While supporters of the Festival of Faiths are disappointed that the Dalai Lama had to postpone his visit to the festival in order to rest, they are still very proud of the lineup that remains. The theme of this year’s event is “Compassion: Shining like the Sun” and there is a focus on the Compassionate Cities movement.

The event runs from April 18-22. Each day of the festival opens with a different spiritual practice, followed by speakers and panels. In the evenings, there are celebrations of the arts. The festival takes place at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. This is the 22nd event.

Theologian Richard Rohr called the festival the “Sundance of the Sacred.” When Huffington Post published a list of America’s eight top spiritual sites for travel, the Festival of Faiths ranked No. 6.

Louisville has been named a Model City for Compassion by the International Center for Compassionate Cities.

“We’re acclaimed for compassion. We’re creating benchmarks. And we want to show how a moderate-sized city can be a big-time leader in this field. But we acknowledge that we still have a long way to go,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a news release.

Presenters include:

  • Naomi Tutu – peace advocate and daughter of Nobel Peace Prize winner the Rev. Desmond Tutu
  • Karen Armstrong – renowned British religion author
  • Matthew Barzun – former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom
  • Jamie Comer – U.S. Republican congressman from Kentucky
  • Francisco Cienfuegos – mayor of Guadalupe City, Mexico, and president of the Intelligent Cities Association of Mexico
  • Ingrid Mattson – Muslim theologian and past president of the largest Islamic organization in America

Festival of Faiths was created by the Center for Interfaith Relations, whose mission is “to promote interfaith understanding, cooperation and action through exploration of different participating faith traditions addressing common issues, topics or themes.”

The festival began as part of the fundraising initiative for the restoration of the Cathedral of the Assumption in the heart of the city, Sarah Reed Harris of the Center for Interfaith Relations told IL last year. The idea was that every religion in the city would contribute an exhibit. Harris said it continued as a series of events that were themed on life experiences like birth, death and coming of age. The following festivals each took their theme from our relationship to the earth.

Last year’s festival was themed “Pathways to Non-violence.”

On April 21, there will be a “Compassion Jam,” curated by Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams, composer/pianist Rachel Grimes and educator/performer Jecorey ‘1200’ Arthur. The evening includes a comedy set from “America’s Funniest Muslim” Azhar Usman.

The festival pass is $250. Tickets to most individual events, including the jam, are $25 each.