Forecastle Festival

Forecastle Festival, KentuckyForecastle Festival takes place at Waterfront Park, Lousiville, Kentucky

Forecastle Festival 2012 dates – 13th to 15th July

Buy festival tickets

Bassnectar, Sleigh Bells, Atmosphere, Flying Lotus, Beach House, The Head and the Heart, Lucero, Rebelution, Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500, Atlas Sound, Abigail Washburn with Kai Welch, JEFF the Brotherhood, Tanlines, Zion I, Trixie Whitley, Sleeper Agent, Cherub, Wax Fang, Houndmouth, Nerves Junior


My Morning Jacket, Girl Talk, Andrew Bird, Galactic, Bonobo (DJ Set), Stax! Soul Revue, Dr. Dog, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Real Estate, Justin Townes Earle, Washed Out, Wye Oak, The Features, Mux Mool, Adventure Club, Futurebirds, Julia Nunes, Everest, Wick-It the Instigator, James Vincent McMorrow, Daniel Martin Moore, King’s Daughters & Sons, The Ravenna Colt, Scarlet Smile


Wilco, Neko Case, Clutch, A-Trak, Deer Tick, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Beats Antique, Walk The Moon, Gramatik, Cloud Nothings, Fruit Bats, Daedelus, Ben Sollee, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, Mike Doughty, Lower Dens, Kelly Hogan, Keys N Krates, Moon Taxi, Floating Action, Minnesota, Cheyenne Marie Mize, Rachel Grimes, Cabin, Lydia Burrell

The History of the Forecastle Festival

The History of Forecastle (2002 – 2010)

The first Forecastle Festival was hosted July 20th, 2002, at Tyler Park in Louisville, KY. Organized in one of the most scenic areas in the heart of the city, the 15-acre, Frederick Olmsted designed park proved the perfect foundation for the festival’s early years (Olmsted also designed Central Park, Biltmore Estate, U.S. Capitol Lawn). The original concept was simple: a free, outdoor, summer festival, arranged to celebrate the camaraderie of the Louisville music community. A grassroots effort ~ all infrastructure donated, all talent performing for free ~ the event cost less than $500 to produce. When the sun ascended on the morning of July 20th, several hundred people gathered to see live performances by The Vixen Red, Fire The Saddle, Blue Goat War, and other local favorites. The atmosphere was progressive and positive, and encouraged 21-year-old festival founder JK McKnight to build upon it the following year.

In 2003, JK invited the local art community to join forces in making Forecastle a more inclusive presentation. Sculptor Mike Ratterman headed that effort, recruiting thirty artists to exhibit underneath the limestone bridge which bisected the park, creating a unique visual experience which correlated with the sonic timbre of the live music. In addition to art, a dozen environmental and socially-conscious organizations participated, educating the audience on local community issues. When Forecastle 2003 ignited on July 19th, a distinct, equal representation of Louisville music, arts, and activism was presented, and a new format established: Music.Art.Activism®

Having tripled attendance in 2003, JK worked to regionalize the festival in 2004: booking bands, artists, activists, and journalists from across the Midwest and as far away as Boston, Massachusetts, to converge in one of Louisville’s most scenic environments for an unforgettable day of Music.Art.Activism®. While still unsponsored, JK and his crew worked relentlessly to build Forecastle into a major regional draw. The Louisville community responded by volunteering their time and services, and the result was Forecastle 2004: the largest gathering musicians, artists, and activists in the city. The event blended eighteen bands on dueling East and West stages, thirty artists connecting the stages, and twenty-five community non-profits and environmental organizations along the perimeter. All three elements blended together cohesively, attracting wider demographics than they ever would have separately. JK and his crew quickly realized they had formed something unique, and applied for a U.S. Federal Trademark to protect it. The overwhelming amount of support carried over to 2005, when JK was granted access to Louisville’s historic, landmark, 409-acre Cherokee Park. In six months, the 23-year-old raised over $60,000 to host Forecastle 2005: the largest gathering of musicians, artists, and activists in the state of Kentucky, and the first festival in over a decade at Cherokee.

Having officially outgrown Tyler Park, Forecastle 2005 moved into three sectors of the Olmstead-designed Cherokee Park. Organizers worked around the clock, booking a national act to headline the West Stage, inviting a record number of regional artists, and consolidated the activism strictly to environmentalism and outdoor, active-lifestyle activities. For the first time, national sponsors such as Patagonia and Red Bull North America joined forces with local “mom and pop” shops to help cover costs, which were 10X larger than all previous years combined.

