Just because it is winter and cold outside, doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! In fact, there are tons and tons of activities to do in Lexington, Kentucky during the winter; both indoors and outdoors, especially for the holidays. I think the problem is that people don’t know about the activities and events until after they are over, or they may not know where to look to find out. The trick is that you have to want to go out into the city to explore and you have to do research by looking for events to attend, since these types of things aren’t just going to fall into your lap.
I’ve composed a list of “Christmasy” activities that you can do in Lexington (and surrounding areas) during the month of December. Some of the events have already happened, but it could be something to keep in mind for next year. Since there are around 100 events on my list, there are still plenty left to get you into the Christmas spirit!
Things to Do to Get Into That Christmas Spirit!
1. Ice Skating in Triangle Park: The ice rink in Triangle Park opens each year in mid-November until mid-January of the following year. You can bring your own skates, but they are included in the price to skate, which is $12. You’ll be able to skate for 60 minutes. There is also hot chocolate available at the cafe beside the rink. The rink will be closed on Christmas Day. Hours of operation: Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. When Fayette County Schools are closed, the hours of operation are: Monday through Friday from 10 a m. to 10 p.m.
2. Go see the Southern Lights at the Lexington Horse Park: This has personally been a yearly tradition for my husband and myself, and we have gone every year since 2009. Over 120,000 visitors each year from across Kentucky and surrounding states visit the Southern Lights, and it is regularly chosen as a Top 20 Event in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society. Admission is $15 per car on Monday through Thursday and $25 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It is $30 per extended van or RV (up to 15 people), $60 per mini-bus (up to 25 people), $75 per school bus, and $150 per motor coach. You can see the 24th Annual Southern Lights nightly from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. It started on November 18 and will go through December 31. The indoor attractions are closed on Thanksgiving Day and December 24-31, but you can still drive-through every night through the 31st. FYI: When going there, be sure to use the campground entrance of the Kentucky Horse Park (3785 Campground Road, Lexington, Kentucky 40511). Use 4089 Iron Works Pike (NOT Parkway) as the street address when using a GPS. Please note that you must access Southern Lights ONLY from Iron Works Parkway through the Campground Entrance. Lisle Road is not an entrance to the Kentucky Horse Park.
3. Visit the Hillenmeyer Christmas Shop: Experience the magic of an old-fashioned Christmas by visiting the Hillenmeyer Christmas Shop, which is located at the Landsdowne Shoppes off Tates Creek Road. Once you step inside, you’ll be transported into another world! Santa will be there on Saturday, December 9; Sunday, December 10; Saturday, December 16; and Sunday, December 17 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
4. Holiday Lights at Buffalo Trace Distillery: Take a drive to Frankfort, Kentucky and see all of the lights illuminated at the Buffalo Trace. I think Buffalo Trace is one of the most beautiful distilleries. I’ve never been during Christmas, but I’ve been several times throughout the years. You can see the lights nightly from November 30 through January 2 from dusk until 11:00 p.m. Santa will also be at the distillery from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on December 15 and 16.
5. The Nutcracker at the Lexington Opera House: The Lexington Ballet will perform The Nutcracker on December 9 through December 17 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and December 18 at 2 p.m at the Lexington Opera House.
6. Ride the Bluegrass Scenic Railway’s Santa Claus Train: You’ll be able to go past holiday scenes, elves, and the countryside. The train ride lasts 45 minutes and departs from Woodford County Park on December 17 and 18. The departure time is 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays with an additional time of 11 a.m. on December 9 and 16. Tickets are from $13 to $20. You can purchase tickets from the Bluegrass Railroad Museum or by calling (859) 873-2476.
7. Cut down your Christmas tree at one of the local tree farms: Barker’s Christmas Tree Farm is closed for the season (it’s our favorite), but check out this list (or here or here) for tree farms in the surrounding area. If you are planning on getting one next year, go as early as you can. Barker’s closed for the season in record time on November 26. They opened on Friday, November 24 at 3:30 p.m. and were sold out around 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 26.
