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Cross the bridge into Indiana to check out life on both sides of the river — Photo courtesy of Louisville CVB

Louisville enjoys the perks and ease of a small town vibe. Yet it also manages to maintain a global perspective that extends far beyond its Kentucky coordinates.

Sure, locals are mighty proud of their rich horse racing and bourbon making traditions, but residents of this vibrant city also celebrate art and culinary scenes that embrace cultures from around the globe. 

Global community

The well-attended WorldFest enlivens downtown every year with global food, music, dance, culture and education — Photo courtesy of Louisville CVB

With more than 100 languages spoken in the Louisville public schools and 35 percent of the city’s population growth over the past 16 years coming from international residents (from 150-plus countries), Louisville is more culturally diverse than ever before.

Organizations like Kentucky Refugee Ministries assist the immigrant community by helping newcomers set up homes, get familiar with the language, laws and local customs, as well as connecting them to services needed for day-to-day living.

Every year, the wildly popular WorldFest celebrates global food, music, dance and more with the colorful Parade of Cultures, a bustling Global Village and a giant naturalization ceremony. Located at the Belvedere at 5th and Main streets, the festival is free all four days of Labor Day weekend (August 31 through September 3, 2018).

Admission to WorldFest is free all four days of Labor Day weekend — Photo courtesy of Louisville CVB

Another anticipated gathering, the Festival of Faiths, happens every spring. The five-day, multi-faith gathering of music, poetry, art, film and dialogue brings together spiritual leaders, practitioners and teachers for beautiful conversations and events. (Past participants have included the Dalai Lama himself!)

Awesome arts

As a frontier town and then a thriving river city, Louisville became a hub for some of America’s most original music — Photo courtesy of Louisville CVB

Louisville offers a vibrant arts scene, whether you’re looking for inspiration hanging on the walls or bouncing around music halls and festivals. One can’t-miss spot? The Speed Art Museum, which is Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum.

Through May 13, Speed hosts the groundbreaking “Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism” exhibition, which features 80-plus paintings by 37 artists from 13 countries. The exhibit explores a key chapter in history in which an international group of female artists overcame gender-based restrictions to make remarkable creative strides.

Through July 29, the Frazier Kentucky History Museum mounts an exhibit called “Magnificent Mona Bismarck: Kentucky Style Icon,” in honor of the Louisville native and first American to be declared the “Best-Dressed Woman in the World.”

Teddy Abrams, a widely acclaimed conductor as well as an established pianist, clarinetist and composer, serves as Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra — Photo courtesy of Teddy Abrams (Iroquois) by Frankie Steele

If music is your thing, check out the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. This grand venue is also home to ballet, Broadway, opera, orchestra and children’s theater. For more music magic, visit venues like Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar and Mercury Ballroom, one of Live Nation’s premier venues.

Ethnic eats

Enjoy a spread of Oriental House’s delicious dim sum offerings — Photo courtesy of Oriental House/Louisville CVB

Nosh your way across the map with eateries that range from Jasmin Bakery (an authentic feeling Bosnian outpost) to Oskar’s, a Nordic-themed slider bar. Irish Rover draws jovial patrons to the Crescent Hill neighborhood, while many locals insist Dakshin serves the best Indian food in town (at their restaurant and food truck).

Havana Rumba celebrates the fact that Louisville boasts the biggest Cuban population in the States outside of Miami, while Lupo serves up homemade pastas and pizzas that make everyone feel right at home.

Havana Rumba celebrates the flavors of Cuba in Louisville — Photo courtesy of Havana Rumba/Louisville CVB

When it comes to Asian fare standouts, try community favorite Vietnam Kitchen, Himalayan Restaurant, Zen Garden, Heart & Soy (where you can watch them make their own tofu) and Oriental House, a staple in the St. Matthews neighborhood for many decades. 

While your Louisville itinerary will surely expose you to some down-home Kentucky hospitality, it will also provide a unique window on the world. 

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