by Nancy Hinchliff, Innkeeper/freelance writer
If you’re looking for a great place to have an old-fashioned Christmas, Louisville, Kentucky is the place for you. Christmas time here is an absolute delight. Louisville is a charming city with row upon row of historic Victorian houses which, when dressed for the holidays, look like a page out of a Charles Dickens novel. There’s nothing more picturesque. And, if you’re thinking about staying for a few days, the many bed and breakfasts here will delight you. Along with treating you to southern hospitality and serving the very best in gourmet breakfasts, the Innkeepers go all out to decorate their beautiful Victorian mansions, both inside and out.
Christmas is one of the loveliest and most charming times of the year to visit Old Louisville. Everything is so festive and there is so much to do. A family tradition of many is to drive around in December in search of the best Christmas holiday house decorations. However, as the years go by, the best neighborhoods for Christmas light displays change. Part of the fun is finding the best places on your own. If you haven’t rented a car, you could always take a taxi to look at Christmas lights. Most of the drivers know the best neighborhoods.
There are a few houses on Mile of Sunshine Drive in Okolona that go above and beyond the average holiday decorations. They are worth a stop for sure, and donations go to the Home of the Innocents. Freeman Lake Park in Elizabethtown, about an hour from Louisville, has a drive-thru Christmas lights display. You can also drive through the new “Mega Caverns under the Zoo” at the Louisville Zoo. Then, of course, most of Old Louisville is pretty well decorated and lit up for the holidays. “My family goes to ‘Christmas By The River’ in Brandenburg, Kentucky every year. The lights are beautiful, and the grandkids love it.” (Guest – Michelle)
You might enjoy midnight mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption located downtown. If you go, get there early and you might just get a seat. Also check out some holiday plays at Actors Theater or Hubers Farm, over the river in southern Indiana. Another really fun and interesting thing to do is blowing your own glass ornament at Glassworks.
Another fun thing is the Holiday Cruise with Santa on the beautiful steamboat “Belle of Louisville” or on the “Spirit of Jefferson,” You board downtown at the 4th St. Wharf. Call 502-574-2992 or (toll-free) 866-832-0011 for information, to make a reservation, or to check the status of the cruise. [click for more details]
The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a visit with Marie, her Nutcracker Prince and that nasty rascal, the Rat King. You can be a part of all the magic and wonder the new Brown-Forman Nutcracker has to offer. The choreography is by Val Caniparoli and the music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The performances downtown at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Also at the Kentucky Center for the Arts will be The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Performances of the classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” are scheduled throughout December. Check dates and times here: Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.
Our wonderful Actor’s Theater will also be getting in on the holiday fun with performances of “A Christmas Carol” in December. again downtown Louisville on Main Street. Call 502-584-1205 for dates and times. Adapted by Barbara Field from Charles Dickens and directed by Sean Daniels, this music-filled holiday celebration is Louisville’s biggest and best holiday tradition—the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, brought to life with visual splendor and the warmth of holiday music.
Another Louisville holiday tradition is “Light Up Louisville” which was in November. It is held in Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville (6th St & Park) and ushers in the magic of the holiday season with a fifty foot tree, lights, fireworks and music which transforms downtown into a fantasy land aglow with the spirit of the holidays. The fun of “Light Up Louisville” will continue through the holiday season with displays and lights featured nightly. The lighting event is called Lou-minations; it’s a 14-minute display of lights and music on Metro Hall presented by GE. Paired with a carriage ride and dinner at one of Louisville’s many great restaurants, you have the makings for a very special holiday experience.
The best places to stay while you’re here are the Louisville Bed and Breakfasts. They are beautiful, comfortable, and affordable. Rates include a wonderful gourmet breakfast. Most are open and decorated for the holidays. Click here, to check availability.
There are many other holiday activities you might enjoy during the month of December. You can check online or wait until you get here and visit out two visitors centers: Old Louisville Visitors Center and the Louisville Visitors Center.