8. Take a carriage ride through downtown Lexington: It can be pricey at $100 per hour, but it is definitely something to experience. Back in 2009, my husband and I went on one of the free 15 minute rides that they were offering, and it was such a cool experience. Be sure to bundle up, because it can be extremely cold!
9. Visit one of the many markets that features local shops: There are many opportunities to shop local!
- 2017 Winter Market: Friday, December 8 at 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Holiday Market: Saturday, December 9 at 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- 5th Annual Holiday Arts Bazaar: Saturday, December 9 at 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Market 301: Friday, December 15 at 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Bread Box Art Market: Saturday, December 16 at 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
10. The Chinoe Christmas House: Drive down Chinoe Road, and I promise you won’t be able to miss it! (It’s 1008 Chinoe Road to be exact!) It’s definitely a sight to see! The Turners have been decorating their house for over 25 years. Be sure to park along the street and get out, so you can see it up close!
11. Christmas Caroling at Triangle Park: Join a group of 30 individuals who will be singing Christmas carols on Saturday, December 16 at 7 pm. to 9 p.m. Carolers will be accompanied by a few acoustic guitars and string instruments.
12. Christmas Candlelight Tour at the Henry Clay Estate: Visitors to this year’s Candlelight Tours will experience Ashland “All Dressed Up for Christmas on Saturday, December 9 at 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.” Come tour the mansion, decorated in all white and featuring period costumes in every room. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for students (ages 6-college), ages 5 and under are free.. Last guests admitted at 7 p.m.
13. Visit Waveland to see what the holidays were like on a Bluegrass plantation: In 2017, you can relieve Christmas of the past from the Dicken’s classic, “A Christmas Carol” at Waveland. The drama will play right out in front of you, right before your very eyes. For those interested in Santa, he will be in the barn each performance before the first scheduled performances for both photos and story time. Performance dates are:
- December 1: 6 p.m., 8 p.m.
- December 2 and 3: 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- December 8: 6 p.m., 8 p.m.
- December 9th and 10th: 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m.
- December 15th: 6 p.m., 8 p.m.
- December 16: 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
14. Walk or drive around downtown to see the Christmas lights: Downtown is always lit up beautifully around this time of year, especially Triangle Park!
Things that have already happened, but something to keep in mind for next year:
1. Visit the Henry Clay Estate for A Kentucky Christmas: Visit the Henry Clay Estate on Saturday, December 2 from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m, to see the illumination, which will begin at 5:15 p.m. and is free and open to the public. There will also be candlelight tours after the illumination of the mansion for $5. Vendors will also be in attendance.
2. Visit six Harrodsburg homes from the 19th and early 20th century: Six homes in Harrodsburg and a historic Mercer County church will hold the 26th Annual “Come Home to Christmas” holiday homes tour. This is sponsored by the Harrodsburg Historical Society, and will be held on December 3 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $11 for seniors.
3. See the Lexington Christmas Parade: The parade begins at 7 p.m. on December 5 and starts at Main and Midland and proceeds along Main Street to Mill Street.
4. The Lighting of the Christmas Tree in Triangle Park: Lexington will light its city tree on Friday, November 24 in Triangle Park. It’s a local tradition that dates to 1913. Festivities begin at 3:00 p.m. and will continue throughout the afternoon. There will be food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, live music and more. At 7 p.m., the tree lighting will take place with Santa Claus flipping the switch. Even though you may have missed the actual lighting of tree, you can still see it lit up!
5. Lights Up at the Summit at Fritz Farm: There will be be giveaways, live music, Santa arrives 3 p.m. via helicopter (what a way to make an entrance!), cookies and hot chocolate, children’s toy workshop, lighting of the tree at 6 p.m at The Summit. This was held on Saturday, December 3 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
That’s NOT all! There are 70 more events that can help you get into the Christmas spirit!!
This list has additional events related to dance, music, special events, theater, and more!!
What are you looking forward to the most this December?