Bourbon & Beyond Topped By Bruno Mars, The Killers, Brandi Carlile, The Black Keys Sept. 14-17

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Danny Wimmer Presents’ Bourbon & Beyond festival has returned for 2023, with four-day multi-genre lineup expecting 35,000-plus fans per day to Louisville, Kentucky, Sept. 14-17.

Topped by Bruno Mars, The Killers and The Black Keys, along with the return of Brandi Carlile after her show-stopping performance at last year’s event,  the event bills itself as a love letter to the city of Louisville. 

“We feel we have made a great statement about how this festival has evolved into the international spotlight,” Del Williams, head of talent at Danny Wimmer Presents, tells Pollstar. “Not only to showcase the great things to happen in that area of America, specifically as the largest distributor of bourbon, but we wanted to have artists that represent the best musicianship, best showmanship, music that really resonates with people on a soulful level.” 

Last year’s event, the first post-COVID iteration of the festival, saw record-breaking attendance of more than 140,000 and they’re hoping to go beyond that for 2023, Williams said.

Single day, weekend, and VIP passes and camping packages are on sale now.

This year’s lineup includes more than 60 artists, also featuring The Avett Brothers, Blondie, Train, Hozier, Jon Batiste, Brittany Howard, Spoon, Buddy Guy and many others.

“We were totally blown away by Brandi Carlile’s performance at Bourbon & Beyond last year. She is the voice of a generation and her set had such an impact on the crowd, we immediately knew we had to bring her back as a headliner,” Danny Wimmer said in the announcement. 

Longtime talent buyer Williams noted Bourbon & Beyond will be Bruno Mars’ only festival appearance for 2023.

“It’s very gratifying when an act like Bruno Mars can basically plan their year around that event,” said Williams. “When you’re already in discussion with huge acts for next year that want to play because they’ve heard such great things, that’s when you know the festival has really arrived.”

Along with music, the event has a heavy culinary and  beverage program, with daily workshops and demonstrations at the Team Kentucky Bourbon Stage pairing master distillers and celebrity chefs with guest artist appearances and local personalities. The programming is hosted by Chefs Amanda Freitag, Chris Santos, and Ed Lee, along with bourbon buyer Chris Blandford. 

The event is a companion to the long-running Louder Than Life Festival at the same site, Highland Festival Grounds at Kentucky Exposition Center, which this year is taking place the following weekend, Sept. 21-24.  Last year’s Louder Than Life attracted another 135,000 fans over its four days. 

Lineups for Louder Than LIfe as well as Sacramento rock festival Aftershock are expected soon, with Williams saying “we think they’re stacked and people will be very interested.”

While Bourbon & Beyond is a destination-specific event focused on the region’s history producing bourbon, Williams said it’s “not out of the question by any means” to do a similar-styled event in another market. 

“We’ve done a good job of putting together (multiple) events in Sacramento, which is another city on the rise and that has a lot of character that we want to showcase,” he says, noting the second-year Golden Sky country festival taking place in Sacramento the week after Aftershock and topped by Jon Pardi and Eric Church.