Thunder Over Louisville, the spectacular airshow and fireworks display, has become a beloved annual tradition that marks the official start of the Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville. However, the grandeur and precision of this event don’t happen by chance. Over 2,000 people are involved in making Thunder Over Louisville the event that it is. Countless hours of planning, coordination, and meticulous attention to detail are required to bring this awe-inspiring extravaganza to life. In this blog, we will explore what goes into planning Thunder Over Louisville and the incredible effort behind its success.

Collaboration and Logistics:

Planning Thunder Over Louisville involves collaboration between multiple organizations and agencies. The Kentucky Derby Festival, the Louisville Metro Government, and various military branches work together to coordinate the event seamlessly. The command center controls the entire show and must be equipped with a team of professionals, who have access to service from every possible public agency, from the Coast Guard to the Department of Corrections. The logistics of organizing the airshow, fireworks display, and ground activities require meticulous planning, including obtaining necessary permits, ensuring safety measures are in place, managing traffic flow, rerouting air traffic, and crowd control.

Airshow Performances:

The airshow, a top 5 in the nation, is a major highlight of Thunder Over Louisville. It involves a carefully curated lineup of talented pilots and aviation teams who showcase their skills and perform breathtaking maneuvers in the sky. Selecting and coordinating these performances requires extensive research, negotiations, and ensuring the availability of resources and aircrafts. Safety measures are of paramount importance, and strict protocols are followed to ensure the well-being of both the pilots and the spectators.

Fireworks Spectacular:

Thanks to Zambelli Fireworks Internationale and Visual Productions, Thunder Over Louisville’s fireworks display is the largest annual fireworks show in the nation and is renowned for its scale and beauty. Designing and executing such a magnificent pyrotechnic performance involves a team of experts in the field. They consider factors such as choreography, timing, music synchronization, and safety regulations. The team meticulously plans the placement of fireworks barges, coordinates the timing of each firework burst, and designs breathtaking patterns and effects to captivate the audience.

Security and Safety:

Ensuring the safety and security of the attendees is a top priority during Thunder Over Louisville. Security personnel, law enforcement agencies, and medical teams collaborate to develop comprehensive safety plans, including emergency preparedness, crowd management strategies, and 8+ medical facilities on-site. Regular drills and rehearsals are conducted to handle any unforeseen situations, ensuring a secure environment for all participants.

Entertainment and Ground Activities:

In addition to the airshow and fireworks, Thunder Over Louisville offers a wide range of ground activities and entertainment. Planning these activities involves coordinating live music performances, food vendors, family-friendly attractions, and ensuring a vibrant atmosphere that engages attendees of all ages. Creating a diverse and enjoyable experience on the ground requires careful selection, scheduling, and coordination of various entertainers, vendors, and activities.

Marketing and Promotion:

Promoting Thunder Over Louisville is crucial to its success. A dedicated team works on marketing strategies, public relations, and advertising campaigns to create buzz, raise awareness, and attract attendees from across the region. Effective promotion through traditional media, social media platforms, websites, and community partnerships plays a vital role in driving attendance and ensuring the event’s continued success.


Thunder Over Louisville is a spectacular event that captivates the hearts of millions each year. Behind the scenes, a dedicated team of professionals, organizations, and volunteers invest tremendous effort into planning and executing this awe-inspiring display of aviation, fireworks, and entertainment. From logistics and safety to airshow performances and ground activities, every aspect requires meticulous planning, collaboration, and attention to detail. The result is a grand celebration that brings joy, excitement, and a sense of community to the city of Louisville and The Galt House Hotel is the perfect place to stay to be able to enjoy it all.