Do you dream of spending Christmas in a Hallmark Movie town? You know – one where in the downtown square bells ring and carolers sing; where the shop windows are filled with all manner of seasonal delights – from gingerbread cookies to painted nutcracker dolls; and where, by the time the credits roll, snow is falling softly on upturned faces?
That dream can become reality in Bardstown, America’s most beautiful small town. Where there’s more bourbon barrels than people and more hospitality than you can stand. Stunning in any season, it takes on a special glow during the holidays. Come see why Bardstown transforms into Christmas town, USA.
The month-and-a-half-long celebration kicks off November 11 and 12 with the Gallery Holiday Open House. If you’re looking for holiday gifts and want to avoid the crush (crowds plus rush) at Big Box stores, spend a leisurely day shopping for fine arts and crafts from more than 30 local artists. You’ll get a unique gift and in addition, a 25 percent discount on your purchases.
With Thanksgiving over, don’t condemn yourself to Black Friday misery. Instead, spend November 25 in a more pleasant pursuit – “Lighting Up Bardstown.”
Santa and Mrs. Claus will preside over the lighting of Bardstown’s official Christmas tree, while skaters whirl on the ice…. you know, just like in those Hallmark Movies.
Santa’s duties don’t end here, as he sticks around for the Annual Christmas Parade on December 7. Jolly Old Saint Nick has been overheard saying that of all the parades he attends, Bardstown’s is his favorite.
December 3rd is a big day, with several events on the calendar. Choose to make the short drive to Bernheim Forest for its Holiday Open House (ever done your Christmas shopping in a forest?), or head to Wickland Plantation for its holiday tea and Christmas reveal (rumor has it that area decorators will be decorating their hearts out, unveiling displays throughout the historic home.)
December 3rd is also the kick-off for Kentucky Railway Museum’s Santa/North Pole Express (running through December 18). Don your pjs and take a scenic journey through the Rolling Fork River Valley. While you won’t go all the way to the North Pole, you will enjoy the sounds of Christmas and the company of Santa – yep, he’s going along for the ride.
Should you miss the Kentucky Railway Museum’s Santa/Polar Express, better not pout and better not cry, as there’s another train coming. This time it’s My Old Kentucky Dinner Train, running Saturdays and Sundays from November 19 to December 18.
Leave those glad rags in the closet and put on your reindeer pajamas to enjoy a three-course gourmet meal and hot chocolate. Of course, there will be holiday tunes and a visit by the Clauses – they do get around this time of year, and don’t want to miss a single Bardstown event.
Now in its second year, the Guthrie Opportunity Center’s Festival of Trees will be held December 4-6. Admire the beautifully decorated trees and wreaths before they go home with some lucky locals during a ticketed auction set for December 8.
Even if you don’t take one of the trees home with you, there’s plenty to celebrate during this most joyous of seasons. And where better to do it than at the Mid Kentucky Chorus Beautiful Music of Christmas concert? Scheduled for December 9 at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, the concert – with its soaring voices and orchestral music – has become one of Central Kentucky’s most anticipated holiday traditions.
Another anticipated holiday tradition is the Stephen Foster Music Club’s annual Candlelight Christmas Home Tour, this year scheduled for December 10.
The tour offers locals and visitors a peek into some of Nelson County’s most historic private homes (with a few contemporary homes thrown in for good measure) all dressed up in their holiday finery.
Speaking of homes, no trip to Bardstown would be complete without a visit to the grandest home of all – Federal Hill, known throughout the world as My Old Kentucky Home. Its namesake song will be sung by ladies in hoop skirts and men in tailcoats as they lead you through rooms decorated for the holidays, 19th century style.
“Merry and Bright” at My Old Kentucky Home will run from November 18 to December 30.
As a Christmas bonus, on Fridays and Saturdays from December 2-17, the cast of the Stephen Foster Story musical will help you discover the true meaning of Christmas, along with Ebenezer Scrooge, in a performance of Charles Dickens’ beloved novel, “A Christmas Carol.”
Continuing the true spirit of Christmas, the 44th annual Live Nativity Scene at the Bardstown Baptist Church will be held December 16-18. Church members, along with live animals, will recreate the tableau of Jesus’s birth in the manger on that most holy of nights.
Get in the Christmas spirit and enjoy some Christmas spirits (if you’re over 21, of course) during events at two of Bardstown’s most famous distilleries.
Maker’s Mark in Loretto invites you to have “A Very Merry Maker’s Holiday.” Check the distillery’s website for dates for their “Made at Maker’s Mulled Wine & Wreath Making Workshop.”
You’ll be the envy of your neighbors when you deck your halls with your own unique creation.
If you’re not the artistic type or already have your wreath, join the distillery elves for a tour under the festive lights at “Maker’s Toast for the Holidays.” You can bet there will be plenty of Yuletide cheer (read bourbon cocktails).
Not to be outdone, Heaven Hill Distillery invites you to join them for “Holiday on the Hill” December 8. Guests will enjoy self-guided tours of the distillery’s Bourbon history gallery, eggnog sampling, discounts in the gift shop, giveaways and live music.
You can build your own Hot Toddy or enjoy bourbon pours and cocktails at the distillery’s Five Brothers Bar.
Bardstown leaves no stone unturned in its holiday offerings. Whether it’s a Christmas soap making workshop at the public library (December 6) or a Christmas High Tea at Springhill Plantation (December 16-18) we have you covered.
Finally, in the spirit of the season, those who have been naughty will be released from the Jailer’s Inn, a unique bed-and-breakfast inn that was once the Nelson County Jail. That’s so everyone who’s been nice can enjoy the Inn’s December 1 Open House, and a tour of its one-of-a-kind accommodations (yes, you sleep in a cell).
This Christmas card of a small town would like to send you Seasons’ Greetings. Better yet, it would like you to come to Bardstown and get them yourself.