Spring in Central Kentucky means a return to outdoor activities, even if you have to keep a warm coat handy; some signature events of Lexington and Kentucky as a whole; and the start of festival season.
Here are some fairs, festivals and other events that are markers of spring in Central Kentucky.
Thursday Night Live. 4:30-9 p.m. Thursdays, April 3-Oct. 16. Cheapside Park, Main St. and Cheapside. Food and drink vendors, live music (schedule at Downtownlex.com). Free.
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Keeneland Spring Meet. April 4-26. Gates open at 11 a.m., first post time is 1:05 p.m. No racing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Easter, April 20. Keeneland Race Course, 4201 Versailles Rd. Thoroughbred racing, food, tailgating, shopping, other events. $5 general admission; free for children 12 and younger. Keeneland.com.
Annual Wildflower Weekend. April 11-13. Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Slade. Speakers, hikes, nature walks, etc., with wildflower experts and enthusiasts. 1.usa.gov/1ouiunu.
Kite Fest. Noon-4 p.m. April 12. Jacobson Park, 4001 Athens-Boonesboro Rd. Kite-flying, children's games, entertainment, kite-making, food and drinks. Free. Lexingtonky.gov.
Georgetown Kite and Cultural Festival. Noon-5 p.m. April 12-13. Cardome Centre, Georgetown. Kite flying, children's activities, cultural food, live entertainment, more. Free, but $6 parking. Kitefest.com.
Kentucky Derby Festival. April 12-May 2. Various venues in Louisville. Wide variety of activities including hot-air balloon races, marathons, steamboat races, food fairs, etc., running up to Kentucky Derby. KDF.org.
¦ Thunder Over Louisville. Dusk April 12. Louisville riverfront. Giant fireworks display over Ohio River. Parking and commuting can be nightmarish, so plan ahead and do your research. Thunderoverlouisville.org.
Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. April 24-27. Kentucky Horse Park, 4089 Iron Works Pkwy. World-class equestrian eventing competition with dressage, jumping and cross-country portions; trade fair; shopping; food vendors; more. $12-$66. Rk3de.org.
Stargazing at Raven Run. 9 p.m. March 29, April 26, May 24, June 28, July 26, Aug. 23, Sept. 20, Oct. 25. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, 3885 Raven Run Way. Free. (859) 272-6105. Lexingtonky.gov.
Kentucky Oaks. May 2. Churchill Downs, Louisville. Derby Eve race for fillies that tends to be less chaotic and more locals-friendly than the Derby. General admission from $30. Kentuckyderby.com.
Kentucky Derby. May 3. Churchill Downs, Louisville. "The greatest two minutes in sports." General admission from $50. Kentuckyderby.com.
Mayfest. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 10; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. May 11. Gratz Park, Third and Mill Sts. Art fair, food vendors, children's activities. Free. Downtownlex.com.
Founders Day at McConnell Springs. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 17. McConnell Springs, Rebmann Dr. Family activities, historic reenactments and exhibits celebrating Lexington's founding, live music, storytellers, contests, more. Free. Mcconnellsprings.org.
Bluegrass Classic Stockdog Trial and Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival. May 14-18. Masterson Station Park, 3051 Leestown Rd. Stockdog herding competition, fiber art, food vendors, more. Free for stockdog trials, $3 for festival. Bluegrassclassicsdt.com, Kentuckysheepandfiber.com.
Big Band and Jazz. 7 p.m. Tuesdays, May 6-June 24 at MoonDance at Midnight Pass amphitheatre, inside Beaumont Cir. 7 p.m. Tuesdays, July 1-Aug. 26 at Ecton Park, 956 Turkey Foot Rd. Jazz concerts by wide variety of local and regional groups. Free. Schedule to be posted at Lexingtonky.gov.
Francisco's Farm Arts Festival. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 18. Midway College, Midway. Art fair, food vendors, activities, more. Free. Franciscosfarm.org.
Southland Jamboree. 7 p.m. Tuesdays, May-September; exact dates TBA. Lawn next to Collins Bowling Center, 205 Southland Dr. Bluegrass concerts by wide variety of local and regional groups. Free. Southlandjamboree.org.
Free Friday Flicks. 7 p.m. May 30, June 6, 13, 20 and 27. Jacobson Park. Children's activities, family-friendly outdoor movie screenings. Free. Schedule to be posted at Lexingtonky.gov.
Fountain Films on Friday. 8:45 p.m. May 30, June 13 and 27, July 11 and 25, Aug. 8. Triangle Park, Main St. and Broadway. Outdoor movie screenings. Free. Schedule to be posted at Triangleparklexington.org.
Capital Expo Festival. June 5-7. Downtown Frankfort. Children's activities, foot races, live entertainment, food vendors, more. Free. Capitalexpofestival.com.
Swingin' on Short. 7-11 p.m. June 7. Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza, Limestone and Main St. Swing dancing to live music. Free. Lexingtonky.gov.
Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen Fair. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 8. Indian Fort Theatre, Berea. Arts and crafts vendors from Kentucky and elsewhere. $5. Kyguild.org.