Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Southern Lights holiday festival,presented by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc. returns to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Nov. 22-Dec. 31. In addition to reaching the milestone of two decades as a tradition for Kentucky families, Southern Lights has also achieved status as a premier holiday event in the region and nation. More than 115,000 individuals in more than 27,000 vehicles attend Southern Lights annually.
For 2013 and 2014he American Bus Association (ABA) selected Southern Lights a Top 100 Event, which is an annual compendium of the best events for group travel in the United States and Canada. Winners are chosen from hundreds of celebrations, festivals, fairs, commemorative events and more that have been nominated by ABA members. The Southeast Tourism Society has again selected Southern Lights a Top 20 Event among states across the Southeast, and the Kentucky Travel Industry Association annually selects Southern Lights as a Top 10 Winter/Holiday Event in Kentucky.
With all the family-friendly activities offered, it is no wonder Southern Lights has grown into such a well-known Bluegrass tradition over the last 20 years. Kids of all ages delight in the holiday driving tour. Visitors take in the Christmas Village, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Keeneland Race Track, Show Jumping, Steeplechase and the Spires of Churchill Downs — displays comprising thousands of twinkling lights. New this year will be several Wizard of Oz light displays featuring favorite characters Dorothy, Toto, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion and the Wicked Witch.
Following the driving tour, families are encouraged to park their vehicles and visit Southern Lights’ other attractions inside the park, featuring holiday craft merchants, the KHP Gift Shop – perfect for Christmas shopping, seasonal entertainment and activities for children, an exotic petting zoo, pony and camel rides, the Mini Train Express, model train and dollhouse displays, and photos with Santa. This year, guests can also enjoy an encounter with live reindeer.
The Southern Lights driving route is open from 5:30-10 p.m. nightly. The other attractions inside the park will be open every night except Nov. 28 and Dec. 24-31. The cost is $15 per passenger car Sunday through Thursday evenings and $20 per passenger car on Friday and Saturday nights. Admission for an extended van or limousine is $30, a mini-bus is $50, a school bus is $75 and a motorcoach is $125.
The Southern Lights Stroll, on Thursday, Nov. 21, is the only night the lights can be viewed on foot. Featuring a competitive 5K race in addition to the leisurely stroll available to families, the Southern Lights Stroll is $20 for adults and includes a long-sleeved T-shirt for the first 500 registered adults; $15 for kids 7-12 includes a souvenir holiday item for the first 200 registered children. Sponsored in part by John’s Run/Walk Shop, the event features race awards, prize drawings, refreshments, entertainment, the Mini Train Express and more.
All proceeds support the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation. The 2013 Shining Star Presenting Sponsor is Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc.; the Holly & Ivy Sponsors are Kerr Brothers and Cafe Press Inc.; and, the Ribbons & Bows Sponsor is Kentucky Utilities.
Information on Southern Lights, group admission, Southern Lights Stroll registration and more can be obtained by contacting the KHP Foundation at 859-255-5727 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting www.SouthernLightsKy.org or www.KyHorsePark.com.