The magic of the holiday season extends across the hills and lakes of Kentucky. Accordingly, many cities in this Midwestern state offer extravagant light displays. From the underground light show in Louisville to the annual Southern Lights event in Lexington, the state of Kentucky knows how to host an unforgettable Christmas experience. By staying at a vacation rental in Kentucky, you can enjoy easy and convenient access to vibrant parades featuring Santa, as well as holiday festivals and brightly decorated parks. Choose from these five Kentucky cities for your next winter holiday getaway.

1. Lexington

A vacation rental in Lexington during the holidays gives you access to the Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park, a display that extends along the Iron Works Parkway from the end of November until January. Not only does this light display bring twinkling lights, lighted horses, and animated figures to life, it also includes an orchestrated musical performance to guide the display and a mock light race by the horses. Stop in to see the lights and treat the kids to a visit with Santa and camel rides.

The Horse Capital of the World also offers historical buffs something to see aglow with Christmas on the Estate at the Henry Clay Estate. This candlelight tour takes you through the mansion and throughout the grounds to see the estate while also visiting with food and craft vendors on site. The Waveland State Historic Site lights up the bluegrass plantation with Christmas scenes from the past as you follow the theatrical performers through the home, plantation, and the barn. Santa is on hand to greet the kids at the barn following the performance of the Antebellum Christmas.

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2. Ashland

For a light show and a beauty pageant, Ashland is the vacation destination for you. This city hosts a Winter Wonderland festival annually that includes an extensive light display, a Christmas parade, and a beauty pageant in the Central Park area. Hop on board a train ride with Santa that rivals the Polar Express before taking in a holiday show at the Paramount Arts Center to bring some Christmas cheer to your family.

Don’t miss out on the tree lighting in Riverfront Park that sparkles and shines with lights each year. Take a stroll along the river while bundled up with loved ones before feasting on some comfort food at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen and retreating to your cabin on the lake or vacation rental in the snowy forest.

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3. Bardstown

This city’s festival is called “Light Up Bardstown” for a reason. Known as the Christmas corner of the state, Bardstown gets in the holiday spirit with the official lighting of the town’s Christmas Tree while simultaneously lighting up the city’s lampposts decorated with deer, stars, and wreaths. Kick off the season at this downtown celebration when visiting Santa while snacking on cookies and hot cocoa available from the on-site food vendors.

The holiday season continues in this quaint Kentucky town with the Santa Express at the Kentucky Railway Museum and candlelight tours at the Maker’s Mark Distillery. Bardstown also provides you with plenty of specialty shops to find the perfect gift for that special someone. Stop in the Simply B Boutique or Peacock On Third and then treat the family to Southern dining at Kurtz Restaurant or comfort food at Mammy’s Kitchen.

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4. Louisville

Book a vacation rental in Louisville and delight the family with a holiday light display that runs underground. Lights Under Louisville features an underground light show in Mega Cavern where you can explore the caves with the glow of thousands of sparkling lights. After treating the family to the light show, take in the sounds of the University of Louisville’s jazz ensemble for the evening or head over to the Comstock Concert Recital Hall to hear holiday music by the Chamber Winds of Louisville.

The city also hosts the annual SantaCon celebration where you can show off your red suit and dress up like Santa to win a prize. This fundraising event for Blessings in a Backpack features a holiday light display, food and craft vendors, and of course, plenty of Santas to visit with in December. If you haven’t got your fill of Santa, then journey to the Louisville Zoo for the Santa Safari.

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5. Newport

See a 50-feet tree light up before your eyes when attending the Grand Illumination display in Newport. Located across the river from Cincinnati, this Kentucky city embraces the holiday season with lighting ceremonies and festivals that include ice sculpture demonstrations, live music, and visits from Santa.

Take your holiday plans underwater with the Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa celebration at the Newport Aquarium. This annual event that runs from late November through the end of December includes aquatic activities where Scuba Santa demonstrates how magic bubbles can fill the aquarium. Continue your sight seeing adventures in Newport when signing up for the East Row Victorian Christmas Tour where you can see homes decorated for the holidays in grand fashion.

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