The holiday season is upon us again, and it’s time for fluttering snow, snuggly sweaters, eggnog, bright holiday wrapping, constant Christmas carols, meals upon meals of delicious foods, friends, loved ones, hot chocolate, and that worry of “What the heck can I buy Grandma this year?” It’s a wonderful time of year– but also a stressful one. If you’re feeling a bit of stress about what to do this holiday season, what events to take the kids to, where you should buy a tree, or where’s a good place to take your friends out for drinks, we’ve got you covered.
At Thomas Law Offices, we love the holiday season and we love Louisville. Christmas in Louisville is a sight to behold, and there are so many things to do and enjoy. Almost too much, in fact. Our staff decided to put together an ultimate guide for Louisville residents and visitors like. Here it is– the Ultimate Guide to Holiday Fun in Louisville – 2018 Edition.
Below you’ll find information, dates, and links for all of our favorite local events, light shows, gift shops, shopping opportunities, charity events, restaurants, bars, plays, and concerts that help make Louisville one of the nation’s best cities to spend the holidays in. We’ve also included a list of some of the best places to bring home a freshly-cut tree or chop one down yourself.
We hope you enjoy our guide– and if you feel we’ve left anything out, feel free and drop us an email! We’ll gladly include any suggestions you may have. Local business owners, get in touch! We’d love to feature new shops and venues that cater to Louisville residents this holiday season.
Our Favorite Holiday Shows and Events in Louisville
Have you ever noticed that there’s a ton to do in Louisville around the holidays? Here’s proof– a list of nearly everything under the sun you can do, see, experience, and enjoy during the holiday season. We’ve included a bit of everything from light shows to children’s events, craft workshops, plays, concerts, family fun, and even a few things for the adults to enjoy. Events are mostly listed in order of occurrence.
- Light Up Louisville – Nov. 23rd – Ice skating, children’s activities, vendors, Santa’s Workshop, and more– Part of Louisville’s Holiday in the City.
- Lights Under Louisville – At Louisville MEGA Cavern, an underground passage visitors can drive through, featuring over 850 lit characters and 3,000,000 lights.
- Yuletide at Yew Dell – Starting Nov. 24 on select days at Yew Dell Garden – Snow village, model trains, crafts, workshops, and Santa.
- Maker’s Mark Holiday Candlelight Tours> – Throughout the season – Bourbon fans, this is your chance to visit the Maker’s Mark Distillery – Free distillery tour in the style of the holidays.
- Light Up the Village at Westport Village – At Westport Village. Visitors enjoy live music, carolers, sleigh rides, and the lighting ceremony.
- Waverly Hills Christmas Laser Light Show – Laser light show at Waverly Hills, a historic sanatorium – Open every Friday and Saturday until Christmas.
- Home for the Holidays at the Kentucky Center – Nov. 24th – Music of the season w/ Louisville Orchestra and a guest vocalist.
- Annual Dickens Christmas Festival – First 2 weekends in Dec. – At the Kentucky Renaissance Festival Grounds in Eminence, KY. Scenes from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol“, photos, shopping, etc.
- The Santaland Diaries at Victor Jory Theatre – All through November and December, A comedic play about the holiday season. Ages 13+.
- WinterFair – Nov. 30th and Dec. 1st at Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church – Unique crafts, food, homemade gifts, and charity raffles.
- U of L Dance Theatre Presents “Clara’s Dream” – Nov. 30th and Dec. 1st and 2nd – Holiday-themed ballet/dance at University of Louisville School of Music’s Cornstock Hall.
- A Christmas Story at the Kentucky Center – Play running from Nov. 27th through Dec. 2nd. that’s based on the infamous movie.
- Santa Express and North Pole Express Train Rides at the Kentucky Railway Museum – Starting Nov. 30th – Christmas train rides at the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven.
- Louisville Chorus Christmas Concerts – Various holiday-themed concerts all month of December.
- Wreath Making Workshops at Forage – Fresh wreath-making workshops throughout December.
- Cakes with Kris Kringle at the Kentucky Derby Museum – Pancakes with Santa – Dec. 8 and 15.
- Nature of Christmas in Goshen – Dec. 1 – At Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Goshen – Free food, gifts, crafts, music, Santa & Mrs. Claus.
- Christmastide at Locust Grove – Dec. 8 – Historical museum where live actors and interpreters will help set a holiday-themed 1816 stage for the enjoyment of visitors.
- Holiday Party at Gheens Science Hall & Raunch Planetarium – Dec. 1 at the University of Louisville – Holiday kid games, food, and a holiday laser music show.
- Home for the Holidays at Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead – Dec. 8 – Old fashioned holiday celebration with cookie decorating, kid’s crafts, ray rides, farm animals, photos, and more.
- Old Fashioned Family Holiday Festival – Dec. 1 – Hosted by Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing, and Louisville Parks and Recreation – Photos, wagon rides, crafts, holiday tours, food, a silent auction, and more.
- Light up St. Matthews – Dec. 1 – Lighting ceremony for St. Matthews area. Fun, kids games, snacks, a DJ, and Santa/Mrs. Santa.
- Historic Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour – Dec. 1 and 2 – Tour of Old Louisville, a Victorian-inspired neighborhood decorated in holiday charm – Fundraiser as well– includes free bourbon tasting!
- Mannheim Steamroller Christmas – Chip Davis’ famous holiday show featuring everyone’s favorite Mannheim Steamroller Christmas tunes – At the Kentucky Center on Nov. 25th.
