Welcome to Cvent's meeting and event planning guide to Louisville. 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 that is the world's biggest baseball bat (at 120 feet tall and 68,000 pounds) and 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.
Named 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 nine new distilled spirits attractions and distilleries coming to downtown Louisville and the surrounding area, eight are now open: Angel's Envy Distillery, the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stitzel-Weller, Copper & King's Brandy Distillery, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse, Kentucky Peerless Distilling, Old Forester Distillery, and Rabbit Hole Distillery. 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 Interstates 65, 71, and 64, it is a supremely accessible city. One can drive to Louisville in a single day from about 60% 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 1 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 underwent a major renovation and expansion that was completed in August 2018. The revamped facility features 200,125 square feet of contiguous exhibit space and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, and it is projected to earn LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. From the Kentucky-inspired details and sunlit skylights at the convention center to the 300 acres of space on the Southern terrain at the exposition center, these facilities provide attractive settings and state-of-the-art amenities that are flexible for large-scale events.
Louisville offers a range of nontraditional 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, which is now the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center, 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 of the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum.
Not only does Louisville offer a wide range of event spaces, it also features a broad selection of accommodations. The city itself provides planners with over 20,000 hotel rooms across more than 150 hotels, ranging from boutique properties to big-name brands such as Marriott, Hilton, and Omni (which opened in March 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 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 such as Indatus, which was visited by Barack Obama during his presidency, and GE's FirstBuild are paving the way for new technologies. Louisville also has a number of universities and colleges, including the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, Spalding University, and Sullivan University.