Kentucky Derby Festival event Thunder over Louisville 2021

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The countdown is on for this year’s Thunder Over Louisville, set for Saturday, April 17. Kentucky Derby Festival officials, along with the show’s sponsors and partners, shared an update on plans for the show Thursday morning in a Zoom press conference.

Themed “Illuminating Our Community,” the 2021 show will be a made-for-television event as the air show and fireworks are moved to undisclosed locations around the community.

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“Thunder Over Louisville is going to be different this year. Nothing like we’ve ever seen or done before,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “With help from our sponsors and partners, we’ve re-imagined the event and how we can bring it to the community. From planes to fireworks, this year’s show will still have its Thunder.”

Sponsors of the 2021 Thunder event include Caesars Southern Indiana; Ford Motor Company; GE Appliances, a Haier company; LG&E, Meijer; Papa John’s; and UPS, along with Command Center Sponsor: Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport and The Official Hotel: The Galt House.

Said Gibson, “More than just supporters of the Derby Festival, these companies support the community where we all live, work and play. That has taken new meaning for all of us this past year.”

With public health and safety always a top priority, this year’s Thunder will be held without spectators and will not be at the Waterfront. “Our goal is to bring Thunder to fans the best and safest we can,” said Gibson.

“While we know this could become the worst kept secret in Louisville, we ask for the public’s support and understanding. Even though you may not see it in person, we promise it will be a show to remember.”

Changes to the show this year include:

  • The air show will be held for two hours on Thunder day with a Category 3 air box allowing for fly-bys, as well as some aerobatics.
  • Air acts at this time include the Kentucky Air National Guard and their C-130; UPS and their 767; the 2019 Air Show performer of the year, Matt Younkin performing both a day and nighttime show; plus, A-10s, C-17s, T-38s, Air Force tankers, Army helicopters, F-16’s, and the Tuskegee Airman P-51.
  • New to Thunder this year, will be a drone show leading up to the fireworks, with over 50 drones in different formations.
  • The fireworks will still launch around 9:30 p.m., but they will be spread out around the community in five different locations north, south, east, and west of the city, along with a location in Southern Indiana.
  • The locations for this year’s Thunder will not be made public, to avoid drawing crowds. However, many residents will be able to step outside their homes and still see the show as the fireworks are spread throughout the city.

The best way to see and hear Thunder this year will be by watching WHAS TV, the Official Broadcast Partner of Thunder Over Louisville. Their all-day coverage on April 17 begins at 6 a.m. Fans can also tune to Summit Media’s Mix 106.9, the Official Thunder radio partner, for special coverage.

The Festival has created a special “Thunder at Home” section at ThunderOverLouisville.org which includes tips for planning a Thunder party at home, Thunder inspired cocktail and food recipes, coloring pages, Zoom backgrounds and more! New Thunder gear is also available online, featuring t-shirts and sweatshirts that glow in the dark.

Thunder Over Louisville – the Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies – is one of the more than 70 events produced by the Derby Festival. The 2021 Thunder Over Louisville will be the 32nd annual production.