Travel

On stage, in galleries, in a cavern and a downtown hotel, Louisville celebrates the holidays

Check out KaLightoscope: A Christmas Carol Experience, at the Galt House.
Check out KaLightoscope: A Christmas Carol Experience, at the Galt House.

LOUISVILLE — This city's Mega Cavern is impressive at any time. The man-made cavern has 17 miles of corridors located beneath Louisville's streets, or more specifically beneath 70 percent of the Louisville Zoo and all 10 lanes of the Watterson Expressway. Throughout the year, daredevils can descend into its bowels to partake in all manner of hair-raising adventures, from ropes challenge courses to zip-lining in the dark (yeah, I'm putting that on my bucket list.)

But there's nothing dark about the cavern during the holiday season when two million points of light illuminating 850 characters are switched on to kick off Lights Under Louisville. This glowing journey is 30 minutes of sheer spectacle guaranteed to bring out the holiday-loving kid in everyone.

All the usual seasonal suspects, outlined in lights, are there — from Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Santa and his elves and the tableau featuring Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus and the three Wise Men.

And this being Kentucky, there are even light displays — in red and blue, of course — of a Louisville Cardinal and a Kentucky Wildcat making spectacular dunks.

Driving your car, you'll pass scenes both amusing and serious, traditional and religious, and some that are just plain spectacular (such as the curtain of shimmering silver lights that resembles a waterfall.) Lights Under Louisville just may become your family's newest holiday tradition.

During the holidays, there's no better place to headquarter than the Galt House Hotel overlooking the Ohio River, where for the fifth year, Christmas at the Galt House is being celebrated in extravagant fashion. Elaborately decorated trees, wreaths, giant candy canes and streetlamps festooned with garlands are everywhere, and don't be surprised if the bellman who helps with your luggage shows up later in toy soldier costume and tap shoes to hoof it during one of the scheduled performances of the Dancing Bellmen.

If you're looking for something a bit more conventional in the way of entertainment, reserve one night for the Galt House's main event, Pam Tillis & Friends: A Kentucky Christmas Dinner Show. The personable Tillis, a former CMA Vocalist of the Year, combines her best-known country hits with the sounds of the season.

One thing sure to please adults and children is a tour of KaLightoscope: A Christmas Carol Experience, where 130 larger-than-life silk luminaries, hand-crafted in China, combine with 3D projections and human performers to illustrate Dickens' beloved holiday favorite. Afterward, wander through the exquisitely constructed English Village; marvel at the gingerbread house collection, and then hop aboard Santa's sleigh for a green screen experience that will show you soaring above rooftops on a snowy Christmas Eve.

Finally, if you can make it to the Galt House on December 9th, you can (hopefully) make history. Don your best red and green duds, pointy ears and elf hat, and be in the number as the hotel attempts to break the Guinness World Record for the number of people dressed as Santa's elves in one place.

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