Forecastle Festival

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Forecastle Festival
Forecastle2014 1.jpg
Genre Variety
Location(s) Louisville Waterfront Park
Louisville, Kentucky
Years active 2002–present
Founded by JK McKnight

The Forecastle Festival is a three-day music, art, and environmental activism festival held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, since 2002. The festival originated as a small gathering of local musicians in Louisville's Tyler Park, and steadily grew into a national attraction that now includes major touring acts, national art collectives, outdoor industry partners, prominent speakers, and more.[1] Forecastle was selected in 2012 as one of Rolling Stone's "Coolest Festivals"[2] and has an annual attendance of over 75,000 fans at Louisville Waterfront Park. In 2014, the festival attracted attendees from 49 states, 2,192 cities, and 7 countries. Past headliners include The Black Keys, Jack White, Sam Smith, Outkast, Beck, The Avett Brothers, My Morning Jacket, The Flaming Lips, Widespread Panic and more [3]

Forecastle 2014 - The Great Lawn


Derived from the nautical, maritime term forecastle, but pronounced as if it were the words "fore" and "castle" joined together, Forecastle began as a small, community event in 2002 by JK McKnight at Tyler Park. Structured as an equal representation of music, arts, and activism, the event grew quickly and audience expanded regionally. To accommodate increasing crowds, the festival moved to Cherokee Park in 2005, followed by The Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center in 2006, Riverfront Plaza/Belvedere in 2007, and Louisville Waterfront Park in 2010. The festival's name, format, and concept were trademarked in 2007.[1] Forecastle was named one of Outside Magazine's "Top 15 Festivals in the Country" in 2009.[4]

Forecastle 2009 - Sunset

AC Entertainment became a co-producer of Forecastle in 2011.[5]


Forecastle has showcased over 500 bands and a diverse number of musical genres, from rock to hip-hop, bluegrass to electronica. The event has multiple stages, all with maritime themes (Mast, Boom, Ocean, etc.).[6] In addition to the headliners listed above, some previous musical guests include Cage the Elephant, Houndmouth, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, Robert Plant, Pretty Lights, Spoon, Jim James, Jason Isbell, She & Him, A-Trak, Sleater-Kinney, Big Boi, Gza, Tortoise, Umphrey's McGee, The String Cheese Incident, The Black Crowes, Yonder Mountain String Band, Del McCoury Band and Del the Funky Homosapien.[1] The festival celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012 with a collaboration with local musicians My Morning Jacket, who curated the event with festival organizers AC Entertainment and The Forecastle Festival. The lineup included such acts as Wilco, Bassnectar, Girl Talk, Sleigh Bells, Beach House, Andrew Bird, Sleeper Agent (band), Neko Case and many more.[7]

Jack White at Forecastle 2014
Devo at Forecastle 2010


Forecastle has featured over 100 local, regional, and national artists, contributing a variety of installation work, as well as 2-D, 3-D, and mixed media. Each year's exhibition is commonly centered on a theme of sustainability. A panel of curators designs the exhibition from artist submissions.[8]


Forecastle has showcased over 150 environmental non-profits and outdoor recreational organizations. Previous participants include chapters of The Sierra Club, Earth First!, Citizens Action Coalition, Dogwood Alliance, Community Farm Alliance, Peak Oil, Student Environmental Action Coalition, The Ohio River Foundation, Earthsave International, Blue Earth Alliance, and more. Previous speakers include Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Riverkeepers), Rob Caughlan (Surfrider Foundation) and Christopher Childs (Greenpeace International).[1]

