Tis the season to be jolly. Louisville knows how to turn up the jolly when it comes to welcoming winter holidays. Whether you’re looking to try something new or re-visiting a seasonal tradition, the city has no shortage of events. Below are Louisville Distilled’s ten picks for family-friendly festivities.

Light Up Louisville

Where: Downtown, Jefferson Square and Metro Hall

When: November 23, 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m.

What: Now in its 37th year, Light Up Louisville is the official starting point for the holiday season in the city. Children can visit Santa’s Workshop on the first floor of Metro Hall, and create holiday crafts. There will be a vendor village at Sixth and Jefferson streets, with holiday crafts, treats, and gifts for sale. The main Light Up Louisville stage on the west lawn of Metro Hall features live entertainment beginning at 4 p.m. The Lots of Lights parade begins at 6:30 p.m. at Seventh and Jefferson streets and will proceed east on Jefferson to Fourth, where it will travel through Fourth Street Live! before dispersing at Muhammad Ali. The parade, featuring floats, bands, carolers, car clubs, children’s groups and civic organizations, will end with the arrival of Santa Claus, as he and Mayor Fischer illuminate the city Christmas tree in Jefferson Square. Following the Light Up moment, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., entertainment on the main stage will resume, and children are invited to go back inside Metro Hall and get a free picture with Santa Claus.

Admission: Free


Holiday in the City

When: November 23 – January 1

Where: Downtown at Holiday Square, located at Fourth and Jefferson Streets

Louisville’s Holiday in the City promotes holiday happenings and events throughout Downtown Louisville and markets the city as a holiday destination for residents and visitors. Holiday in the City kicks off with the annual Light Up Louisville tradition and continues through the holiday season with ice skating at Holiday Square located at 4th and Jefferson.

Admission: Holiday in the City is free. Visit here for ice rink hours and ticket prices.


Lights Under Louisville

When: November 17- December 31, 6-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 5-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Louisville Mega Cavern, 1841 Taylor Ave.

What: Hailed as the only underground Christmas Light show on the planet, Lights Under Louisville features more than 3,000,000 points of light and nearly 1,000 displays and characters. Drive your own car through the Louisville Mega Cavern and enjoy a 30-minute ride through underground passageways.

Admission: $27/Per vehicle, $5 off coupons are available on Lights Under Louisville.


Holiday Fest / Light Up New Albany

When: November 25, 6- 7:30 PM

Where: Bicentennial Park, 118 East Spring Street, New Albany, Ind.

What: Join the City of New Albany and Develop New Albany for the annual holiday festival and tree lighting.

Admission: Free


Christmastide, 1816 at Locust Grove

When: December 2, noon-7pm:

Where: Locust Grove, 561 Blankenbaker Lane

What: At Christmastide, 1816 at Locust Grove Locust Grove’s First-Person Interpreters will recreate an 1816 family holiday party in the historic home that will include music and dancing. Stop into the hearth kitchen to see preparations for a festive meal. In the Visitors’ Center, historic artisans will demonstrate their trades, give hands-on experiences, and sell their wares for a unique holiday shopping experience. Children’s activities will also be offered.

Admission: $6 adults, $3 children, free for under 6. Free for members.


Holiday Party at Gheens Science Hall & Rauch Planetarium

When: December 2, 1-4pm

Where: Gheens Science Hall & Rauch Planetarium, 106 W. Brandeis Ave.

What: Visitors will have a blast at the Holiday Party at Gheens Science Hall & Rauch Planetarium.

Enjoy holiday-themed kids’ activities, treats, and the Laser Holidays music show with favorites such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” and “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”

Admission: $5/person Laser Holidays Showtimes: 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. With kid’s activities ending at 3:30 p.m.


Old Fashioned Family Holiday Festival at Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing

When: December 2, 2-6pm:

Where: Riverside, the Farnsley-Moreman Landing, 7410 Moorman Rd.

What: This free, family event features photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus, horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday crafts for kids, tours of the historic Farnsley-Moremen House decorated for the season, and holiday craft vendors.

Admission: Free


Interfaith Chanukah-Kentucky Home Front

When: December 10, 2- 3:15 pm

Where: Jewish Community Center, 3600 Dutchmans Ln.

What: Join us for a unique Chanukah experience as we celebrate this holiday with John Gage, host of Kentucky Home Front. There will be music, storytelling, and food, and the program will be recorded as a program on Louisville Public Media during the holiday.

Admission: Advance tickets: $8, $5 kids 10 & younger. At the door: $10. Register here.


Nutcracker the Exhibition: 60 Years of Magic and Majesty

Where: The Frazier History Museum, 829 W. Main St.

When: Now through January 7, 2018

What: Nutcracker: The Exhibition celebrates Louisville Ballet’s Nutcracker from its early amateur company performances in the 1950s to the current production of The Brown-Forman Nutcracker. The exhibition features original costumes and costume designs, stage models, set pieces, props, photographs, and other artifacts from Nutcracker performances past and present including the Sugar Plum Fairy’s tutu, the King Rat’s Cape, the Snow Queen’s tiara, and the original bowing nutcracker doll from the first Nutcracker staged in the Kentucky Center for the Arts in 1983. Visitors can also learn how many layers it takes to make a tutu, how stage technicians make it snow on stage, and what it’s like to be a member of the Nutcracker Children’s Cast through interactive displays and activities.

Admission: Free for members, Adults $12, Seniors and Military $10, College Students with ID and Children (5-17) $8, Children under 4 free.


Family Chanukah Party at the J

When: December 15, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Where: Jewish Community Center, 3600 Dutchmans Ln

What: Come play dreidel, eat latkes, and make some holiday crafts. Party is open to all. We will be serving latkes, pizza, and sufganiyot (doughnuts!). There will also be music and gelt for all.

Admission: $15/per person, $10/JCC members. Register here.





A Cleveland native turned Louisville resident by way of Chicago, Melanie brings 20 years publishing experience to Louisville Distilled. After graduating from Indiana University Bloomington with degrees in English and Journalism, Melanie has worked as an editor on staffs at national magazines based in Chicago and Los Angeles. She moved to Louisville in 2004 where she launched a successful freelance editing and writing career. Her award-winning articles have appeared in Draft, Chef, The National Culinary Review, Pizza Today, Complete Woman, Louisville Magazine, Business First, Her Scene, Medical News and more. She lives in the East End with her husband, Sean, two children and dog. Passionate about the arts (and an adventurous foodie) Melanie loves eating her way through Louisville’s food scene and supporting the local arts and music scene.


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