Plan your next Christmas holiday vacation in the heart of the Bluegrass State. Kentucky vacation rentals range from riverfront houses and cabins to condos and apartments situated in the center of cities such as Lexington and Louisville. Join in on the Christmas festivities when vacationing in Kentucky with parades, light displays, and home tours. Consider these seven getaway spots in Kentucky this winter.

1. Bardstown

If the kids want to experience a train ride to the North Pole, then make Bardstown your vacation destination for the Christmas holiday. The North Pole Express opens mid-December for your kids to ride along with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy a dinner amid the holiday decorations on board the My Old Kentucky Dinner Train to get into the Christmas spirit. The hour and a half train ride takes you through the scenic city complete with lights while you and the family enjoy food and drinks on the ride. Let the kids take a peek into the kitchen, where Santa’s elves help the chef prepare the meal. This festive city also hosts six weeks of Christmas events beginning in late November. See the annual lighting of the town square, then stop in the specialty shops for a gift for that special someone. Bardstown is also home to the Christmas Tour of Homes in mid-December that includes a candlelight tour through the city streets.

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2. Ashland

As one of the largest cities in Boyd County, Ashland hosts a huge holiday festival each year for your family to enjoy. After lounging in your lakefront vacation rental, head over to Central Park to see the light display that begins in mid-November. Ashland is also home to a holiday parade, complete with elves and Santa. Additional holiday festivals include breakfast with Santa each weekend and train rides for the kids. The Winter Wonderland of Lights Festivals kicks off with a pageant, karaoke with Santa, and an opening night ceremony that features local carolers.

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3. Louisville

Follow the expansive light display on your holiday vacation when visiting the downtown area of Louisville. This popular vacation destination features a giant Christmas tree during the holiday months. Stop in at the Gait House, a historical hotel, for the Christmas at the Gait House festival that features festive decorations, a visit from Santa, and pictures with a snow fairy princess. Bundle up the kids and spend the day gliding along the ice rink in the downtown center of Louisville, then join in the caroling at the Lights Under Louisville event hosted by the Megacavern before retreating back to your Louisville vacation rental.

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4. Lexington

If you are seeking to light up your Christmas holiday, then the tens of thousands of lights in the historic district of Lexington deliver. As one of Kentucky’s largest animated light display, this festival is complete with a candlelight glow at the city’s historic house. Spend your Christmas holiday viewing the creative floats during the city’s holiday parade, or join in the Christmas sing-along or musical performances in the town’s center. Lexington also features home tours to see the lights strung up by local residents and special exhibits and bluegrass craft shows so you can find just the right gift. Visit the Kentucky Horse Park for a special treat during the Southern Lights event that includes horses decorated for the holidays and a reindeer petting zoo for the kids.

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5. Newport

Situated at the point the Ohio and Licking rivers meet, Newport is a popular vacation destination any time of the year. However, during the holidays, this riverside city pulls out all the stops with a Water Wonderland festival. The festivities begin in late November with a Light Up the Levee kick-off event, featuring light shows every evening through January. One of the most unique holiday celebrations hosted by the city is the Scuba Diving with Santa festivities. Head over to the Newport Aquarium to take part in the Scuba Santa Breakfast. Visit with Santa and make your own Christmas ornaments on the weekends at the aquarium before heading through the city to see the expansive light displays.

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6. Leitchfield

If you want to get some exercise and see colorful Christmas decorations, wind through Christmas at the Park in Leitchfield. Thousands of lights are spread out through the nature trail at James Bevile Park for you to explore during the month of December each year. Don’t miss out on the city’s annual holiday parade that features Santa and his elves and your kids’ favorite cartoon characters on floats. Continue navigating nature in this quaint town with a visit to the Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo and the Hidden River Cave and American Cave Museum.

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7. Carrollton

Spend the snowy days in December in Carrollton, amid the carolers and Santa at the city’s Winter Wonderfest. Stop in at Two Rivers Restaurant to have breakfast with Santa before walking through General Butler State Park for the Festival of Trees, all carefully decorated by local schools, businesses, and organizations. Carrollton also hosts holiday concerts in December to help get you in the Christmas spirit.

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