In 2011, Forecastle founder JK McKnight created the Forecastle Foundation - a 501(c)(3) environmental non-profit dedicated to "re-building the world's natural awesome".[9] The organization focuses on global hot spots: the most critically threatened, biologically diverse habitats left on earth. Hot spots cover just 2.3% of the Earth's land surface, yet account for 77% of all vertebrate species and 50% of the world's plant life.[10] As of 2015, the Forecastle Foundation has contributed over $150,000 to its partners, including The Guayaki Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and Kentucky Natural Lands Trust. These projects include the Pine Mountain Wildlife Corridor - a critical tract of old-growth forest and migratory path for hundreds of species in Eastern Kentucky - as well The Green River in Central Kentucky. Other projects include the Mangueirinha Indigenous Reserve in Parana, Brazil, and the Coral Triangle in Indonesia.[9]

The Bourbon Lodge[edit]

In 2012, Forecastle Festival partnered with The Kentucky Distillers Association to launch The Bourbon Lodge: a 120' ft, turn-of-the-century rickhouse meets prohibition-era speakeasy, that allows patrons to sample craft bourbon from distilleries all across the state. In addition, the Lodge features Fireside Chats with master distillers, celebrity mixology sessions, culinary pairings, and more.[11] In 2013, acclaimed Bourbon writer Fred Minnick labeled Forecastle "Bourbon's Most Important Festival".[12]

The Gonzo Bar at Forecastle 2014

The Gonzo Bar[edit]

In honor of Louisville native and Kentucky Bourbon aficionado Hunter S. Thompson, Forecastle visual designers constructed a bourbon bar in the late writer's memory. It debuted on Hunter's posthumous 77th birthday, which was the same weekend as Forecastle 2014.

Lodging and camping[edit]

The "Official Hotel & Headquarters" for the festival is the Galt House, which is Louisville's only riverfront hotel and features 1,300 rooms. Other nearby options include 21c Museum Hotel, Courtyard Marriott, and Ramada Downtown. American Turners has been used as a campground the past three years. The riverfront property includes a bar, pool, showers, outdoor sports, and other amenities for campers. During the festival, a shuttle bus is usually provided to and from Forecastle Festival.[13]

Halfway to Forecastle[edit]

"Halfway to Forecastle" is an annual mini-fest hosted each January to celebrate the "halfway" point to the festival. The event typically benefits a charity or non-profit, with recipients including Surfrider Foundation, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, and many more. Previous headliners include Pretty Lights, Big Boi, RJD2 and Kid Sister.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "History of Forecastle". Forecastle Festival. Archived from the original on 2008-06-08. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Forecastle Festival Success". Rolling Stone Magazine. July 2012. Retrieved July 23, 2012. 
  3. ^ Fernandes, Matt (July 10, 2008). "Louisville's Forecastle Fest blends music, art & activism". St. Louis Post-Dispatch, LLC. Retrieved December 4, 2009. [dead link]
  4. ^ Lidman, Melanie (June 2009). "The Best Summer Music Festivals". Outside Magazine. Marriah Media, Inc. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  5. ^ Forecastle Festival to Partner with AC Entertainment (Bonnaroo, Moogfest, Big Ears)
  6. ^ "2009 Lineup". Forecastle Festival. Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved December 10, 2009. 
  7. ^ Jordan, Matt (February 29, 2012). "Forecastle announces lineup: MMJ, Wilco, Sleigh Bells, Girl Talk + more!". YouAin't No Picasso. Retrieved February 29, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Art Show Submissions". Forecastle Festival. Archived from the original on 2008-08-04. Retrieved December 10, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b "The Forecastle Foundation". 
  10. ^ "The Forecastle Foundation". Archived from the original on 2015-01-03. 
  11. ^ Mann, David (May 15, 2013). "Bourbon industry to expand presence at Forecastle". Louisville Business First. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  12. ^ Minnick, Fred (July 13, 2013). "Forecastle Just Became Bourbon's Most Important Festival". Fred Minnick. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Forecastle Lodging Downtown". Forecastle Festival. Retrieved December 10, 2009. 
  14. ^ Ikenberg, Tamara (December 4, 2009). "The Buzz: 'Halfway to Forecastle' mini-music fest". The Courier-Journal. Gannett. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 

External links[edit]