Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Louisville - a city guide for meeting professionals. Visitors often find it hard to decide on the most attractive aspect of this charming northernmost Southern city. It could be the gentility embodied by its lovely Victorian homes, the largest collection in the country, or possibly it's the world-class drama of the Kentucky Derby, the oldest continuously run horse race in America. Perhaps it's the presence of a replica of Babe Ruth's bat, the world's biggest baseball bat at 120 feet tall and 68,000 pounds that dominates the entrance of the Louisville Slugger Museum. It could even be the Belle of Louisville, the nation's oldest functioning steamboat, still plying the waters of the Ohio River.
One of the "Top 8 Foodie Getaways in the World" by Zagat, Louisville is also the "Culinary Capital of Bourbon Country," where visitors can have an authentic Urban Bourbon Experience. Of the eight new distilled spirits attractions and distilleries coming to downtown Louisville and the surrounding area, five are now open: Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Kentucky Peerless Distilling, Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse, Copper & King's Brandy Distillery, and The Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stizel-Weller. And with more than 120 attractions and 2,500 restaurants, Louisville will capture the heart of any visitor regardless of interest or age.
Louisville is clearly a place of superlatives, including one that's never mentioned in the guidebooks: most user-friendly event locale in the U.S. Located in the center of the eastern United States off interstate routes I-65, I-71 and I-64, Louisville is a supremely accessible city. One can drive to Louisville in a single day from around 60 percent of the cities in the continental U.S. The airport, which sees almost 100 flights every day, is less than a 10-minute drive from downtown and across the street from one of Louisville's two world-class convention facilities.
The Kentucky Exposition Center, at over one million square feet, is one of the 10 most spacious public convention centers in the country and can seat 19,000 guests in its indoor arena. Meanwhile, the Kentucky International Convention Center will undergo a major renovation and expansion beginning in August 2016. The renovated and expanded facility will feature 200,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, and is projected to be a LEED Silver Certified building by the U.S. Green Building Council. From the exposed brick and sunlit skylights at the convention center to the 300 acres of space on the Southern terrain at the exposition center, both facilities offer attractive settings and state-of-the-art amenities that are flexible for large-scale events.
Louisville offers a range of non-traditional facilities as well. Choose the iconic Churchill Downs for a true taste of the city's horse racing culture, whether with a banquet for up to 54 guests in the Jockey Club Suites or a reception attended by up to 400 people in the Jockey Club Grand Foyer. The popular Frazier History Museum, the only place in North America displaying a collection from Britain's Royal Armouries, offers an elegant roof garden and galleries for groups ranging from 150 to 500 people.
Take a step off the beaten path by opting for lesser known, but no less grand, Louisville event venues . Glassworks, a one-of-a-kind facility featuring glassblowing studios and galleries, is a memorable spot for cocktails on the roof garden or a glassblowing demonstration followed by a reception in its foyer. Guests also marvel at restored historical sites, from the 1928 movie theater Louisville Palace to the exquisite mansion housing the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum.
Not only does Louisville offer a wide range of event spaces, it also offers a broad selection of accommodations. The city itself provides planners with over 17,000 hotel rooms across more than 100 hotels ranging from boutique properties to big name brands such as Marriott, Hilton, and Omni (the latter scheduled to open in early 2018). Regardless of event requirements or budget restrictions, planners are sure to find lodging that meets their needs.
Louisville is becoming a hub for the health care and medicine industry, and two of the Fortune 500 companies located in the city are medical in nature: Kindred Healthcare Incorporated and Humana. Other major employers include Yum! Brands, Papa John's International, UPS, Ford, GE, and more. We are also proud of the innovation happening in Louisville. Companies like Indatus, recently visited by President Barrack Obama, and the GE's Firstbuild are paving the way for new technologies. Louisville also has a number of universities and colleges, including University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, Spalding University and Sullivan University.