Horse racing, baseball bats, and bourbon–these are a few things you’ll often think of when describing Louisville, KY.
As Kentucky’s largest city however, Louisville sits at the intersection of southern and midwestern cultures, providing a variety of experiences and things to do when you visit. This is especially true at Christmastime, when Louisville comes alive with holiday festivities anyone will love.
If you’re planning to visit this great city around the holidays, check out our list of 10 things to do in Louisville at Christmas for a holiday that’s merry and bright!
1. Light Up Louisville
Light Up Louisville provides a festive kickoff to the holiday season in Louisville each year. Located in Jefferson Square Park, locals and tourists alike gather to welcome the Christmas season and see the city twinkle in Christmas lights.
Visitors can enjoy a festive atmosphere with live music, train rides for the kids, and a Vendor Village of local foods and crafts. The evening brings the Lots of Lights community parade welcoming the arrival of Santa Claus.
Light Up Louisville culminates with the city Christmas tree lighting. Have your camera ready to capture all the wonderful lights on full display!
2. Gardens Aglimmer at Waterfront Botanical Gardens
A visit to Louisville’s beautiful Waterfront Botanical Gardens is worthwhile all year, but especially at Christmas with Gardens Aglimmer.
Guests can enjoy a self-guided tour of the garden’s grounds aglow with sparking Christmas lights, surely to get anyone into the festive spirit. With a warm drink and cookies in hand, visitors can experience a tunnel of lights, a lighted waterfall stream, and a variety of festive winter scenes.
Be sure to visit Santa and his sleigh and see Mrs. Claus’s cottage as well. A magical winter wonderland awaits!
3. Louisville’s Christmas Theater Performances
Louisville has a reputation for its magnificent theater offerings throughout the year. At Christmastime, you’ll want to prioritize seeing a holiday performance at one of the city’s numerous theaters.
Whether it’s holiday cirque performances, The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, or other seasonal staples, you’ll have plenty of options to consider for your Christmas in Louisville visit.
My favorite venue is the historic Louisville Palace, an opulent theater in the heart of downtown. If you’re spending the night, I recommend staying at the historic Seelbach Hotel a block away!
4. Christmas at the Conrad-Caldwell House
A Christmas visit to Louisville’s famous Victorian home, the Conrad-Caldwell House, will take you back in time to the elegant Christmases of Louisville’s past. The house provides some festive ways to experience the home adorned in opulent Christmas decor:
- Candlelight Christmas Tour – Visitors can tour the home firsthand under the magic of candlelight during a few limited evenings in December
- Holiday Victorian Tea – Tour the home, sip local tea and sample fancy treats, and enjoy live music while getting a Victorian taste of Christmas
- A Night of Holiday Etiquette – Learn holiday Victorian etiquette firsthand and practice place settings, centerpieces, and calligraphy over a glass of wine!
5. Holiday Treats at Schimpff’s Confectionery
Just across the river in Jeffersonville, IN, you’ll find wonderful holiday treats at Schimpff’s Confectionery.
Located in Jeffersonville’s charming downtown since 1891, Schimpff’s provides a 1950s soda fountain, candy making demonstrations, and lots of tasty goodies (and stocking stuffers!). Most famous for its red hots, hard candy fish, and Modjeskas, you’ll have plenty to try.
Stay and explore Jeffersonville’s lovely downtown shops and restaurants nearby, close to the waterfront. The city’s holiday lights parade in early December provides a festive small-town feel during your Christmas in Louisville visit as well.
6. Lights Under Louisville
If you’ve seen Louisville’s holiday lights up above, you definitely need to see them underground! With 17 miles of tunnels big enough for vehicles of all sizes to explore, Louisville’s Mega Caverns gets into the Christmas spirit each year with its popular Lights Under Louisville show.
Grab your friends and family and take them through a cavern covered in over 4 million lights! Over 900 Christmas characters will greet you as you explore this underground holiday wonderland.
Lights Under Louisville is a one-of-a-kind Christmas experience you won’t find anywhere else!
7. Paristown’s Fête De Noël
Paristown’s Fête De Noël (“Festival of Christmas”) Winter Holiday Festival provides 6 weeks of holiday festivities in Louisville’s historic Paristown district.
Each year, locals and tourists go ice skating outdoors (on real ice!) and enjoy the neighborhood’s bustling shops and restaurants.
In addition, visitors can watch outdoor holiday movies, experience silent disco and holiday karaoke on ice, and decorate Christmas ornaments.
8. Christmas ‘Round Bardstown
Just under an hour from Louisville, the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown, KY, is a must-see all year for Kentucky travelers. With 11 bourbon distilleries in the area and a rich history, visitors are easily drawn to the small-town charms of Kentucky’s second-oldest city.
As the holidays near, Bardstown comes alive with 25 holiday events over a month and a half, called Christmas ‘Round Bardstown. If you have time to explore, there are holiday festivities the whole family can enjoy:
- Light Up Bardstown Christmas tree lighting
- My Old Kentucky Home Christmas candlelight tours
- Christmas distillery tours
- Santa Express and Christmas dinner train rides
- Bardstown Community Theatre holiday shows
- Bardstown Annual Christmas Parade
9. Cookies with Captain Santa Riverboat Cruise
As a city along the banks of the Ohio River, Louisville’s history can be revisited in a unique way with a ride on one of the Belle of Louisville Riverboats. But in December, Santa steers the ships with Cookies with Captain Santa, a holiday riverboat cruise you won’t want to miss!
Guests board a riverboat transformed into a winter wonderland and take a family-friendly cruise with Santa. Kids (and adults!) can meet Santa in person over cookies and hot cocoa and enjoy other festive activities for a unique Christmas in Louisville experience.
10. The Flea Off Market’s Annual Holiday Bazaar
Louisville’s monthly pop-up arts and crafts flea market, The Flea Off Market, hosts its annual Holiday Bazaar on weekends during the holidays. If you’re looking for local and unique gift ideas, this Christmas market is a shopper’s delight.
With 100-200 vendors every year, you can find some special Christmas in Louisville souvenirs. Plus visitors can enjoy a variety of local food trucks, beer and craft cocktails, live music, workshops, and other family-friendly entertainment.
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Did we miss any of your favorite things to do in Louisville at Christmas?
Let us know in the comments so we can add more to the list!