Things to Do

Christmas in Bardstown

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in Bardstown, Kentucky

There is no denying that Christmas in a large metropolis can be thrilling with all those dazzling light displays and equally dazzling department store window displays.
But there’s also a lot to be said for Christmas in a small town like Bardstown. Those carolers trilling the songs of the season may not be professionals, but they are friends and neighbors, and the Christmas parade may not be televised, but it does bring out the entire community.
In Bardstown the holidays take on a homespun charm that a big city just can’t match.
It all kicks off on Friday, November 24th when Christmas lights are turned on in downtown Bardstown. “Light Up Bardstown” will also signal the official lighting of the city’s Christmas tree, with a chance to do some shopping at The Gallery or head for The Christmas Corner for hot cocoa, cookies and face painting.
On Saturday, November 25th, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive in town to have breakfast at Mammy’s Kitchen with all the kids who have been especially nice this year (parents are invited too – that is if they have also been especially nice.)
Breakfast is from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., allowing plenty of time to fuel up for a full day of seasonal activities. There will be special discounts and promotions at local shops, as well as ice skating and a free hot cocoa bar, both at the Farmer’s Market. Free trolley rides will be sponsored by Holiday Inn Express & Suites.
The kids aren’t the only ones gearing up for activities on November 25th. For the adults in the family, McIntyre’s Winery will host a Sip ‘N Shop from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., while Maker’s Mark Distillery will flip the switch on its annual light festival.
Kids can ‘ooohhh’ and ‘aaahhh’ at the light display, while Mom and Dad can enjoy one of Maker’s signature bourbons.
On November 25th and 26th, the Guthrie Opportunity Center will unveil its collection of beautifully decorated trees and wreaths that will be auctioned at a ticketed event on November 27th.
If the last week of November will be a busy one, the first week of December promises to be equally so.
On December 1st at 7:30 p.m., the Mid-Kentucky Chorus, along with professional instrumentalists, will once again thrill the audience at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral with their Beautiful Music of Christmas concert.
Another talented musical cast will be on hand to perform My Old Kentucky Home’s “An Old Kentucky Christmas Carol” every Friday and Saturday from December 1-16 at My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Even Ebenezer Scrooge would approve.
On Saturdays and Sundays from now through December 17th, take the kids on the ride of their life aboard My Old Kentucky Dinner Train’s North Pole Express (no need to get dressed up; you can come in your most comfy pjs). A three-course meal and hot cocoa will be served, and special guests Santa and Mrs. Claus will preside over activities and a sing-a-long.
If you miss the Polar Express, better not cry and better not pout. You can still head to New Haven to catch the Kentucky Railway Museum’s Santa Express (December 2-17). Santa himself will be aboard as the train chugs its way through the Rolling Fork River Valley. We can’t guarantee you’ll make it all the way to the North Pole, but we can guarantee a jolly good time for all.
If you don’t have kids (or even if you do), you might want to schedule a date night at Maker’s Mark Distillery for their “Sparkling Supper Series” (December 1, 7, 14 and 15).
The culinary prowess of Chef Richard Knight will be showcased in a four-course meal featuring the winter harvest ingredients from their Star Hill Farm. The evening will also include three complementary bourbon cocktails and a guided tour of the illuminated distillery grounds.
Ever done your Christmas shopping in a forest? If not, you’ll have your chance on December 2nd during the Holiday Open House at Bernheim Forest. Enjoy hot cider and refreshments while browsing for a selection of locally made gifts and crafts for the nature lover in your life.
If you couldn’t make it to the Sip ‘N Shop in November, you’ll get another chance on December 2nd – this time at Springhill Winery, which invites you to join them for wine and shopping for homemade items from small businesses.
If you have finished your shopping but still would enjoy a stroll, the Maker’s Mark Holiday Sip ‘N Stroll (December 1, 2, 7, 9, 15 and 16) provides the opportunity to see the lights while enjoying a specialty cocktail.

There will be no lack of activities to choose from on December 3rd, whether it be Brunch with Santa & Mrs. Claus (they do love Bardstown) who will also host this event on December 10th and 17th at The Legacy at Dant’s Crossing, or the Maker’s Mark Holiday Tea (also scheduled for December 3, 10 and 17).
In a nod to the distillery founder’s native Scotland, this tea will feature hearty dishes, fine teas and three specialty cocktails (no Scotch, please, only bourbon.)
Not to be outdone, two other Bardstown distilleries also have holiday events on tap. Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience’s “Holiday on the Hill” (December 5th) will be celebrating the 90th anniversary of Prohibition Repeal (talk about a Christmas present), so guests are encouraged to don their best Roaring 20s holiday finery and come to the party.
On December 15th head “Home for the Holidays” to the James B. Beam Distilling Co. where 7th and 8th generation Master Distillers Fred and Freddie Noe will host a curated three-course meal with a menu inspired by the Beam family. The meal comes with two sides (custom cocktails and live country music).
On December 7th, you can attend both the Bardstown Kiwanis Club’s Annual Christmas Parade and the Jailer’s Inn Open House. Just don’t get so rowdy at the parade that you will have to spend the night in a jail cell.
The festive holiday season continues with the Stephen Foster Music Club’s annual Candlelight Christmas Home Tour (December 9th) featuring historic 19th century homes decked out in holiday style.
My Old Kentucky Home will also be dressed in its finest Victorian attire during its annual “Merry & Bright” tours through December 30th.
Ladies in hoop skirts and gentlemen in tailcoats will serve as your guides through the history of this landmark home, while singing both songs of the season and the commonwealth’s state anthem.
No Christmas is complete without a Bardstown favorite, the 44th Annual Live Nativity Scene at the Bardstown Baptist Church (December 15-17 at 8:00 p.m.) It is guaranteed to please wide-eyed children of all ages.
Finally, wrap up the holiday season and the year on December 30th with a festive three-hour celebration aboard My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. You’ll enjoy a five-course dinner served in the 1940s dining cars, accompanied by live music.
When it comes to celebrating the holidays in style, Bardstown can hold its own with any of those big cities, from the St. Gregory Craft & Gift Show (December 9th) to Santa on the Square (through December 16th). Come see for yourself.

For a complete of Christmas events, go to