Forecastle 2005 set sail on Saturday, July 30th, and attracted over 5,000 people ~ a park record to this day. When the attendance surfaced, city officials were shocked to see Forecastle upstage the last major event held at Cherokee ~ the LRS Kentucky Derby Fest. Forecastle was one of the top local and regional draws, outperforming better funded and advertised events, while establishing a new model for the Midwest.

Forecastle 2006 introduced a multi-day format, in which the festival effectively doubled in size, moving to the vast, 350,000 sq. foot Mellwood Art and Entertainment Center ~ the first festival ever hosted there. 2006 boosted the highest participation of musicians, artists, and activists in Forecastle’s 5-year history. Highlights include finale performances from critically-acclaimed, pop masterminds “The Apples in Stereo” and influential, all-female rock trio “Sleater-Kinney.” Sleater Kinney’s performance was especially noteworthy, considering the group’s history. In June of 06’, the band announced that after twelve years, they would disband shortly after Forecastle. When news broke, thousands of tickets sold overnight and Forecastle was thrust into the national spotlight. Feature articles by The New York Times, MTV, VH1, CNN, Billboard, and others emerged as tickets were being sold from Rhode Island to Washington. In July of 2006, SPIN Magazine named Forecastle as “One of the Top 101 things to do in America.”

With national sponsorship, and having outgrown both the park system and Mellwood, Forecastle 2007moved to the River. The 6th annual event took place July 27th-28th at The Riverfront Belvedere ~ part of a scenic, $60 million dollar waterfront investment which attracts 1.5 million visitors a year. Outdoors in the heart of downtown Louisville, organizers crafted the event around (10) Midwest participating cities, whose musicians, artists, and activists would contribute equally to Forecastle’s Music.Art.Activism® format. Exclusive sponsorships and media partnerships in each of the (10) cities would further attract the largest audience ever to the Midwest’s most exciting new summer experience. Highlights include Grammy-award winning hip-hop trio De La Soul, indie mash-up phenomenon Girl Talk, and West Coast rock / jazz / electronic pioneers Particle. Like previous years, the event combined dueling East and West stages, a regional art exhibition, and over fifty environmental organizations, while adding educational panels, speakers, films, an outdoor extreme sports park, eco-business expo, and more active-lifestyle activities along the Ohio River. As captured on film by The Village Voice and posted online in 17 major U.S. Newspapers, Forecastle had reached a new destination and opened an exciting new chapter, with a wave of support lifting it to the national level.

Building upon this success, Forecastle 2008 expanded to a 3-day “Festival and Symposium” on The Riverfront, enhancing the established format with more national talent, educational, and active-lifestyle elements. For the first time, organizers hosted a campground and utilized the historic Galt House Hotel and Suites for an unparalleled festival / symposium experience.

* For musicians, a place to meet face-to-face with promoters, label executives, and industry insiders, with panels focusing on career topics such as songwriting, recording, CMJ radio airplay, publishing, marketing, branding, and touring.
* For artists, a place to exhibit and attend workshops focused on concept, design, technique, and process, with panels shining light on career paths in the industry.
* For environmentalists, a place to educate, network, meet leaders in the outdoor and green technology industries, demo the latest outdoor hardware, and participate in panels, films, and speaker sessions

In January of 2009, Forecastle signed an exclusive partnership with Nederlander Entertainment ~ the country’s oldest, largest, and most experienced operators of live theatre and music. The relationship combined the concert expertise of Nederlander with the festival knowledge of Forecastle. The result was the most successful fest to date. Over 23,000 attendees from (44) states and (6) countries packed the Riverfront to see live performances from Widespread Panic, The Black Crowes, The Black Keys, The Avett Brothers, Zappa plays Zappa, Umphrey’s McGee, and countless others.

Forecastle 2009 took home numerous awards, including “Top 15 Outdoor Festivals in the Country” by the staff of Outside Magazine, “Top 10 events in the state” by The Kentucky Tourism Council, and “The Best Music Festival in Louisville” by the Readership of LEO Weekly (50,000).

Forecastle 2010 saw a move to Louisville’s adjacent 85-acre Waterfront Park. With performances from 100+ bands including The Smashing Pumpkins, The Flaming Lips, Widespread Panic, Spoon, DEVO, She & Him, Drive-By Truckers, Bassnectar, and many more, the festival attracted a record 30,000 attendees from across the country.

In 2010, Forecastle became the first festival in the world to join 1% for the Planet, joining our friends in the outdoor industry and hundreds of other companies committed to creating a healthy planet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s