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Celebrating 25 years at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival

Celebrate the world’s finest spirit in the Bourbon Capital of the World September 12–18

The Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky, gives you a six-day event of smooth bourbon, delicious food, and great entertainment, with a healthy dose of Kentucky hospitality thrown in for good measure. From black tie galas to historical tours, there is something for all ages and interests. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival runs from September 12–18 in Bardstown, Kentucky—the Bourbon Capital of the World. There are activities for the whole family.

“We have another incredible lineup of bourbon-focused festivities for this year’s festival,” says Executive Director Jill Hawkins. “With everything from bourbon-style cooking classes to our black-tie gala, we’re going big to celebrate the 25th year of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.”

Tickets to all events can be purchased online at Individual event tickets are available, but the VIP Loft Experience ticket is good Wednesday through Sunday for exclusive access to a penthouse retreat with panoramic views of the Great Lawn, access to an all-inclusive private bar with premium spirits, Bluegrass-inspired lunch and dinner every day of the festival, opportunities to visit with bourbon experts from all over the world, and one-of-a-kind swag bags to commemorate the festival. There is a limited number VIP Loft Experience tickets, $400 per person; you must be 21 or older.

Following are a variety of the events offered free to the public as well as ticketed events. For more events, go online to

Arts & Crafts, KY Proud & Distillery BoothsFriday–Sunday, September 16–18
Noon–10 p.m. Friday, September 16
10 a.m.–10 p.m., Saturday, September 17
10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday, September 18
Kentucky distilleries along with festival sponsors display their merchandise. Kentucky artists and crafts showcase their juried handmade items along with some great food products produced by Kentucky Proud vendors. Located at both Spalding Hall and City Hall Lawns. Free admission to the Lawn.

World Championship Barrel RelaySaturday, September 17, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
One of the festival’s most popular events each year, the World Championship Barrel Relay races are back in 2016. The event features strong, experienced competitors rolling 500lb. bourbon barrels in a race against time and accuracy for individual as well as team entries for men and women. Free admission to the Lawn. Relay is located beside the Recreation Department, 300 W. Broadway.

Music on the LawnFriday, September 16–Sunday, September 18
5 p.m.–close Friday, September 16
5 p.m.–close Saturday, September 17
1 p.m.–close Sunday September 18
Enjoy live music by performers throughout the weekend. Bring your own chair and enjoy a variety of entertainment. Featured on Saturday, September 19, Exile, brought to you by sponsor Four Roses Distillery. See the complete schedule of bands and music online here. Free admission to the City Hall Lawn, 220 N. Fifth Street.

Family Fun AreaFriday, September 16–Sunday, September 18
4 p.m.–10 p.m., Friday, September 16
10 a.m.–10 p.m., Saturday, September 17
10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday, September 18
A variety of interactive games, inflatables, train rides and more for family enjoyment. Located behind City Hall, 220 N. Fifth Street. Fees vary.

Whiskey City Cruisers Vehicle ShowFriday, September 16–Sunday, September 18
4 p.m.–10 p.m., Friday, September 16
10 a.m.–10 p.m., Saturday, September 17
10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday, September 18
View a variety of vehicles on display from the area’s largest club. Free admission. Located at Spalding Hall Lawn, 114 N. Fifth Street.

The Ancient Craft of Barrel MakingSaturday, September 17–Sunday, September 18
10 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday, September 17

12 p.m.–5 p.m., Sunday, September 18
Coopers from Independent Stave Company demonstrate the unique and historical craft of making special oak barrels for aging bourbon. Free admission. Located at Spalding Hall Lawn, 114 N. Fifth Street.

Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey HistoryTuesday, September 13–Sunday, September 18
10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday–Thursday, September 13–15
10 a.m.–6 p.m. Friday–Saturday, September 16–17
10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday, September 18
An 1826 building housing stills, photos, artifacts and displays of distilling from pre-Colonial days to the present. Gift shop includes historical bourbon memorabilia. Free admission. Donations appreciated. Located at Spalding Hall, 114 N. Fifth Street.

Master Distiller’s AuctionSaturday, September 17, 2–4 p.m.
This prestigious auction, courtesy of Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, gives you the opportunity to bid on vintage items and unusual bottles of your favorite Kentucky bourbon, some autographed by the Master Distillers. Proceeds benefit Spalding Hall. Free admission. Donations appreciated. Located at Spalding Hall, 114 N. Fifth Street.

1792 Flights of BourbonTuesday, September 13, 5–7 p.m.
At this brand new event at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, attendees will join the crew from 1792 to explore Flights of Bourbon at the Bardstown airport, Samuels Field. You must be 21 or older to attend this ticketed event; but don’t worry, no passport is required. Purchase ticket online.

Kentucky Bourbon All-Star SamplerWednesday, September 14, 7–9:30 p.m.
Join the Kentucky Distillers’ Association for a rare evening featuring Master Distillers as well as Kentucky’s newest craft distilleries. Sample iconic bourbons, innovative new brands, Kentucky cuisine, music and more! Purchase ticket online.

Boots & BourbonThursday, September 15, 7 –11 p.m.
Join the gang from Buffalo Trace for a boot-scootin’ good time. Dance along to live music, enjoy fantastic food, and be prepared to ride the buffalo! Purchase ticket online.

Bourbon Cocktail MixologyWednesday–Saturday, September 14–17 (time varies by date)
Joy Perrine certainly knows a thing or two about experimenting with bourbon and has been pushing the boundaries in creating bourbon-based cocktails for decades. Once a day, every day between September 14 and 16, attendees will sample an array of unique cocktails, learn about the art of mixology, and receive a complimentary copy of The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book. Purchase ticket online.

Sip & Savor in the Spirit of Old KentuckyFriday & Saturday, September 16 –17, 1–3 p.m.
Do you ever wonder how connoisseurs always manage to perfectly pair food and cocktails? This year, when you attend one of two sessions with Chef David Domine, you’ll get all the tricks of the trade, learning about specific characteristics of bourbon and how they might pair with different foods. Purchase ticket online.

Bottled in Bond-FireSaturday, September 17, 6–11 p.m.
Kick back and cozy up to majestic summer bonfires at this new, casual event hosted at Wickland, The Home of Three Governors. You’ll sip a variety of bottled-in-bond bourbons in a historic environment, listen to music, and enjoy Bluegrass cuisine. Purchase ticket online.

Begun in 1992 as a simple bourbon-tasting dinner, The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is held annually in Bardstown, Kentucky. Over the years, the festival has grown into one of the commonwealth’s leading community festivals and has been nationally recognized for saluting and celebrating the storied history of one of Kentucky’s most renowned industries. The festival’s success is a direct result of continued support from regional distilleries, spirits connoisseurs, Kentucky culture experts, artists, musicians, and innumerable volunteers.

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