channels are Thunder over Louisville 2024 on?

You can watch Thunder Over Louisville live stream on local WAVE-TV, WDRB, and WLKY TV networks and this will be rebroadcast on American Forces Network on the 4th of July.

LocationLouisville, Kentucky
Start time9:30 pm ET
DateSaturday, April 20
TV channelWAVE-TV, WDRB, and WLKY TV

The spectacular annual event is a visual bonanza of artistry, fireworks, and community spirit. Thunder over Louisville helps the local economy to thrive into the summer months, attracts viewers from all over the world, and marks the start of the state’s most famous sporting event, The Kentucky Derby Horse Races.