- Festival of Nativities at Crestwood– Dec. 6, 7, and 8 – Over 500 nativities to visit, totally free event.
- Brunch with Santa & Mrs. Claus on the Spirit of Jefferson Riverboat – Dec. 8 and 15 – Two-hour cruise on the Spirit of Jefferson riverboat – Buffet brunch and DJ, reservations required.
- Louisville Zoo’s Santa Safari – Dec. 8-9, 15-16 – Santa visits/photos at the zoo, crafts, treats, and singalongs.
- Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at Louisville Memorial Auditorium – Dec. 1 – The famous Moscow Ballet’s performance of the Nutcracker.
- ECO Kids Hot Chocolate Hike – Dec. 15 – Hiking event at the Berheim Arboretum and Research Forest – As kids complete challenges, they earn hot chocolate.
- Nutcracker on Ice – Various dates in December – The Louisville Skating Academy’s presentation, performed at Iceland Sports Complex.
- Derby Dinner Playhouse – “Holiday Inn” and “A Velveteen Rabbit Christmas” running this year throughout the season.
Where to Shop Locally and Get Great Christmas Gifts in Louisville
One of the best ways to support Louisville’s businesses is to shop locally for the holidays. Here are some of the best local gift stores and boutiques we could find– a little bit of something for everyone on your list!
- Norton Commons– Our law firm is in Norton Commons, so we can’t help but include the local stores and businesses here. There are truly some fantastic options for gift-buying in Norton Commons, and the holiday atmosphere is perfect to get you in the spirit.
- Ballard Holiday Halls Arts & Crafts Show – Dec. 1 – Over 170 arts and crafts vendors, chili + baked goods – At Ballard High School.
- The Flea Off Market – Dec. 15, 16 – Indoor holiday bazaar at Jefferson St. Unique – Locally-made gifts and apparel.
- Christmas Gift and Décor Show – Dec. 7, 8, and 9 – Over 750 Christmas décor and gift booths – Free event at the Kentucky Expo Center.
- Fleur de Flea Vintage & Homemade Holiday Market 2018 – Dec. 8 at the KY International Convention Center.
- Carmichael’s Bookstore – Louisville’s largest independent bookstore – Books from local writers and more.
- Playthings Toy Shoppe – Family-owned toy store, 2 locations.
- Heine Brothers Coffee – Organic fair trade coffee and gifts.
- Quest Outdoors – Gear, clothing, and accessories for outdoor enthusiasts of every type.
- 5-0-Lou – Locally-made wares, art, and Louisville-inspired goodies on Frankfort Ave.
- Heimerdinger Cutlery – Great local place for knife sharpening, pocket knives, new kitchen knives, and more.
- Reverly Boutique Gallery – Jewelry, art, apparel, and gifts made by local artists.
- Mama’s Hip – Gifts for any parent or expecting parent.
- Louisville Stoneware – Pottery workshops plus all types of kitchen, dining room, and home gifts.
Where to Enjoy a Great Holiday Dinner or Drinks with Friends in Louisville
What would the holidays be without delicious food and drinks with friends? Here are some of our favorite local bars and restaurants along with a few places that will be running special holiday events.
- Christmas at the Galt House Hotel – Multiple dinner shows and fine dining holiday options through December/New Year’s.
- Dine with Santa – Breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner with Santa around Louisville – Reservations often needed.
- Brasserie Provence– Family-owned and operated upscale casual dining and traditional French cuisine.
- Eddie Merlot’s – Prime-aged beef and seafood, fabulous wine and spirits bar.
- Bourbons Bistro – Voted as one of the best bourbon/whisky bars in the world, located in historic Clifton in a building dated back to the 1870s.
- Le Moo – Award-winning local beef, pasta, seafood, desserts, and craft cocktails. Hot bar, 100 bourbons w/tastings.
- Fork & Barrel – Southern-influenced restaurant that serves up homemade favorites, fine spirits, and plenty of southern hospitality.
- Porcini – One of Louisville’s most famous Italian restaurants. Menu includes fresh, local options and an extensive wine menu. Our review.
- Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse – Recognized as Louisville’s Best Upscale Steakhouse by Louisville Magazine. Boasts a Kentucky-inspired menu. Our review.
- Commonwealth Tap – Tad’s favorite bar in Louisville, featuring five whole shelves of bourbon, plenty of beer and wine, and an atmosphere that makes every night feel like a holiday celebration. Our review.
- Mercato Italiano Trattoria & Market – Tad’s favorite restaurant for the holidays. Featuring upscale Italian dishes in an open, airy restaurant.
Where to Buy a Freshly-Cut Tree in Louisville
If you’re in the market for a freshly-cut Christmas tree, here’s your go-to list. We’ve included local vendors as well as Christmas tree farms where you can drive a few miles and pick out a tree to chop down yourself.
- Tommy Thompson at Christmas Tree Lane – One of two Christmas tree vendors at Christmas Tree Lane at Waterfront Park. The Thomas family’s favorite place to buy a tree during the holiday season.
- Baldwin Farms – Christmas tree farm in Richmond, KY – Treats, pictures, crafts, and more.
- Goebel Farms– Tree farm in Evansville, IN.
- Huber’s Orchard, Winery, and Vineyards – Tree farm in Borden, IN – Wagon rides, treats, restaurant, winery, farmer’s market, and more.
- Werkmeister’s Farm – Tree farm in Shepherdsville, KY.